Am I really a sock puppet? How Wikipedia editors control editing permissions.

A “Sock puppet”, as the term is commonly used, is using more than one account on any discussion forum or MediaWiki on the internet while at the same time as faking another account for the purposes of staging consensus, votes, or practising any form of deception in an argument. Sock puppetry is a novelty born from digital communications, an epiphenomenon of internet culture.

On Wikipedia, sockpuppetry is and has been a serious issue. The Wikipedia community, especially the admins – are quick to play whack a moll to curb the very real problem.

The problem with most tools to combat any form of community abuse is that those very tools are often weaponized to harass or target other users as a method of muting, silencing, or banning their participation.

On Wikipedia specifically, claims of sock puppetry, as it can be abused online in a consensus building process, can be used like a weasel word intended to create suspicion where none is warranted.

Specifically, it can be used as a form of editor suppression tactics between editors.

On Wikipedia, from my experience in this study, this is one of the most common tactics for applying editor suppression to a dissenting viewpoint on a Wikipedia article.

An experienced editor, targeting a new editor, can take comments or behaviours made by a new user to create a suspicion of platform abuse by petitioning an admin to give a block for one week. There is a very low thresh hold for evidence for this to be applied.

Once an editor has that hanging around their head, like the term ‘fringe editor’ or ‘paid editor’ – their Wikipedia editing careers are ‘over’ and they lose support within the community.

Plus, once they have this easy sanction against them, it is easier to charge them with more violations, getting them permanently blocked or sanctioned indefinitely,  as what happened in my particular case.

‘Sockpuppet’, used as a weasel word, becomes a way to thin the herd of new editors coming in and removing editors who have conflicting viewpoints on a subject matter on Wikipedia.

Real life example and case study.

In this case study on WWHP, I show that when I was originally charged with ‘sock puppetry’, it was inside of a series of steps various editors on Wikipedia took to harass me away from editing an article on Wikipedia they were guarding.

While I was accused of sock puppetry initially on Wikipedia in such a strategy, I was also cleared of it too by what is known as the check user tool on Wikipedia.

The check user tool is applied to someone accused of sock puppetry through a process of discovery in an ANE, which is somewhat like a trial.

The admin informed me that the check user tool said it was unlikely I was the account they were attempting to sanction me for.

I was innocent by Wikipedia admin’s own admissions. (Part of this confusion was over me giving my account password to my Wikipedia consultant, someone I hired to guide me through the complexity of Wikipedia sources and formatting.)

Once I explained the activity, the admin confirmed the check user tool supported what I said, which it should because it is what happened.

You can read the full exchange between skeptic editors, admins, other WP editors and me on my talk page when this happened here.

Suppression: First they will accuse you of sock puppetry, and then they will accuse you of being a troll.

Cleared of “socking”, my accusers took a second chance at winning a sanction against me, by attempting to label me as a ‘troll’, through somewhat dubious claims around off-wiki activity some eight years previously.

This time, they sought to ban me from Wikipedia for good, and it worked, using the same tactics editor Manul used against me when I first arrived on the article, some five weeks earlier.

This was also the second ‘trial’ I faced on Wikipedia by activist Wikipedia editors where I was blocked from even defending myself.

A few days after this AE was posted about me,  I was blocked and sanctioned indefinitely and functionally banned on of Wikipedia.

Within a few days of this, these very same editors on Wikipedia began writing an article about me on another wiki called ‘RationalWiki’.

After this experience with harassment leading to the ban of my Tumbleman account on Wikipedia, I wrote to WikiMedia Foundation and went through the normal process to remove my banning, all to no effect. WikiMedia never even responded to my emails.

Naturally, after I faced this indefinite ban from what I  believed to be such an extreme act of harassment, slander, and libel, I simply evaded my editing block on Wikipedia. I created a new editing account and continued to address consensus building issues on Rupert’s article and bring more attention to these suppression tactics on Wikipedia just as responsibly as I was previous to this.

I believe this was the only reasonable thing for me to do.

No recourse on Wikipedia for harassment creates more defensive actions by targeted editors.

I have good intentions. So it made sense to me that I have the right to defend or protect myself online, and hold those responsible who abuse those boundaries and target me on my own if there was no responsible system or process in place within WikiMedia software.

My best defensive action I could take was simply evading my ban, continue to show patience and restraint while addressing these abuses on Wikipedia.

Sanction evasion is not sock puppetry. 

My decision to evade my ban was defensive. My sanction was clearly, beyond a reasonable doubt pure targeted harassment, breaking not only Wikipedia’s own harassment guidelines.

This was my first experience discovering that there were two sets of rules.

It was the only way I could defend and protect myself while honoring my commitment to make Wikipedia a better encyclopedia by helping to build a reliable consensus.

Am I a sock puppet?

So if we are defining sock puppetry as “faking consensus”, “staging fake arguments”, or any type of multiple account disruptive type editing or astroturfing, I’ve never sock puppeted Wikipedia, or anywhere really.

I evaded a ban instigated in what is clearly bad faith on Wikipedia, while Wikipedia decided to augment the common definition of “sock puppet” to include things like ban evasion, the term loses all meaning when used to evade a ban or to have privacy.

Evading a bad faith sanction is as far as the ‘legend’ of me being a ‘sock puppet mastermind’ or a ‘Wikipedia sock puppeteer’ extends.

Yet even to this day – this charge is used by those who target me online, including my RationalWiki article which lists me as a Wikipedia “sockpuppeteer”, as a form of embarrassment and social propaganda.

I am not sure if I should be chuckling over such juvenile attempts to reframe these events as detailed on my RationalWiki article or be impressed that I’ve achieved mythic level status for little or no work.

How do you know if I am a true target of editor suppression?

I make it a point in consensus building in my two case studies on editor suppression in wiki wars exceeds the standards and guidelines as listed on Wikipedia. This was intentional.

All of my edit talk page discussions are intentionally formal, polite, patient and professional.

I wanted to make sure my behaviors exceeded the standards and guidelines on Wikipedia, so if there was suppression, it would be easier to make that distinction to any third party.

I’ve never had two accounts on the same article at the same time.

I’ve never faked consensus or mislead anyone.

Additionally, the accounts – as the records on Wikipedia showed, worked hard to build consensus towards a Neutral Point of View.

The worst anyone could honestly say about my approach to consensus building is that I am perhaps somewhat of a gadfly, questioning all assumptions made until I discover the consistency or contradiction into how the editorial decision was made.

List of accounts I’ve used to evade a ban on Wikipedia.

I have evaded my ban on Wikipedia four times and believe it is fair to be transparent about my editing accounts.

I declare that these accounts are not ‘sock puppets’, used for deceptive reasons,  but accounts used responsibly to evade a ban that was made in bad faith.


Philosophy Fellow, Halfman Halfthing, No more scary monsters, and SAS81, are my Wikipedia editing accounts.

SAS81, was my last Wikipedia account. With that account, I  resolved a biographical dispute, the Deepak Chopra Wiki war, with support from Wikipedia admins, and senior editors such as Slim Virgin.

I’ve never had two accounts on the same article at the same time.

I’ve never faked consensus or mislead anyone.

Real sock puppets found. Meet a genuine sock puppet army. 

While I was, and indeed still am, accused of this ‘sock puppet’  as an editor suppression tactic,  a real sock puppet army was actually operating against many of my editing accounts to suppress me.

This website is responsible for exposing a notorious Wikipedia editor, Oliver Smith and his brothers, who operated a very large sock puppet army  led by Dan Skeptic and Goblin Face on Wikipedia.

Editor suppression, real life results.

I am banned for life on Wikipedia.

I am called a disruptive troll, in bed with PR agencies and conducting social media experiments as the least of the most ridiculous charges made against me.

This website is blacklisted on Wikipedia, listed as a ‘harassment website against Wikipedia editors’, and some editors have even been banned from Wikipedia for mentioning this website or being associated with it in some way.

This is ridiculous. There is no other word for it.

Wikipedia, it could easily be argued – is one of the most influential publishers in the world, and its collapse is far more worrisome if this is not brought to light.

Claims of  ‘sock puppet’ acts as social propaganda in consensus building – and can be used to discredit a genuine consensus-building viewpoint in a heated dispute.

Sock puppet claims are tactics for editor suppression, with the intention to sanction dissenting viewpoints by force instead of collaboration.

I hope my work on Wikipedia, We Have a Problem so far shows how this happens, and through this awareness neutralize the affects of these tactics.

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