'Dilbert' creator uses fake ID to tell Web he's great--report

It seems Scott Adams, the man behind Dilbert, might have a thin skin. He has reportedly confessed to going onto a message board and using a fake handle to address his critics.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

This writing thing isn't easy.

You reveal yourself (or at least part of yourself) to the world every day and hope the majority of people who encounter your work won't want to spit in your general direction.

So who can't find a trace of sympathy for Dilbert creator Scott Adams?

It seems Adams, despite his undoubtedly boundless riches, still wanders onto message boards to see what people are saying about him (at least according to Gawker)--and he uses a false handle and says very, very nice things. About himself.

That would be, at a human level, understandable. What else is he going to do all day? Sail off in a yacht? Play cricket?

Indeed, when, in these pages, I'm called a fascist, a socialist, an Apple apologist, or an Apple hater, it's tempting to reach for my keyboard and set the twisted straight.

However, in Adams' case, he seems to have wandered into a link-sharing community called MetaFilter.

As Gawker tells it, one particular thread revolved around an Adams op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. In the piece, "How To Get a Real Education At College," Adams offered that everyone in college ought to learn about business.

Oh, what would Dilbert do? CC Ol.vierH2vPk/Flickr

He also suggested that B students shouldn't be made to sit through the same classes as those who are far brighter. Instead, they should be taught more practical skills, so that they might appear more often in Dilbert cartoons. (I paraphrase hugely.)

Perhaps it was some of these B students who took exception to Adams' self-confidence.

One poster, with the handle CodaCorolla, wrote that Adams "peddles mediocre office humor and libertarian claptrap to people with very low expectations in entertainment."

He also linked to an article in which Adams compared women to children and the mentally handicapped.

And so a poster called PlannedChaos roared into battle to defend Adams.

He wrote that he hated Adams for his success too. But wait. He also wrote that Adams was a blistering success, not merely with the Dilbert cartoon, but in one restaurant and in best-selling books. He also happened to mention that he is one of the most popular writers in the Journal.

Oh, and then there was the part about how the posters didn't understand what a writer does for a living.

"No one writes unless he believes that what he writes will be interesting to someone. Everyone on this page is talking about him, researching him, and obsessing about him. His job is to be interesting, not loved. As someone mentioned, he has a certified genius I.Q., and that's hard to hide," wrote PlannedChaos.

When someone suggested that perhaps Adams' head was a little too large for the Arc de Triomphe (again, I paraphrase), PlannedChaos huffed back: "I assume you don't hate all self-promoters, such as homeless people applying for jobs. Is it Adams' enormous success at self-promotion that makes you jealous and angry?"

I'm sure you're often torn in your feelings for self-promoting homeless people.

But you know what's coming, because I've already warned you. PlannedChaos seems to represent the highly planned and entirely organized thoughts of Scott Adams.

Yes, his self-promotion appears to extend to self-defense. For Gawker reports that it confirmed Adams' identity with MetaFilter.

Sadly, PlannedChaos has now disappeared from MetaFilter, but not before declaring: "I'm sorry I peed in your cesspool. For what it's worth, the smart people were on to me after the first post. That made it funnier."

I find myself confused as to why Adams would bother with all this. Was there nothing good on TV the last couple of nights? Is life in Pleasanton, Calif., (where Adams lives) really not so pleasant?

Or is there something about writers that they just can't help reading the critics?