Clearly a Sock?

I think I understand what a sock is: someone who registers more than once on the SDMB (or any discussion board) so as to pretend to be another poster.

There’s a Pit thread where one guy says another guy is “clearly a sock.”

I don’t want to discuss that case. What I want to know is…how can one member know that another member is a sock? What does “clearly a sock” mean, in terms of evidence? I would have thought that only board administrators could see the IP addresses that would give away someone socking.

So, just for technical clarity, can a reg’lar member – me, for instance – tell that a given poster is a sock? What’s the giveaway?

And…ah…if this is a topic that shouldn’t be discussed at all, never mind, kill it! I’m just curious.

give aways:
writing style
forgetting to change socks

There isn’t any technical information available to you as a user.

Socks tend to out themselves by their posting style and their choice of topics, and (if they were banned) they also tend to engage in the behavior that got them banned in the first place.

Just keep this generic and don’t talk about specific posters.

I can’t speak to anything specific about the Straight Dope, but as a former mod on another board I can say that IP addresses are only a small part of what gives away socks. Many socks are smart enough to know better than to use the same IP address with different handles, plus completely unrelated posters can share an address (for example if you are both passing through the same airport).

As suggested above, socks tend to give themselves away through writing tics and various obsessions or behaviors.

A very obvious (and wholly hypothetical) example might be:

Newbie poster fishman82345 posts a load of utter tripe, gets his ass handed to him
Suddenly, another newbie poster named booklover71456 turns up and nonchalantly declares that fishman82345 might have a point and we are all closed-minded poopyheads. furthermore, both booklover71456 and fishman82345 have the same posting style (hitting newline at the right hand side of the textbox, making their posts look like bad free verse) and both of them spell ‘definately’ and ‘irregardless’ the same.

Similarity of username is sometimes a giveaway - it seems stupidly obvious, but some people aren’t imaginative enough to look different from their sock (or in some cases, they try so very hard, it’s also obvious from that)

A Google search on a key phrase from fishman’s post reveals that it has been posted verbatim on other message boards (maybe not as fishman), and a visit to those message boards reveals that a similar knight-in-shining-armour also arrived there to defend him (maybe not as booklover)

Mods can see the IP addresses of posters; mere mortals have to divine the connection by inference, mostly.

I can’t recall the usernames any longer, but there was a long-running duo of Foot and Sock who were eventually detected and banned, and upon reviewing their post histories we realised they’d once posted as Sock when they meant to post as Foot, but the post content was ambiguous enough that everyone in the conversation had missed the slip-up and carried on the conversation. Similar mistakes do unmask them when they inadvertently post things like

Foot: I agree with Foot. Not only is he right, but he’s also charming and intelligent.
**Foot:**Wow, Sock, I appreciate the support but I’m not really all that charming or intelligent <blush>
Sock: Not at all, Foot. I said charming and intelligent, and I meant charming and intelligent.

That’s always entertaining, but doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

What cracks me up is when someone will create a sock just to argue with themselves.

Actually a quartet of foot, sock, glove and hand.

Sometimes they just smell a little off.

One of the more common giveaways is when a new user registered just the day before suddenly starts complaining about events on the board from years ago. Not definitive, since there’s such a thing as a lurker, but still a pretty strong pointer.

What tweaks my sock-nose is when a n00b comes in and immediately knows to tweak particular posters’ sore spots, as if through long familiarity.

Also, similarly, new posters whose first thread is one of the Board bugbears - again, indicating a level of familiarity with the Board you standard Garden Troll wouldn’t have.

And no, this not a court of law, the Pit needs no hard evidence.

Crystal Clear Socks!

Hey, not everyone has the time to shower every week! :o

There are several things that give it away.

  1. A new join date. Typically socks are relatively new members.
  2. A new user beating the same drum a recently banned user was beating.
  3. A familiarity with the board and the board rules that most new users don’t have. Or, back to breaking the same rules he was banned for.
  4. Similar writing styles. Like a lazy shift key,(example, TOm is over there) similar grammar errors, (i went there) etc.
  5. A hard on for a particular poster. Rare for a poster, with a week on the board, to have enough of an opinion of a regular member to pit him or wrestle with him in the pit.
  6. Familiarity with board memes.
  7. Douchbaggery similar to a recently banned poster.
  8. Generally, new members are reserved and non-confrontational and just quietly riding along watching and contributing where they can.

None of those are clear proof, but when you start finding more than one, and you recognize a common agenda/style with a departed member, you’re probably correct in thinking sock. Best to make a few notes and let a mod in on the secret. Then they will start sending emails in their little loop, have a few beers, chase a few rabbits, have another beer, yawn, and possibly take over.


Hmmmm… indeed.

Too many Bubba and dog variations here for me to play this game.

Hmmmm… indeed.

Hey, I defend to the death the right to casual use of ellipses…

Band together, Bros and fight this injustice!

I used to use ellipses a lot, but I don’t use them any more.

… Or any less.