The Problem with Sock Puppets
People don’t much like sock puppets. How do I know? Well, check out a sampling of comments regarding the implosion of the You’re Not Helping blog.
I have no respect for people who want to loudly proclaim their beliefs, yet are unwilling to sign for them on the dotted line. I have even less respect for people who want to create an illusion of consensus through fraud to bolster those beliefs with.
The bad part of YNH is the way he handled getting caught. He had sock puppets. They became obvious. He attacked those who mentioned that he had sock puppets. His sock puppets attacked. The attacks were accusatory and mean.
I may not agree with the harsh language P Z often uses against religion in general, but you will never catch me using sockpuppets to misrepresent myself here or anywhere else. Just seeing others pull such childish stunts disturbs me. Lying is lying, and sockpuppetry is a form of lying, period.
I did a round of sockpuppetry before I knew what it was. Still feel bad about that. But it sure as flying spaghetti monster wasn’t on my own blog.
That’s a lot of vitriol with nothing to balance it. I haven’t seen a positive comment about sock puppetry in the reaction to the blog closing. Admittedly, some of that may have to do with the fact that most of the people commenting on the situation were none too happy with YNH to begin with.
That’s almost certainly not all of it, however. When it comes right down to it, we don’t like people who don’t play fair. We’ll take a hit to our own self-interest if it will let us punish a cheater. And sock puppets are cheaters.
There is an important distinction between pseudonymity and anonymity. When dealing with the anonymous online, we don’t have any idea who we’re relating to. Every social transaction is a mystery, Every time, we are forced to choose how much we risk without any history on which we can rely to make that decision. The anonymous poster hasn’t accrued a reputation, the social capital with which they can buy at least our temporary forbearance and trust.
As DrugMonkey has pointed out in prior discussions of online identity, the situation is different when dealing with a durable pseudonym. Over time, that pseudonym accretes history the same way any other name would online. It develops a reputation that follows it around. This reputation doesn’t generally attach itself to the person behind the pseudonym, but there are good, bad and indifferent reasons why that might be desirable. The pseudonymous themselves are generally approximately as mixed a bag of humanity as the rest of us, and we deal with them individually based on the reputation they built by their actions.
Those who engage in sock puppetry, however, are making a raid on reputation. They’re stealing it, either by exploiting the bandwagon fallacy to accrue unearned regard for their position or by disowning the negative effects that attacking someone else has on reputation, basically shoplifting a smackdown every now and again. YNH did both.
They wanted to have both this (mirrored since the original blog was locked):
No. You all seem to have discovered the convenience of just making things up to attack those you disagree with when you can’t do anything to attack what they’re actually saying. It would be pleasant to see some sanity from all of you and to see the wild finger ponting stop, especially since none of it to date has been true.
The continued attacks and accusations makes one wonder if it’s not all bitterness from OM about YNH getting him right.
Trolly trolly troll troll troll….
OM was banned because he/she/it was posting as multiple sock puppets, using different names and emails but the same IP, to espouse opposing opinions in an attempt to sabotage threads. He was warned, he kept at it, and he was banned. It’s a dead issue.
As for sock puppetry: yes, I am responsible for several of the commenters (sock puppets) on this blog, namely “Patricia,” “Polly-O!,” and “Brandon”
Remember: you do not have the right to not be offended. But if you are, you could always try sticking to reality-grounded, sensical criticism and dialogue, too.
Ophelia tries desperately hard to turn the use of the word “flustered” or “shrill” or the like into the equivalent of being a long-time victim of physical spousal abuse, overblowing it and taking it out of proportion and context as little more than a useless little cop-out from actually responding to others. It’s a fucking disgrace to women and a disgrace to those who are actually victims of sexism, not the preceived, feigned sexism victimization of a fragile little prat who lacks the guts and emotional intelligence to respond to criticism after she’s dished out a shit-load of it – often complete with the same marginally-sexist language – herself.
In other words, the blogger(s) called YNH were trying to accrue reputation for being on the side of honesty, openness and accountability, while the puppets claimed by YNH were accruing the benefits of dishonesty and baseless speculation in trashing the reputations of others. They were accounting with two sets of books. They’re cheaters.
And so, when YNH wants to claim victim status for someone apparently getting too close to their identity(ies), or when someone wants to suggest that YNH is being bullied by getting all this negative attention, remind them. This is punishing cheaters, which is what we do.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 at 10:52 am and is filed under Blogosphere, Stephanie Zvan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.