Who’s brave enough to take on the Mumsnet forum?

Picture this. A new kid at school enters the playground on her first day. “TA-DA!” she shouts to a group of children playing together. “I’M FINALLY HERE after much moaning by my parents and a lost school application, the school board have fast-tracked my application and I’m now officially a pupil here. What have I let myself in for?”

The child continues, “Some of you may already know me, in which case “Hi”. Some of you may never have heard of me, in which case “Hi” – where the heck have you been for the past two years?”

One of the children in the group sneers, “I have no idea who you are. Sorry,” and turns away. “Well it’s nice to meet you!” offers the new kid.

“Look, I’ve been here longer than you,” says the sneering child, “and your entrance has got my back up.” Before long, more children get involved, slagging off the new kid, telling her that she’s broken the school’s ‘unwritten rules’ and even calling her a c***.

The scary thing is that while this scenario happened, just this week, it didn’t happen in a school playground. It took place on parenting forum Mumsnet. The ‘new kid’ was a mum who’d just joined the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, and while her original post on the forum was arguably ill-judged, the reaction from other forum users was gobsmacking.

Mumsnet

The original Mumsnet post

Much has been written in the past about the nastiness lurking in the Mumsnet forums, yet it seems to be brushed under the carpet and generally accepted as ‘one of those things’. The users of the forum adhere to the bizarre ‘I can be as nasty and vicious as I like, as long as I’m being honest and say it to the person’s face’ mentality. It’s an attitude that took flight during the ten seasons of reality TV show Big Brother, with housemates gaining a strange kudos for being nasty (but honest).

The Mumsnet forum users also regularly refer to the rival ‘insipid’ parenting forums (for insipid, read supportive and friendly) and tell people that if they can’t handle Mumsnet, to clear off elsewhere. Conjures up images of a school gang telling a fellow pupil that if they don’t like the name-calling, to leave that school and find another, doesn’t it?

The word ‘bullying’ is bandied about a lot these days. Often to the point that it devalues its meaning – very frustrating for real victims of real bullying. But having dipped in and out of Mumsnet a few times in the last couple of years, I genuinely think the word applies to some of the goings-on there. It begs the question: how on earth are we supposed to stamp out the serious bullying problem we have in schools, if parents are behaving like this? Admittedly, they’re doing it while hiding behind the anonymity of an online forum, but they’re still typing those words, saying those vile things, making other women feel like crap.

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet, David Cameron

Mumsnet CEO, Justine Roberts with David Cameron

So what are Mumsnet doing about this? Well, not much it seems. Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts explained it away, in a Daily Mail article, last year, saying, ‘We don’t want to sound like schoolteachers looking over our spectacles, and we don’t do it publicly. If someone has made personal attacks, we may contact them off board and it’s amazing how often they’ll say, “I’m so sorry – yesterday was just one of those days”. Mothers often have a lot going on in their lives and they don’t always realise how their words may come across.’

Ah, so this behaviour is acceptable if they’ve had a bad day and apologise afterwards? Well, it doesn’t wash with me.

I’m putting a challenge out there. We need an intervention. Someone needs to stand up to the Mumsnet forum bullies and deal with them like we deal with the school bullies. Who’s brave enough to do it?

 


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38 Comments

  1. simplyhayley
    July 28, 2011 / 8:22 pm

    Ive just been over at nickies and have read only the first page of what they have written, quite frankly from what I’ve heard I don’t need to read the other pages to get an idea of what an earth they have said. I dared to speak out against MN last year following cybermummy and ended up with 6 pages on their forums attacking me and calling me all the names under the sun. Their “rules” such as contacting people off board shock me andit amazes me that they allow the C word to be used! Its one place I steer firmly clear of!

    • July 28, 2011 / 8:28 pm

      I very nearly didn’t write this blog post, in fear of what might happen. Which is bloody ridiculous because that’s how bullies win, right?

  2. July 28, 2011 / 10:38 pm

    I will not stand for this and after reading the trash (I could have used a ruder word but I’m biting my tongue) that came out of their mouths for the 15 pages (what is wrong with them) I don’t think we have to. I have tweeted @mumsnet towers asking them to remove my blog because basically I don’t need their help that much!!

    As I mentioned on Nickie’s post , we will stand up for her and anyone else who is being bullied like this!

    LET ME AT THEM – I have red hair and a temper.

    BNM

  3. July 29, 2011 / 8:18 am

    Just be warned- not only are they vile creatures, they also lack intelligence to understand the concept of both irony and humour too.

    I tried sticking up for Nickie, and got accused of being a troll, a sh*t stirrer and ended up with vile nasty messages at Twitter and on my blog (all anonymous so very brave). One asked me that if Nickie and I thought our blogs were so great, what had we ever achieved? Then, when I quoted exactly what I’ve achieved, I was out of order for that too! You cannot win.Sod them I say, Mumsnet will never have the best of the bunch of non-mental bloggers signing up if they are made to feel not good enough by the regulars. And for Justine to allow it, well, she can’t value her sites reputation too much.

  4. July 29, 2011 / 11:12 am

    A brave and well written post. Obviously I am biased….but you have my support.

    • July 29, 2011 / 11:40 am

      Your comment about being biased has intrigued me! Do you work for Netmums or something?

  5. Sauce
    July 29, 2011 / 5:27 pm

    I cannot believe that thread. Seems the Typecast lady was just trying to be friendly and everyone decided she was vile. Most odd. Pleased I am not a mum!

      • Sauce
        August 2, 2011 / 5:43 pm

        Will do! xx

  6. July 29, 2011 / 6:49 pm

    I caught sight of some of this on twitter – I don’t know the people involved and I think I might have a mumsnet login but don’t use the site. I find a lot of these forums seem to have the same clique atmosphere and I can’t be bothered with it! It sounds like one of the mums was jealous and bitter that she hadn’t been chosen instead of typecast, seemed very personal from the start. Mums bullying each other is plain stupid – this is exactly the behaviour we want to shelter our children from. (well obviously most of us anyway!) well done for writing about this!

  7. July 29, 2011 / 8:34 pm

    Oh, it would be awesome if Beat Bullying could get involved. Certain parts of MN have had free reign to bully and intimidate for far too long.

  8. Cabbage
    July 29, 2011 / 11:00 pm

    So how much private backlash have you received from this blog? Is there a car parked outside your house or do you find yourself being followed to the shops?

    • July 30, 2011 / 12:33 pm

      I’ve taken to wearing a wig when out in public – so far, so good.

  9. July 29, 2011 / 11:59 pm

    What a vile bunch of women. If I was Typecast (or anyone else with a shred of decent), I would abandon Mumsnet like the plague.
    The allowed use of the “c-word” just brings reproach onto the whole site. Vile, vile VILE women. Ugh.

  10. August 1, 2011 / 1:04 pm

    Would love to know how you got in touch with Beat Bullying. Over the weekend (since Friday), I’ve had some bright spark decide to use variations of my twitter/blog name and my real name to be downright nasty, about me and others, on Mumsnet and Twitter. I’ve reported it to both, but Mumsnet just removed the posts. Apparently the same person has been doing it for months, is a known Troll, and has been banned several times. My question is, if they know who this troublemaker is, and they are doing it here there and everywhere, now using me as a target (which they’ve done for several months without my knowledge) why have they not done anything about it? They are persistent, and clearly just removing their comments does absolutely nothing to deter them. Mumsnet, I feel, are standing by and allowing people to become victims of someone who is quite clearly mentally ill. I am now very worried that, other times when I’ve been accused of god knows what, its been this person doing it, and affectively they are damaging my blog, my reputation, it has higher consequences than someone thinking they are hilariously funny at a forum. I only found out by accident after someone told me to leave Mumsnet alone and let them get on with being the misery guts they all are. I was baffled as I was offline the whole of Friday after 7am, and only logged on on Saturday to upload the pictures from my camera of my sister in laws wedding.They have accused me of being thick, been rude about my sister in law, all sorts.

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  12. TrollPatrol
    August 7, 2011 / 9:21 pm

    “Methinks the lady does protest too much.”
    When I first read of clare20somethingmums experience I felt sorry for her experience. Howevever I then went and read the thread where she claimed she was bullied. A different picture emerge. She apears to have deliberately posted inflammatory messages such as:
    “Perhaps Mumsnet could be renamed to MumsNut? Then you could truly by MumsNutters, which is generally what you display yourselves as in this thread.”
    At the same time she was posting on Twitter,

    20somethingmum Mumsnetters hate my blog. I am truly happy tonight people.
    3 minutes ago

    20somethingmum @seasiderclare A bless them if MN had a conference, it’d be sponsored by valium.
    23 minutes ago in reply to seasiderclare

    20somethingmum @Barenakedmummy did you see the one where I said “hello capt, or should that be eye eye”? ROFLMAO
    24 minutes ago in reply to Barenakedmummy

    20somethingmum @Barenakedmummy go to last page, my comments, total piss take lol, I’m lmao right now.
    25 minutes ago in reply to Barenakedmummy

    20somethingmum @seasiderclare no- but I am gently ripping the pee, how can you not? My Goodness what a bunch of nutters!
    26 minutes ago in reply to seasiderclare

    20somethingmum @mommatwotweets lol. True!
    32 minutes ago in reply to mommatwotweets

    20somethingmum @Barenakedmummy No the SIL’s. Should be fun. U need to come rip the pee out of these mad haridans on MN. Time of the month brigade
    32 minutes ago in reply to Barenakedmummy

    20somethingmum @Barenakedmummy @nickie72 erm, some psychotic weirdos on Mums net. I am good. I am ot drinking til Friday, the wedding.
    about 1 hour ago in reply to Barenakedmummy

    Her own blog http://20somethingmum.blogspot.com/2011/05/further-more.html reveals accusations of bullying leveled against her.
    My own conclusion is that rather than being a victim, she is actually a troll herself.

    • August 7, 2011 / 9:44 pm

      Hi TrollPatrol,

      Thanks for your comment. Lots of posts and discussions about this subject have turned into a bit of a ‘he said/she said’ argument. The Twitter stream that you’ve pasted above was also pasted onto the Mumsnet thread in question, so anyone who has read through the thread will have seen this already.

      Lots of people, whether friends/aquaintances of the original poster (Nickie/Typecast), or Mumsnet users who saw that it was an ‘active thread’, appeared to wade in and add fuel to the fire.

      But this doesn’t change the sentiment of my post – that someone new joined the forum and was treated appallingly by the Mumsnet forum users.

    • August 8, 2011 / 8:36 am

      Hi Troll Patrol- nice to see you use an actual name where people can chase you up over wrongful allegations. Makes a change from anonymous though. So what? I commented my disbelief at Twitter at yet again Mumsnet users being truly vile for no reason to outsiders. Seems to me, Mumsnet forums should be banned. I have had all sorts of nasty stuff spoken to and about me, my identity nicked (by someone who has been doing the same to myself and others for months, and whom Mumsnet knows the identity of yet wont tell me who they are, inexplicably). No doubt you are here as someone happy to bash me yet again, frankly, its getting quite boring. How about you who aren’t fans of mine get a life and go elsewhere, rather than hounding me? You wont get rid of me, my blog, my twitter, so please, go bore someone else for a change. I comment as I find. They were behaving like mad harridans. And the post you link to had nothing whatsoever to do with the Mumsnet situation. Gives me a good idea who you are though.

  13. Pauline
    April 19, 2012 / 11:54 pm

    Hello notanothermummyblog?,

    What a great blog post. I have just come across this whole mumsnet debacle for the first time, but to be honest I wasn’t surprised. I think its such a shame, its like football fans, most are genuine fans, then you get a few who have a different agenda and ruin it for the others. I think the same can be said for mumsnetters, there are so many kind and generous people on the site, but I have on occasion had some rather unnecessary comments thrown at me, certainly not to the degree of the example you mention here, but enough that I no longer use it. It came at a time when I really needed support, I guess it wasn’t the right place to go. I mulled it over for quite some time and it inspired me to set up my own site which I launched just over a month ago http://www.themotherofallguilt.com. The ethos of the site is that its a judgement free zone. I strongly believe that there is no one size fits all parenting, that’s not to say we all need to be yes men/women, but we don’t need to be unkind. My plan is to heavily monitor the site to ensure that negative comments are removed as it’s just not going to be that kind of site. Obviously, in trying to get a business off the ground it’s not the way to go by criticising the giant that is mumsnet. Which is why I haven’t, I’m merely offering a softer, perhaps more welcoming place for parents to share the realities of their lives without fear of judgement and or harsh criticism.

    If you, or anyone else in fact, has any ideas on how I can ensure that my site begins and continues in a positive non confrontational manner, I’d love to hear you thoughts as well as your thoughts on the site. In addition, if you have any blogs you think might site well on the site, please get in touch.

    Many thanks, and well done on highlighting such an important issue

    Pauline

  14. Beth
    October 18, 2013 / 11:14 pm

    Excellent post. I’ve just de-registered
    from ‘Mumsnet’ after my first post there – it’s honestly the worst, most manipulative, most bullying site I’ve ever encountered.

    I’d say most people feel the same about it. Somebody one said most big-name advertisers won’t touch that site, and some planned ads were pulled after a particularly vile thread.

    The moderators/owners have to know what’s going on. They’ve lost money over it. They must have lost thousands of members to other sites. So why DO they allow it?

    I felt slightly sorry for some of the posters -such venom and bile. So joyless. So unnecessary.

  15. Elizabeth
    October 25, 2013 / 12:30 am

    Very very typical. Got the same type attitude and abuse being a newbie on a forum. My account is suspended and other users where being abusive too me. They just disagreed with me. I didnt state what I said as fact by my own personal view, I was curteous and respectful to everyone as they ripped me to shreds. It prooves that there is just a a techinque and set of rules on how to bully in forums and how it do it. Still reading. Also its good to read it all to recognise some of the behaviours and accusations etc forum bulles make. I felt it was all my fault what happened to me on a forum but its common if its a rogue forum filled with forum bullies. So thank you for the post.

  16. Jess Nicols
    November 5, 2013 / 11:58 am

    I have just had my first experience of Mumsnet. They bullied me so much after my first thread I left. They messaged me to call me names, started another thread just so they could slate me and double dare each other to post nasty comments on the thread I started. I called them for the bullies they are and they spent more time calling me names swearing at me and telling me to leave. It was a horrible and distressing experience. They are vile and they can never justify their actions.

  17. February 12, 2014 / 9:29 pm

    Recurring experience on MN for me.
    Once every 2-3 years I need an urgent answer on a question and fall into the trap of asking on there. WHY DO I BOTHER!? The site is full of ladies that never answer your question anyway, just post for the shake of posting with whatever comes to mind.

    Just today I asked whether moving my kid from state to private school would mean that I loose the state school place the moment I remove my kid. Obviously I have my reasons for wanting to move the kid. The reasons were irrelevant anyway. I got some answers that were off-point and when I pointed out to the author (teacher no less) that her answer was irrelevant (and thus not helpful) I had 3 of them on my case.

    http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/education/1995862-Moving-from-state-to-private-what-if-we-want-to-go-back

    Brainless people, my rule of thump is if you can’t answer the question or add value to the discussion, don’t talk at all. Most of them just love hearing their voices (= reading their own posts), it must be some sort of gratification in otherwise sad lives where bullying others is an everyday treat (sometimes twice or thrice a day…) .

  18. Jen
    February 12, 2014 / 9:52 pm

    You can always try some witty responses

    “I’ll try being nicer if you’ll try being smarter”
    “How many times do I have to flush before you go away”
    “With your IQ, I don’t think you would understand”
    “I’m busy now. Can I ignore you some other time”
    “If ignorance is bliss, you must be the happiest person alive”
    “You never slow down to think, I guess it’s too painful to spend time with your own thoughts”
    “I see you’re still working on your random intelligence”
    “The trouble with you is that you lack the power of conversation but not the power of speech”
    “Is it time for your medication”

    you might hit some nerves though. Be prepared. 🙂

  19. August 25, 2014 / 10:19 am

    Last night I put up a question on MN regarding issues I am having with my son and his mother. within an hour my thread had over 160 posts.

    The first post i recieved was abusive in my opinion and it got worse from there. Dont get me wrong there were some helpful posts in the thread but I had to filter out the abuse.

    most of the abuse centered around my writing style and how it came accross with no regard for the actual content. It became apparent that people thought i was a troll.

    Users did not beleive my version of events and made teriible remarks about how i live my life and my values, all because i wanted advice about my son.

    I did not respond with the same venom as the posters yet i have been kicked off the forum. I have sent an email asking for an explanation but i doubt i will get a reply.

    The worst part is users saying i am to blame for the abuse i have recieved.

    Childish bullies is the only way to decribe the users of MN.

  20. Nicky
    January 12, 2015 / 3:44 pm

    Seriously a pack of hyena’s …there is a clique of mumsnetters who are like a bunch of vindictive bitter 14 year olds. They hate the world and think they are the best thing in it. oOme seriously deluded people on there!

    • Lemon Meringue Pie
      January 16, 2016 / 10:09 am

      Your posts here is literally 12 months on from my own experience – albeit on a different forum! Despite this, forum administrators are still refusing to get to grasp with those who perpetrate vile behaviour. The decent ones are driven away and the protagonists remain in place. That simply just endorses their behaviour even more that they believe they are not only untouchable, but that their behaviour and postings/opinions are condoned!

      “They hate the world and think they are the best thing in it” sums it up very well!

  21. Lemon Meringue Pie
    January 15, 2016 / 2:39 pm

    I found this ‘place’ after having to put up with some nasty cyber ‘bullying’ myself. This forum however was over at Money Saving Expert and although the bridge dwellers (trolls) and the Barrack Room Lawyers have continued to rule the roost one thing is clear, that bullying – on every level – regardless of where it happens is unacceptable. Just because you have a ‘user name’ does not mean that the disgusting remarks they make is any lessened; it does not. Yet time and again when these same band of merry vile ‘thugs’ come out of the woodwork (and they are always the same group) MSE chooses (for reasons unbeknown to everyone else) not to remove their membership or indeed impose restrictions. Theres an old saying, and we have all heard it, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”! That saying is wrong, bullying and name calling does hurt and the continuation of it causes unnecessary upset.
    My husband summed it up when he said that if you met allot of these people in the street you wouldn’t give them the time of day (“dregs of society” as he put it) but they hide behind screens dishing out their own brand of vile behaviour and they get away it. What I do know is that these horrendous people are deeply unhappy insecure souls who in another era would have been locked up in institutions. Both MN and MSE have allot to answer for!

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  23. October 12, 2017 / 11:44 am

    A great post! I received an email today asking me not to promote my blog under the Bloggers section (?), so I have no idea why that even exists. What concerned me was that I was not really promoting the blog by saying ‘everybody read it’, but had written a post about my miscarriage experience for Baby Loss Awareness Week that had had some lovely feedback previously. I thought sharing it may help others, but worryingly, the users of Mumsnet seem to be more concerned with reporting it. A very strange thing to do, I certainly don’t want to be part of an online community that reacts like that to such a sad experience. If only I had read this first- I wouldn’t have bothered! It seems like I was lucky not to get a mouthful.

  24. November 20, 2017 / 2:32 pm

    There was a post on Mumsnet last week of a user asking how to delete their account on a mobile phone where 50+ people replied and 48/50 comments were nasty, irrelevant remarks calling the poster names and mocking the poster. It’s just a clear question, why so much hate? Such a waste of time.

    I’d like to not only delete my account on there but remove all my posts and comments. I feel sorry for the children of the hags who bully on there.

  25. November 20, 2017 / 6:38 pm

    Back again… The post is called “Disgusted by comment, want to close account”. Someone was trying to close their account using a mobile device. In the description of the comment the poster explained the difficulty they were experiencing in using the phone to close their account and didn’t really mention the alleged disgusting comment they had seen on the site.

    Replies include but are not limited to…

    “I love how no one cares!”

    “A flounce is only a flounce if you wear your flouncing cape OP.
    twirls”

    “It’s not really about closing the account, they are letting us know how disgusting/offensive/viperish we all are. We must be told you know! Can’t have us carrying on unchastised. ”

    “I love a flounce.
    Utterly pointless, attention seeking nonsense. Remember when people used to do it all the time?”

    “Gotta love a “look at me” flouncer!
    I am embarrassed for you, OP.”

    “Hi! Hons!! Just letting you all know I’m deactivate my fb account.
    People are piss me off.
    OK I’m off to deactivate.
    I’m doing it now.”

    “just why?
    ask hq or just go
    bloody attention seekers”

    “I have been on MN for 10 years and they still won’t give us a mooning smiley for twats like OP people who not only can’t take the heat but feel the need to make a big fuss about the fact that they are leaving. When no one cares.”

    I couldn’t believe my eyes at first. So many replies and so much unnecessary nastiness. The poster of the question wasn’t saying anything bad about any of the users of Mumsnet, just asking a technical question and even after this person had left the site people were still trying to troll on the question and take offense/mock the OP.

    Only one poster I think told the OP how to close their account, after which point they presumably did so as they never bothered replying to any of these comments. It made me feel like calling it quits on there too though Mumsnet may well delete this post and thread so as to avoid the glaring obviousness that the OP was right in thinking the site is full of nasty, bored, lonely old hags with no-one to listen to them mither on in real life.

    This is the link to it… (https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/parenting/3087307-Disgusted-by-comment-want-to-close-account)

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