The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > About This Message Board

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-29-2004, 07:27 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
How do you guys identify sock puppets?

I was telling a friend about this board, and trying to get him to join! As I was telling him about some of the rules, I came across the "no socks" rule, and he asked - how do they know?

So how do you know? From what I understand, a sock is someone who either normally posts and tried to register under another name, or someone who's been banned or whose time runs out and registers under another name. Am I right? How do you guys ID these people?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 09-29-2004, 07:43 AM
Iceland_Blue Iceland_Blue is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: On a triple word square
Posts: 945
This is what worries me. I use a public cybercafe. We get maybe 500 or so people a day in here and there's loads of computers. There is a chance that a banned doper may come in, try and log in on a computer and be kicked off. If it's done on the IP of the computer, then if I come in and log in, it may say that the IP I'm using has already been logged as a sock puppet. It seems unfair to ban people just for using the same computer that someone else has tried to register with before...
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 09-29-2004, 09:03 AM
wolfstu wolfstu is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Earth
Posts: 1,657
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elenia28
From what I understand, a sock is someone who either normally posts and tried to register under another name, or someone who's been banned or whose time runs out and registers under another name. Am I right? How do you guys ID these people?
Yes, sockpupperty is the practice of posting under more than one name - this is not allowed on the SDMB. (Though you can have your username changed by a staff member (once!) if you like.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceland_Blue
It seems unfair to ban people just for using the same computer that someone else has tried to register with before...
There are some users who are roommates/spouses and share computers. Signing up form the same IP isn't likely enough to get you banned.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 09-29-2004, 09:15 AM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
Right Hand of the Master
Moderator
 
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Chicago north suburb
Posts: 16,058
Correct, wolfstu: we don't ban IPs unless we have reasonably clear evidence that the only user(s) are undesirables.

How do we detect sock puppetry? A variety of ways. Lynn reads chicken entrails (which gets kinda messy on the keyboard), Coldfire detects them by smell (the online olfactory trail is quite clear to those keen of nose), and TubaDiva uses the latest in laser technology.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 09-29-2004, 09:35 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: A better place to be
Posts: 26,718
The staff are of course reluctant to say how they actually can identify them (I have some strong guesses, which I'm not going to share), but I think it is instructive to note that we had an instance about a year ago where a husband and wife were posting here, the husband was banned and the wife continued posting for a while (ultimately going inactive).
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 09-29-2004, 09:39 AM
Mycroft Holmes Mycroft Holmes is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Well one way I can sometimes tell, if there are little quirks that are the same for several seemingly different users. For instance, if someone routinely doesn't put spaces after punctuation marks. Like this, and this.

It also seems suspicious when someone who has just become a guest of the board already knows a lot of inside jokes like "Og" or "1920's Style Death Rays".
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 09-29-2004, 09:48 AM
Iceland_Blue Iceland_Blue is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: On a triple word square
Posts: 945
Or it could mean that they've just been reading a lot of posts
And out of x million dopers here, what are the chances of two using the same style of punctuation? Quite high, I'd imagine
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 09-29-2004, 09:58 AM
glee glee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
A pedant writes...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceland_Blue
Or it could mean that they've just been reading a lot of posts
And out of x million dopers here, what are the chances of two using the same style of punctuation? Quite high, I'd imagine
[boring droning voice ON] You missed a full stop off your last sentence. We have recorded your details. [boring droning voice OFF]
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 09-29-2004, 10:53 AM
Iceland_Blue Iceland_Blue is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: On a triple word square
Posts: 945
'Homer,everyone has a fear of something'...
'No I dont'
'Sock puppets...'
'Where....aaaarrgggghhh!'

Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 09-29-2004, 11:06 AM
TubaDiva TubaDiva is offline
Accept no substitutes
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: In the land of OO-bla-dee
Posts: 10,307
Thanks for your interest, but please, if you have information or suspicions about another poster, please send us an email and keep it off the board.

For reasons that I hope are obvious, it's preferable to do this sort of investigation quietly. I have looked at many people's suspicions over the years. Some of them are justified and we appreciate the heads up. Some of them are not.

Because we can't tell until we go look at the situation, it's always better to publicly give people the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

your humble TubaDiva
Administrator
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 09-29-2004, 11:23 AM
Frank Frank is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Kettering, Ohio
Posts: 17,740
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft Holmes
It also seems suspicious when someone who has just become a guest of the board already knows a lot of inside jokes like "Og" or "1920's Style Death Rays".
That's kind of a catch-22, isn't it? The first thing new people are told is to lurk for a while and get a feel for the boards. Then they'll demonstrate their feel for the boards by using an inside joke. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 09-29-2004, 11:35 AM
Ponder Stibbons Ponder Stibbons is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by C K Dexter Haven
Correct, wolfstu: we don't ban IPs unless we have reasonably clear evidence that the only user(s) are undesirables.

How do we detect sock puppetry? A variety of ways. Lynn reads chicken entrails (which gets kinda messy on the keyboard), Coldfire detects them by smell (the online olfactory trail is quite clear to those keen of nose), and TubaDiva uses the latest in laser technology.
I thought I heard John Edward was on staff. Or is his so-called ability to "talk to the banned" just a parlour trick?
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 09-29-2004, 12:20 PM
yabob yabob is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 7,252
IP's would be of limited use for a variety of reasons: non-static IP's handed out by most ISP's, still a large number of people using dial-up, public access points, corporate proxy setups, etc. Not to mention machines shared by people. I would also strongly suspect that somebody banned here may be getting in hot water elsewhere, including with their ISP, and may be forced to change accounts fairly often, or will do so simply to HAVE a fresh IP and get around IP screening any number of places. They will probably have to get fresh email addresses at an alarming rate for similar reasons.

I wonder if they try to look at email addresses, and flag usernames that look too similar to those provided by banned members, or things like free mail accounts that they didn't have to pay a provider for. Those might be perfectly innocent, but might also merit scrutiny.

I get the impression that most sock puppet detection here is based on message content analysis by the staff following complaints. It might be mildly hazardous to suggest this, but I would also suspect there's a few socks they don't know about because the person hasn't done anything objectionable under the sock login. I can see somebody having one of those huge, grand meltdowns resulting in their getting banned, then sneaking back in 6 months later under a fresh email address, being very careful to behave themselves, and not provide any direct linkage to their previous persona. Yes, there are rules, and they were supposed to petition for reinstatement, but if they are actually keeping their nose clean, who's going to know? MOST of the time, the poster does exactly the same crap under the sock login that they did under their original login, and gets spotted.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 09-29-2004, 12:59 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Ok, I should have realized that of course you can't tell me the ways you watch out for them, because then they would know how to subvert them.

TubaDiva, I don't have any suspicions about anyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by C K Dexter Haven
How do we detect sock puppetry? A variety of ways. Lynn reads chicken entrails (which gets kinda messy on the keyboard), Coldfire detects them by smell (the online olfactory trail is quite clear to those keen of nose), and TubaDiva uses the latest in laser technology.
And yourself?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceland Blue
'Homer,everyone has a fear of something'...
'No I dont'
'Sock puppets...'
'Where....aaaarrgggghhh!'
The friend I was telling this to made a similar comment about sock monkeys. For some reason this friend is petrified of sock monkeys.

Thanks, everyone.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 09-29-2004, 02:48 PM
ioioio ioioio is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Another tipoff in these days of paid subscriptions would be someone trying to pay with the same credit card or Paypal account as a banned user. Recently six_personalities was asking for someone to front his subscription fee because he was supposedly non-U.S. with no credit card or Paypal account. In a moment of foolish generosity, I gifted his subscription. Within a couple of days, he was banned, apparently for being a sock.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 09-29-2004, 02:55 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
I know, I heard about that lainaff and read your post. I'm sorry that someone would take advantage of Doper generosity.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 09-29-2004, 03:22 PM
ioioio ioioio is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
He didn't really take advantage since he wasn't asking for a gift. My generosity was voluntary, and hey -- it went to a good cause. But the fact that it happened serves as a warning for others. It's possible that he didn't intend to repay whomever signed up for him, thinking they would be reimbursed. There'd be no way to track him down.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 09-29-2004, 03:49 PM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elenia28
The friend I was telling this to made a similar comment about sock monkeys. For some reason this friend is petrified of sock monkeys.

There is nothing odd at all about being scream out loud terrified of a sock monkey. Evil, grinning little bastards, what with their sorcery and for penchance smothering you in your sleep.......
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 09-29-2004, 03:58 PM
TubaDiva TubaDiva is offline
Accept no substitutes
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: In the land of OO-bla-dee
Posts: 10,307
Quote:
Originally Posted by laina_f
He didn't really take advantage since he wasn't asking for a gift. My generosity was voluntary, and hey -- it went to a good cause. But the fact that it happened serves as a warning for others. It's possible that he didn't intend to repay whomever signed up for him, thinking they would be reimbursed. There'd be no way to track him down.
We do take people on trust here in so many ways.

I'm so sorry this happened to you. I've tried to contact them as well, not a valid email address. So . . . there you have it.

I'll try to see if we can't do something about this. I'll talk to Jerry. Laina, can you send me an email, please, copying any transaction information you might have?

Email: TubaDiva@aol.com

your humble TubaDiva
Administrator
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 09-30-2004, 04:24 AM
Iceland_Blue Iceland_Blue is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: On a triple word square
Posts: 945
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mycroft Holmes
Well one way I can sometimes tell, if there are little quirks that are the same for several seemingly different users. For instance, if someone routinely doesn't put spaces after punctuation marks. Like this, and this.

It also seems suspicious when someone who has just become a guest of the board already knows a lot of inside jokes like "Og" or "1920's Style Death Rays".
I wasn't aware Og was an inside joke.In our family,it has long been the case that to avoid using God's name,you substituted something like 'Almighty Gorlummocks' or 'in the name of Gorlummocks'.I just assumed Og was a variation on this
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 09-30-2004, 06:45 AM
Iceland_Blue Iceland_Blue is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: On a triple word square
Posts: 945
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polycarp
The staff are of course reluctant to say how they actually can identify them (I have some strong guesses, which I'm not going to share), but I think it is instructive to note that we had an instance about a year ago where a husband and wife were posting here, the husband was banned and the wife continued posting for a while (ultimately going inactive).
Just curious at to how that would work. Would you just have to go by the person's style of writing to make sure it was wife posting and not hubby? Or would a new account name be set up for her?
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 09-30-2004, 07:29 AM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceland_Blue
I wasn't aware Og was an inside joke.In our family,it has long been the case that to avoid using God's name,you substituted something like 'Almighty Gorlummocks' or 'in the name of Gorlummocks'.I just assumed Og was a variation on this
I believe there was a poster here, before my time, who always tried to convert people to his version of God. However he invariably got so excited that he'd spell it as Og. He wasn't rationally trying to convert, so people started teasing him and "Og".

So it is kind of an inside joke.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 09-30-2004, 09:56 AM
ioioio ioioio is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
TubaDiva Thanks for the offer, but it's not necessary. I'm happy to give the hamsters a little extra treat.
However, I now realize that if using the same credit card for multiple registrations makes one a suspected sock puppet, that I'm a suspect because I've sponsored several people.
---

For those desiring more information about Og, try The Tenets of Og thread.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 09-30-2004, 12:02 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 55,178
Quote:
Just curious at to how that would work. Would you just have to go by the person's style of writing to make sure it was wife posting and not hubby? Or would a new account name be set up for her?
She should have had her own account name to begin with. I'm not certain if there's a rule against shared usernames, but at the very least, it's officially frowned upon. Of course, it's still possible for a banned person to post using a non-banned spouse's account, but I would imagine that the spouse of a banned member is likely to be under a little extra scrutiny, and that the Staff would probably notice the writing style. In that case, the spouse would also end up banned.
__________________
Time travels in divers paces with divers persons.
--As You Like It, III:ii:328
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 09-30-2004, 12:58 PM
TubaDiva TubaDiva is offline
Accept no substitutes
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: In the land of OO-bla-dee
Posts: 10,307
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceland_Blue
Just curious at to how that would work. Would you just have to go by the person's style of writing to make sure it was wife posting and not hubby? Or would a new account name be set up for her?
This is why we don't allow shared screen names/accounts, btw. You're responsible for yourself here, good and bad.

We can usually tell when one person is using someone else's screen name, it's a stylistic thing. If we look at IP addresses, sometimes that also gives us information, though 99% of the board could be posting from Mars and we'd never know and it wouldn't matter, 'cause most of you are fabulous and we never have cause to investigate.

The last time this happened (it's been quite a while), we had a situation where a couple had registered at the Dope, one really screwed up by the numbers and got banned, the other one was still a member in good standing. (The innocent party rarely posted here, that's probably why.) The banned poster used their SO's screen name to continue posting here. We saw the rise in usage for this previously inactive screen name, noticed the change of tone in the postings as well, and ran an IP check, which traced back to the IP of the banned poster's workplace.

We ultimately wound up banning the entire corporation from the board for awhile.

your humble TubaDiva
Administrator
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 09-30-2004, 02:17 PM
moriah moriah is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
So, to answer the OP: Sock Puppets get nailed because the idiot who got their first account banned winds up doing the same stupid things and gets their Sock Puppet banned. Often, we can tell it's the same person the way you can tell when someone playing a crank phone call on you will call back with a badly disguised voice -- they ain't fooling no one. These people are generally idiots (and the ones who are smart are either crazy or socially inept) -- that's how they get themselves banned in the first place. They don't have the capability to come back under an assumed name and stay under the radar in a board full of very, very intelligent people (some of whom have scary 'rainman-like' abilities to spot unique writing styles).


Peace.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 10-01-2004, 05:01 AM
Iceland_Blue Iceland_Blue is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: On a triple word square
Posts: 945
Quote:
Originally Posted by moriah
Often, we can tell it's the same person the way you can tell when someone playing a crank phone call on you will call back with a badly disguised voice -- they ain't fooling no one.
*cough* ahem...yes I'm looking for a poster known as Hugh G. Rection. Is there a Hugh G. Rection in this forum? *cough*
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 05-08-2012, 01:56 PM
compositejoe compositejoe is offline
Suspended
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 147
Apologies for bumping this thread, but I thought I'd add my experience of being accused of sock puppetery even though the forum I had joined was one that I had never, ever even visited before, nor had anybody in my family in my house visited that forum either.

Anyway, I join the forum, and I add a reply to a certain thread giving an approximate answer to a question, but added that I'd love to be proved wrong.

Immediately, I got a reply saying "*name of user that is nothing to do with me whatsoever*, we know it's you. You've already been banned once, so I suggest you get the hell off this forum NOW! You ain't welcome here!!!!"

And a few minutes later when I tried to visit the forum, I got a message appear saying that I had been banned!

Has something similar to the above experience ever happened to any forum members here when they have used different forums?
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 05-09-2012, 09:34 AM
Drunky Smurf Drunky Smurf is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
I'll just not say that I am not definitely not not not a not sock.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 05-09-2012, 11:43 AM
TubaDiva TubaDiva is offline
Accept no substitutes
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: In the land of OO-bla-dee
Posts: 10,307
Can't speak as to what happens on other boards but yes, we've banned people in error before.

We've blocked legitimate users through IP banning ... looking to ban a spammer we also kept out people who had every right to be there.

We've thrown people out due to misunderstanding -- they looked like a spammer but they weren't.

We've blocked entire families from posting when we thought someone was socking and it turned out to be family members/friends posting from the same computer or the same location.

When we're in error we correct it.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 05-09-2012, 01:18 PM
John DiFool John DiFool is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Rather odd that this thread was the one resurrected, and not this very recent one...
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 05-09-2012, 06:08 PM
samclem samclem is offline
graphite is a great moderator
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Akron, Ohio
Posts: 21,792
Quote:
Originally Posted by John DiFool View Post
Rather odd that this thread was the one resurrected, and not this very recent one...
Not entirely. Since we're crawled by Google spyders, depending on the search terms someone uses on the web, you get an older thread. Probably what happened.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 05-09-2012, 11:03 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
Mod Rocker
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: N E Ohio
Posts: 36,539
How do you guys identify sock puppets?

Generally, I invite the poster to visit using Skype. If the poster looks too much like Lambchop, Hush Puppy, or Charlie Horse, I figure he or she is a sock puppet.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 05-09-2012, 11:49 PM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Beervania
Posts: 39,687
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomndebb View Post
Generally, I invite the poster to visit using Skype. If the poster looks too much like Lambchop, Hush Puppy, or Charlie Horse, I figure he or she is a sock puppet.
Two cute little button eyes...and a big fist up it's ass-dead giveaway, every time.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 05-10-2012, 06:59 AM
Mellivora capensis Mellivora capensis is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: South Africa
Posts: 1,085
Silence!!! I keel you!!!
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 05-10-2012, 07:17 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Troynovant
Posts: 5,152
A within-thread demonstration of the mods' powers of detection? Impressive!
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:27 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.