Could there be consideration for a registered sock?

I have seen several OP’s from “guests” that will post one question or comment on a single thread and never be heard from again. There have also been many good contributing posters that have been banned. I know that in not all cases, it is because the poster created a sock, but there may have been many that have. IMO, you may lose some of the needed voices on this thread by banning all socks.

I try to understand motivation behind behavior. It is one of my hobbies. So, why would a person pay to post here and then throw that away by violating one of the hard and fast rules? Could it be that the poster is just having a day in which s/he is not himself? Could it be that the poster has an opinion on something that runs counter to the image of the poster? S/he may not want to battle that image change with every subsequent post on other threads. Or it could be that the poster doesn’t want the flood the boards with every thought that comes to his head. I know there are ways around this problem. Some people may go to a public computer and create a guest account, but this also violates the rules.

There are days in which I don’t feel like being SSG Schwartz. I may want to be HerbietheHammock or SchoolGorrila101 .

Many noted writers have used another name: Gore Vidal, Stephen King, Robert Heinlein, and Nora Roberts to name a few.

I understand that we could not have people creating a sock whenever the mood struck and having as many as they want. There would be no control over that and Chaos may Ensue. So here is my suggestion:

Allow, for a nominal fee ($5), a limited sock membership. The registered user could have one sock at a time and the length of the sock would be much shorter than the regular membership (say 90 days). After the sock membership expired, the user could renew, create a new sock, or do without until such time he decided to pay again and create a new sock.

One other suggestion would be to link the sock to the User’s Profile. By doing this, if anyone cared, the true identity of the sock could be seen by all. This would keep people from posting truly outlandish things.

OK, discuss.

SSG Schwartz

Absolutely not. One of the tenets of this Board is that your opinions are identifiable as YOURS. Not able to be hidden from identification. That’s the whole point to the sock puppet ban.

We’ve discussed this before. If you want to post an opinion, but you don’t want to be known as the person posting it, there simply isn’t any valid reason to do that within the purposes of this Board. Why try to hide that it’s you? If you don’t want to be identified with the statement, then don’t post it. This makes you focus on saying only what you really think and mean.

One of the disadvantages of the internet is that it tends to be treated by many individuals as a bit of an “unreal” place. That is, you have a certain anonymity here, since all you really are is a user name and some typed words on a computer screen. You wouldn’t know me from Adam if you walked by me on the street. Thus, with this perspective, many people act in ways they would never act in real life, with real people. Would you walk into a room of people who know you one day and suddenly spout racist hate-mongering crap? Of course not, because you wouldn’t want to be identified with such thoughts. You are careful of what you say in public AND in private for that reason.

But a sock can spew whatever it wants, without much fear of consequences. And if you attempt to make it possible to connect the sock to the “real” person, all that will happen is that the concept won’t be used, because what’s the point of a see-through sock? No one calls them nylons puppets for a reason. :wink:

So, no, I say we should never, ever allow a sock his day. I presume that, if some long standing poster with sufficient good capital went looney one day and created a sock, spouted something stupid, and was caught, then repented, it is likely that the powers that be would relent upon application of sufficient punishment (perhaps being sentenced to listen to me discuss Supreme Court opinions on mootness :smiley: ) and allow the poster back into good graces. But I for one am not going to test that hypothesis. I like posting here.

Finally, if there is ever a time you want to simply get something off your chest, or float a concept that you don’t yourself identify with, there is no reason you can’t simply say that in your post. “Hey folks, I don’t personally agree with this, but what about … ?” No reason for a sock to do that. :slight_smile:

In general, one of the reasons that we don’t like sock-ism is that we are trying to build a community here: that means people are responsible for what they say, and build up relationships (online) with other posters.

Our feeling is that this falls apart when we allow folks to have multiple identities. There’s no longer responsibility for what one says, and no consequences. That’s counter to our notion of trying to build community.

Whether the socks pay is sort of irrelevant.

While I agree with all the points you’ve made, as well as Dex’s, I just wanted to add something. I read SSG’s post partly as accepting a sock as something of another personality of a known user. With his author example, everyone who reads Bachman knows that it is really Stephen King, but King gets his jollies by trying to write in another personality.

I am a member of another forum, and it’s one that allows socks as long as you don’t post in an abusive manner. I gotta tell you, it’s really kind of fun. And most everyone there knows that it’s a sock. Who doesn’t enjoy a Halloween party?

So I understand and agree with the SDMB policy, but I’ll defend SSG’s POV.

Hmm. I don’t know that a public message board can help you here. :wink:

Do you have any ideas about the motivation of this behavior? :stuck_out_tongue:

If you really felt compelled to post in a different voice, perhaps you could just say that you’re posting in the style of X but under your own screen name. I don’t see how posting under a sock is different if it’s linked to your username except to momentarily confuse people.

Which is the answer to the point made by bbs2k above, I think.

Then why are posters allowed anonymity? Not much of a community when everyone goes around with masks on. So, one can enter the discussion with a mask but changing masks in not allowed.

And how are sock puppets caught anyway? All you need is an email address and a store bought prepaid credit card.

Sure, a poster can be anonymous from one point of view – we don’t necessarily want home addresses, phone numbers, etc to be on public view on a message board. While we want to build a community among posters, anyone can read the message boards, and we want to respect people’s privacy.

So, yeah, we allow one “mask” if you’d like to call it that. But it’s a mask that hides identification, not personality. Many of us think we know each other quite well even if we’ve never met face to face.

And, yes, most mods have thought (often) that it would be fun to have a Halloween week allowing people to use socks, but then we decide in favor of order and longer-term community rather than chaos and momentary humor. (Back in the old days when we were on AOL and had nightly chat rooms, we did indeed have a come-under-a-new-name Halloween party at least once that I recall. It was indeed fun. But… we were dealing with half a dozen to a dozen regulars. Whole different fettle of kish.

I’d like to weigh in.

I ask that TPTB, and others give SSG Schwartz’s post an open mind and hearing.

I think it’s a brilliant idea.

I would simply add there there are more compelling reasons other than “…days in which I don’t feel like being SSG Schwartz…” to want to be a sock.

This is a community. We may not be using our real names, but we have personalities and we are known.

But FriarTed may see something in a thread that he’d like to share in, but he’s concerned that there is a perceived “bias” based on what’s known about him. That many encumber him, unfairly.

For my part, on many occasions I have wanted to argue from a POV that is contrary to my known SDMB POV.

As one real life example, I find many atheists here maligning atheism; irrespective of any “belief” held by theists. My RL beliefs are so irrelevant to the discussion that I would rather argue from the POV of atheism. It clarifies my starting point in the discussion.

I would add to his post the requirement that both identities cannot post to the same thread; essentially one can’t argue for/against him/herself, nor “gang up” on another poster. (a form a shilling)

Just out of idle curiosity, if someone where to subscribe to the board twice, which subscription is banned for having a sock, the first or the second?

I think DSYoungEsq addressed that here:

Or you could note that you’re just playing devil’s advocate or you could just differentiate your own views from the OP’s.

How would this be enforced? It would seem to add a lot of extra work for the mods to determine if people are doing this.


I think you’re right on all counts, and as such the idea may be unnecessary or impractical.

I have taken the devil’s advocate on one occasion—and it was only semi-effective. There have been many times, however, that I wanted to take a position that was contrary to the position I am known for ,not as a means of being disengenuous, but because my board persona was irrelevant and would have hindered my argument. Had I had a registered sock I would use it, and never in the same thread with my ‘standard’ profile.

I would pay for a second alter-ego profile.

The issue with stating that I am posting in the style of Poster X is that people will read the name at the top of the post and retain that, more so than whatever style would be used. I think instead of causing confusion, it would clarify things. The sock could have specific uses or opinions that do not immediately get associated with the Doper. Religious beliefs were mentioned above.

Also, even if you know who the sock really is, and registered users could find that, you would also, likely see the reason that the person posted as a sock.

SSG Schwartz

But the important thing is that you don’t really offer a compelling reason why you should be allowed to offer an opinion here without having it identified as an opinion being posted by the person we all know as SSG Schwartz. Frankly, I am skeptical of anyone who wishes to offer opinions without being identified as the person who has offered them. If you don’t want to be known as the person who is flaming <insert ethnic group of choice> or who is arguing that <insert religion of choice> sucks, then don’t post such opinions. After all, it’s not like you can go into a bar and do that, right?

Suppose you were at a dinner party, f’rinstance, surrounded by bright people who know you, and you decide you want to argue something from a different point of view. Are you saying you can’t do this in real life because you’re known? I’d simply start by saying something like, “For the sake of discussion, suppose…” I frankly don’t see how that “hinders” my argument – just because my friends know that I don’t hold that position deep-down inside doesn’t mean I can’t argue it well, and require them to argue different points equally well.

In short, I don’t see where anonymity (i.e., sockism) provides anything except:
(1) the opportunity to argue with yourself or to pat yourself on the back (the origin of the “sock puppet” term, I suppose: making it seem that you’ve got support/opposition. Kind of like finding your thesis in the school library and writing “Brilliant!” at some point in the margin.)
(2) the chance to flame as per DSYoung’s example above) or insult some other poster, and be able to sneak away without consequences. This is contrary to our notion of community and responsibility.
(3) the chance to “be someone else” in the way that Stephen King writes under the pen name of Caspar Milquetoast. Frankly, there are plenty of places online where you can “be someone else”… just as in real-life, you can find some bar where no one knows you and pretend to be someone else. Amongst your friends, however, no, you can’t… at least, not entirely. I think this is something that the SDMB prefers: we’d rather be the group of friends, rather than the group of people posturing and pretending.

Is there anything else that sockism and anonymity might provide? We’re certainly open to listening to any good ideas, but this one runs smack headlong into a fairly strong principle behind the SDMBs, so it would need extraordinarily strong argument to convince; and I don’t see such.

You make some compelling arguments, and I appreciate that you’ve (and are keeping) an open mind.

Or you could just pretend that a coworker posted from your account while you were at lunch. Right Hal?


Indeed! :stuck_out_tongue:

With all due respect, I have to call you on this. This is an exceedingly poor example but no doubt you can find others. Stephen King did not set out for Richard Bachman to be identified. Ever. He himself made this clear in various notes to readers and forwards of various editions of his books. As Bachman was outed and died of “cancer of the pseudonym”( if I could cite the King book that included that quote, I would but I can’t find the hard cite online and not all of my King books are here in the house ), it all became a bit of a game. Initially though, it was a way to keep the $$$ machine cranking at 2x speed. Here at the Dope, I’d say if we ever DID let people use a sock, it would have to be an open sock, so that moving the cursor over the member name revealed the original member’s name. Messy, and…well. Bad.

The idea of a sock is anathema here and I must admit, I am with that crowd. You take a stance, you use a name and stick by it. It is one of the strongest things about the SDMB.