I’m pleased to announce that July was a record-breaking month of traffic for our small webzine, with readership nearly reaching 2.2m pageviews, especially propelled by the heated presidential race and various terrorist attacks. This tends to demonstrate the widespread desire for a website providing a wide variety of different ideological perspectives not regularly found within our often timorous and dumbed-down mainstream media.
On a much less favorable note, there seems to be a sharp increase in the amount of “sockpuppetry,” with commenters adopting multiple handles to disguise their identity and seemingly multiply the prevalence of their particular views.
I must emphasize that such behavior is an absolute violation of one of the few rules enforced on this website, which otherwise tends to be situated very much towards the “free speech” end of the spectrum. Commenters are allowed to air all sorts of highly controversial views, whether plausible or insane, but such activity is intended to be regulated by the requirement that they pick a single handle and stick with it. Thus, regular commenters who say particularly irritating or crazy things have the credibility of their other remarks degraded, or might even be placed on the individualized “Commenters To Ignore” list by many of their peers. When a commenter wishes to say something particularly daring or controversial, he or she is always choose to use the “Anonymous” or “Anon” handle, which remains completely unregulated.
I am thinking of taking strong measures to suppress this sockpuppetry, and the malefactors should read this this note as a serious warning.
Among other steps, it would be easy for me to change the handle shown for a given comment, thereby revealing the true identity of the sockpuppeteer, as well as a mention of the fake name prepended to the comment itself. I suspect this sort of thing might prove highly embarrassing. In the most egregious cases, it could even be applied to the extensive archive of such deceptive comments, totally destroying the credibility of the individual responsible.
Those who ignore this warning have only themselves to blame if they end up receiving this punishment, which could easily be automated in the software itself.
Freedom of speech, outrageous or not, is one thing, but deceptive sockpuppetry is something else entirely.