- 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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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 individual creator. Under a strict definition, the term only applies when a person uses the second account to talk to or about themselves while pretending to be a different person.
Some fans use the term for secondary accounts that they set up on journal sites in order to keep some activities separate and not associated with their main identity - for example, participating in 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[note 1].
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 [note 2]. People who do this are generally not considered "sockpuppets."
A fan might potentially use a sockpuppet for several reasons:
- To praise or rec their own fanworks
- To troll or flame themself 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 their 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
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.
- 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.
Rat Patrol fandom once suffered a sockpuppeter known as CatO or WolfWalker who created over 600 sockpuppets in order to, among other things, dominate a fannish mailing list. For more, see: The Rat Patrol Sockpuppet Debacle.
In a 2016 essay on slash in early Star Trek: The Original Series fandom, David Gerrold reveals that controversial fan authors/editors Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath were doing this in the 1970s in order to cement their positions as BNFs and "authorities" on Spock and the culture of his homeworld Vulcan.
They assumed ownership of the entire K/S phenomenon and proceeded to chase any fan holding a divergent view out of fandom. They did it in the social media that predated the internet -- the fanzine, they did it by creating hoax identities that abused and degraded anyone they chose as an enemy. At one point, they even told a 16 year old gay man that he could not write K/S stories because he didn't understand male homosexuality.
Listed are a few of the more notorious examples of sockpuppets:
- MsScribe (see also: Charlotte Lennox, a sock for the purpose of uncovering MsScribe)
- Victoria Bitter
- The Rat Patrol Sockpuppet Debacle
- The merits of sock-puppets; archive link by painless j (July 2005)
- mecurtin's fanthropology post "Diagnosing Malicious Puppetry"; Archive (June 24, 2006)
- Establishing one's fandom bona fides ; archive link page 1, archive link page 2 by liviapenn (December 2006)
- See multiple comments by troll_sock and goatsonparade on Okay, honesty time., a post by bomb_bomb about a plagiarism wank
- See Speranza for an example of changing/creating a new pseud.
- mecurtin in fanthropology, Diagnosing malicious puppetry June 24, 2006
- David Gerrold, "Just for the record, I always assumed Sulu was gay." Essay dated July 8, 2016.