Sockpuppet "The Ghost Of Ken Lay" Found By Some To Be Unfunny August 16, 2006 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Funny once, hell yes. Funny twice, sure. Still funny some 60 odd times later? Ummm.

Is there even the least bit of humor left in the ghost of Ken Lay's shtick? I'd argue that even the best jokes can grow first stale, then tiresome, then positively annoying if overused. Think of all the characters that SNL has beaten to death over the years through overuse. Ghost, you're becoming the Church Lady. (I'd have taken this to email but none is listed in the profile. And if I am being a jackass, and everyone else is still holding their sides in laughter each time the Ghost speaks, then I humbly apologize and await chastisement.)
posted by John Smallberries to Etiquette/Policy at 4:31 PM (169 comments total)

This from a Red Lectoid!
posted by Sailor Martin at 4:38 PM on August 16, 2006


Uh.
posted by cortex at 4:39 PM on August 16, 2006


Wait, I know this one.
posted by cortex at 4:40 PM on August 16, 2006


Your favorite unfavorite sockpuppet—
posted by cortex at 4:40 PM on August 16, 2006


No. Wait. I can get it. Your unfavorite sockpuppet ghost character shtick sucks.

Your favorite sockpuppet roleplayer callout sucks?

Somebody help me out here.

posted by cortex at 4:41 PM on August 16, 2006


No, the joke sucks. But good luck getting anything accomplished here.
posted by bob sarabia at 4:43 PM on August 16, 2006


i laugh even when i just think about the ghost of ken lay.

what's with all the h8?
posted by Stynxno at 4:45 PM on August 16, 2006


Who is the sockpuppet you most love to hate?

... and I'm not even sure the joke was funny the first time.
posted by purephase at 4:45 PM on August 16, 2006


I'd be a lot more tolerant of the worn-thin schtick if he weren't, well, a total asshole.
posted by Zozo at 4:46 PM on August 16, 2006


He has been helpful.
posted by purephase at 4:48 PM on August 16, 2006


This recurring throwaway gag is less funny than other recurring throwaway gags!
posted by phearlez at 4:50 PM on August 16, 2006


I asked the owner of the sockpuppet to stop using it to hide themselves under a new persona.

Never got a reply back.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:51 PM on August 16, 2006


This recurring throwaway gag is less funny than other recurring throwaway gags!

I have reached my personal threshold for this recurring throwaway gag, which signals the need for a callout!
posted by cortex at 4:52 PM on August 16, 2006


Consider me retired, Matt.
posted by the ghost of Ken Lay at 4:53 PM on August 16, 2006


That's the lost souls room. Death for the dead.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:55 PM on August 16, 2006


woo hoo, he's finally six feet under!
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:55 PM on August 16, 2006


Aw. He was the friendliest ghost I knew. The children all loved him so.
posted by maryh at 4:58 PM on August 16, 2006


"And if I am being a jackass, and everyone else is still holding their sides in laughter each time the Ghost speaks, then I humbly apologize and await chastisement."

This is the longform version of "amirite." The 'everyone' is a copout, because you waited for dame to say it in a previous thread, so clearly you're starting out with a group of dissenters of size everyone - 1, which makes you a coward.

GoKL, we hardly knew ye. Or those of us who don't read every single comment on MeFi hardly did. I've seen the nick maybe a handful of times, and figured the schtick would eventually peter out, just like Paris Hilton did (the real one, not the sock puppet). At least let us know your true name, so that we may later hold this behavior against you in a totally unrelated flamewar several years down the line.
posted by Eideteker at 5:09 PM on August 16, 2006


And that's right, Smallberries. I used math to call you a coward.

MetaFilter: I cockslapped you with set theory before breakfast, punk. How's that feel?

That being said, thanks to both of you (or the one of you, if tGoKL is JS's sockpuppet, oh teh deliciousness of it), for this MeTa thread and the chance to blow off some steam. Using math.
posted by Eideteker at 5:13 PM on August 16, 2006


The ghost is a lightweight. I got called out my first day.
posted by Paris Hilton at 5:18 PM on August 16, 2006


My Lectroid pride requires that I stand up and insist I never saw Dame's comments on this subject. I'll cop to the cowardly, though - I wanted to air this gripe more than a week ago, and I couldn't muster the sand to do so until now. I was going to defend my "Am I right" clause by saying "that's just my opinion; I could be wrong" and then realized I was quoting Dennis Miller of all people and... well, I concede the point.

As for using math on me - dammit man, I was a liberal arts major. Totally fucking unfair.
posted by John Smallberries at 5:27 PM on August 16, 2006


I won't magnify your shame by admitting that I, too, was a liberal arts major.

...

Oops.
posted by Eideteker at 5:30 PM on August 16, 2006


For the special moments...say it with math.
posted by cortex at 5:33 PM on August 16, 2006


tgoKL=timeistight?
posted by Kwantsar at 6:15 PM on August 16, 2006


I still think it's funny. However, I am quite easy to amuse.
posted by caddis at 6:22 PM on August 16, 2006


Ok, so let's seal the deal. Who is the owner of the sock-puppet? I'll give you an honorable place on the sockpuppet scorecard.
posted by crunchland at 6:32 PM on August 16, 2006


I think it's a slander against Paris Hilton to suggest she's over and done with. Didn't she just release a hit single?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 6:34 PM on August 16, 2006


See you in hell, ghost of Ken Lay!
posted by brain_drain at 6:39 PM on August 16, 2006


Ice cold haterade.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:41 PM on August 16, 2006


I'll cop to the cowardly, though - I wanted to air this gripe more than a week ago, and I couldn't muster the sand to do so until now.

One might even say you've got some small berries...
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 6:41 PM on August 16, 2006


Brilliant, Fidel! Hey, did you ever notice your username resembles the name of an ailing world leader?
posted by brain_drain at 6:47 PM on August 16, 2006


I'll give you an honorable place on the sockpuppet scorecard.

Hey, where's puke&cry = bob sarabia on that scorecard?
posted by dersins at 6:47 PM on August 16, 2006


And that's right, Smallberries. I used math to call you a coward.

Pfft. Let's see you say that to John Bigboote or John Fledgling, or even John Many Jars.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:23 PM on August 16, 2006


I'm waiting to hear what John Yaya has to say.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:28 PM on August 16, 2006


I don't think I qualify considering I never really made it a secret the two were the same person.
posted by bob sarabia at 7:42 PM on August 16, 2006


Well, sure it does. The list is there so people will know, even if they don't read every post you make. What was lacking was a verifiable admission, which you kindly provided.

Who else?
posted by crunchland at 7:52 PM on August 16, 2006


I'm at the edge of my seat wondering what the next gag sockpuppet character will be.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:54 PM on August 16, 2006


Check my profile, crunchland.
posted by Sailor Martin at 8:00 PM on August 16, 2006


I never really made it a secret...

I don't understand: What's the point of creating a new account if you're going to tell everyone the name of your old account?
posted by cribcage at 8:03 PM on August 16, 2006


To shake things up?
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:08 PM on August 16, 2006


Because "puke & cry" is a much better name.
posted by bob sarabia at 8:23 PM on August 16, 2006


Also, astro zombie must have spent at least $20 on nicks by now, probably more.
posted by bob sarabia at 8:30 PM on August 16, 2006


$20? Amateurs! Or is that armatures? I always get those two mixed up. Which one is it they cram up your ass and wiggle around to make the puppets dance?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:40 PM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Armchairs?
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:44 PM on August 16, 2006


I guess we won't have the ghost of Ken Lay to kick around anymore.

I always got a kick out of TGOKL, but heck I'm easily amused.

*slaps knee*

posted by Skygazer at 8:45 PM on August 16, 2006


Or what Caddis said which I would've seen if I'd read the whole thread thing that is here to be read about this Ghost of the Ken Lay guy. Who is being retired. And is actually gone now forever. and stuff.
posted by Skygazer at 8:49 PM on August 16, 2006


Embouchures!
posted by cortex at 8:51 PM on August 16, 2006


Sailor Martin has diiferent things to say than me.

The other Astro Zombies, on the other hand, were a waste of money.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:53 PM on August 16, 2006


Hey!
posted by Astro Zombie 2 at 8:54 PM on August 16, 2006


mmm baked lays.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 8:58 PM on August 16, 2006


Ken, we hardly knew ye. Or, in MeFi terms:

.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 8:59 PM on August 16, 2006


Crunchland, I'm just an honest database error I cannot explain. One error among many.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 9:03 PM on August 16, 2006



posted by If I Had An Anus at 9:04 PM on August 16, 2006


FWIW, I still think it's funny.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:12 PM on August 16, 2006


the ghost of ken who?

*googles* - oh, some american businessman involved with enron. i always vaguely wondered who ken lay was, but never cared nearly enough to look it up before.

*adds to stock of useless factoids for pub trivia nights*
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:40 PM on August 16, 2006


This is a very disappointing thread. So amicable, so friendly.
Where is the fury, the rage, the snarking, the flaming?
Has MetaFilter mellowed?
posted by Cranberry at 10:08 PM on August 16, 2006


Bob/puke... protesting your inclusion on the sock puppet list and then following it up with a "Yeah, but look at this guy!"?

Classic sock puppet behavior.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:09 PM on August 16, 2006


Yup, Ubu. We also have the Army recruiting in our high schools and a pop star you may/may not know about.
posted by yeti at 10:10 PM on August 16, 2006


I just can't win with you people.
posted by bob sarabia at 10:15 PM on August 16, 2006


yeti - thanks for the heads-up!

however, i'm gonna take a gamble that army recruiting won't appear in a pub trivia question, and my team already has enough glossy-mag readers to answer all the questions about pop tarts. but thanks anyway. being able to answer "who is the christopher skase of america?" is enough of a reward from this thread.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:31 PM on August 16, 2006


I liked the Ghost of Ken Lay's schtick. Oh well...
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:32 PM on August 16, 2006


Next up: Ghost of Ghost of Ken Lay
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:14 PM on August 16, 2006


Character is what you are in the dark.
posted by fleacircus at 11:49 PM on August 16, 2006


...likely to be eaten by a grue?
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:12 AM on August 17, 2006


or agnew?
posted by hototogisu at 12:43 AM on August 17, 2006


I hate sockpuppets. With all the searing, scorching intensity of a 15 watt light bulb.

Not enough to kill, but enough to slightly injure, perhaps.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:49 AM on August 17, 2006


tgoKL=timeistight?

Not me. My recurring throwaway gags are all hilarious.
posted by timeistight at 1:09 AM on August 17, 2006


I liked Mr. Lay's paranormal manifestation. Maybe I just haven't been here long enough to be annoyed by in character (self-consciously eponysterical?) posting.
posted by brundlefly at 2:27 AM on August 17, 2006


who's ken lay ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:22 AM on August 17, 2006


I tried to register Soul of Ken Lay but my computer exploded.
posted by OmieWise at 5:27 AM on August 17, 2006


i thought the ghost of ken lay was funny and honestly wish there were more people posting in character.
posted by empath at 5:50 AM on August 17, 2006


I await the coming glorious day- very soon my friends, Metafilter will emerge victorious in the War on Fun.
posted by spaltavian at 5:56 AM on August 17, 2006


I await the return of the curse of ken lay's ghost.
posted by rocketman at 6:05 AM on August 17, 2006


.
posted by ND¢ at 6:40 AM on August 17, 2006


Dammit. I meant:

.
posted by ND¢ at 6:43 AM on August 17, 2006


lays, lays, you can't stop beating them ...
posted by pyramid termite at 6:55 AM on August 17, 2006


I always got a kick out of TGOKL, but heck I'm easily amused.

Me too. I think I'll start saying "I miss TGOKL" from time to time, just to watch John Smallberries twitch. Yeah, that's right, Smallberries—you killed the ghost of Ken Lay! I hope you have trouble sleeping at night, ghost murderer.
posted by languagehat at 7:00 AM on August 17, 2006


Does this mean that TGOKL is the new rodii?

Sorry, rodii.
posted by gleuschk at 7:09 AM on August 17, 2006


I'll stand behind a tree and whisper to someone else what to post if it will help.
posted by Cyrano at 7:18 AM on August 17, 2006


Great: now Jennifer Love Hewitt is going to show up and tell us all what tgoKL really wants. Is that an improvement, I ask you?
posted by witchstone at 7:25 AM on August 17, 2006


stop using it to hide

They couldn't do that if their accounts were all listed in each profile. If it was amusing it could stand on its own merits, if people hated it they could possibly find an e-mail address listed in one of the half-dozen profiles and vent their outrage directly? You suck and your wasted $5 sucks even more!

On topic, I think he broke character for contrarian purpose too frequently to consider it a solid performance. Not going to be missing it.
posted by prostyle at 7:28 AM on August 17, 2006


You are lucky I am dirt poor and cannot afford a sock puppet account.
posted by longbaugh at 7:30 AM on August 17, 2006


You would say that. You left me alone in Bolivia you total fuckhead.
posted by parker at 7:31 AM on August 17, 2006


/me pours a forty for ken_lay
posted by Stynxno at 7:33 AM on August 17, 2006


I don't understand the hate of sockpuppets. I see people complaining that it hides someone's "true identity", but people don't come up to me and say, "Hey, Balisong, how's it going today? Have you seen Amberglow and Languagehat lately?"
They're all untrue identities. It doesn't matter a bit what the username is, but some people have a hard time grasping that.
posted by Balisong at 7:36 AM on August 17, 2006





posted by Eideteker at 7:40 AM on August 17, 2006


honestly wish there were more people posting in character.

MefiMUD? Blech.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:41 AM on August 17, 2006


Sock puppets kill. More uptight idiots have heart attacks and strokes due to unprovoked sockpuppet outrage than any other MeFi-related phenomenon. Why can't you accept that, Balisong, and stop hurting MetaFilter?

No, seriously, the sockpuppet witch hunt is uncalled for. We're not all dhoyt. There's no harm in a little performance art unless you spend all day getting your knickers in a twist about it. Worried about sock puppets? Turn your monitor off and go outside. Take a five minute break. Your boss won't mind, because he can see from the logs that you weren't working anyway.

Funding for this PSA paid for by a grant from the Haughey Corporation in joint partnership with the United Fiona's College Fund.
posted by Eideteker at 7:47 AM on August 17, 2006


We're not all dhoyt.

Nope, just me and jenleigh.
posted by COBRA! at 7:55 AM on August 17, 2006


And Oissubke, now and then.
posted by COBRA! at 7:55 AM on August 17, 2006


Worried about sock puppets? Turn your monitor off and go outside.

The individuals who may sometimes be irritated by cheap gags and smokescreens are the ones with the lifestyle issues, as opposed to the individuals who pay money for throwaway accounts to be employed as performance art on a website. Bulletproof.
posted by prostyle at 8:04 AM on August 17, 2006


Metafilter: A little performance art.
posted by Skygazer at 8:04 AM on August 17, 2006


This thread would have been less lame if only sockpuppets participated in it.
posted by ninjew at 8:04 AM on August 17, 2006


MefiMUD? Blech.
no love for de Bergerac? no he didn't tell me to say that.
posted by carsonb at 8:08 AM on August 17, 2006


"...as opposed to..."

False dichotomy. I didn't say sockpuppeteers don't have issues, just that they're less likely to grind their teeth at night worrying about other sock puppets on MetaFilter.
posted by Eideteker at 8:48 AM on August 17, 2006


...grind their teeth at night worrying about...

False dichotomy.
posted by prostyle at 8:55 AM on August 17, 2006


i thought the ghost of ken lay was funny and honestly wish there were more people posting in character.

That's because you're a dumbass.

Disclaimer: The preceding was said in character, no harm, no foul.

You should avoid saying things in character if you are nursing, tripping, or operating heavy machinery.

If saying things in character persists, consult your alienist.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:57 AM on August 17, 2006


If you've got an issue, here's a tissue.
posted by False Dichotomy at 9:03 AM on August 17, 2006


Look, if you want a sock puppet to make a joke, then do so. As was said above, the humor of it will stand or fall based on its own merits. The humor of it will not be dependent on the relation to main account. If you think the joke is funny enough that you want to spend $5 on it, then you should be sure enough to associate the joke with yourself.

But There is a reason we have user names. They act as source identifiers. We can't have a community without having an identity. When people intentionally try to frustrate the usefulness of identifiers it fractures the dialogue and the community. We have to be able to assume users will stay consistent. This especially deleterious to the community when certain users create sockpuppets to engage in inappropriate/trolling/rude behavior. Those people use sockpuppets so that we can't identify the source. And that kind of behavior runs counter to the concept of community. There is no good reason to permit people to avoid source identification.

While "dios" is anonymous vis-a-vis my name in real life, "dios" is a known commodity here within the community. And the ability for the community to create any identity is dependent on the ability to know who are members here.

If we all randomly switched usernames (one day I post as dios, the next as jessamyn, the next as cortex; different people post as dios every day), there would be no social cohesion because we wouldn't have source identifiers. To those who say there is no value to the community in knowing source identification, what do you think this place would be like if every time you posted, a random character string was attributed to you as poster (234&$@nca&! one comment; K1*&@b^k@331 the next)? Or, what kind of community do you think would exist if we didn't have poster identification? No signature to any post or comment?

It is important to social cohesion to know source-identifiers. Without it, we cannot acclimate new users into our community and cannot use the most important power we have: the ability to control behavior through the weight of social stigma. Indeed, the inability to use that important power is the very reason that people use sockpuppets that completely anonymous: they want to do things they know will run afoul of social mores, but they don't want that stigma attached to their community identity.

There is absolutely no valid reason to have sockpuppets which are not associated with the main account.
posted by dios at 9:16 AM on August 17, 2006 [2 favorites]


There is absolutely no valid reason to have sockpuppets which are not associated with the main account.

umm...hello? what about trolling? and metanonymous vituperation? how can you claim those aren't valid?

damn prescripitvists.
posted by dersins at 9:22 AM on August 17, 2006


Please show me your papers, dersins. The only way to ensure your freedom is through rule of law.
posted by False Dichotomy at 9:26 AM on August 17, 2006


We can't have a community without having an identity.

Exactly so. And this is why I find the subject of sockpuppets to be annoying: On one hand, Matt claims the community atmosphere of MetaFilter is important, and he's said that having to answer for your comments is part of building an identity; yet on the other hand, he tolerates sockpuppetry. It's one thing to be inconsistent with regard to enforcing the rules — this is a big site and there are only two moderators — but this isn't inconsistent enforcement; these are inconsistent policies.
posted by cribcage at 9:28 AM on August 17, 2006


The price of freedom is that sometimes someone will abuse it. I think it's better to punish those who misbehave than to try to proscribe the behavior of everyone else. Don't you? Really? Isn't that the whole point of self-moderation and community? The whole messy, unpredictability of it?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:35 AM on August 17, 2006


If we all randomly switched usernames (one day I post as dios, the next as jessamyn, the next as cortex; different people post as dios every day)

But now I've said too much!
posted by cortex at 9:41 AM on August 17, 2006


"There is absolutely no valid reason to have sockpuppets which are not associated with the main account."

A lot of smoke and bluster. Sock puppets can ask additional questions per week on AskMe. They, as anonymous entities, can bypass the "anonymous" approval process. You may have something to say which is an anonymous sentiment, but feel it's nonetheless valid. Sadly, not everyone's brave enough (or has the time) to face a flame war over an unpopular viewpoint. This is the same argument as "if you're not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to fear."

Some people establish a reputation, and want to erase that reputation. That may be unfair to you, if you believe the adage about leopards not changing their spots. Funny enough, this, as my main account, is more the joke account. Whatever sock puppet(s) I may maintain are actually the serious and thoughtful accounts (usually), without fear of people saying, "Oh, that's Eideteker just taking the piss." Because correspondence bias does exist, and people do place unfair stock in a person's past behavior, especially when it makes it easier for them to dismiss that person. Most of us have at least two modes of being, such as we might use at work as compared to hanging out with friends. Online communication lacks many of the signalling mechanisms that we use to differentiate between them IRL. Who wants a joking comment held against them in a serious discussion?

That's to say nothing about those of us with dissociative identity disorder, but there I go being levitous again.

But please, it's not about who is who. No one is talking about randomized userids; particularly not reusing established handles. This is not about a lack of identity, because the identity you're talking about is a myth, a cognitive shortcut for a pattern of complex behaviors. This is about one's insecurity about being deceived, which sucks, yes, but in my experience the best salve for deception is laughter. So your sockpuppet jihad, while well-meaning, is based on fears that are unfounded.

On preview, what IRFH said. Relax, have fun with it, don't rise to bait, and handle problems when they emerge. One person so far has tried to game the system. And to bring things back to the OP, while tGoKL might have amused or at least not bothered 90% of users (a hypothetical number in no way tied to reality), why should he entertain flames from the remaining 10%? Or even 1%, who just have too much free time on their hands? He could de-list his e-mail from his real profile, but maybe he's, you know, using that account, and would like people to be able to contact him regarding AskMes or what have you? Please, have a little consideration for those of us who are only trying to goof around on the internet, and not trying to use it to save the world.

And because I've put too much effort into this thread already, does anyone want to photoshop crunchland into a picture of the HUAC (or should that be MUAC?) asking: "Are you now or have you ever been a sock puppet?" Or maybe that's too close to a Godwin.
posted by Eideteker at 9:48 AM on August 17, 2006


I would much rather see a Godwin sockpuppet asking "Are you now or have you ever been Hitler?"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:57 AM on August 17, 2006


It is important to social cohesion to know source-identifiers.

I could hardly disagree more with this. The large majority of internet communities lack any sort of sockpuppet prevention beyond community sleuthing and despite sporadic puppet-drama, it's simply not a big issue.

This even goes for boards where there is no authenication of nicks whatsoever; even impersonation is not a problem in practice.

If we all randomly switched usernames [...] there would be no social cohesion because we wouldn't have source identifiers.

That's not the situation we're in.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:04 AM on August 17, 2006


One person so far has tried to game the system.

Really? Let's rewind through your comment.
  • "Sock puppets can ask additional questions per week on AskMe."
  • "Some people establish a reputation, and want to erase that reputation."
By definition, those uses constitute "gaming the system" — which brings us back to the original presumption, that there is no valid reason to keep sockpuppets.
posted by cribcage at 10:05 AM on August 17, 2006


I would much rather see a Godwin sockpuppet asking "Are you now or have you ever been Hitler?"

I am mere inches from registering a second account named "the inevitable mention of naziism".
posted by cortex at 10:08 AM on August 17, 2006


Coincidentally, I was just about to register "I am mere inches."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:09 AM on August 17, 2006


that there is no valid reason to keep sockpuppets.

$5
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:09 AM on August 17, 2006


Sock puppets can ask additional questions per week on AskMe.

This is the biggest bullshit canard that is thrown out there everytime the issue of sockpuppets is brought up. If it is important to you to ask more than one question, than make the account to do so. Make Astro Zombie 2, Astro Zombie 3... all the way to 7. Then ask a question every day. Fine. But why do you need to ask another question without being connected to original account?

If you need to ask an Anonymous question, its there.

I'm not going argue all the psyschology stuff because its not my area, and I really struggle to see the relevance to what I said. The question is: if this is to be a community, why should we permit people to frustrate the purpose? Again, it is impossible to have a community without source identification. Once you have that fact, then the principle should be "do not permit activities that frustrate the community's ability to identify sources." And when you try to enforce some quality norms, why permit people to engage in activites that allow them to act badly without consequence.

If you can't own up to what you are going to say... if you think something is beyond the pale or inappropriate and don't the consequences of the comment... then don't say it.

The bullshit activities of flaming, trolling, adding nothing but noise, etc. are activities that harm the site and should be discouraged. Why the hell should we permit to engage in that activity without consequence? The only way we can prevent that stuff as a community is to use our social weight. That power is destroyed through sockpuppets.

There may be innocent uses for sock puppets. If those uses are innocent, then there should be no argument for having them associated to the main account.
posted by dios at 10:12 AM on August 17, 2006


Again, it is impossible to have a community without source identification.

There is ample evidence to the contrary on the rest of the internet.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:14 AM on August 17, 2006


I understand your argument, dios, and I think you argue it well, I just happen to disagree with your underlying assumptions.

1) I see no slippery slope here (not that you raised the specter of that particular ghost) - gaming MetaFilter is not widespread. I understand that this issue bothers some people, but it is hardly a threat to the greater Meta community. Sockpuppets have been a reality from just about day one, yet here we are, having a nice, rational discussion about it. As frustrating as it can be to think that someone else is getting away with something, I think this is really just a tempest in a tea pot and/or kettle.

2) "Again, it is impossible to have a community without source identification.... And when you try to enforce some quality norms, why permit people to engage in activities that allow them to act badly without consequence."

Because there is, obviously, disagreement on what constitutes quality norms and acting badly, and because all or nothing is a false dichotomy (hence my latest sockpuppet). Claiming that some source identification is required to build a community is not the same as proving that the community is threatened if some sources are unattributable.

3) While I understand why this issue pisses people off, I guess I'm just more of a small-government kind of liberal. Why add unnecessary regulations to restrict behavior that is already the exception to the norm? The scorn of the community and occasional banning of the worst offenders seems to be working just fine. I see no reason to ask Matt for yet another set of helmets and padding.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:47 AM on August 17, 2006


"I could hardly disagree more with this. The large majority of internet communities lack any sort of sockpuppet prevention beyond community sleuthing and despite sporadic puppet-drama, it's simply not a big issue."

Shh!!! Don't tell them there are other sites on the internet! Next, they'll be parading their whims on all the other sites that aren't broken and don't need fixing.

cribcage, I thought the AskMe system was one question per week (or per two weeks now?) per $5. If you paid your money, where's the harm? And as far as the erase reputation rebuke, that just proves you didn't read or understand my comment. Your concept of my 'identity' is flawed and incomplete, and your insistence on characterizing me as your perception of me intrudes upon and impairs my ability to communicate my points effectively. To quote Bill Shatner/Ben Folds: "You painted me into what you wanted to see. That's fine. But you will never know me." Until people learn to dissociate the message from the messenger, there will always be a call for anonymous sock puppets.

I want to see a sock puppet named "It's Raining False Dichotomies".
posted by Eideteker at 10:47 AM on August 17, 2006


...that just proves you didn't read or understand my comment.

You're right, of course. The fact that I poked a bunch of holes in your argument must necessarily mean that I failed to understand it. Because, y'know, those are the two possibilities: that I agree with you, or that I don't understand what you're saying.

I'd have thought you'd be tired of getting beaten with the False Dichotomy Stick by now. Or is this your idea of ironic trolling?

I think this is really just a tempest in a tea pot...

I think that's overstating the case. No one's carrying a pitchfork. We're just derailing a moot MeTa thread to point out a policy inconsistency. Matt says community is important. Matt says posting limits should be respected. Matt says people should have to earn their reputations back from past behavior. Yet Matt allows sockpuppets.
posted by cribcage at 11:13 AM on August 17, 2006


Matt says community is important. Matt says posting limits should be respected. Matt says people should have to earn their reputations back from past behavior. Yet Matt allows sockpuppets.

Conclusion: Matt doesn't think sockpuppets threaten his other desiderata enough to change the policy.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:17 AM on August 17, 2006


Further conclusion: Sockpuppet accounts are another $5 in Matt's pocket.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:20 AM on August 17, 2006


Furtherer conclusion: income generated by sockpuppets outweighs time lost by fixing the problems they create.

Furtherest conclusion: Either this thread will convince Matt to reprioritize, or sockpuppets generate so few problems in practice that they pay for themselves.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:24 AM on August 17, 2006


Corollary: any pro-sockpuppet policy cost-benefit analysis that fails to account for the pros and cons of the long-term myth-making entertainment-by-provocation aspect of sockpuppetry is woefully inadequate.
posted by cortex at 11:27 AM on August 17, 2006


The scandals of today are the in-jokes of tomorrow!
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:32 AM on August 17, 2006


posted by sonofsamiam Furtherer conclusion: income generated by sockpuppets outweighs time lost by fixing the problems they create.

What problems have sockpuppet accounts created? The only problem I've seen sockpuppet accounts create is whining and crying from people who don't like sockpuppet accounts and post idiotic MetaTalk threads about them.

Seriously, I'd like to know.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:42 AM on August 17, 2006


I am not a number!
posted by ninjew at 11:42 AM on August 17, 2006


What problems have sockpuppet accounts created?

Oh, beats me. I couldn't care less if others have multiple accounts. There's no technical mechanism that could enforce a restriction, either.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:46 AM on August 17, 2006


^
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:50 AM on August 17, 2006


For those keeping track - parker is my sockpuppet. I will not be registering other members of the Wild Bunch on account of them being no good dirty outlaws.
posted by longbaugh at 11:54 AM on August 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


I once, anonymously, pointed out Sennett's thesis that theatricality is fundamental to the creation of a public, rational, depersonalized, social sphere.

Isn't a sockpuppet just another iteration of the initial condition of a username, like changing your clothes for dinner?
posted by xod at 12:54 PM on August 17, 2006


I, for one, always dress up for some KFriC.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:58 PM on August 17, 2006


Whereas I like to dress up in ...
posted by xod at 1:04 PM on August 17, 2006


...socks, right? On your HANDS, maybe??

Doing a little PUPPET SHOW, MAYBE?!

I'm on to you.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:24 PM on August 17, 2006


Dinner and theatre. But it's dinner that I like to wear.
posted by xod at 1:38 PM on August 17, 2006


languagehat: "...
Me too. I think I'll start saying "I miss TGOKL" from time to time, just to watch John Smallberries twitch. Yeah, that's right, Smallberries—you killed the ghost of Ken Lay! I hope you have trouble sleeping at night, ghost murderer.
"

Damn I am late getting online today, but in response: I liked TGOKL bit too. Honestly. Like I said in the initial post, the first time, I thought it was funnier than hell. I just felt it was getting beaten into the ground. Used and overused. Squeezed like a python's lunch. Bled dry. There isn't any joke in the world that can't be destroyed by overexposure. I'd bet you Monty Python fans that the WWII secret weapon joke was being shrugged off with mere hysterical laughter by the end of the war.

Hell. If the ghost just got a bit more selective in his utterances... you know, spaced them out a bit and spotted them in threads that have some sort of a complimentary topic or tone, then he could go on rattling his chains pretty near forever and still raise a grin even from my sour old puss.
posted by John Smallberries at 3:05 PM on August 17, 2006


The ghost of Ken Lay was fun. He added a little to every thread he posted, even if you started to think "Wow, he's still posting in character?"

People who complain about everything are destroying Metafilter.

John, the Monty Python comparison just doesn't work. You can't find the joke less funny, because you can only hear it once!
posted by graventy at 5:28 PM on August 17, 2006


I am Spartucus!
posted by hal9k at 6:01 PM on August 17, 2006


late to the party but I will miss the ghost of ken lay. I love empath's idea above -- after the $30 contest is over we should have a little fundraiser to replenish the till, as it were -- to play, just pay $5 to establish a sockpuppet of a famous person (real or fictional) and then post in character all month long.

Think of it -- instead of the usual gang of idiots, for a month metafilter would be populated by the likes of Josef Stalin, Schroeder from Charlie Brown, Otis Spunkmeyer, and Kevin Federline, all \ommenting in character -- and better yet, posting links in character.

I'm thinking this could be fun. Am I right?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:06 PM on August 17, 2006


Yes, such a contest will provide enormous hilarity and distraction for you infidels as we plot your destruction with baby shampoo and aftershave bottles! Today, liquids--tomorrow, salted snacks!

Oh, and death to America.
posted by Osama bin Laden at 6:17 PM on August 17, 2006


The bullshit activities of flaming, trolling, adding nothing but noise, etc. are activities that harm the site and should be discouraged. Why the hell should we permit to engage in that activity without consequence? The only way we can prevent that stuff as a community is to use our social weight. That power is destroyed through sockpuppets.

This is exactly right. I feel quite certain (without any quantifiable proof) that on ne of the biggest reason that Metatalk is more of a Jocularity Shithole (brought to you by Hasbro™, the makers of We Hate Fat People and other fun community weblog toys) than it has ever been is an outflow of this exact problem.

One of the problems here is that people are not defining their terms.

A user account purchased solely to, say, ask more questions on AskMe, all in good faith, no shit-stirring, is not in any way a problem, that I can see, other than diluting identity if the user has the time to use it elsewhere on the site as much as their 'primary' identity.

A user account purchased solely to be 'edgy', to make stupid jokes that would embarrass the person if they were known to be responsible, to post images, or to stir the shit or hound people they don't like : that's a sockpuppet. And that is extremely destructive to any sense of community. It's pushing me away from participating in any but the most shallow of ways, these days. I have a feeling it's having a similar effect on some other boring contextually-old farts like me, too.

We've had this discussion before, though, and smarter, and Matt, for whatever reason, does not care to bring down the hammer. So.

I'm thinking this could be fun. Am I right?

If you mean 'fun' in the sense of 'destroying the foundations of the community', then sure!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:17 PM on August 17, 2006


Jesus Christ stav, overreact much?

How does having a few sock puppets who post in characer "destroy the foundations of the community"?

We've had, what, one or two examples of sock puppets gone bad. The first one (dhoyt) blindsided people and the second (Pretty Generic) was more of a nuisance than anything.

Did Pot and Kettle destroy the community? Did they stir shit? I don't understand. By and large, the people who end up stirring the most shit are the ones who join (generally with only one account) and post continuously about a single topic. bevets, insomnia_lj, etc.

If people stir shit, they get called to MeTa and either calm down or get banned. Problem solved. They wanna pay another $5? It's not exactly a strain to go through the process again if they stir more shit.

How do you guys have time to post on the internet with your "The End of the World is Nigh" soapboxing?
posted by graventy at 8:09 PM on August 17, 2006


Personally, I think what's destroying MetaFilter are the people who post screeds about people they think are destroying MetaFilter.
posted by Osama bin Laden at 8:16 PM on August 17, 2006


I would also like to protest that one of my socket puppets is actually a puppet.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:36 PM on August 17, 2006


Jesus Christ stav, overreact much?

*shrugs*

I've been calmly saying the same thing for years, and I haven't changed my mind. There's no overreaction involved.

To use the sort of utopian easily-mockable words that the hip cynicians like to poo-poo: in virtual communities that have any chance of thriving beyond the sort of all-against-all shitstorm that rules most of the web, consistent identity through attribution of textual participation to a known 'avatar' within an ongoing reputation system is a non-negotiable cornerstone.

So there.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:57 PM on August 17, 2006


Also, you didn't seem to read my attempt at definition of terms (at least the definitions as I understand and use them) so I'm not sure why I'm even talking to you.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:59 PM on August 17, 2006


OK, one more. To put it in soundbite terms: online community is more about shared context than it is about participation.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:07 PM on August 17, 2006


How sad, the ghost of Ken Lay lays it down and Osama bin Laden picks it up.
posted by taosbat at 9:18 PM on August 17, 2006


Osama is clearly a sleeper sock puppet.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:20 PM on August 17, 2006


I must admit, I kind of resent being likened to Joe McCarthy. I'm not on any witch hunt with the list I maintain. While I don't have any sockpuppets myself, and I don't particularly like people who do, I'm not on a one-man crusade to give them the beatings they deserve. I merely maintain the hit list so that over-reacting people like Stavros can do the beatings.
posted by crunchland at 9:24 PM on August 17, 2006


I kind of like the beatings. It's the main reason I keep buying more sockpuppets.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:31 PM on August 17, 2006


Yes, crunchland, you're a lot like me. I just make the lists and the kids go do the dirty work. Salaam, baby!
posted by Osama bin Laden at 9:47 PM on August 17, 2006


we live in a world full of internet cafes, libraries, proxy servers, friend's homes, workplaces and homes, multiple isps, etc etc and some of us are actually convinced that banning sock puppets is possible ...

spout all the philosophy you want about it, technologically, it's just not possible unless matt stops new accounts altogether ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:53 PM on August 17, 2006


I think I'd really like stavros in real life. He's not a dick like the rest of you.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:20 PM on August 17, 2006


That's easy for you to say. But have you ever taken the time to really get to know us?
posted by Kwanzaar at 10:26 PM on August 17, 2006


30009. I hate you most of all.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:34 PM on August 17, 2006


I merely maintain the hit list so that over-reacting people like Stavros can do the beatings.

*knits eyebrows menacingly*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:58 PM on August 17, 2006


Stavros is right. I mean, accounts that are clearly intended as harmless jokes, like baby jesus, aren't a big deal--they don't pretend to be anything other than what they are. But when people maintain separate accounts to avoid the consequences of acting like assholes, that seriously fucks with the community, because it lets them wreck conversations without ever taking responsibility for it. And it does worry me a bit when everyone dismisses those sorts of sock puppets so lightly, because it seems to show a fundamental disrespect for everyone else here.
posted by moss at 12:19 AM on August 18, 2006


While I don't have any sockpuppets myself, and I don't particularly like people who do


[ahem] you forgot to add "with the exception of jonson, whom I adore"
posted by jonson at 12:57 AM on August 18, 2006


I've been calmly saying the same thingJocularity Shithole for years
posted by If I Had An Anus at 5:13 AM on August 18, 2006


Fuck you man, Jockularity Shithole saved my life in 'Nam!

Would've gotten half my brain shot off if it weren't for old Jock.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:27 AM on August 18, 2006


I once had a sock puppet, but it died of neglect.
posted by Skygazer at 6:15 AM on August 18, 2006


moss : "But when people maintain separate accounts to avoid the consequences of acting like assholes, that seriously fucks with the community"

There haven't been that many instances of this happening.

As far as your definition of terms stav, most of the sock puppets created have been for either more AskMes or for fun. I don't understand how the fun accounts (Astro Zombie 2, 3, Pot, Kettle, TGOKL, etc) harm the community. And, if people create new accounts to distance themselves from stupid shit they said earlier...what's wrong with that? Older, wiser, the folly of youth, and all that.
posted by graventy at 7:12 AM on August 18, 2006


"I merely maintain the hit list so that over-reacting people like Stavros can do the beatings."

"I didn't turn on the gas, I just loaded the trains."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:16 AM on August 18, 2006


Velcro on that green question mark and get back in line, utahnian.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:23 AM on August 18, 2006


:P
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:35 AM on August 18, 2006


Well, in truth, both Astro Zombies 2 and 3 have killed members of MetaFilter to perform diabolical experiments on them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:35 AM on August 18, 2006


Oh, like you haven't!
posted by Astro Zombie 2 at 8:36 AM on August 18, 2006


Those deaths were all accidents! And they signed release forms!
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:37 AM on August 18, 2006


See, that's an amusing onoing joke.
posted by dame at 9:51 AM on August 18, 2006


Hm. Comments must have been deleted. All I see are astro zombie jerking off in public.
posted by crunchland at 10:08 AM on August 18, 2006


And what's not amusing about that?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:40 AM on August 18, 2006


Velcro on that green question mark and get back in line, utahnian.

What, are you enforcing the new anti-Riddler legislation?
posted by COBRA! at 11:17 AM on August 18, 2006


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