Are You Smarter Than A Sock Puppet?

Could you project a sufficiently different persona such that no one would realize your true identity?
A recent study purportedly asked the question, how well do… online personalities match the person sitting at the keyboard?

The answer seems to be, they agree quite well, Thank You. People in the study, “…represented themselves quite faithfully.” Samuel D. Gosling, who conducted the study, reports, “…users aren’t generally using [sites such as Facebook] as an image buffer… or a separate self.”

Maybe people just aren’t very good at playing someone else. Or, more likely, they aren’t very good at concealing their real personalities. (The study dealt with five standard personality traits.)

Which brings me to a question that has been brewing at the back of my brain for a long time now.

Assume that being a sock puppet required nothing more than signing up as a different person and — most pertinent with regards to this thread — altering your posting ‘voice’ consistently and completely enough so as to avoid detection. (Phrasing per TubaDiva.) I wanted to be sure it was acceptable to start a thread on a potentially touchy subject, so I e-mailed the fair TubaDiva and got the go-ahead. I have tried to comply with her restrictions and to set the tone for the thread in keeping with her wishes.

To Wit: I am not interested in in any practical or impractical means by which one might circumvent board rules.

Assume that in some alternate universe your alter ego joined the boards and posted a question about words that end with -gry and was then rightly and summarily belittled, ridiculed, piled-on, and multiloquously sprayed with vitriol. Not being one to put up with such treatment, you then stalked your abusers one-by-one into MPSIMS, GQ and Cafe Society calling them crude names and otherwise haranguing them. The result, of course, you were BANNED!

Now, not being one to take that kind of abuse lying down, you sign up as a sock.

If you had to, do you think you would be able to project a sufficiently different persona such that no one would realize your true identity? If you think you could pull it off, would you?

Please try to keep this about style and ‘voice’ and the question of how much control people have over their own personalities and how they project themselves.

I don’t think I could do that, I am too illiterate.

On the other hand, as I’ve said in another thread, I don’t think that my online persona is representative of me as a person, and indeed it is different depending upon message boards.

The scientists sound like idiots to me though - isn’t the whole point of facebook to be an continuation of ones real life persona, not an extension?

I think I could do it as a “one-trick pony” over a short term project like hunting down and metaphorically slaughtering my targets, but I’d think it would be more difficult to create a well-rounded “alter ego” that posted about multiple subjects.

I guess my new persona could also be interested in criminal law, single malt Scotch, trivia games, and Buffy quotes. But that would make the disguise aspect sort of difficult.

Do you think of one-trick-ponyism as being indicitive of a sock?

Which makes me think of another aspect to the question: In the case of a banning from the SDMB, you would essentially be hiding from those who know and love you.
What if it were a wholly different board? Could you “be” someone else on one board and jump over to the SDMB and resume your usual self?

I think I could, I wouldn’t bother to do so.

Too much trouble or too much respect for the boards or something else?

Too much trouble. I’m lazy about such things. I would simply find a different hobby to fill the time spent here.

I strongly suspect your online persona is closer to your IRL personality than you imagine. Likewise with the difference you perceive in yourself on different boards.

I would guess that, in terms of extroversion, openness to new ideas and other personality indicators, your images on different boards are more alike than you think.

I think you are right there. But it isn’t representative of my interests, knowledge, or skills.

I think I could do it. I doubt it would be easy, however, to stop being an asshole.

I’m pretty sure I couldn’t pull it off because some years back, I created an ICQ identity of a younger, flightier person just to see if I could get away with it. Even though I KNEW the other party wasn’t responding to me but to my fake identity, I still reacted and I had to fight to stay in character. I don’t think I was able to keep it up for a week. So that tells me I wouldn’t be a convincing sock.

Plus I’m so nice… :smiley:

…dammit! :stuck_out_tongue:

Here’s the thing. If you’re such an asshole that you can’t heed multiple warnings from the moderators, how are you going to turn yourself into a non-asshole? Or to put it another way, if you have the capability to change your online persona such that you aren’t an abrasive ban-worthy asshole, why wouldn’t you do so BEFORE you got banned?

It seems to me that the people who are capable of not being assholes typically don’t get themselves banned in the first place, and the people who get themselves banned typically are not capable of not being assholes.

I don’t think I could change my writing style enough to get away with it. And I wouldn’t bother. I don’t want to be where I’m not wanted.

I could do it, but I’m sure I would slip up eventually.

You think I’d give away my secret just like that?!


I don’t think I could do it for very long. I might be able to do it for a few posts if I tried hard, paid attention and did a lot of editing, but the first long, complicated, run-on sentence - with dashes (and interrupted by parenthetical thoughts) - and I’d be spotted faster than a thing that’s spotted quickly.

And no, I wouldn’t do it because I spend my time on-line enjoying being myself. I don’t post on boards where I can’t be myself, although I don’t discuss identical topics or maintain exactly the same tone everywhere I post. But I don’t think anyone would have much trouble finding enough similarities to figure out it was me.

I did it for 2 weeks some while back.

I was totally useless at maintaining the image I portrayed as a young handsome stud.

I’m an old… err…distinguished gent and had to 'fess up eventually

Well, that depends. Why are you on the boards? Is your sock going to come back to the boards for the same damn purpose? Not that I’d ever do it, but if I would I’d keep to GQ, be terse, and avoid opinions or common themes. The dope is what I turn to when Google fails, or I feel like helping and Google is failing others. Everything else is merely social and I’m excellent at burning bridges.

People are constantly baffled in real life by the company I keep – rather by the fact that a lot of my close friends have not met, or are even aware of a lot of my other close friends. When I’m caught between two in the same room I shut down. Everybody knows Groman “shuts down” but in reality often I’m just operating on a common subset of personalities which is sometimes means just unfocused eyes and nodding. A good example of this was my one and only surprise birthday party, where an ex of mine managed to pull up like 90% of people I know well from the area. Some really bizarre incidents involving clashes of the christian republican with the hippies, clashes of the christian republican with the lesbians, clashes of the christian republican with… You know, I think I see a pattern!

I would think maintaining any kind of online SDMB persona, much less more than one, would be kind of a burder. I think my SDMB identity is pretty close to what I am, but then again I’d be surprised if anybody here could come up with a reasonable single paragraph (or even single sentence) synopsis without searching the archives. I’m not a memorable doper. I’m a memorable person, but I missed every dopefest I could even conceivably attend.
ps language counts. using coulourful terminology, spelling variations, capitalization different expletives and different patterns in punctuations can make me fail to recognize myself. terse sentences. uncapitalized words. utterly missing punctuation. intencional misspellings. some of my friends find my regular language to be pretentious and snooty in ims adn emails. have to adjust. dude.

P.P.S. I was about to head to bed and had a very disturbing image pop up in my head. What if there’s only a few dopers – me and a very dedicated team with a lot of accounts and a lot of time on their hands. Nobody can be told what the Doperix is. :slight_smile:

There but by the hamsters of Og post I.

There has been more than one occasion when I have typed up posts that could easily have gotten me warned if not suspended or banned. Mostly, I’ve deleted on preview, but if I hadn’t, I have no doubt things could have escalated to a point where I would have been taken out behind the woodshed.

Part of what got me thinking about the question has been watching as posters I’m sure will be BANNED become regular contributors. Some I even seek out or find myself hoping they weigh in on some subject or another.

Also, there are posters here who stay mainly in the Pit, for example. Expectations and rules are different in different forums and long time charter members might end up out on their ISPs if they didn’t have the Pit to vent in or MPSIMS to be goofy in or GD to… er… um… partake in their vapid galimatias.

I’ll take the blue pill, no wait, red… AAAAHHHHaaahhhaaahhh