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Smells Like Astroturfer
December 22, 2006 5:41 AM   Subscribe

Is PreacherTom an astroturfer? He's made 13 posts to the blue, all in the past couple of months. And all 13 of them start with a link to Business Week. There's someone with the same name on Netscape.com's digg-esque site who does the same thing, and one on StumbleUpon, too. And that's not all. Am I being paranoid? Is this even worth frowning on, as long as they're all decent posts?
posted by Plutor to Etiquette/Policy at 5:41 AM (166 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

Not only that, but he's favorited all his posts... Not that there's anything wrong with that per se, but it seems a bit odd to me.
posted by armage at 5:44 AM on December 22, 2006


Thank you. Frankly his posts have been a bit "meh", and I was starting to get very, very annoyed with the Business Week links.

Business Week jumped the shark long before Fonzie did, y'know.
posted by loquacious at 5:48 AM on December 22, 2006


And he's got a 1:1 post-to-comment ratio. Again, nothing wrong with that, but I'd place it in the "suspicious" column. (I'd also like to point out that I have no reason to believe that this PreacherTom is Tom McHenry the cartoonist, who uses the same name on LJ and Flickr.)
posted by Plutor at 5:48 AM on December 22, 2006


Slashdot stories from the same guy.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 5:57 AM on December 22, 2006


Astroturfing account, caught in the wild. Cool.
posted by stbalbach at 6:03 AM on December 22, 2006


Bring 'em down.
posted by BeerFilter at 6:06 AM on December 22, 2006


This Google search just about says it all, really.
posted by armage at 6:07 AM on December 22, 2006


I had been presuming this for a long time, there's just something too sketchy about the composition style and the frequency with which they are posted. When moxyberry noted the SlashDot correlation with PreacherToms post on "addictions" I figured that'd be evidence enough.
posted by prostyle at 6:07 AM on December 22, 2006


It's certainly worth the call out. I leave it to jessamyn to decide what should be done. Ban? I don't know.

Oh hell, yes I do - kick the shill out. It's obvious they have a vested interest in sending traffic to Businessweek. Whether they work surreptitiously on Businessweek's behalf or (more likely I reckon) they are involved with advertising at the site, this pattern of disingenuous behaviour is so strong as to be undeniable. Torch the Preacher.
posted by peacay at 6:08 AM on December 22, 2006


It would be really interesting to follow this to see exactly how far it goes. Is PreacherTom paid directly by Business Week? And is Business Week fully aware of the astroturfing? Or does Business Week pay a "marketing agency" which in turn pays PreacherTom?

It'd be really neat to totally expose a whole bunch of cruddy viral marketers on this one, and increase awareness and transparency of how aggressive marketing is these days.

*finesses the Google for guava*
posted by loquacious at 6:18 AM on December 22, 2006


You know what? THIS is why we can't have nice things around here... stupid shills. Nuke the bastard.
posted by Inkoate at 6:20 AM on December 22, 2006


All of the guy's links (in Metafilter and the other sites) have a "campaign_id" URL variable attached to them, which means that Business Week can track these inbound links and see how effective they are at driving traffic to the site. 100% chance that he's a corporate shill for Business Week.

But the question is, who is he? He has a StumbleUpon profile link to handgunneroutlet.com, which is run by a Thomas Novak, and appears to be a real business. That business is in Latrobe, PA. He says he lives in Altoona, PA, which is 90 miles east of Latrobe, and he says he lives in Pittsburgh, PA, which is 50-60 miles west of Latrobe. He gets around, I guess.

However, there's another Thomas Novak, who is a professor at Vanderbilt University, specializing in measuring the effectiveness of online marketing. Is it unwarranted speculation to guess that perhaps Prof. Novak is testing some internet marketing theories, and in constructing his cyber-personas, picked some other Thomas Novaks?
posted by jellicle at 6:20 AM on December 22, 2006 [5 favorites]


If you're being paid to shill traffic to a unique domain on multiple fora, why would you use the same username on each of them? Stupid, stupid astroturfers.
posted by yhbc at 6:22 AM on December 22, 2006


oooo good detective work!
posted by Hildegarde at 6:26 AM on December 22, 2006


That's some extremely subtle and good investigating, jellicle.
posted by generichuman at 6:27 AM on December 22, 2006


How could he possibly have time to be a gun store owner, a Lutheran minister, a former competitive pistol shooter, a high school basketball official, a college professor, and an astroturfer at the same time? He may be disingenuous scum, but he is a damn hard worker. Also, is there any chance that he just likes to post links to things that he finds interesting on lots of websites, but the only things that he ever reads is Business Week, and so that is all that he ever thinks to post?
posted by ND¢ at 6:28 AM on December 22, 2006


damn. i left my pitchfork in this thread.
posted by localhuman at 6:31 AM on December 22, 2006


is there any chance

0.125%
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 6:33 AM on December 22, 2006


ND¢: "Is there any chance that he just likes to post links to things that he finds interesting on lots of websites, but the only things that he ever reads is Business Week, and so that is all that he ever thinks to post?"

I considered this possible, hence the weasely language in my callout. The campaign_id's don't seem to bode well in his favor, though.
posted by Plutor at 6:33 AM on December 22, 2006


*pushes back head on bust of Shakespeare*
*flips switch*
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:34 AM on December 22, 2006


If I were M or J I'd nuke him and email the admins of the other places with the info.
posted by dobbs at 6:34 AM on December 22, 2006


"When I was seventeen, I walked into the jungle. And by twenty-one, I walked out. And by God, i was rich!"

I say we shit in his hat and send him on his way. Gonna have to try harder than that you astroturfing peehole.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:35 AM on December 22, 2006


Peehole?

Heh.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:37 AM on December 22, 2006


Intersting to google up the "campaign ID" tag.
posted by Mid at 6:38 AM on December 22, 2006


I found interesting his comment in which he states he had to go look up the meaning of F.U.D. I thought that was covered in the first unit of Astroturfing for Dummies.
posted by BeerFilter at 6:38 AM on December 22, 2006


He's marked this thread as a favorite, too.

Hi, PreacherTom!
posted by yhbc at 6:39 AM on December 22, 2006


Call him the jack off of all trades.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:39 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


WTF he favorited this thread! I think jellicle might be right that he's "a professor at Vanderbilt University, specializing in measuring the effectiveness of online marketing. ... testing some internet marketing theories."
posted by Plutor at 6:43 AM on December 22, 2006


Damnit, yhbc.
posted by Plutor at 6:45 AM on December 22, 2006


You know who else is from Latrobe?

Ron Stablehorn.
posted by Otis at 6:50 AM on December 22, 2006


If the professor angle is right, his papers may be of interest.
posted by Partial Law at 6:56 AM on December 22, 2006


Blind speculation is fun and all, Tom, but as it's clear that you're paying attention, it'd be super if you'd speak up.
posted by cortex at 6:59 AM on December 22, 2006


I hear that in Hell, corrosives are medicinal.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:00 AM on December 22, 2006


With any luck, he is the professor and he's researching about the effectiveness of astroturfing, and now his paper will say "Stay away from MetaFilter, they'll sniff you out in a month and a half."
posted by Partial Law at 7:05 AM on December 22, 2006


wha? a man of faith, a preacher, would never exploit a community for his own personal gain. i just don't believe it.
posted by localhuman at 7:06 AM on December 22, 2006 [2 favorites]


You know who else is (was) from Latrobe?

"33"

posted by TedW at 7:12 AM on December 22, 2006


I can attest to the fact that the MetaFilter PreacherTom is not the same PreacherTom who creates such fine webcomics as Teen Drama and Murdercross. That'd be Tom McHenry.

I think it'd be a just act to transfer the corrupt PreacherTom's account to the good PreacherTom.
posted by picea at 7:13 AM on December 22, 2006


I'm waiting for the pictures of him frolicking in a seedy hotel room with konolia to get posted.
posted by orange swan at 7:16 AM on December 22, 2006 [2 favorites]


Or just change PreacherTom's handle to CorruptPreacherTom.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:17 AM on December 22, 2006


I've emailed Geoff Dodge to ask for any comment from Businessweek. (he's named as 'publisher' in the 2007 Businessweek Mediakit)
posted by peacay at 7:18 AM on December 22, 2006


Heck, why not just email Thomas while you're at it?

Considering that he and his chief collaborator have long believed that "the Internet was a revolution in democratic communication and the most important innovation since the development of the printing press," I imagine he might be receptive to joining the democratic discussion here.
posted by googly at 7:24 AM on December 22, 2006


BTW, if it is Novak, on quick scan of his essays, I think its a bit early to go into full-bore storm-the-gates mode. It's quite possible that this is legitimate research, and not just pesi-bluish profiteering.

But keep those torches burning and pitchforks handy nevertheless.
posted by googly at 7:27 AM on December 22, 2006


Hmmm

On the Eve of the Big Release Just in case you haven't drowned in the flood of stories about the new consoles, Businessweek is offering a few more. For the PS3, we have a summary article giving information on Sony's current situation, along with a 4 (out of 5) star review. In the Wii's corner, we have an interview with two of Nintendo's developers, who discuss the rationale behind the controller redesign, pricing, and keeping their gamers happy. Call it a little light reading before you hit the lines tonight.
posted on Nov-16-06 at 7:21 AM PST

posted by textilephile at 7:28 AM on December 22, 2006


googly writes "Heck, why not just email Thomas while you're at it? "

Because there is no evidence whatsoever, save for pure speculation, to suggest that guy is involved. Whereas all roads do in fact lead to Businessweek.
posted by peacay at 7:31 AM on December 22, 2006


Yeah, I don't buy the professor angle. I think it was the religious gun store owner with the shady marketing company in the internet.
posted by ND¢ at 7:37 AM on December 22, 2006 [2 favorites]

googly: BTW, if it is Novak, on quick scan of his essays, I think its a bit early to go into full-bore storm-the-gates mode. It's quite possible that this is legitimate research, and not just pesi-bluish profiteering.
Personally, the fact that ALL of these links lead to BusinessWeek indicates that it in fact is rank profiteering. Just because he's a professor doesn't preclude him from earning a tidy sum on the side as a "marketing consultant."
posted by Doofus Magoo at 7:40 AM on December 22, 2006


Unless Matt or I get some sort of an airtight explanation, he's banned with extreme prejudice. If anyone wants to contact the folks from the other sites, please be my guest.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:48 AM on December 22, 2006


textilephile, you may be reaching a bit far with that'n.
posted by cortex at 7:52 AM on December 22, 2006


he's banned wtih extreme prejudice

Wow that's some kind of new level of pwnitude in bannination.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:52 AM on December 22, 2006


I saw a comment tag the other day on another site that I needed to wiki to understand: fud. Apparently, it stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt. It is a "marketing technique" used to manipulate people...and apparently it works very well.

I think this is a lesson that this man recites every morning when he wakes up and every night before he goes to sleep.

I, for one, am quite sick and tired of it.
- link
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:59 AM on December 22, 2006


I hereby withdraw my attempts at being a voice of moderation. Faster, Metafilter, Kill Kill Kill!
posted by googly at 8:03 AM on December 22, 2006


*pats Plutor on back while stealing his wallet*

Good job, man.
posted by mediareport at 8:05 AM on December 22, 2006


Would it be possible for matt or jessamyn to strip the campaign IDs off preachertom's businessweek URLS? He may be banned but the links remain to give him credit if anybody clicks on 'em.
posted by contessa at 8:09 AM on December 22, 2006


Mid writes 'Intersting to google up the "campaign ID" tag.'

URLs with the same "campaign_id" have also been posted to Fark, Digg and Furl. He's been a busy chap.

Good spot, Plutor
posted by blag at 8:11 AM on December 22, 2006


wait. so he wasn't really a preacher?
posted by nola at 8:14 AM on December 22, 2006


Dammit. He was the only one who could ever reach me, too.
posted by cortex at 8:16 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh, he's a preacher. Preachin' the gospel of BUSINESS!
posted by Floydd at 8:16 AM on December 22, 2006


also, plutor and jellicle, two big gold stars for you. ninety five percent of the time metatalk just makes me ill. but today it worked, thanks to you.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:23 AM on December 22, 2006


cortex, don't think that the ~10,000km distance between us will save you from being slapped: somewhere...some time.
posted by peacay at 8:23 AM on December 22, 2006


i think it would do well to complain loudly about this

I think it would do well not to complain until there is some evidence that he is actually connected to this. As peacay says, the only firm link is to Business Week.
posted by greycap at 8:23 AM on December 22, 2006


it looks like this guy has a huge staff of IT specialists


yeah and he spell porn like Pr0n.
posted by nola at 8:24 AM on December 22, 2006


Metafiler: Now with extreme prejudice.
posted by Remy at 8:26 AM on December 22, 2006


If PreacherTom is a professor, then he might be in violation of the human subjects research protocol of his university, which usually require informed consent and full disclosure. (Vanderbilt has one, but I couldn't find one for UCR on a quick search.)

I think it would be worth figuring out if this was indeed university-sponsored research because the internet is a fuzzy area in research ethics, and a lot of policies haven't been sorted out yet. In general, research ethics require informed consent from the participants, but the internet is a quasi-public place where information is sometimes passive (like archives) and sometimes active (like interviews). In general, it is the active research that ethics protocols are in charge of, so if he convinced the board that the research was passive they might have approved it.

Anyway, the point I'm leading up to here is that the University ethics board would probably be willing to consider a complaint from Matt if there was secret research going on here, and if they had approved it in the past, then they might be willing to change or reconsider their policies.

This is all, of course, contingent on PreacherTom actually being the professor and not someone else.
posted by carmen at 8:27 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Plutor—and other MetaFilter regulars—get more done before 9 a.m. than most people do in a week. Bravura show, folks. It'll be really juicy if there's confirmation and some crying.
posted by cgc373 at 8:28 AM on December 22, 2006


I'm crying already.
*sniffs*
posted by Floydd at 8:32 AM on December 22, 2006


MetaFilter: just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you
posted by briank at 8:33 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


This post was deleted for the following reason: I do not like thee preachertom, the reason why: this post's a bomb, but this I know, go ask my Mom, I do not like thee preachertom.
posted by Floydd at 8:37 AM on December 22, 2006


More like Reverend Billy.
posted by klangklangston at 8:40 AM on December 22, 2006


until there is some evidence that he is actually connected to this.

greycap, i got a dollar that says the logs would show the ip posting that bizweek fpp belongs to a ucr subnet.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:41 AM on December 22, 2006


Matt, can you confirm 3.2.3's bet for us?
posted by mediareport at 8:42 AM on December 22, 2006


Matt is on vacation (still I think). Jessamyn has the conch.
posted by ND¢ at 8:46 AM on December 22, 2006


Maybe some of the editors at Business Week's Blogspotting blog could address this issue or explain. As pointed out a search for "campaign_id" and "Business Week" definitely produces a lot of Google results so it would seem some explanation could be offered. Perhaps they could shed some light on things.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:46 AM on December 22, 2006


i got ten cents , says your all wrong , and it's really fran lebowitz in your computers hax0ring your dial ups.
posted by nola at 8:47 AM on December 22, 2006


you're
posted by nola at 8:48 AM on December 22, 2006


I imagine he might be receptive to joining the democratic discussion here.

*laughs uncontrollably*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:50 AM on December 22, 2006


It's nice to see that I wasn't overreacting. This kind of makes me think of cockroaches, though: for every one you see, there are a ten (or 17 or a hundred or something) that you don't. There are certainly turfers out there that are more subtle and don't use the same login on every site. And it's a shame we can't catch them all.

It'd be interesting to hear from Dr. Novak -- or from whoever PreacherTom was -- through Mattamyn. But it's kind of unlikely. If it's a researcher, insider details would screw up his research. If it's a scammer, he's already created a new five-dollar account and made a note to himself to be a little more discrete in the future.
posted by Plutor at 8:51 AM on December 22, 2006


ur
posted by trip and a half at 8:53 AM on December 22, 2006


Jessamyn has the conch.

Misoupgynist!
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 8:53 AM on December 22, 2006


Brilliant, jellicle.
posted by jamjam at 8:57 AM on December 22, 2006


i think think a bananation slap on the wrist is not nearly enough for this creep.

We have top men working on it now. Top men.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:05 AM on December 22, 2006 [2 favorites]


it could be someone who took a class from Tom Novak and just linked to him in one of his profiles, rather then the actual dude.
posted by delmoi at 9:05 AM on December 22, 2006


Unless Matt or I get some sort of an airtight explanation, he's banned with extreme prejudice.

Oooh, I got the chills when I read that!
posted by malocchio at 9:08 AM on December 22, 2006


Between him'n Robert, the Novaks are all kinda scum, aren't they?
posted by klangklangston at 9:10 AM on December 22, 2006


To scale back the speculation a bit, all posts by PreacherTom were from east coast verizon and atlanticbb.com IP addresses, which would seem to indicate that they are actually physically located over there, making Pennsylvania a plausible reality and not a dude in Riverside, CA.

(weird coincidence: my BS and MS degrees are from UCR and I'm very familiar with the place)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:11 AM on December 22, 2006


Call him the jack off of all trades.

If he's really from Latrobe then that would be "Jag-off".
posted by octothorpe at 9:12 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Misoupgynist!

Sucks to your assmar!

-or-

im in ur cult holding ur conch!1
posted by loquacious at 9:15 AM on December 22, 2006


klangklangston: "Between him'n Robert, the Novaks are all kinda scum, aren't they?"

No.
posted by koeselitz at 9:17 AM on December 22, 2006


Thing is, you would never have caught the guy if he hadn't been so silly as to

- use the same handle on every website he posts on,
- link to the same website with every post.

I'm sure there's a lot of more subtle astroturfing going on every day, and it goes straight over our heads.
posted by reklaw at 9:18 AM on December 22, 2006


I will laugh my ass off if ol' Thomas ends up canned for his stunt. Or caned.

It ought to be legal to hunt spammers for sport.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:19 AM on December 22, 2006


By the way, the deletion reason for this one is just about the best yet, and will make my holidays happy and bright.
posted by koeselitz at 9:21 AM on December 22, 2006


Pointy sticks! Righteous indignation for breakfast! Smarty-pantses protecting the commons! I lurve you guys.
*sigh*
posted by tula at 9:22 AM on December 22, 2006


Now that that's all settled, I'd like to point out that Altoona is west of Latrobe.

Thank you, and goodnight.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:23 AM on December 22, 2006


reklaw: "I'm sure there's a lot of more subtle astroturfing going on every day, and it goes straight over our heads."

Yes, but it isn't likely that people are going to post shitty links without us noticing it. So the worst that's happening is people are posting interesting things for their own benefit without us realizing that it's for their own benefit. The healthy amount of paranoia that all for-profit links receive helps keep the pepsi blue down a great deal, I imagine.

Still against the guidelines, and ought to be prosecuted "with extreme prejudice" (awesome phrase), but not going to destroy us yet.
posted by koeselitz at 9:24 AM on December 22, 2006


That deletion reason is GREAT!!!!!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:28 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]




. . . Ground Control to Preacher Tom
Your circuit's dead,
there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Preacher Tom?
Can you hear me, Preacher Tom?
Can you hear me, Preacher Tom?
Can you....
posted by nola at 9:33 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


By God, I'm starting to think you guys could find weapons of mass destruction hidden along the Persian Gulf.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:35 AM on December 22, 2006


Screw Santa, you'd better be good all year round because MetaFilter's making a list and checking it twice... and a third time... and a fourth...

And I really don't want to be on that list.

(Good show, guys. I love seeing justice in action!)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:42 AM on December 22, 2006


making Pennsylvania a plausible reality and not a dude in Riverside, CA

greycap, is the email in your profile registered with paypal? i'd like to send you a dollar.

with appropriate contrition...
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


By God, I'm starting to think you guys could find weapons of mass destruction hidden along the Persian Gulf.

Could? Did. I turned 'em over to The Cabal for safekeeping.


Idea: How hard would it be to strip or forbid certain kinds of campaign or referral IDs?

There will be times when we want to use certain IDs (for things like permalinks or printable versions of articles) but must of the time it seems like they should be forbidden.
posted by loquacious at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2006


By God, I'm starting to think you guys could find weapons of mass destruction hidden along the Persian Gulf.

If they start claiming to have cancer, building ski resorts, or show up for sale on eBay, sure. And then we'll turn them into a postcard art project.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:50 AM on December 22, 2006


I turned 'em over to The Cabal for safekeeping.

No such thing.
posted by cortex at 9:56 AM on December 22, 2006


Dammit. He was the only one who could ever reach me, too.

I thought that was the son of a preacher man.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 9:59 AM on December 22, 2006


I must profess my ignorance regarding astroturfing before this thread. I thought astroturf was the kind of grass you couldn't smoke but could play on. (As opposed to the kind you could play on but could smoke.)

Is being a professional astroturfer one of those jobs where you can work from home and make thousands of dolars a week in your spare time? Does anyone know what someone like PreacherTom gets paid per click through? Is it cents per click?

Oh, Arnold Palmer is from Latrobe.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:02 AM on December 22, 2006


klangklangston: "Between him'n Robert, the Novaks are all kinda scum, aren't they?"

No.


Also: No.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:03 AM on December 22, 2006


...kind you could play on but could smoke...

sb "kind you couldn't play on but could smoke."

Zut.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:06 AM on December 22, 2006


It seems odd to me that people in this thread are taking PreacherTom's identification with Thomas Novak (gun store owner or professor) at face value. This "evidence" is very weak, and seems like it would all be a part of the background one would create for a new web persona.

My guess is that PreacherTom is wagging his tail excitedly as reads this and confirms that he got away with it: no one knows he's a dog.
posted by tkolar at 10:08 AM on December 22, 2006


The deletion reason has a typo in it.

For a while there, I was all excited as I have in my family a marketing professor from Latrobe. Unfortunately that's the Latrobe in Melbourne. Dammit family! Can't you do something interesting and controversial at least once?

fuckers, bet they want an xmas pressie too
posted by Sparx at 10:12 AM on December 22, 2006


Oh, Arnold Palmer is from Latrobe.

And so was Mister Rogers.
posted by briank at 10:18 AM on December 22, 2006


greycap, is the email in your profile registered with paypal? i'd like to send you a dollar.

with appropriate contrition...


It's not registered - I can e-mail you the registered one if you really want to honour the bet, but don't worry about it, 3.2.3, really!
posted by greycap at 10:19 AM on December 22, 2006


It seems odd to me that people in this thread are taking PreacherTom's identification at face value

truly sorry. all the product placement of late was irritating me to the point of not thinking clearly. the thought that this *could* be some academic experiment gone awry sent me over the edge. i chopped up and burned all my torches and pitchforks so i won't bother anybody else for awhile. if called for jury duty, i'll wear short pants and a five o'clock shadow so as to disqualify myself.
posted by 3.2.3 at 10:26 AM on December 22, 2006


Let me add to the chorus of praise for Plutor and jellicile. Astroturfing and viral marketing really get under my skin. Many of us eschew television in favor of the web because we wanted to get the fuck away from these dirtbags. So to see them violating our sweet, sweet internets is quite upsetting. I'm still a bit irked by the recent PSP viral debacle.

Ugh. And I clicked some of his links! I posted on a thread! I was party to BizWeek sending this jack off a third of a nickel or whatever the hell his mercenary posts net him. So I'm off to take a half-dozen showers or so.

But seriously, Plutor, jellicile, jessamyn (best ban ever), and everyone else who aided in this shill's ejection, I'd like to pin a medal on you.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:29 AM on December 22, 2006


Oh, he's a preacher. Preachin' the gospel of BUSINESS!

Ye have turned mathowie's house into a den of thieves!
posted by Robot Johnny at 10:29 AM on December 22, 2006


And he would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids.
posted by euphorb at 10:42 AM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


fran lebowitz in your computers

Now that would be something.
posted by Mid at 10:59 AM on December 22, 2006


[removed 3.2.3's Tom Novak expose by request]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:37 AM on December 22, 2006


best deletion reason ever.
posted by shmegegge at 11:56 AM on December 22, 2006


I don't get it. Is astroturfing a play on grassroots?
posted by SBMike at 12:21 PM on December 22, 2006


Yes, it is.
posted by Plutor at 12:28 PM on December 22, 2006


I don't get it. Is astroturfing a play on grassroots?
Fake grass, yaknow
posted by exogenous at 12:28 PM on December 22, 2006


digg user: revtom

Slashdot id: PreacherTom (scroll down to see recent submissions)
posted by BeerFilter at 12:31 PM on December 22, 2006


Is astroturfing a play on grassroots?

yes. there are companies you can hire to conduct faux grassroots marketing campaigns.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

often used where more direct means would be immediately poorly received (frequently in politics):

http://blog.stayfreemagazine.org/2006/08/gore_video.html

http://blog.stayfreemagazine.org/2005/10/astroturf_for_p.html

http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/45622

http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/24033

http://www.metafilter.com/comments.mefi/30440
posted by 3.2.3 at 12:34 PM on December 22, 2006


does banned with extreme predjudice mean he's redirected to tubgirl.com?
posted by quonsar at 12:39 PM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


This makes me all choked up and proud to be a member of this clever, ban-happy crew. Matt bless you every one!
posted by languagehat at 12:46 PM on December 22, 2006


No, quonsar, it means Jessamyn sent him an email threating an inverted ass-forking.
posted by cortex at 12:49 PM on December 22, 2006


Or the chicken treatment.
posted by Mid at 1:03 PM on December 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


From the delicious ironing file ...

... PreacherTom's digg alter ego, revtom posted this a week or so ago to that poor, unsuspecting site.

Viral Marketing Backfires on Sony

this isn't a good week for Sony. Following Time's declaration of the PS3 being a failure, Sony was discovered to be behind the site "alliwantforxmasisapsp.com" and its "funky fresh" rhetoric. Critics say the site insults their intelligence and takes marketing to a new low on many different levels.

posted by EatTheWeak at 1:26 PM on December 22, 2006


Chicken treatment? Sounds like a plan. Where's Stavros?
posted by SpecialK at 1:28 PM on December 22, 2006


Thanks to everyone who caught this. It's a festivus miracle!
posted by mullingitover at 1:34 PM on December 22, 2006


. . . Ground Control to Preacher Tom
Your circuit's dead,
there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Preacher Tom?
Can you hear me, Preacher Tom?
Can you hear me, Preacher Tom?
Can you....


Here am I sitting in my tin can
Far outside the site
Metafilter's Blue
And there's no post I can do...
posted by Freon at 2:14 PM on December 22, 2006 [2 favorites]


nice
posted by nola at 3:26 PM on December 22, 2006


Slashdot callout.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 3:46 PM on December 22, 2006


(wasn't me)
posted by Doofus Magoo at 3:47 PM on December 22, 2006


Valleywag picked up on it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:00 PM on December 22, 2006


Couldn't someone submit this MeTa thread to Digg? (I don't really use digg so am not sure if it's appropriate. If it is, however, that could be amusing.)
posted by dobbs at 4:11 PM on December 22, 2006


He's changed his Netscape profile since this morning. It used to link to his handgun site, http://www.novakshandgunneroutlet.com.

Here's a pic of the ol' Rev. He's third from the left. Here's him just after discharge. You can cross-ref the back-and-side pics with his group shots from the team match pics.

And dobbs, I thought of that, but it's hard to me to write for the digg crowd. It'd need to be something with a strong attention getter like "OMG Diggg Played For Teh Fool!!!! MUST READ!" then a one-sentence summary, then a link to his submissions. Something easy to digest.
posted by BeerFilter at 4:17 PM on December 22, 2006


People, wind up your press kits and polish the lenses of your TV cameras. We may have another Ted Haggard on our hands here.
posted by koeselitz at 4:27 PM on December 22, 2006


wait- isn't anyone scared here? you've just banned and publicly humiliated all acrost the internets A MAN WITH A LOVE FOR AND SKILL WITH GUNS! matt you should be fine because he doesn't appear able to operate an aeroplane, but jessamyn- i've got one suggestion: kevlar. many layers of kevlar.
posted by localhuman at 4:55 PM on December 22, 2006


Funny, but I have a strange urge to subscribe to Business Week magazine. Hey, wait a second!
posted by luckypozzo at 6:09 PM on December 22, 2006


Here's him just after discharge.

Those jean shorts don't do much for his ass. But gotta love the way he and his pals go after political signs. I could call it creepy as fuck, but dammit, I keep thinking how much fun it would be.
posted by mediareport at 6:12 PM on December 22, 2006


cortex quotes then writes ""I turned 'em over to The Cabal for safekeeping.
""No such thing."


Well of course _you'd_ say that, what with needing to generate plausible deniablity and all.
posted by Mitheral at 6:12 PM on December 22, 2006


Shooting at those politicals signs is creepy. You would think Homeland Security would find that interesting.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:41 PM on December 22, 2006


this is all quite amazing.
posted by brandz at 7:11 PM on December 22, 2006


A comment in his latest digg submission links here.
posted by sanko at 7:33 PM on December 22, 2006


Does Newsweek have anything to say on this? Have they responded to the email inquiries?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:08 PM on December 22, 2006


Where's Stavros?

I just woke up from dreams of fire and vengeance.

I don't care much about this individual shill (who should be chastized and ridiculed, of course). What I want to know is which marketing firm is responsible for this, who is behind it at Business Week, and how do we expose and humiliate the fuckers?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:24 PM on December 22, 2006


It's BusinessWeek which is published by McGraw-Hill. Not Newsweek.
And no, they didn't respond to my hastily written email ---

==============================
To Geoff Dodge (his name/email addi is listed as a point of contact in the pdf download for web advertising - from the bottom of the BusinessWeek website)
----------------------------

"Hi there

A person by the nickname of PreacherTom has been posting many links to Businessweek articles in online forums over a number of months.

All of the links contain a URL terminal string of

...htm?campaign_id=bier_tcc.g3a.rssm1222e

I note each article, when viewed from the Businessweek front page, has a different URL.

(you can see some discussion on Metafilter here)

Would you please advise whether PreacherTom is an employee or subcontractor working for or on behalf of Businessweek or McGrawHill or their advertizers or advertizing agencies?

I note that Businessweek publishes an ethics code with respect to journalists. Is there any similar code of conduct published in relation to advertizing, linking in offsite locations or campaigns to generate web traffic for Businessweek?

Is the practice of linking to Businessweek surreptitiously on outside websites condoned, encouraged or otherwise accepted policy?

I look forward to hearing from you. (I'm also happy to add your comment to the ensuing Metafilter discussion if you so wish).

Regards


'peacay' "
=============================

Too pointed ya think?
posted by peacay at 9:27 PM on December 22, 2006


Pointy enough.
posted by wendell at 9:31 PM on December 22, 2006


freerepublic user: RevTom
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:49 PM on December 22, 2006


A comment in his latest digg submission links here.

By SonofaPreacher, no less.

On a different note I am happy to report that 3.2.3 honoured the bet, despite my protestations - what a fantastic guy. This sort of thing is why I love this place.
posted by greycap at 11:00 PM on December 22, 2006


HELLO THERE, CORPORATE DAMAGE CONTROL JACKASS!!

I BET YOU ARE ALIVE WITH PASSION FOR YOUR JOB!!
posted by scarabic at 11:08 PM on December 22, 2006


Harry Potter and the Astroturfing Reverend
posted by Partial Law at 11:12 PM on December 22, 2006


reddit
posted by scheptech at 11:15 PM on December 22, 2006


SIR! I SERIOUSLY QUESTION SCARABIC'S DEVOTION TO PROJECT SPARKLE MAYHEM, SIR!
posted by loquacious at 12:33 AM on December 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


Here's the weird thing: if you google "bier_tcc," you get a bunch of random posts on various blogs and message boards with links to bizweek. Maybe they are all spam, but some seem pretty authentic: [1], [2]. So, I'm thinking that bizweek must append the "bier_tcc" tag sometimes, maybe when you "send a link to a friend" or something. Could that explain Preachertom? Then again, his failure to explain himself (before he was banned) makes this unlikely.
posted by Mid at 4:44 AM on December 23, 2006


His head opened and stuff came out and turned read.
posted by flabdablet at 6:49 AM on December 23, 2006


Mid, businessweek does seem to use tracking ids for all their internal nav and I bet email communication, but the suspicious thing about this person's account and posts are that they repeated their posting at fark, digg, delicious, slashdot, reddit, and netscape. If it was just one site, I could see it being a person that just liked their articles and happened to include the tracking id they got from email or the site.

But to post the same stuff across half a dozen communities looks like the work of an employee. I'm curious what BusinessWeek says about it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:13 AM on December 23, 2006


Hi, Matt!
posted by cortex at 8:31 AM on December 23, 2006


Shooting at those politicals signs is creepy. You would think Homeland Security would find that interesting.

that you would think that homeland security would find that interesting is what's creepy.
posted by quonsar at 8:36 AM on December 23, 2006


I never liked his hair.
posted by The Deej at 8:58 AM on December 23, 2006


You are witnessing the birth of a new form of artificial life. The turfbot, able to promote business stories from anywhere on the planet, at a moments notice. This truly is the dawning of a new age.

The Tom is in play, I repeat, the Tom is in play!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:32 AM on December 23, 2006


Matt - I agree with all you say. What puzzles me is that when I go to the BW website, I can't seem to get the tracking tag to show up in the URLs in my browser. I wonder why it shows up in the apparently non-spam posts shown in google when you search for the tag. In other words, has anyone figured out how this affiliate program (or whatever it is) works? Not that it bears on our friend Tom, who does seem pretty turfy.
posted by Mid at 9:59 AM on December 23, 2006


Well at least he didn't link to an article exposing himself like that last ass-troturfer.

Can't remember the name now. How appropriate. It's like he never existed.

(You mean if you die in here... you die in the real world?)
posted by The Deej at 10:35 AM on December 23, 2006


I would like to take such people as this fellow, all spammers of all types really, and hang them on meathooks and let them die slowly.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 5:36 PM on December 23, 2006


he's continuing to show up on slashdot, apparently with the help of the editors.
posted by 3.2.3 at 3:28 PM on December 25, 2006


Hey Mediareport , I can't believe you didn't mention that Robert Downey Jr is running for Judge.
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:48 AM on December 26, 2006


that you would think that homeland security would find that interesting is what's creepy.

Yes, I guess you are right, because who else would know from creepy?
posted by R. Mutt at 6:53 PM on December 27, 2006


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