And now, a word from Tracey Spicer’s sockpuppet
I’m thinking about making a sockpuppet. Not like the one on the Telstra ad – although that is kinda cute. A fake online identity to talk myself up.
I’d call it something subtle like Trace is Ace or Spice Rack. It seems to have worked for Scott Adams.
He’s behind a brilliant comic strip called Dibert and a not-so-brilliant blog post comparing women with children begging for candy.
For months he pretended to be his own fan, using “PlannedChaos” to deflect online criticism of a virtual hagiography published in the Wall Street Journal.
“He has a certified genius I.Q., and that’s hard to hide,” PlannedChaos wrote about himself.
On MetaFilter and Reddit he boast posted, “It’s fair to say you disagree with Adams. But you can’t rule out the hypothesis that you’re too dumb to understand what he’s saying”.
After several users caught him out, Adams fessed up: “I’m sorry I peed in your cesspool.”
One of the earliest sockpuppets was Sprezzatura, created by The New Republic writer Lee Siegel to defend his negative reviews of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: “Siegel is brave, brilliant and wittier than Stewart will ever be.”
If he keeps using his sockpuppet like that, he could go blind.
Then there was the British councillor who used several names, including Omegaman, to praise fellow Labor councillors and himself.
Ben Grower later said, “Probably next time I will just use a different pseudonym”.
(I wonder what Kevin Rudd calls his sockpuppet?)
These days sockpuppetry is big business.
Last month the US military gave Ntrepid $2.76m for creating 10 “fake online personas to influence net conversations and spread US propaganda” to curb the activities of online jihadists.
US security firm, HB Gary Federal, is offering clients techniques to dominate the comment sections of blogs with an army of sockpuppets using sophisticated “persona management” software.
This is also called meatpuppetry, a technique used widely by publicists to create a buzz about a celebrity or product.
The concept is nothing new.
One of the challenges of talkback radio is sorting the wheat from the chaff – the genuine callers from the media hacks – especially during an election campaign.
Anecdotally, the worst offenders are the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, Qantas, and the oil and tobacco giants.
There is not enough space on this website to list the number of colleagues who write regular, self-aggrandising blogs, emails and letters to the TV networks.
They’re often uncovered because of their turn of phrase or, in the case of one newsreader, the address on the back of the envelope.
So I figure if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
I Love Tacos uses Tacos Are Pretty Great as his sockpuppet. I might call mine Tracey Spicer’s Sockpuppet.
That way, when it’s exposed (shock horror!) it won’t be quite as embarrassing as it was for Scott Adams.
In the words of Adrian Chan from jezebel.com, “There’s nothing like a supremely self-satisfied dolt making a fool of himself by posting fake stuff on the Internet. There’s actually a funny Dilbert strip about this sort of thing”.
Tracey Spicer has one sockpuppet, made from an old grey school sock and two plastic buttons. Her children like it very much.
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