How To Create An Online Sock Puppet And Get Away With It...

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'I'll probably take the fifth on this one...

Or, I'll, at least, wait for another one hundred years before revealing what gave me the idea for that article'...

Extract from Loup d'Argent's (unpublished) Memoirs.

The Definition

'Sock puppet n. [Usenet: from the act of placing a sock over your hand and talking to it and pretending it's talking back] In Usenet parlance, a pseudo through which the puppeteer posts follow-ups to their own original message to give the appearance that a number of people support the views held in the original message1...'

From The Internet Jargon Dictionary.

The Problem

Imagine for a moment that you are involved in a heated debate about an issue which is very important to you but, somehow, your opponents are increasingly, and at a very fast and alarming rate, gaining points. Even when their views are blatantly incorrect, you find yourself in an ever decreasing minority when it comes to challenging their so obviously flawed arguments.

To top it up, there is no hope at all that the proverbial cavalry will arrive, as there is no one on sight2 to come to your rescue.

Not something very pleasant to imagine but not something to be dismissed as improbable either, as, unfortunately, even the best of us can one day find themselves in a similar frustrating situation.

So, the use of a sock puppet, as an emergency measure, might be the only way possible to get out of it3 but, if you open a new account then, your attempt is bound to fail lamentably. The sock puppets hunters will without fail spot it, especially if it comes to your rescue straight after having registered4.

The Solution

The solution is actually very simple and, unless you are psychic and have already predicted the tricky situation and taken the appropriate steps to remedy it5, you will agree that the following suggestion is definitely the best and the most efficient of all possible ones.

All you need to do is:

  1. Time travel back to when the site has just opened.
  2. Register your alter ego.
  3. Build up a reputation of seriousness for it.

Once that's done, the rest is practically a piece of cake.

You should not worry about the fact that you might have to follow your alter ego's online life up to the point when you need its help as, even if it means spending years in the past, it will only take a few minutes of your time in the present.

There are still a few advices that need to be followed though:

  1. Make a point of registering your puppet before the date you've registered yourself.
  2. Do change the way you type while using that alternative persona. If not, you could be seen as your puppet's puppet when you register.
  3. Do not let your alter ego get involved in other discussions you are in.
  4. Do not be tempted to use your other account to settle scores with your own opponents before that crucial moment, as that would drastically reduce the effect needed when the time has come to make efficient use of your sock puppet.

There are some side effects that have been noticed as a result of intensive 'time travelling sock puppeteering' unfortunately. One of them being a high risk of identity crisis.

So, it is advised that you try to take a break from your alternative persona as often as possible.

Of course, to time travel you need the proper equipment, but you should be able to get hold of a time machine by checking the local papers' classified adverts.

Failing that you have nothing to lose by:

  1. Asking around6.
  2. Asking one of the scientists you have come into contact before7.
  3. Asking your country's secret services for a spare one8.
  4. Asking those guys dressed in black who are always hanging around the local ufologist's home.
  5. Asking the BBC to borrow the TARDIS used in the old Doctor Who's TV series.

Just In Case

If your quest for a time machine has for some unexpected reasons failed, then the best option would be that you keep well away from that controversial discussion.

That will, at least, save you from some irritating but also very embarrassing moments.

As it is rightly pointed out in the 'Guide to Netiquette on h2g2':

'Don't expect to have the last word. h2g2 would die if anyone ever did; it's for discussion and debate.'

Easier said than done, granted... Some 'Tips on Anger Management' might come handy in some of those frustrating situations we are faced with at times.

'Often, when working with or coming into contact with someone who really annoys you, the best plan is just to walk away and leave them talking to themselves. You have no idea just how silly they look standing there raving away at, nothing!'

A very useful piece of advice that is not just relevant to Real Life somehow.

You might not have had a chance to make the points you wanted to make, but, at the end of the day, you will not be the one looking bad...

Of course, had you followed my advice on how to get hold of a time machine in the first place... etc... etc...

Oh never mind...

Loups Archive


05.08.04 Front Page

Back Issue Page

1 Talking to one self is not necessarily being a sock puppet by the way...2Or on site even...3Though we do not in any way condone such practice...4 Actually, anyone coming to your rescue just after having registered is bound to be suspected of being a sock puppet anyway'5 In this case you should not really need a sock puppet in the first place...6It's bound to be someone who knows someone who knows someone etc who knows where to get one...7 Perhaps even one of your old buddies from school is now a scientist... Worth checking...8They might deny being in possession of time machines at first... Offer to do a job or two for them while you're in the past, that should help...

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