Take something out of context..

..and it doesn’t make any sense. Or perhaps worse, it can be used to make a point it might otherwise not support. 68% of people know this to be fact.

Most famously of course a similar incident nearly ruined the Rutles career.

The Rutles, bigger than God?

Sadly this has happened to me, and what started off as quite amusing, has ended up being very stressful and potentially damaging to me, my employers and frankly anyone else because it demonstrates how much we are at the mercy of the media and rely on them to do some basic checking before they go ahead and print something.

First, a bit of background.

Nearly four years ago now,  I was lucky enough to receive an award from Microsoft for ‘services’ to the IT Community, this is something called an MVP award, and i was given it for participating in some online technical forums and writing some white papers on various pieces of technology. Around this time i decided i wanted to get involved with the ‘actual’ IT Community rather than just the online one, and was actually surprised to learn of a group that met up in London once a month so i got in contact with the group lead, and arranged to go along.

The group lead was a guy by the name of Ian Watkins.

Ian was immediately welcoming, and over the years of me attending the group i have gone from silent participant to helping to arrange speakers and actually presenting myself a number of times. Ian and i have gotten on very well over this time and i don’t think he would mind if i said we were friends, and that we had a similar sense of humour.

Of course recently another Ian W has made the news, and knowing he had been receiving misdirected abuse on Twitter, a few weeks ago i thought id check in with him to see how he was getting on with it.

I have to admit i was actually hesitant at doing this. Why? you might well ask. Well, given his twitter ID is @ianwatkins, and knowing that some of the people i know on Twitter would not know him, i thought to myself..

‘hm, this could be weird, they might think i am some sort of paedo sympathiser or something’

Sensibly i thought about it for all of 2 minutes and realised that everyone i know on Twitter is better than that, and in any case a cursory glance of his profile would surely clear up any confusion.

Here is our conversation:

28-12-2013 20-12-07

Hopefully having read the whole thing, you will agree with me (and Ian) that it is a) hilarious and b) that i am not ‘having a go’ at Ian for using his own name as a Twitter ID.

OK, it might not actually be hilarious but it is at least mildly amusing.

Let’s mix things up a bit.


This paints a bit of a different picture of our ‘dynamic’ doesn’t it?

Indeed, this is what was published on the Huffington Post, the Metro, the Daily Star and syndicated on countless other news sites.

You might notice they have nicked the headline from his first reply to me so it is odd they missed the rest of the conversation

On Saturday i got a tweet from someone, who seemingly setup their Twitter ID just to send me a greeting.


I thought it was a little odd, but given it was just a random Twitter message shrugged it off as someone who had got the wrong end of the stick and gone beating about the bush with it.

A few hours later, i got another.


Still not fully realising what was happening, i referred him to Ian, and then tried to be my usual charming self. The irony it seems was lost on Mr @toonarmybarmy luckily at this point Ian stepped in to assist.


I also decided at this point i might see what was ‘trending’ and searched for Ian Watkins on twitter, and of course found the Huffington Post article, when i saw my face smiling back at me, i turned to my wife and said ‘oh my god i am on the Huffington post”’ and we both laughed.. a lot.

When we started reading the comments on the article it became slightly less amusing. When i found out (as mentioned above) that it was also on the metro etc, i was, like Gerald the gorilla, livid.

I was panicking a little because, unlike Ian, who is clearly innocent, i am being accused of essentially being an internet troll, and worse, one with poor grammar. Given i work in the IT Industry and have some high profile clients in the media, the chances that some of them having seen this are quite high. What use is a potentially miniscule apology when the damage has been done?

On Sunday i was wandering round Sainsbury’s doing the shopping and came out to the car park to this..


Great! it’s actually made it into a paper. So not only does @mattwardhull have something against eating Miniature Heroes for breakfast, he thinks i am of such low intellect i would abuse someone for what their name was.

Actually, the worst bit of this particular incident was reading this guys tweets..


Firstly, what? this guy works for a paper and they pay him? his spelling is fucking atrocious. He also fails to see what he is doing is perpetuating the problem with twitter – i.e. giving attention to the trolls. That is, the actual trolls who really have said some terrible things to Ian.

I’m not sure how Ian ‘deals’ with the constant crap he is sent, i am not getting even a fraction of 1% of what he receives, (and is still receiving) and he deals with it with good humour and honestly, incredible patience so hopefully these articles will assist those who are unfamiliar with how Twitter works get to grips with the idea there are more than one person with the same name.

As it stands currently my wife has managed to get a verbal apology from the Daily Star and my unnamed tweet removed from their website. Sadly for them that does leave Ian’s reply to it dangerously hanging in the middle of a paragraph with no reference, but I’m ok with that, and appreciate them taking it out.

Unfortunately i have not received a reply from the ‘author’ of the Huffington Post piece, who i also can only assume is responsible for the Metro piece as well. I have tweeted her several times now – perhaps she is too busy researching her latest article on how to make $$$ working from home to correct her mistakes.

As for me, i still blame Ian. If he wasn’t called Ian Watkins none of this would have happened would it?

Update 31/12/2013

I have today received an email from the author of the Huffington Post article explaining that my content will be removed, however i have not yet received an apology. Indeed it was not in response to my tweets to @chmeredith that got the content removed, but the actions and contacts of some of my friends emailing one of the editors.

It is still the new year break, so perhaps i am asking too much to expect a journalist for an online news forum to be checking their tweets and take two minutes out of their day to apologise to me.

About Robert Pearman
Robert Pearman is a UK based Small Business Server enthusiast. He has been working within the SMB IT Industry for what feels like forever. Robert likes Piña colada and taking walks in the rain, on occasion he also enjoys writing about Small Business Technology like Windows Server Essentials or more recently writing PowerShell Scripts. If you're in trouble, and you can find him, maybe you can ask him a question.

3 Responses to Take something out of context..

  1. Ian Watkins says:

    I would concur with everything Rob has written here. I have known him via an Industry group for a number of years, and I too, would consider him a friend. The mis-quoting of him has given a quite inaccurate picture of his involvement and it is doubly ironic that we were, as friends, bemoaning the fact that people were unable to use Twitter.

    To the publishers of the articles I would say “GET IT SORTED OUT”.

  2. ah yes, now i understand the comment about being fed up with twitter… isn’t it nice to see how the media create their stories… and they wonder why people don’t have faith in the written word anymore.

    Luckily the internet usually has an attention span of a 2 year old, so hopefully this will blow over quickly.

  3. I know this is old, I came across it in such a random fashion that I do not actually remember how I got here. The first story I saw was the one the Metro website. I cannot believe they left the story unchanged, without a correction. I doubt it gets many hits but there are good reasons, as you mentioned in the above article, for wanting that changed.

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