Multiple accounts are the natural result of a non-anonymous website. People switch accounts just to stay anonymous. But a sock puppet is when a person uses these accounts to prove they've not gotten laid for a very long time, if ever. It is a tactic often used by trolls harrassing people on certain sites, faggots "trolling" on Wikipedia, and even pplz on ED who are evading a well-earned ban.
Anonymous websites let you samefag with little pissing away of your life and people can spot them with just a little bit of intelligence.
However, non-anonymous websites are MMORPGs where people work their sock accounts up to epic activity histories. Then when the sock puppets come by to back each other up, people look at their long histories of activity and go, "There's no way someone would spend that much of their time making all these accounts look like different people. They must be different people in real life because no one could have that less of a life spend that much time building these accounts up just to win some petty arguments."
And that, prey tell, is why sock puppets are effective. It's not that people can't tell, it's that they really don't want to believe.
While always a part of the internet, Web 2.0 introduced wikis and self-moderation forums (e.g. YouTube, slashdot) where everyone already socked and you had to sock too or have all your contributions swept away. Here is a sock puppet in action.
- Niggerdick25: u r teh ghey!
- iHeartChode: am not!
- SockyOnSocks: r so!
- T3hS0ck: r 2!
- Niggerdick25: see, evre1 knows!
A sock puppet is a valuable tool in any flame war, where you can just endlessly parrot your own comments, driving away the opposition through sheer weight of words, until you are the last editor standing. Sock Puppeting can also take the form of multiple editors making similar (typically reverted) edits to an article while saying they all agree with the first guy.There's nothing quite like being alone.
An alternate use for sock puppets is to try to drum up support by showing fake negativity. This is popular when someone wants to call up white knights or when they want to look like the victim to help them in other flame wars.
- Tard: I think Feminism needs more supporters.
- NotATard: Hell no, the feminists have the wrong idea!
- AlsoNotATard: Women are stupid. They need to get back to the kitchen.
- Tard: See? This is an example of the patriarchy in action! We need more feminism!
Sock journals multiplied overnight on LiveJournal when the invite code system was removed, allowing anyone to make as many journals as they wanted. When used to troll or otherwise deflect responsibility, sock journals are no better than anonymous pussies, in fact, they're the same fucking thing.
Encyclopedia Dramatica has no more suck puppets than anywhere else. Sure like all websites whenever anyone gets banned on ED, they come right back. Sure, there was one guy hoarding socks of admin accounts on ED, but on TOW, oh it's such a different story.
On TOW, when someone socks, the entire userbase screams and soils their pants every time. The site's autistics spend endless hours there hunting down the socks, tagging them, and making pages stalking sock puppeters. While TOW has had some large sock dramas like Poetlister, the bar none best drama was from Gary Weiss.
Gary Weiss, with the support of SlimVirgin and Jayjg, turned Wikipedia into mouthpiece to sell books and advocate stock fraud. But this wasn't what made the drama good. What made it good was that with SlimVirgin and Jayjg's help, anyone who questioned him was permanently banned without appeal and branded a troll and a sockpuppet of WordBomb. This went on for five long years until Alison found out that all these socks were in fact the same person and the 300,000 people they banned along the way were completely innocent.
And people don't just gather editor accounts, but there's a large black market for farming and selling administrator accounts.
The "Over 200 Socks Club" is for when you are looking at the person's sock puppet category and gotta click to the next page to see them all. The legendary Willy on Wheels lead the pack with over 1,500 socks, but the administrators deleted all of them because he was a shameless attention whore. The current leaders are:
A sock farm is where someone creates a sock puppet account, and then another, and another, and another, and another... These accounts all make minor edits to articles aka "farming", and as many useless ones as they can to build up their edit count. They start having conversations with one another (for an example, see ContiE's talk page on Wikipedia). Then they fall in love, get married, break up, and fight.
Eventually this farm is "harvested" and it can get administrators elected, articles deleted, kept, merged, and through sheer numbers make anything happen on Wikipedia that they want.
Like a fine wine or whiskey, sockpuppets are best left to ripen and mature for considerable periods of time, until the checkuser history expires, so they can't root out the 5 other sockpuppets created from the same IP address because Wikipedia has deleted its logs by then. Yes, like good beer, sockpuppets are best in 'six-packs'. It is thought that the best course of action is to let the sockpuppets ripen like whiskey aging in a barrel, and by the time they are the age that Pedobear would approve most of for a member of the female sex, it's time to take them out for trolling.
Of course you need a lot of time before getting the fruits of your farming, but it's worth the efforts. Eventually you will manage to control over 9000 sock puppets, have yourself elected as Sysop, have everyone banned, and then organize a massive raid (maybe with /b/tards, but they are not your personal army) in order to vandalize and delete the whole encyclopedia. Wikimedia will collapse, Jimbo Wales will be fucked and you will be considered as a legendary hero, even greater than Willy on Wheels or Grawp.
Evading the Banhammer
On Wikipedia there are those elite few, the Magic 40, that possess CheckUser abilities. This means that they check the IP addresses that any account edits from. While you're busy socking away there can be slip-ups: you might sign a post or edit a user page with the wrong account. Since this is Wikipedia after all, and suspicion is the order of the day there, this will be noticed. A CU will be notified and an IP check conducted: "ZOMG 34 accounts edited from ip 127.0.0.1." And you're fucked in the ass. But who wants that?
- Use Tor. Liberally. If you're caught just say you're editing from China and that the secret police would kill you if they knew you were editing Wikipedia.
- Use AOL. Yuck what internet veteran uses AOL you say? A smart one, AOL gives you a new IP with every page load. CheckUser=CheckUseless!
- Open Proxies This is risky as they are blocked on sight, and just editing from an open proxy can be seen as a sign of trollkind. Well, yeah.
- Use shared IPs like cybercafes and community colleges for some of your accounts.
- Get in your car and go searching for unsecured Wireless hotspots. This is great when using troll socks to post power words. Maybe you'll even get someone else banned!
- If you live in a city like Portland that offers wireless across town...well it can't get any easier than that.
- Use different browsers. The greater the chance you can reduce human error, the better. Instead of having to remember to log in and log out, each browser stores your separate session.
Alter your headers
When a CheckUser checks your account, they can get header information that looks something like this:
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10_4_2; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.27.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.2.1 Safari/525.27.1
You need to spoof this info if you'll be using the same computer or browser to sock.
XFF XFF headers reveal information about your originating IP address. As mentioned above, your proxy may strip the XFF headers, however this isn't guaranteed. Generally speaking, spoofing XFF headers is pointless.
User agent User agent headers are easily spoofed. These reveal the browser you're using. If you're using two separate browsers as suggested above, it's probably still a good idea to spoof the user agent string as it always includes operating system information.
Also, if your proxy only goes to port 80, beware of some link to an HTTPS version of Wikipedia that could bypass it.
Proper sock behavior
This is one of the most important steps to not get caught socking.
IP and Public IP
Be aware that you may be broadcasting two IP addresses: the standard IPv4 (220.127.116.11 format) as well as a router-specific "public" IPv6 that is a 128-bit address in eight 16-bit blocks (sample: FE80:0000:0000:0000:0202:B3FF:FE1E:8329). The IPv6 identifies your exact computer, as well as your DNA, credit score, driving history and kindergarten attendance, so there is no way you're not getting busted. Your IPv6 will not display when you go to the standard "what is my IP address" lookup, and thus you may think you're good to go with your simple VPN. Any checkuser will promptly match you up and your ability to fuck with Wikipedos will be temporarily inhibited and nobody wants this.
The way to check if your ISP is broadcasting an IPv6 addy is to Google "public IP address" - the IPv6 will be displayed if it is, otherwise, your IPv4 shows up. If you are unlucky enough to have an IPv6 address, the way around this is to use a VPN that has the option "send all traffic over VPN" or only use your sock when you steal your neighbor's wifi.
Time zones It's trivial to map someone's contributions throughout the data. And sock trackers regularly use this tactic to spot patterns between accounts. Edit at different time zones with different accounts. Direct overlap between two accounts always looks suspicious.
Content areas This is rather trivial to understand, yet many people get caught this way. To effectively sock, you have to edit in different areas than your master account. If your master account is involved in every bot discussion, your sock should not be. While it may be helpful to comment occasionally on bot discussions using your sock account to throw people off, you should avoid similar content areas. Join a random Wikiproject and be active in it.
It's equally important to avoid similar types of edits. If you're the master of fixing references, make your sock the master of writing content or the master of typo fixes. Don't have your two accounts making the same type of edits.
Edit summaries This is another easy way to get caught. If you always edit using edit summaries, make sure your alt account does not. Also, make sure you use different types of edit summaries. For example, for a standard reply, many users use "+reply", "re", "r", or "reply" or "ping." Some even copy and paste part of the message in the edit summary box. Whichever way you choose, be sure to not do the same thing on your alt account.
Writing style This is very important if you make a lot of 'public' comments (comments on various noticeboards and talk pages). One obscure word or similar humor used by both accounts and people could start to ask questions. Be as brief as possible as it's less likely you'll be busted for a similar writing style and choice of words. There is a utility that scans and matches grammar, so keep it short and sweet. 
If you're a poor speller, have one of your accounts use Firefox's spelling checker. If you always spell you as 'u,' well, you shouldn't do that for any reason. But if you do anyway, make sure your other account doesn't do the same thing. Writing style can quickly give away a user's true identity. If you're clever enough to have access to international IPs, alternate between American English (guns, meth, obesity) and British/Canadian/Australian English (colour, encyclopaedia, paedophile etc).
Talk with yourself Be careful with this one as the only thing lamer than being outed as a sock is being outed as having had conversations with yourself. This is an incredibly tricky tactic that can easily backfire, but if done effectively, it can make it seem very, very implausible that the two accounts are connected. This should be done rarely, if at all. The occasional talk page comment to your alt account or point something out to them. Do not give them awards or constantly praise their work. That quickly raises suspicions, especially after a recent incident on the English Wikipedia where Gary Weiss talked to himself incessantly with socks.
Avoid double voting in major elections or discussions Every user who votes for Board officials or for stewards is CheckUsered. Don't double vote in major elections unless you're sure that your IP information and XFF headers won't reveal a direct similarity.
If you are careful about your IP and user agent, you can also do the occasional vote-countervote on crap you don't care about. Head over to Administrator's Noticeboard and use one account to vote "support ban" for some schlub. Two days later, use your sock to "oppose ban" for that same schlub. Smart.
Act your age New accounts don't know about noticeboards. They don't usually even know about namespaces. Remember that when someone is examining your contributions history, a normal account always shows a predictable evolution. Be sure to keep this in mind when using your alt account. Sure, you can try to excuse your behavior with claims that you edited anonymously for years or whatever, but it's a whole lot easier to simply edit linearly (using edit summaries more often as time passes, exploring other namespaces, getting involved with the administrative side of things, etc.).
This is ironic since nearly all Wikipedia accounts created since about 2007 or 2008 have been socks and rarely do new users show up anymore. And many Wikipedians routinely abandon their accounts to start new ones, since all their contributions leave a trail for stalkers. Though usually people that do this aren't into the MMORPG aspect of Wikipedia and would not be trying so hard to sock. Despite this reality of the lack of newbies, the illusion mentioned here is what people on Wikipedia actually believe.
However, as a caveat, do not try to act like a completely new user. Blatant mistakes and downright stupidity will just get more attention focused on you. Play it cool and you'll have no issues.
Good sock hunting
Sock puppets are like shadows in Wikipedia, they are everywhere. Some, like Durova, devote not every free moment of their lives to ferreting them out, and yet for every ban-evading sock you terminate there will obviously be another one appearing tomorrow. It's a game you can play too! Jump into any deletion discussion or debate and try to pick them out. Which ones are alter egos of those active on the page, and which are returning exiles. Use your exceptionally well-honed linguistic analytic skills in a game that never ends. Please be warned that if you ever encounter a larger-than-usual indigo sock puppet, head for the hills, or anti-lulz will ensue.
If you find a sock puppet:
WHAT NOT TO DO
WHAT TO DO
- Blackmail them.
- Make fun of them by vandalizing their user page with your own puppet (lol irony) to announce it.
- Create a page on ED cataloging their catastrophic fail. (make sure you bring the lulz plz.)
- Just ban the fuckers
- Sock Person
- Robert Stainek - He sock puppets so his shitty books have 5 star reviews on amazons.
|Sock puppet is part of a series on Language & Communication|
Sock puppet is part of a series on
|Featured article July 16, 2005|