Are we infected with paid spokespeople/meme spreaders/spinners? January 23, 2004 8:02 AM   Subscribe

What would it take to buy a few Metafilter partisans ? Not much in some cases, I'd say. --from troutfishing in the Repub dirty tricks thread

He raises an very interesting question. Are we infected with paid spokespeople/meme spreaders/spinners?
posted by amberglow to Etiquette/Policy at 8:02 AM (61 comments total)

Miguel, is that you?

Considering how rare it is to actually see people be convinced in political threads here, I doubt it'd be worth their while. Not that the rest of the internet is much different ofcourse.
posted by fvw at 8:10 AM on January 23, 2004


(mig's paying me to post to MeTa for him--shhhh!) ; >

No, I read trout's comments and thought it important to bring to MeTa.
posted by amberglow at 8:12 AM on January 23, 2004


Are we infected with paid spokespeople/meme spreaders/spinners?

Yes. I must confess that I'm paid to be here by the Japanese confection industry. I feel so dirty.

Quonsar's a shill for the barfbag cabal. He posts gross stuff to drive up sales.
posted by jonmc at 8:29 AM on January 23, 2004


Me, I'm subsidized by the Linguistic Society of America, Stetson (makers of fine headgear: buy a hat today!), and some guy who won't tell me his name but likes parentheses a lot and gives me a weekly stipend to put them in whenever I can. My political opinions are currently on the market—keep those bids coming!
posted by languagehat at 8:50 AM on January 23, 2004


The only things I spread are my legs.

Oh, and peanut butter.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:54 AM on January 23, 2004


This is a ridiculous post.

amberglow, you assume that someone must be a paid hack because you can't comprehend the fact that people actually might disagree with you on an issue.

What amazes me is that you take the *minority* viewpoint (if polls are to be trusted), and then you assume that those that disagree with you must only be posting because they are paid hacks.

Has it ever occurred to you that people might have legitimate reasons to disagree with you without having to be paid to support it? Has it ever occurred to you that you may be wrong in your understanding?


What is truly ironic about this question is that YOU, amberglow, are the biggest hack here. You are the one that is constantly, repetiviely and unpersuasively grinding your axe ad nauseam. The only thing you seem to be interested in is bashing Bush and cheering on your faultless Democratic nominees. Your nitpicking of Bush and your white-washing of the Dems suggests that if there is a hack here, it is likely to be you.


Although, I don't think you are a paid hack, I just can't understand why you think it is necessary/appropriate/worthwhile/informative to constantly grind your axe in the Blue.

/rant off
posted by Seth at 8:59 AM on January 23, 2004


Are you joking?

Drink Coca-Cola!
posted by xmutex at 9:05 AM on January 23, 2004


This is a ridiculous post.
amberglow, you assume that someone must be a paid hack because you can't comprehend the fact that people actually might disagree with you on an issue.


If it's ridiculous, it'll be deleted by matt.
And you assume incorrectly. I know full well that we all disagree about everything here.
posted by amberglow at 9:18 AM on January 23, 2004


Geez, Seth. Take a breath.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:19 AM on January 23, 2004


I have in my posession a list of Metafilter members who are communists and communist sympathizers. No, you can't see it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:32 AM on January 23, 2004


The main problem is that this sort of thing is next to impossible to prove. I'm convinced that it goes on, though at what level I can't say.

When I get a minute, I'll post some hard evidence for the fact that this is now routinely done on the Net.

But for now, the links I posted in that comment of mine that amberglow meta-ed will have to do as stand-ins, although they are not as dead-on topic as some stuff I have.

But I doubt there's much - if anything at all - that Matt could do about this, and the idea of a witch hunt with accusations flying around - "You're a paid flack !" - "No, you are !" is a bit creepy to contemplate and, more than that, it would be annoying as hell.
posted by troutfishing at 9:33 AM on January 23, 2004


I would say that - with enough exposure of this possible problem - the paid flacks would be forced to sling less shit and bring their most cleverly disengenuous arguments to bear instead.

But for the perils of a witch hunt, this could improve the overall tone of discussion on the site.

Or, at least, it would mean more words.

Also, though this belongs - if anywhere - on Meta Talk, it's really like an extension of my recent "Mockingbird" post.

But - anyone here could be a flack, even me. It's just like that creepy sci-fi, "The Thing"...... ( cue creepy music )
posted by troutfishing at 9:43 AM on January 23, 2004


It is worse than you think. Millions of people voicing political beliefs online. Not only that, almost all of them do it for free, brainwashed by what they believe in.
posted by stbalbach at 9:44 AM on January 23, 2004


To any corporate/political/sexual special interests reading this I would like to state, for the record, that I can be bought -- for a surprisingly low price. Do, however, keep in mind that you get what you pay for and I will sell you out in a heartbeat to a higher bidder (note to self: start following ebay auctions for usernames).

For a slightly higher fee I will link your thread of choice on my weblog guaranteeing you an audience of four -- well, three when my girlfriend is mad at me.
posted by cedar at 9:46 AM on January 23, 2004


And on that note - ta ta.

I'm off to pick up my pitifully scrawny CIA and Greenpeace paychecks. Bastards. Left, right - they're all so cheap.

Whoo hoo.

Like - I'll go out and blow it all on a pizza, bottle of wine, and a new pair of running shoes so I can jog off the flab that's built up between my ears whilst pecking away at my keyboard, posting my paid flack screeds to Metafilter.
posted by troutfishing at 9:51 AM on January 23, 2004


stbalbach - Sounds like zombies to me. Do they eat brains ? Metaphorically speaking ?
posted by troutfishing at 9:53 AM on January 23, 2004


No. Our republican apologists do their ranting for free.
posted by bshort at 10:00 AM on January 23, 2004


Hmmm. Where would I hang my shingle? "Political Advocate for Hire -- MetaFilter Specialist, can act like a normal lefty but have a secret republican core."

Ebay?
posted by namespan at 10:04 AM on January 23, 2004


Seth, your attack was way out of line.

1) It was troutfishing, not amberglow, who made the accusation (if it can even be called that).

2) The accusation was made not because of dirt's viewpoint, but because his comment was identical to a comment made by another individual on another forum eight minutes earlier. His "I forgot to cite" excuse, while plausible, could legitimately be questioned given the chances of finding a comment less than eight minutes after it was posted (and on /., no less) and posting it to the blue, and in that small amount of time becoming so confused that he forgot to cite it.

3) This is not the first time the paid comments issue has come up on MeFi and MeTa. Would a cool, refreshing PepsiBlue jog your memory?

Amberglow was not making an attack of any sort, and troutfishing's attack seemed very reasonable based on the evidence. Moreover, the issue transcends this particular incident, and even transcends politics. If there are paid flacks, they are posting in bad faith and violating the spirit of MeFi. This is a problem that can't be ignored.
posted by Ptrin at 10:09 AM on January 23, 2004


Ptrin - I wasn't even trying to target dirt, specifically (even though that didn't look good). But this sort of thing is damn hard to prove, even in such a case. Annoying, but true.

It's an important but vexing issue.

namespan - that's a disturbingly interesting idea to me. I'm tempted to do it, in some fashion. The ability to bang out torrents of text should be worth something.

To somebody.

I salute my new Pepsi Blue overlords.
posted by troutfishing at 10:22 AM on January 23, 2004


I wouldn't have started this thread either, but AstroTurfing is a sad fact of American politics.
I don't see why a popular, influential website should be immune by definition
posted by matteo at 10:27 AM on January 23, 2004


It's pretty well-established that MetaFilter's a shill for several lucrative industries & household products. But what can anyone expect?

It's the nature of the beast.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:47 AM on January 23, 2004


Smart Dalek, you forgot the most important one.
posted by briank at 11:09 AM on January 23, 2004


I have one question: Hasn't MeFi membership been closed for a long time? If so, wouldn't it follow that anyone who might be paid to be here, was already here beforehand?

I am sure there are people (paid or not) who feel it is their duty to visit as many web sites as possible to spread their candidate's word; or conversely to spread misinformation about others.

Paid, or not, there isn't anything one can do about it, short of Matt making people "sign" something stating that their opinions are their own and that they aren't here on the behalf of anyone else.
posted by terrapin at 11:17 AM on January 23, 2004


i'm here on behalf of my evil twin.
posted by dabitch at 11:28 AM on January 23, 2004


It is plain silly to think that people who post their opinions here are paid workers for the Illuminati or whatever conspiracy people want to allege. You guys sound like the wacko Noam Chomsky suggesting that people can't or don't think on their own, but rather go to some place to acquire their opinions in order to post them on Metafilter.

Here is a novel thought: people just disagree with you. Some people look at the issue and come to a different conclusion. As amazing as it seems, some times there is more than one solution to an issue.

Metafilter doesn't do politics well, unless it is lefty ass-patting. Dissent isn't well accepted, and those that dare to disagree are ostracized as wackos.

But despite the fact that we don't do politics well, amberglow and a handful of others refuse to acknowledge that most of their partisan wailing isn't suppose to be here. I don't know how many times it has been told that "the best of the web" doesn't include the latest news about your political whipping boy.

So first off:
Don't do the politics/newsfilter.
Second:
If someone disagrees with you, respect their disagreement.

If one could do those two things, this a post such as this MeTa becomes silly and ironic.
posted by Seth at 12:32 PM on January 23, 2004


What is truly ironic about this question is that YOU, amberglow, are the biggest hack here.

No, Seth, it is truly ironic that of the whopping 40 comments you've made on this site, over half of them involve you bitching about how the tone is unfair because it's contrary to yours.

So first off: Don't do the politics/newsfilter.
Second: If someone disagrees with you, respect their disagreement.

This is hilarious coming from someone who, first, ONLY does politics, and second, does nothing but complain about what other people are saying and shows his respect for disagreement by labelling it "lefty ass-patting." Stop it with the "we don't do politics well" bullshit just because politics is all you do and you suck at it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:49 PM on January 23, 2004


. You guys sound like the wacko Noam Chomsky suggesting that people can't or don't think on their own

A lot of people don't think for themselves--they just take whatever information is given to them at face value without any real consideration.

If someone disagrees with you, respect their disagreement.

If there's one thing that's hardly ever worth doing, it's making blanket rules such as that one. If the opinion is well stated and intelligent, then it might be worth letting pass if I disagree with it, depending on whether or not I feel like debating the matter; challenging the viewpoints of others and having your own viewpoints challenged is an entirely healthy thing to do. And if I think the position put forth is untenable or--as seldomly happens--a morally bankrupt point of view, I don't see how chalking it up to "differences" is a sane way to go about anything. Just imagine if that had been everyone's response to the civil rights movement: look, some of us just don't want the nigger race in our schools or in our pools. I mean, what, are we going to elect the guy to the senate and just let it slide? Oh, right.
posted by The God Complex at 1:03 PM on January 23, 2004


Oh, come now. It all sounds as ridiculous as the notion of getting your brakes done at anywhere but Midas!
posted by antifreez_ at 1:18 PM on January 23, 2004




XQ... I don't do politics. I never have brought up politics once.

I read MeFi to see the best of the web and find out things I wouldn't ususally stumble upon.

I have commented several times to lay off the politics and newsfilter crap. Most of the times I have done so, I have received many people agreeing with me about how that crap doesn't belong on the Blue.

So it is easily distinguishable from amberglow who does nothing but make post after post bashing Bush and white-washing Democrats... hardly "best of the web" and little better than cnn.com discussion boards (or worse, indymedia garbage).

Secondly, I haven't proposed a single political viewpoint, right or left. In fact, nothing I have said indicates my viewpoint at all, so you are incorrect to assume you know what mine is.

All I *have* posted is numerous suggestions for amberglow and his ilk to cut out all the shrill partisan circle-jerking.

Feel free to think I am whining because I disagree with the prevailing ethos... but this isn't the case. But perhaps you ought to consider that I am not the only one who is sick of hearing the same partisan claptrap (whether we agree with it or not).
posted by Seth at 1:22 PM on January 23, 2004




Seth, you are wonderful ! If you did not exist, I should have to invent you.

"It is plain silly to think that people who post their opinions here are paid workers for the Illuminati or whatever conspiracy people want to allege. You guys sound like the wacko Noam Chomsky"

Here is my initial Google Search on "Viral Marketing : How to Infect the World" - Note all the paid ads for Viral Marketing firms ? Cute, huh.

So, here it how it is done : lets start with the "Bivings Report", over which a scandal erupted following George Monbiot's May 14 2002 article in the Guardian, "The Fake Persuaders" (linked below).

The original Bivings Report, on it's website prior top Monbiot's story, was quite interesting : "Once you are plugged into this world, it is possible to make postings to these outlets that present your position as an uninvolved third party. ... Perhaps the greatest advantage of viral marketing is that your message is placed into a context where it is more likely to be considered seriously."

As Monbiot reports, "A senior executive from Monsanto is quoted on the Bivings site, thanking the PR firm for its "outstanding work".

The Bivings Group? Here, I turn to the Disinfopedia, a project of PR Watch. Here is the Disinfopedia on the Bivings Group ;

"The Bivings Group is a PR firm whose clients include the Monsanto biotechnology company.

An article on the Bivings web site, titled "Viral Marketing: How to Infect the World," originally recommended covert and deceptive Internet activity, "there are some campaigns where it would be undesirable or even disastrous to let the audience know that your organization is directly involved... it simply is not an intelligent PR move. In cases such as this, it is important to first 'listen' to what is being said online... Once you are plugged into this world, it is possible to make postings to these outlets that present your position as an uninvolved third party... Perhaps the greatest advantage of viral marketing is that your message is placed into a context where it is more likely to be considered seriously." After this message was criticized publicly, Bivings removed the offending passage, placing a note at the bottom of the article that states, "Recently edited for clarification."

Here is the rather different, post scandal, "Bivings Report" - which preaches the new gospel of transparency. I rather preferred the old one. It had a certain purity. It was honest.

In May 14, 2002, Guardian journalist George Monbiot reported on "invisible persuasion" techniques used by Bivings that included the creation of fictional individuals on the Internet. "Corporations are inventing people to rubbish their opponents on the Internet," he wrote. ... Detective work by the campaigner Jonathan Matthews and the freelance journalist Andy Rowell shows how a PR firm contracted to the biotech company Monsanto appears to have played a crucial but invisible role in shaping...."


Monbiot wrote a follow up article called Corporate phantoms

Here is an excerpt from that piece [ "Corporate phantoms
: The web of deceit over GM food has now drawn in the PM's speechwriters, by George Monbiot, Wednesday May 29, 2002, The Guardian ] : "Bivings is the secret author of several of the websites and bogus citizens' movements which have been coordinating campaigns against environmentalists. One is a fake scientific institute called the "Centre for Food and Agricultural Research". Bivings has also set up the "Alliance for Environmental Technology", a chlorine industry lobby group. Most importantly, Bivings appears to be connected with AgBioWorld, the genuine website run by CS Prakash, a plant geneticist at Tuskegee University, Alabama.

AgBioWorld is perhaps the most influential biotech site on the web. Every day it carries new postings about how GM crops will feed the world, new denunciations of the science which casts doubt on them and new attacks on environmentalists. It was here that the fake persuaders invented by Bivings launched their assault on the Nature paper. AgBioWorld then drew up a petition to have the paper retracted.

Prakash claims to have no links with Bivings but, as the previous article showed, an error message on his site suggests that it is or was using the main server of the Bivings Group. Jonathan Matthews, who found the message, commissioned a full technical audit of AgBioWorld. His web expert has now found 11 distinctive technical fingerprints shared by AgBioWorld and Bivings' Alliance for Environmental Technology site. The sites appear, he concludes, to have been created by the same programmer.

Though he lives and works in the United States, CS Prakash claims to represent the people of the third world..... "


Here is the mother load of collected reporting on this scandal- Monsanto's World Wide Web of deceit

posted by troutfishing at 1:40 PM on January 23, 2004


So, it is your suggestion that if amberglow makes another post saying how evil Halliburton is, and then someone defends Halliburton, there is a likelihood that the defender is a paid worker of Halliburton? Or that Halliburton created the poster in order to defend itself on MeFi?

The possibility doesn't exist that someone just legitimately feels that Halliburton is a typical profit-maximizing firm?

You guys in the tin foil hats can be funny at times.
posted by Seth at 1:45 PM on January 23, 2004


I have one question: Hasn't MeFi membership been closed for a long time? If so, wouldn't it follow that anyone who might be paid to be here, was already here beforehand?

Which is why we have "sleepers", most notably jonmc, who was planted here at the very dawn of MetaFilter only to awaken years later and spread the gospel of political disillusion, as dictated by his masters from beneath the Martian ice.
posted by liam at 1:48 PM on January 23, 2004


Gee Seth, if you want to date me, all you have to do is ask. ; >

And maybe next time you'll follow a link and actually read before you attack? You don't like me or my posts--fine--don't read em--my username is on each and every one of them.
posted by amberglow at 2:04 PM on January 23, 2004


I'd like to point out as well that the Republican Party is the one that, you know, gives out free tote bags for viral marketing.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:18 PM on January 23, 2004


So "tin-foil hat" now denotes people who don't obstinately deny the existence of something which evidence suggests does exist (viral marketing itself, not its possible presence on MeFi)? Wierd. I though it meant "paranoid."

In any case, when it comes to Metafilter, Seth is demonstrating genuine leadership.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:44 PM on January 23, 2004


I'm Ron Popeil. Buy my food dehydrator, god damn it, or I'll porn-spam you.
posted by PrinceValium at 3:05 PM on January 23, 2004


The possibility doesn't exist that someone just legitimately feels that Halliburton is a typical profit-maximizing firm?

Nice spin! We've gone from considering the possibility that viral marketing might occur here to questioning the very existence of a non-sponsored opinion. That the technique cuts both ways doesn't seem to matter to you nor does troutfishing's point about being more aware about comments that appear to be cut&paste jobs.

Now I understand that sometimes people rub each other the wrong way and I think you've just let your feelings about a certain member get the better of you.
posted by john at 4:00 PM on January 23, 2004


So, it is your suggestion that if amberglow makes another post saying how evil Halliburton is, and then someone defends Halliburton, there is a likelihood that the defender is a paid worker of Halliburton? Or that Halliburton created the poster in order to defend itself on MeFi?

Yes. A likelihood exists. Probably a very small one -- I don't think the suggestion was that every goddam large corporation has seeded funds into posters on MeFi. The suggestion is that it's possible for something like this to happen on some scale.

You're either deliberately mis-interpreting the post, or failing to read for comprehension. It's an idea, not a certainty. No one suggested that "The possibility doesn't exist that someone just legitimately feels that Halliburton is a typical profit-maximizing firm?" or anything close to that.

In fact, by the look of it, most of the people in the thread see the humor inherent in the suggestion. Kernel of ugly truth to it -- viral marketing, as cited above, is a fact, and a logical business model for anyone lacking the scruples that prevent better people from going there -- but I don't think there's anybody on Mefi who fits into the strawman suit you're attacking.
posted by cortex at 4:15 PM on January 23, 2004


Seth is a paid worker of Halliburton. There, I said it.
*goes off to collect his check from Michael Moore*
posted by languagehat at 5:17 PM on January 23, 2004


Seth: Some logical fallacies you've engaged in here would include, but not be limited to:

Fallacies of Distraction
- False Dilemma: two choices are given when in fact there are three options
- Slippery Slope: a series of increasingly unacceptable consequences is drawn
- Complex Question: two unrelated points are conjoined as a single proposition

Changing the Subject

Attacking the Person:
- The person's character is attacked


And all these in, what, three, four posts? Bravo! And I only scratched the surface of my handy-dandy, Gore-Tex laminated, quick-release logical fallacies chart.

Seriously, what's your agenda, big boy? Hmm?
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:43 PM on January 23, 2004


The possibility doesn't exist that someone just legitimately feels that Halliburton is a typical profit-maximizing firm?

Halliburton is a typical profit-maximizing firm. The difference is that some people believe that is the highest good, while others realize there are problems with this.

But really, that's offtopic, so let's turn it around: you're saying the possibility doesn't exist that there are paid political shills here? That's an equally ridiculous statement, and I'd bet that of course you're not saying that, what you're really saying is that it's unlikely. And there are probably a half a dozen really good arguments to this. The strongest one will occur immediately to anyone with a bulging neoclassical econ cortex -- there are lots of people who will do it for free. No shortage of people on the web (or MeFi users) who will carry on about their politcal opinions. They might not even need a pat on the head. Ergo, it's unlikely that anyone is going to pay someone for a labor that so many will do for free.

So with such a good argument at hand, what did you do? You decided that trout & amberglow (and their fellow left conspirators) was saying they believe all dissent is paid, and further, that this makes sense because we're all locked into lefty groupthink. I'd even agree with your assertion that metafilter is leftyfilter a lot of the time, but really, you could have just examined the damn question and answered it fairly conclusively, rather than trying to pick a fight. Which is why you're far farther out of line than the questioner.
posted by namespan at 7:41 PM on January 23, 2004


What gives anybody the idea Metafilter is important enough to rate paid shills?
posted by darukaru at 4:48 AM on January 24, 2004


Quiet, fool! You want them to stop our subsidies?
posted by languagehat at 7:03 AM on January 24, 2004


I accept paypal for manufactured dissent
posted by clavdivs at 8:36 AM on January 24, 2004


As I said, I think this phenemenon is real - even on Metafilter (see my post w/links, above, on the "Bivings Report") - but as to the extent of shilling I'm alleging....

I don't have a clue ! And I never will ! It's simply an article of faith for me :

Because this behavior is so damn hard to prove, my belief about it is really ironic, or theological even : just an inherently unproveable belief, despite my suspicions. How in the hell could we possibly distingiush between paid shills and mere ideologues ? And what if the paid shills were ideologues as well ? That's the most likely scenario, in my opinion. They merely would be getting a check - probably a scrawny one, at that.

In any case, I'm contemplating auctioning my talents on Ebay - "Perky, articulate, energetic blogger willing to shill for a fee. No Paypal or credit cards accepted as payment. Money orders only. Satisfaction guaranteed."

( cladivs beware Paypal - go for cash on the barrel. That's my motto. Shilling's too hard a profession to risk getting ripped off by scammers )

Anyway, the really clever shills tend to work at DC think tanks and get decent job benefits, paid vacation, occaisonal fat book contracts and/or sleazy revolving door business contracts, and so on. But this paid internet shilling's subcontracting work - The pay is chicken feed, it's piece work, and there are no health care benefits.

I'm gonna start a frikkin' union.

I'll call it PISS - The "Paid Internet Shill Society" (Or - "Professional Internet Shill Suspects")

This group of mine will be distinct from SPIT - The "Society of Paid Internet Trolls" - We shills consider the trolls to be the scum of the Earth. We take pride in our work. It's an art form. Any yahoo can troll, but it takes brains and talent to shill.
posted by troutfishing at 9:06 AM on January 24, 2004


PISS is working, as well, towards the implementation of a uniform international accreditation process for university level shilling programs.

The upholding of standards is crucial in building respect for our profession.

Our long term vision involves our rapidly growing profession's subsuming of media and broadcast university departments, and we have a volunteer team working on a collaborative work - which South End Press of Boston has tentatively (and graciously) agreed to publish, in late 1994 - The title of this work will be, provisionally, "The Way of Shilling : the delicate Zen of Slant".
posted by troutfishing at 9:15 AM on January 24, 2004


trout : >

Metafilter: The sweatshop of shilling?
posted by amberglow at 9:32 AM on January 24, 2004


May I suggest that PISS refer to these university programs as
"Uniform Routine InterNational Accreditation Training Education"?
posted by taz at 9:39 AM on January 24, 2004


amberglow - yup.

taz - Pretty good, pretty good.

BTW, that book title publication date should be "late 2004". Minor typo there.
posted by troutfishing at 12:02 PM on January 24, 2004


troutfishing, MetaFilter is so-o-o P.I.S.S.ed.

I just hope your organization doesn't get in trouble with the Professional Universal Shilling Society...

And millennial date errors are so-o-o 1999...
Next time you go back in time, say hi to Ashton Kutcher...

But your post made me join the Society for the Promotion of Emotive Wit.
:) (: symbol for laughing up one side and down the other
posted by wendell at 12:55 PM on January 24, 2004


Because this behavior is so damn hard to prove, my belief about it is really ironic, or theological even : just an inherently unproveable belief, despite my suspicions.

Didn't you read Foucault's Pendulum? Once you start making up the connections, you can never stop.
Any sufficiently developed conspiracy theory becomes impervious to facts. (Of course [poster X] would say that if he was paid to. And of course a witch would say she wasn't a witch.)
posted by darukaru at 1:38 PM on January 24, 2004


darukaru - Of course. But I draw a crucial distinction - between that which evokes my suspicions and that which moves into the realm of the empirical (and so demands social commentary).

Meaning : I'm clued into this epistemological morass. That was my point. There is a difference, sure, in noticing connections and proving them, in a clinical sense. Sometimes - often even - those "noticed" connections are harbingers of madness. So be it. Nonetheless, they often are not. This explains the fact that - to find emergent stories before they hit mainstream media venues - it is productive to look to the "conspiracy" websites. Amidst the copious madness there, one can chance upon deep truths.
posted by troutfishing at 8:26 PM on January 24, 2004


Microsoft may have been the first to do this online. They first got caught in 1992.
posted by NortonDC at 9:47 PM on January 24, 2004


NortonDC - Great sleuthing.
posted by troutfishing at 7:17 AM on January 25, 2004


In my 3 years at Epinions, I certainly saw instances of some piddly little intern in some marketing department at some gawd awful small manufacturer write overwhelmingly positive reviews of their own products. I even remember some haltingly bad english in reviews of tiny asian electronics manufacturers' products, including some verbatim copy from their websites.

Some businesses are so dependent on internet buzz that literally, their bread and butter can vanish because of some negative buzz. As the internet becomes a more significant force in politics, the same will hold true.

The incidence was actually relatively rare, so far as we could detect, but it did happen. We also got people hiring lawyers to write to us and tell us their product is called the "BrightStar SuperDuper" not the "BrightStar Super-Duper" and please fix this or we will sue you for copyright infrinement and damage to our brand.

"Guerilla marketing" is all the rage with these fucking scum suckers. There are even firms who specialize in creating "buzz" for their clients. You better believe they will spend a few minutes, in the course of a very expensive campaign, to ensure that the buzz on the internet is positive, that Google doesn't return anything potentially damaging on the first page. If it does, they'll go after it with a cease and desist, a counter-argument in the commnets, anything they have to. That is their job, and there's definitely enough money flowing in politics to support some of this.

Seth, it's not all paranoia about the Illuminati. If you're genuinely unaware that certain people out there get paid to change your mind about stuff, you're naked in the jungle.
posted by scarabic at 11:34 AM on January 25, 2004


Metafilter - "You're naked in the jungle!"

I like it.
posted by troutfishing at 10:00 PM on January 25, 2004


Do you know where you are, troutfishing?
posted by namespan at 6:40 PM on January 26, 2004


namespan, No - but I know who I am, and I know which way the wind blows.
posted by troutfishing at 7:07 PM on January 26, 2004


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