Sock Puppet Alert?

This is probably the sort of thing that I should discuss privately, with my colleagues, but it’s just too darned interesting to keep to myself.

Every now and then, I’ll note that a commenter — almost always a critic — seems a bit “familiar.” So I do a little peeking around, and see if they’ve been using different names to do a little creative number inflation.

Recently, both “Dane” and “warchild” tipped my radar. It turns out that their IPs have been used for a few different names. The tones of the comments were also very similar, so I suspect both had been changing names — but neither, apparently, had been banned before. So I didn’t take any official action.

But I happened to have both windows open at the same time, and something odd jumped out at me. Here’s a breakdown of the names used, and the timespans involved.


jmc: April 2009-July 2009
rightsaidfred/right said fred: February 2010-June 2010
rightiswrong: July 2010
warisgreat/WIG: August 2010
wingnut: August 2010
warchild: September 2010


jmc: May 2009-June 2009
Russ: July 2010-August 2010
Frankly B: August 2010
Dane: August 2010-present

The details make it even more intriguing. “warchild” was “jmc” for April 2009. “Dane” took over the name for May and June. Two days after “Dane” gave it up, “warchild” took it back and used it through July.

And I honestly can’t tell the difference in style.

This sort of thing is technically against Wizbang’s Terms Of Service, and certainly grounds for banning both their IPs. But I tend to be easier on this sort of thing; I prefer to simply expose the miscreants and try to embarrass them into knocking it off.

On the other hand, impersonating another person or flagrant true sock-puppetry — using different identities to seem like one has more support than one has, or constantly changing identities to make one seem like many — tends to get Olaf The Troll God’s Hammer a good workout.

This case, though… it puzzles me. This appears to be a case of two commenters who every now and then change their names, but not their styles or personalities. Not that unusual.

But there’s that whole “jmc” thing. It’s almost like they passed the name back and forth — there was no overlap in their usage.

My Net-Fu is weak. I can’t figure this out. But until I (or, more likely, someone else here at Wizbang) gets a handle on things, I’m telling “Dane” and “warchild” to stop assing around and stick to a single name. What’s funny as hell over at Ace’s spot isn’t quite so amusing here.

Rhetorical ridiculousness
Burn, Baby, Burn!