Sockpuppet

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You may be looking for the fan Luminosity aka "sockkpuppett".

Synonyms: sock puppet, sock
See also: Online Pseudonym, Wank, Pseuicide, Fandom Flounce
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Contents

A sockpuppet is a type of secondary online persona, created by a person who already has an online pseudonym and identity within a given community.

The defining characteristic of a sockpuppet is that they are not an independent persona. Sockpuppets do not legitimately participate in fandom on their own terms; a sockpuppet is a mere prop or tool that is often used to deceive others and benefit their creator. Under a strict definition, the term only applies when a person uses the second account to talk to themselves or about themselves while pretending to be a different person.

Some fans use the term for secondary accounts they set up on journal sites in order to keep some activities separate and not associated with their main identity, such as fic communities for types of fic they don't want people to know they read. They may also use "sock" accounts to comment on entries where their main account has been banned. In these cases, the name of the sockpuppet account is often a humorous or ironic admission that the account is a sock, and there is no chance that any savvy fan would be deceived[1].

Some sockpuppeteers have created multiple socks-- Smallville sockpuppet SVmaria eventually created over thirty sockpuppets, and Rat Patrol fandom once suffered a sockpuppeter known as CatO or WolfWalker [2] who created over 600 sockpuppets in order to, among other things, dominate a fannish mailing list. [3]

Not every secondary or alternate persona is a sockpuppet. A fan may create a new pseud for many reasons: for a "fresh start" in a new fandom or area of fannish endeavor (like a fanfic writer who takes up vidding), to avoid being outed in RL, or to secretly write stories in a controversial genre [4]. People who do this are generally not considered "sockpuppets."

Purpose

A fan might potentially use a sockpuppet for several reasons:

  • To praise or rec her own fanworks
  • To troll or flame herself in order to gain attention and sympathy
  • To criticize, troll or flame others, such as a well-liked BNF, and escape the consequences
  • To disguise the true reason for a personally-motivated attack on a known enemy
  • To back up lies or improbable claims made by the sockpuppeter's primary persona
  • To come to her own defense when criticized or flamed by others
  • To create the illusion of mass, fandom-wide dissent or support
  • To ask for money or gifts because the sockpuppeter's primary persona is "too shy/proud/sick" to make such a request

Detection

An IP address can be useful in matching a sockpuppet to their sockpuppeteer; similarly, sockpuppets may be detected if both sockpuppet and creator have habitual spelling or grammar quirks.

On June 24, 2006, many fans contributed to a fanthropology discussion entitled "Diagnosing malicious puppetry." [5] Some of the warning signs of a sockpuppet mentioned in that discussion were:

  • A fan who instantly acquires fawning fangirls who constantly pimp her work and create gifts (art, websites) for her, despite the work not generally being considered excellent or noteworthy
  • A fan who constantly suffers aggressive trolls but does not disallow anonymous comments from being posted to their journal, and cannot show anyone the flames supposedly received through email
  • Constantly mentioning their glamorous lifestyle, high-profile job or exotic sex life
  • Vague accusations against others that are never backed up with specific details or proof
  • Repeated Munchausen-by-Internet incidents or personal tragedies, which conveniently occur at times when the sockpuppeter wishes to gain sympathy or avoid criticism

Sockpuppet accounts will often claim to have a long history in fandom, and to care intensely about various fannish issues, but this cannot be backed up with any proof; if asked, many sockpuppets will not be able to explain why they only decided to join the fandom's main mailing list yesterday, or why they only created their livejournal account six hours ago; unfortunately, because of some fans' use of sockpuppets, newbies who do not have an established reputation in fandom may be mistaken for sockpuppets if their first emergence from lurking is to participate in a flamewar or wank.

Notorious Cases

Listed are a few of the more notorious examples of sockpuppets:

References

  1. See multiple comments by troll_sock and goatsonparade on Okay, honesty time., a post by bomb_bomb about a plagiarism wank
  2. amedia, rough draft - RP sockpuppeteer account June 22, 2006
  3. Kathy Agel in amedia's LJ, Another account of the RP sock puppet fiasco June 26, 2006
  4. See Speranza for an example of changing/creating a new pseud.
  5. mecurtin in fanthropology, Diagnosing malicious puppetry June 24, 2006
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