March 13, 2006 6:18 PM PST

To her fans, Dooce is wild

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AUSTIN, Texas--There probably aren't many bloggers that dozens of people would wait an hour and a half to talk to for just three short minutes. But Heather Armstrong proved Monday that she's one of them.

Armstrong, also known as the popular blogger Dooce (rhymes with "juice"), is in town for the South by Southwest conference here, where she gave a keynote address Sunday.

Regularly scheduled speeches aside, when she found herself deluged with e-mails from fans asking to get together, she decided the only possible way to handle the requests was to have everyone gather at a cafe not far from the convention center.

Fittingly, she announced the idea on her blog, Dooce.com, last Tuesday, unsure of what the response would be.

On noon Monday, as she'd suggested, her fans began to show up. At first there were just four or five, and it looked as though the meet-up might be a bust.

But this was Dooce, and before long, a line had formed and was snaking out the door of the Halcyon Cafe.

Armstrong--who in 2002 became possibly the first person to be fired for blogging--is one of the most popular bloggers around.

She was fired, she writes, for blogging about co-workers.

Now, after her firing led to a slang term for being canned for blogging--"Dooced"--she offers these words of wisdom: "My advice to you is BE YE NOT SO STUPID. Never write about work on the Internet unless your boss knows and sanctions the fact that YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT WORK ON THE INTERNET."

Dooce.com is now most often about Armstrong's daily life, and particularly about her family--her 20-month-old daughter Leta, and her husband Jon Armstrong. In a previous life, she was a Web designer in Los Angeles, but her popularity comes from her writing style and her reputation among readers as frank and straightforward, regardless of the topic.

"She seems so real and so honest about everything she's gone through, "said Melissa Lomas, a 25-year-old event coordinator who drove an hour-and-a-half from San Antonio to meet Armstrong. "I guess I just want to meet that person who's so honest."

That seemed to be the common sentiment among those who waited in line to talk to Dooce (the name, by the way, derives from her inability to spell "dude" correctly in IM chats with friends).

"She's real up front, and real honest, and has a great perspective, and doesn't pull any punches," said Anne Adams, a 58-year-old IT project manager from Decatur, Texas. "She's real bold--crucifies her family sometimes, and talks about the good and the bad."

Besides wanting to celebrate Armstrong's frankness, her fans came to see her because she's famous. And they weren't shy about saying so.

"I'll tell her I came from San Antonio and that I've been reading her for a long time," said Lomas, as she waited in line to meet Armstrong. "I get kind of nervous because she's an Internet rock star."

Despite that notoriety, and the fact that she's tall, thin, blonde and has model-like good looks, Armstrong lived up to her down-to-earth reputation.

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