Sock puppet

Just a quick post to warn other bloggers about sock puppets. I recently found one on my blog. These are people who comment under a false identity to make it seem like more people are critical of your posts than is really the case. In some cases, a sock puppet’s purpose may be to add numbers in praise of a particular post, but in my case, the sock puppet was critical.

How do you know you’ve got a sock puppet? The easiest way is through their IP address which is how I did it. This is not always possible though because clever sock puppets can circumvent this and some work places share IP addresses.

I found this good graphic from Site Jabber about how to catch a sock puppet and though I’d share it.

sjsockpuppet1-1

I have to say that initially I was quite shocked by the sock puppet. I sat for a good while staring at their IP address in disbelief. Perhaps I was a bit naive to think that this wouldn’t happen to me and perhaps it’s no big deal really but I can’t help but feel disappointed with the level of deception and lack of integrity of some members of our species.

28 responses to “Sock puppet”

  1. Sorry and surprised to hear that your blog has been a target especially as there are so many nice followers.

  2. Thanks, Bronwyn. I have to remind myself that my genuine followers are all such lovely people and I really value the comments I get from them.

  3. I’m not going to ask which post it was but if I get the time I wouldn’t mind having a look at the comment streams in your latest few and see if I can pick him/her. On my blog, I use the IP address to hold commentators whom I have singled out as climate change deniers, trolls, whatever, in moderation. I frequently get sock puppets who mistakingly think that my moderation is used by dropping their screen name or email into the folder. So, I will moderate Joe Blogs and suddenly Bloe Jogs also ends up in the moderation queue. I then drop these people into my trash filter,neverto be seen again.

  4. I have put a few people in my moderation queue before but I tend to use their username or email address rather than IP because the IP can change. But I realise it’s quite easy for someone to use an alias which is what happened here. Has this happened on your blog a fair bit then?

  5. All the time. I had one inparticular early on before I tightened my comments policy. He was very good. He changed his writing style, going from no capitalisation and limited punctuation to perfect grammar to a mix. I never really paid much attention to the IP addresses until I noticed a slip up. He had a habit of occasionally capitalising the first word after a comma. I then checked the IP and while it did change a little, the chances of having 4 commentators from the same suburb in Melbourne (IP lookup) was very remote. In the end I removed all his comments and sent him to the trash. After that he started commenting about my blog on all of his 12 facebook pages. Since I have tightened up my comments policy, the deniers have all but disappeared. All first time commentators end up in moderation. Any I deem to be deniers or trolls I send to permanent moderation.

    If your SP is in the wind turbine post, I have him pegged.

  6. I can’t believe someone would have 12 Facebook pages! That is really extreme and bordering on psychopathic.

    When IP addresses are dynamically allocated, and I think this is mostly the case, then unless the puppet and master comment at around the same time it can be hard to confirm with IP addresses.

  7. Oh dear Rachel.  Obviously some people have way too much time on their hands.  What purpose is served by deliberately skewing results?  I know that there are fewer legitimate “response” opportunities on news/media sites due to the feral, spiteful, abusive comments some people resort to in order to denigrate other’s opinions (often extremely personal vitriol).  The fact that it is a “risk free” medium for comment serves to embolden certain people to be ignorant and vindictive.  I hope this hasn’t happened in your case.   Andrea xo

  8. Thanks, Andrea. I will read controversial comment threads with a bit of extra cynicism now.

  9. Sorry to hear you have been bothered. I’ve done some work against trolls/malware etc. The one thing that deters them is the prospect of being exposed (name and shame).

    I hope this is a one off. Best Regards Graham 🙂

  10. Thanks, Graham. I’m sure it’s just a one-off. People are generally pretty decent I think.

  11. I’ve never heard of Sock Puppets before. I get spambot attacks from some clown in Canada, puts paid to my stats for a month, but that’s not the end of the world. Free WordPress does not have the ability to block IPs, which I think is one of the many bad points of WP.

    AV

  12. Argentumvulgaris,
    You can block IP addresses with a free wordpress blog. Go into your dashboard then select Settings -> Discussion and scroll down to “Comment Blacklist”.

    1. Tried that, blocks commenters, but not spambots.

      Thanks.

      AV

    2. Meant to add, that spambot blocking requires a paid WP, I checked many forums trying to find a solution.

      AV

  13. Oh right. I should have realised that’s what you meant. Yes, you’re right. The plugin for dealing with spambots is not available on the free version. I haven’t had a problem with spam so far as akismet collects all of it. It sometimes collects genuine comments too.

    1. No worries. Hopefully you haven’t had a similar problem.

  14. m
    Mr tech savy here has never heard of this before Rachel, thanks for posting this. I have a few followers who have empty profiles or what appear to be fake accounts but they just randomly put a like on a post then are gone

  15. People who like your post and do nothing else are unlikely to be sock puppets. They sound to me like people who simply like what you’ve written.

  16. Wow Rachel, I never heard of such a thing. I thought this was going to be a post about a craft activity with your children when I first read the title, lol!!!
    I have just put my award post out and I wanted to let you know I’ve awarded you for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award. Here’s the link: http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2013/11/13/first-frost-melts-in-the-heat-of-dragons-loyalty-award/
    This is timely after reading this post to let you know that I really value you as a friend and I’m so glad that we met 🙂 Plus, I love your blog!
    Sorry for the trouble you had. I’m tired after the day I’ve had so I’m going to come back to this tomorrow and take a proper read of it to try and better understand it.

  17. Thanks so much, Sherri! I just read your post and didn’t realise you had nominated me. I will try to follow the rules this time.

    I am so glad we met too! Even if it just in cyberspace. It is a pleasure to read your blog and you always write beautiful and thoughtful comments on mine. Thank you!

  18. From Eric S Raymond’s Jargon File, http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/index.html, the definitive guide to hacker-speak:

    “sock puppet: n.

    “[Usenet: from the act of placing a sock over your hand and talking to it and pretending it’s talking back] In Usenet parlance, a pseudo through which the puppeteer posts follow-ups to their own original message to give the appearance that a number of people support the views held in the original message. See also astroturfing, tentacle.”

    1. Thanks, MikeM. I love Eric Raymond’s jargon file.

  19. I thought I have only spam to contend with. Now, this new animal? I have to be more careful then. Thank you for the informative post.
    Blessings, belsbror

    1. I don’t think you have to worry about sockpuppets, Belsbror. You don’t write stuff that incites controversy like I do.

      1. I love controversies, too. 🙂
        Hope those sock puppets find some smelly feet. (laughs)

  20. […] have mentioned sock puppets on my blog before and am bringing them up again now because we found one recently on the […]

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