Sock puppeting, as the term is commonly used, is using more than one account on any discussion type forum on the internet while at the same time as faking another account for the purposes of staging consensus, votes or practicing any form of deception in an argument.
Sock puppetry, as used online in a consensus building process, is more often abused as a weasel word intended to create suspicion where none is warranted.
On Wikipedia, this is one of the most common tactics for apply editor suppression to a dissenting viewpoint on a Wikipedia article.
Quickly, an experienced editor on Wikipedia can have this applied to a new or light Wikipedia editor by an admin along with 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. It is hard for them to build a consensus.
‘Sock puppet’, used as a weasel word, becomes a way to thin the herd of new editors coming in and removing editors whom have conflicting view points on a subject matter on Wikipedia.
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 the 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.
The admin informed me that the check user tool said it was unlikely I was the account they were attempting to sanction me for.
Part of the claim and the confusion was over me giving my account password to my Wikipedia consultant, someone I hired to guide me through the complexity of Wikipedia, so she could format the sources for me on Wikipedia.
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.
This gave my accusers a second chance at winning a sanction with me, by attempting to label me as a ‘troll’ on Wikipedia to further sanction me off permanently.
First they will accuse you of sock puppetry, and then they will accuse you of being a troll. These are two of the easiest tactics abused on Wikipedia for editor suppression.
In my case, as I was cleared of this charge of sock puppetry, and my ban was going to be lifted just after two or three days – a new Arbitration Enforcement hearing opened up now with editor Manul claiming I was a ‘troll’, using very questionable evidence.
I believe it is pretty obvious they violating a number of Wikipedia rules and guidelines and re-introducing their first attempts to harass me in my first five days, some five weeks earlier.
This was also the second ‘trial’ I faced on Wikipedia by activist Wikipedia editors that I was banned from even defending myself in.
A few days after this AE was posted about me, I was banned indefinitely off of Wikipedia.
Within a few days of this, these very same editors on Wikipedia began writing an article about me, based on their claims on Wikipedia, on another wiki called ‘RationalWiki’, in addition to other forms of online harassment detailed on this website.
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 ban on Wikipedia, created a new account and continued to address consensus building and harassment on Wikipedia.
I believe this was the only reasonable thing for me to do.
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 on Wikipedia to remove my banning, all to no effect. Wikimedia never even responded to my emails.
If anything was to happen about this abuse, it was going to be up to me, because both Wikipedia as a community and Wikimedia as a foundation literally offer no recourse for this abuse.
Considering these editors I met on Wikipedia, who violated Wikipedia’s policies by hounding me, outing me, and now publishing sh*tpost articles on other platforms as revenge, were literally targeting me online in somewhat an extreme reaction to my presence. It made sense that I have the right to defend or protect myself online, and hold those responsible for targeting me, along with others, online.
This is when I made the decision to evade my ban – as there was no other recourse to address this problem.
So if we are defining sock puppeting as ‘faking consensus’, ‘staging fake arguments’ multiple account disruptive type editing, I’ve never sock puppeted Wikipedia.
This is as far as the ‘legend’ of me being an ‘admitted sock puppet’ extends and often I am not sure if I should be chuckling over such juvenile attempts to dominate Wikipedia with this legend or not.
My ban evasion is the only ‘rule’ I have broken on Wikipedia. I believe my ban was an act of editor suppression, a form of harassment on Wikipedia, and therefore I feel no obligation to honor it.
Other than that, all of my actual editing and consensus building behavior on Wikipedia is professional, consistent, and clear.
This was intentional. I make it a point throughout this study to make sure my consensus building exceeds the standards and guidelines as listed on Wikipedia.
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.
I have evaded my ban on Wikipedia four times and have been very transparent about my activities.
I declare that these accounts are not sock puppets but accounts used to evade a ban made in bad faith while using bad faith tactics.
These accounts, in addition to The Tumbleman, are the only Wikipedia accounts I have ever created.
Unlike the very real skeptic sockpuppet army led by Dan Skeptic and Goblin Face on Wikipedia, my ‘sockpuppets’ are just the next account that gets harassed and banned by an agitated group of ‘skeptic editors’ guarding articles on Wikipedia, one after the other.
Now, I can understand that may upset a few admins, especially Liz, and yes technically I have broken the rule by breaking Wikipedia’s ban. I’m sorry – I’m not trying to be subversive.
I’m making a point and this was the only avenue left for me to make it. None of my accounts have actually done any disruptive editing.
Additionally, the accounts – as the records on Wikipedia showed, worked hard to build consensus towards a Neutral Point of View.
I’ve never had two accounts on the same article at the same time. I’ve never faked consensus or mislead anyone.
Additionally, all of my edit talk page discussions are intentionally formal, polite, patient and professional.
I say this not as a defense, I say this as a way to distinguish between a genuine sanction against an editor for their bad behavior as opposed to editor suppression against an editor who represents a different viewpoint.
Yet I am banned for life on Wikipedia. I am called a disruptive troll, in bed with PR agencies and conducting social media experiments. 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.
While this is a case study into editor suppression and wiki wars, my banning on Wikipedia was a farce. It was also protested by a number of other editors.
If I was so disruptive to Wikipedia, would I be able to engineer a consensus on an article inside of a hostile environment and receive support from senior editors and admins?
My accounts, and edit history – are the proof of my claims of editor suppression.
I believe in Wikipedia. Unlike that other ‘Wikipedia’ critique website ‘Wikipediocracy‘ – I believe this problem can be solved on Wikipedia and I want Wikipedia to successfully over come it.
I want to be able to have a productive, responsible conversation online about it.
I am not on a tirade against Wikipedia or WikiMedia Foundation other than to bring attention to this very real problem. Jimbo Wales and the Wikimedia foundation are idealists – I get it I’m one too. However here the dialogue has been disappointing.
The over all impression is that Wikimedia is putting their heads in the sand pretending a platform wide problem does not actually exist.
Additionally, without a significant alteration in wiki architecture, both as a community and platform, it’s a problem without any solution on the horizon.
Instead, it appears as if Wikimedia Foundation prefer to sell to the world the idealist message and wonder of Wikipedia for fundraising donations and brand awareness. What needs awareness is the irresponsible methods used editorially for what WikiMedia foundation wants to sell as a responsible publisher. No responsible publisher in the world would allow such oversight.
It’s not the complete truth that WikiMedia Foundation raises this issue when it comes to paid editors with private companies or corporations using PR companies, or even abuses in government institutions, it’s a self serving one.
Anyone with an agenda, paid or unpaid, can use Wikipedia in this manner. Anyone can game Wikipedia, and the attraction for the real estate of an Wikipedia article is too lucrative for any ideological agenda not to. No matter how small or insignificant.
Accusations of ‘socking’ on Wikipedia are easily abused to control editing permissions, and often used to misframe people to get blocks initiated. My case studies show that there is no genuine oversight for this activity amongst the admins.
Wikipedia, it could easily be argued – is one of the most influential publishers in the world, and it’s collapse is far more worrisome if this is not brought to light.
‘The Conversation takes a look in this new post. It’s written by Taha Yasserie, a research fellow at Oxford university who is a former Wikipedia admin.
Taha Yasserie explains how speculative the whole process is. It’s easy to abuse, confuse, and even self delude. Add an agenda to that mixture – and it’s ripe for becoming a weapon for attacking editing permissions for a point of view you don’t like.
Claims of ‘Sock puppet’ acts as a digital wildfire 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.