Sad Sock-Puppets

Posted: Jul 20, 2006 3:15 PM
Jane Galt reflects my thoughts exactly on the sock-puppetry scandals:

Nor do I think that sock puppetry is wrong, exactly, though it sure
is embarassing if you get caught praising yourself. The trouble with
John Lott was not that he used sock puppets -- including on my site;
it's that his research problems made it impossible to rely on his
results. The sock puppetry was just the most excruciatingly publicly
humiliating aspect of it all.

Nonetheless, I doubt we'll be hearing much more about his sock
puppets from the left. And a good thing, too, as it's more sad than
In the two recent sock-puppetry dust-ups, both men involved-- Michael Hiltzik and Glenn Greenwald-- are really successful. Hiltzik is a Pulitzer prize winner and Glenn Greenwald has a best-seller out, as his alter-egos helpfully point out on many folks' blogs.

Why bother faking identities to praise yourself on critical blogs when you're already making it, man? It's a lot of work for very little benefit, and it's fairly easy to get caught. And when you're caught, the cost in humiliation alone cannot pass the cost-benefit analysis. It's beyond me.

I don't think sock puppetry is always wrong. Sometimes anonymous and pseudonymous comments are no problem, and they've always been part of the Internet/chat room/blog world. But, while not unethical all the time, I think it's a better policy to just say who you are and be consistent. And, if you're a public figure or prominent blogger, you should be honest with people about who you are when commenting or you risk losing a ton of trust.

Plus, it's so dang embarrassing to get caught praising yourself. Why go there?

To be fair, Greenwald has denied that the comments in praise of him--emanating from the same IP address and four different identities-- were not written by him.