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We've tried to keep some emotional distance from the category five blogstorm that hit when Kathy Sierra, the online marketing guru, accused anonymous online critics of making "death threats" against her. For this reason alone: despite the passion the debate has aroused among tech bloggers, the motives remain opaque to outsiders. One bemused Valleywag reader, as confused as he might be about the civil strife in Baghdad neighborhood, asks: Why would they hate each other so much? Is it very competitive or something? Is there some kind of marketing consultant gang war going on? Are there ideological factions?

The answer is: I really don't know. Some of the nastiness is definitely to do with Sierra's sex: women, who have scarcity value in a male-dominated tech world, get more attention; but they also suffer way more personal abuse from critics. But, while that might explain the intensity of the row, it doesn't explain the origins. Here's the best we have, an attempt by Sierra herself to explain.

They thought I was just too damned optimistic. These people are interested in rage and they think that if you aren't enraged then you are part of the problem. It seems that they hate my optimism. They think I am poisoning peoples' minds with my positive outlook. [From an interview with the BBC news website]