The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Record Traffic But Too Much Sockpuppetry
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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.

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  1. Aschwin says:

    Dear Mr.Unz,

    You are demanding that your readers conform to an outdated and if I may say so, bigotted notion of “identity”. Just because you are from a generation where it was considered a taboo to change the gender you were assigned at birth, the name you were given by your parents or the “identity” you developed because you happened to born at a certain place and a certain time, doesn’t mean you have the right to demand this from others. Its 2016 Mr.Unz. My generation has the right to change their gender, name or their “identity” any time they want. Every week or every other day if we wish to do so.

    All kidding aside, I want to thank you for providing a platform for analysis and opinion deemed “unacceptable” by the the mainstream media. Something which will become ever more rare as the establishment tries to block access to nationalist/alt-right material in an attempt to the rise of anti-establishment political movements across the West.

  2. Sockpuppet ! I think most readers just call him Tiny Dick. His attempts at trolling are crude in the extreme. But good luck with stop and kill policy re him and the other micropenises who persist in this revolting habit.

  3. The primary trouble-makers are simply here due to the nigh-simultaneous start of election season and summer vacation.

  4. Good for you, Mr. Unz, because the sockpuppets’ comments are pathetically unzpectacular.

  5. Harold says:

    Thanks for all your work Mr. Unz.

    I like the lol feature.

    This comment

    does not start with @FX Enderby. However, if I hover over the @Nick Diaz in a reply to the comment, the comment as displayed in the pop-up does begin with @FX Enderby.

    Similarly for Nick Diaz’s other replies in that comment section.

    • Replies: @FX Enderby
  6. @Verymuchalive

    I know the one – I call him Tiny Cuck – by his own admission he’s into that sort of thing. Unless that’s a lie as well.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  7. Is there any way you can mention the # of commenters as well as the number of comments?

    There’s a big difference between an article that says ’50 comments’ and has 50 commenters and another that says ’50 comments’ and is just 2 people going back and forth 25 times.

  8. @Harold

    Hey! I noticed something weird about that thread.

    Mr. Unz, thank you for your work on the site. One possible reason for sock puppetry is the “fictitious email” entry. I had to change my handle from “Enderby” after a brief hiatus in commenting because I forget my “email.” So some puppetry may be unintentional.

    Steve Sailer has gotten some MSM links (including Drudge on twitter) recently so that may account for increased trolling. As gets more mainstream exposure that may be a small downside.

    • Replies: @Grandpa Jack
  9. I’ve been comparing your comment system with Disqus and other systems.

    I must say that the “this thread” button is very useful and congratulate you for it. I use it regularly.

    But there might still be a place for an easy to use up vote feature, showing a simple number of up votes. It’s almost universal elsewhere. I do miss that.

    Avatars would be nice too. They help break up a screen full of text, plus make identifying regulars easier.

    Other than that, keep up the good work!

  10. Anything that ends sockpuppets has my support!

  11. anon • Disclaimer says:

    I think this is the best website out there. Hope it reaches more readers.

  12. I for one appreciate the opportunity to publish under a pseudo name with minimal demands for further personal details or linkage to other “logins” like Facebook, etc. The price of that is to stick to my chosen online persona… Fair deal.

    I support you pillorying the sock puppeteers.

  13. @Frau Katze

    I would support this.

    I appeciate there are legitimate counterarguments to this, namely that commenting boards will degenerate into popularity contests, but in my experience (reddit, various Disqus using blogs, etc.) it doesn’t generally works like that. As a rule the better, more informative sorts of comments tend to make their way to the top.

    To combat a concern that Unz has expressed several times, namely that controversial viewpoints might get downvoted, one could also implement an option to sort by controversy (high number of upvotes *and* downvotes), like you have on Reddit.

    So in line with your preferences you can sort by: Chronology (sole option now); Upvotes; and Controversy.

  14. JackOH says:

    Thanks, Ron, for underwriting UR. Many of the comments here seem to me very good, illuminating dark corners, or confirming observations or conclusions in the original post. The special expertise and life experience of many commenters are very welcome to this reader.

    I’ve described UR in local correspondence as “a quirky Web-based public affairs magazine underwritten by a Silicon Valley guy. The magazine enjoys a very high-end, very knowledgeable readership and commentariat.” I inserted the “quirky” as a sort of a caution sign to prospective readers to give UR a chance. I’ve quoted with attribution your “distorted matrix of American Pravda” in a locally published essay.

    Hope my thoughts are helpful while you’re making UR better.

  15. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Greetings Mr. Unz.

    I hope you are logging IP numbers. If not, you are going to find moderation challenging.

    You should also be doing browser fingerprinting.

    I am not interested in disrupting your conversations, but as a network security problem, it will be interesting to see what measures you use.

    • Replies: @Bill
  16. @Frau Katze

    I agree. An effortless way to piss on the really annoying trolls like Tiny Duck without actually feeding them would quickly discourage their antics.

  17. melendwyr says: • Website

    I realize my opinion carries no weight, but I’m strongly in favor of exposing sockpuppets. “All those who do evil fear the light”, etc. It’s the least invasive, and I suspect the more effective, of the proposed strategies.

    No matter the final decision, I’d like to thank Mr. Unz for making these fora available. This site is one of the last places these sorts of discussions can happen quasi-publicly.

  18. “with Disqus”

    please please please DO NOT change to that POS comments sections. I registered to that years ago and for some reason I can NOT get a reply to activate my account. The log in goes fine and dandy and then i need to verify but no matter how many times i hit that link…..and I’ve done it 1000’s of times…..i NEVER get a confirmation email. I’ve emailed Disqus too many times to count, i’ve emailed the sites that use it and nothing EVER comes of it.

    it is hands down the worst.

    • Replies: @Lurker
    , @Jim Don Bob
    , @tbraton
  19. Blobby5 says:

    Such an amazing site, thanks Mr. Unz. Nothing worse than those moronic comment wars people get involved with, this site seems to avoid that nuisance.

  20. Max Payne says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Yes to removing sock puppets.

    No to upvotes.

    I don’t know what reddit you’re on but the reddit I know the only comments that get upvoted are the ones that are within MSM viewpoints. Anything controversial gets downvoted to oblivion. Anything that hurts anyone’s feelings also get downvoted. (this might not be true of certain sub-reddits though I’m hard pressed to think of one that doesn’t have a multitude of regulations on commenting)

    People will automatically associate “controversial comments” with “bad comments”. Especially if the controversial comments are loaded with the same 4-5 individuals.

    I also don’t want to see what I’m seeing on, where anti-Putin, anti-Russian comments are getting hundreds of upvotes and accounts that defend Putin, Russia, etc. are reported and thus put on a “pending approval” list for all comments (the new comment system for RT is garbage, as if they hired some American company to do it for them; I’ve already been IP banned from commenting on anything on even if anonymous).

    On a side note the more popular gets the more likely it’ll attract professionally paid trolls and butt-hurt Nancy’s who disagree with the controversial views of most articles on this website.

    I like how simple comments section is. No avatars. No profiles. No registration. No ads. No comment ranking. Truly reflecting the best days of the mid-90s when the internet was just beginning to proliferate to the public. Thanks Mr. Unz

    • Replies: @WorkingClass
    , @U. Ranus
  21. Big Bill says:

    Dear Mr. Unz, I use other names when I disclose personal information that, considered collectively, would make my identity obvious.

    • Replies: @Wilkey
  22. @FX Enderby

    I commonly post online under different pseudonyms, not for ‘sockpuppetry’ per se, but in part for the reason you mention about the fictitious email addresses (and I don’t want to use simple fake email addresses that could actually be someone’s email address), in part because I don’t really care about building up a ‘following’, and in part because I don’t care for having overly ambitious SJWs engage in ‘triangulation’ tactics to try attack those who express thoughts different from them.

  23. To be fair though there are times when one would rather be anonymous when expressing more controversial viewpoints..

  24. …this website, which otherwise tends to be situated very much towards the “free speech” end of the spectrum.

    I’ve noticed and appreciated that, and my hat’s off to you.

    Too bad there is at least one of the regular columnists here who can’t take much heat and is into unjustified censorship.

    Two of my comments were “moderated” out of existence by Razib Kahn because I obviously had the audacity to call him on something he said.

    He wrote,“History is written by the winners…,” and I replied,
    “Good Gawd! When a claim such as that is made by someone who purports to write “histories,” one hasta wonder.”

    That was more than his ego could take, but I guess I should know better than to question a Khan! Perhaps you could have a little talk with him about the subject of free speech and the exchange of ideas…

  25. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I support whatever algorithm it takes to reduce commenter Anonymny’s footprint. Limiting the number of comments per thread and/or comments per day might help, but some of Sailer’s subnormal dittoheads might object to this.

    • Replies: @5371
  26. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    Upvotes work for non controversial topics. If you want to know the best way to make a lasagna upvotes will reliably takeyou to posts that provide value.

    For controversial topics, upvotes do not work since it just becomes one side trying to kill off the other side. This is definitely not in the spirit of Unz.

  27. I assume you are using IP’s to identify sock-puppets? How do you distinguish two co-workers behind a corporate firewall w/ NAT from a sockpuppetteer? It might be embarrassing for both parties if they were to be “outed” to each other and all the world on account of sharing a network connection.

    Or is this a relatively small number of egregious actors that can be easily determined by human reasoning… ie. four guys agreeing with each other, always just a minute or two apart and always from the same Comcast IP.

  28. JL says:

    Thanks for this terrific site and the time to move from warning to enactment is now.

  29. @Frau Katze

    Please Mr. Unz. Just say no to the odious upperdown votes.

    • Agree: Stephen R. Diamond
  30. @Max Payne

    I like how simple comments section is. No avatars. No profiles. No registration. No ads. No comment ranking. Truly reflecting the best days of the mid-90s when the internet was just beginning to proliferate to the public. Thanks Mr. Unz

    Yes thank you. I totally agree.

  31. U. Ranus says:
    @Max Payne

    I like how simple comments section is. No avatars. No profiles. No registration. No ads. No comment ranking.

    I agree, it’s great, one of the best.

    However, no registration, avatars, profiles means that we can’t (rationally) tally up single poster’s reputations in our minds anyway, because nobody knows if a given pseudonym represents a single poster or a whole bunch of them.

    Personally, I don’t mind, because still has a great comment section, one of the best, just as it is.

  32. U. Ranus says:
    @Jacques Sheete

    Razib Kahn

    LOL. Also seriously overdoing the amazon affiliate link racket. Some posts read like rambling uninteresting content-free 1000 word nothings provided for the sole purpose of spamming yet more amazon affiliate links.

    Still a great website overall.

  33. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    I’m a suburban housewife who stumbled onto your site a few years ago with your Ivy League/Asians analysis. Haven’t stopped coming here daily ever since. Bravo, Ron!

    The comments are usually informative. Starting from the top, I read the valuable comments and skip the silly ones. After a while most of the salient points are out, so I skim to the end and only read the posts highlighted by your yellow backgrounds to denote contributing authors. I find that highlighting feature valuable. FYI, I don’t post, today excepted.

  34. @Jacques Sheete

    A couple of months ago, I tried to make a comment under one of Razib Khan’s articles and it was censored. I saw no legitimate reason for it to be censored and I lost respect for Razib Khan as a result. I was rather indignant about this and thought to mention it to Ron Unz in private correspondence, but then never bothered.

    The article I tried to comment under was There is no Exception in Islam and the censored comment was the following:
    This whole article is based on false premises. Razib Khan actually seems to take seriously somebody like Sam Harris as an independent intellectual.

    Of course, Harris, like all of these professional Islamophobes, is a Zionist shill and all of these people are promoted by the Zionist lobby. I am pretty sure this is even the case when the shill in question engages in some sort of anti-Zionism lite. That is necessary to hide the fact that these people are tools of the Zionists. I don’t know whether Razib Khan is familiar with the term “controlled opposition”. He probably is, but does not really grasp the full concept, I wouldn’t think.

    Now, regarding the Zionists being behind all of this, this is not antisemitic ravings on my part. There is a whole network of foundations or think-tanks or whatever you want to call them whose entire activity, raison d’être, is fomenting Islamophobia. For example the Gatestone Institute or the Clarion Project. If you look at the funding and the running of these sorts of things, and their connections, you see that these are Zionist operations. Those two are just a couple examples. There is a whole interlaced network of these things and it’s entirely a neocon/zionist sort of thing.

    Not only does the author seem to be blissfully aware that all of these Islamophobic operations are Zionist promoted and funded, as well as these pseudo-intellectual Islamophobes like Harris, but it does seem that he tacitly accepts their framing, that somehow the rational, secular world of the West is under attack from “radical Islam”. Of course, the exact opposite is true. The Islamic world is under attack from the secularists. In fact, in general, in the conflict between religion and secularism, the secularists are the aggressors at this point in history.

    It’s a pity, but the article is cringeworthy to read, because the author, though a highly educated, erudite person, simply has zero political judgment — absolutely no understanding of the deep politics of what is really going on here.

  35. @The Albino Sasquatch

    I would also ask that every contributor should have a distinctive handle – like yours or mine. I don’t want any more anon or anonymous. This usually means a troll or someone with multiple aliases. I don’t reply to people who use those handles.

  36. Langley says:

    As a joke I spelled my name Lang Lee instead of my usual Langley handle (and put my usual email) over at Steve’s blog. My posting went away. Was this due to a mismatch between Name and Email fields?

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
    , @Triumph104
  37. @Verymuchalive

    The Small Duck isn’t too bad – he trolls, but he tends to stick to his moniker – or I think he does. But the countless one-comment trolls are an irritant.

    I like to think it’s a tribute to the standard of writing and commenting that someone’s making the effort, most flak over the target and all that.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  38. 5371 says:

    I think it overwhelmingly likely that you have produced fewer comments worth reading than Priss, under whatever pseudonyms.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  39. @Jonathan Revusky

    I imagine Razib (and Greg Cochran too) as being a little like Professor Challenger in Jules Verne’s The Lost World – combative types, always ready to intellectually horsewhip someone on the steps of their own club.

    (re upvotes/downvotes, no room for them here – being right or wrong can’t be decided by vote – although I do like the feature elsewhere as a means of gaugeing the commentariat temperature – for example, the last 2 Guardian “why we must bomb Syria” pieces have been panned in the comments)

  40. @Langley

    Surname ? We thought it referred to your job. At least tell us what rank in the CIA you hold if you’re going to troll us. What is the CIA equivalent of hasbara, anyway?

    • Replies: @Langley
    , @iffen
  41. @Anonymous Nephew

    Sorry to disappoint. But I believe Anatoly Karpin has already warned the fatty waterfowl for using multiple aliases in the last month or so. I was rather surprised to see a public warning for TD, but it happened. That’s why he’s behaving himself now.
    PS If I got the website wrong, mea culpa.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
    , @Clyde
  42. @Verymuchalive

    Anatoly Karlin ! Old Chess player was thinking Karpov. Sorry about putting your IQ up 40 points, Mr Karlin. ( Oh God, He’ll reply and say that Karpov only had an IQ of 183 and would have been higher had he not drunk absinthe twice a week )

  43. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Indeed, the monkeys-at-typewriters analogy applies to us all. However, Priss and Sailer have embraced it as a strategy.

  44. Langley says:

    My father worked for a three letter government agency. That’s all I can say.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  45. Wally says: • Website
    @Jacques Sheete

    I too have been censored by Razib Khan, numerous times actually.

    All those posts were on topic, free of foul language, and relevant to the discussion.

    The immature Khan is particularly sensitive to being challenged on what he writes.

    Shame on him.

    Certainly this site can do much better than Razib ‘My Way Or the Highway’ Khan.

  46. @Anatoly Karlin

    Agree/Disagree is infinitely better than Up/Down, the latter being ambiguous between multiple dimensions, making it is a tool for shaming rather than for expression.

  47. @Langley

    Thank you. We all like to blog semi-anonymously, but we all reveal little bits of our background in blogging. All we can do or ask is that those bits we reveal are done so honestly.

  48. @Langley

    I can’t speak to your specific situation but Steve Sailer has said that some posts accidentally wind up in his spam folder.

  49. Clyde says:

    If Unz deletes the sock puppets and the monkeys-at-typewriters here this will cut in half the monthly word harvest. This will make the Unz site software collapse like a house of cards.

    • Replies: @FX Enderby
    , @Verymuchalive
  50. @Clyde

    Yeah Mista Unz – nice website ya got dere – it’d be a shame if sumpn happund to it…

    • LOL: Talha
  51. @Jonathan Revusky

    A couple of months ago, I tried to make a comment under one of Razib Khan’s articles and it was censored.

    And nothing of value was lost.

    • Agree: European-American
    • LOL: iffen
  52. Lurker says:

    That seems very odd. I find Disqus to be excellent, I’ve got several accounts with them, no issues at all.

    Just set up another email account and start another Disqus ID. No problemo.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  53. Mark Green says: • Website

    Thank you, Ron. I totally agree. is an exceptional webzine with very high standards and many great contributors.

    Just say ‘NO’ to sleazy and manipulative sockpuppetry. Trolls suck. We don’t want them here.

    • Agree: Talha
  54. iffen says:

    What is the CIA equivalent of hasbara, anyway?

    I can’t believe the Jew haters let this go untouched.

  55. I always use a different handle, mostly as a–ahem–decoration of my comment. Am I annoying the management???

    • Replies: @iffen
  56. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I’ve got several accounts with them, no issues at all.

    Ron Unz should thank you for illustrating his point then ban you.

  57. @Wally

    The nerve of some people! How many on-topic, profanity-free posts do you censor every day? Why not move from that glass house you live in if you want to cast stones, eh?

  58. Dave Pinsen says: • Website

    You should do this, Ron.

    Keep it up, and you may be able to package this commenting system as a product to rival Disqus.

  59. @Frau Katze

    I’m a newb on this site (at least relative to the 1 comment sock-puppeteers who have proliferated of late) and I think this is one of the best purpose built comment sites I’ve seen since the early days of the internet.

    Please, please do not add up and down votes, Mr. Unz. They will ruin everything.

  60. BenKenobi says:
    @Jacques Sheete

    Don’t feel bad bro.

    Razib Kahn – GNXP?

    More like Razib Kahn – zzzz!

    On topic: I would love to see the various sockpuppets’ comment histories amalgamated.

  61. blah blah thereby revealing the true identity of the sockpuppeteer, blah

    OK. Including the IP address of a comment, with geo-location too, was state of the art for 1997. The New Republic already tried limiting comments to paid subscribers a few years ago; the result was a dearth of comments (aside from the usual cheering-section stuff). A lot of opinion-infested sites like Reuters and WIRED turned off their comments. If joining the bandwagon would help you sleep better at night, go ahead and fix your own software to accomplish that, don’t blame us instead.

  62. Brohemius says:

    Let a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend! And make sure the “Fusion Center” gets the data!

  63. @Clyde

    You mean half the monthly word harvest would lie rotting in the offices.
    We need to import cheap, Third World bloggers to do the job American bloggers won’t do, even if they can’t read or write English, even if they can’t read or write…………

  64. Thanks for the sentiment, Sir! However, I don’t feel bad about it because it does exemplify a lot of the nastiness that goes on in scribbling, I mean, “journalism.”

    The kid only allows comments to be published where he can appear smart and cool. Anything that he can’t refute is trashed so he doesn’t look bad, apparently. And that was in an article “discussing” scientific truth. Truth, mind ya! Tsk tsk.

    It also proves what I’ve realized for some time, i.e., that a very large proportion of what gets labelled science is really garbage. It reminds me of the trash that passes for philosophy. Much of it is incomprehensible sewage and the old adage applies in spades, “If ya can’t dazzle ’em with brilliance,baffle ’em with BS.”

    May I respectfully submit the suggestion that for Unz to retain a minimum of journalistic integrity, the idea that authors can “moderate” or edit comments on their articles should be seriously reconsidered?

  65. Wilkey says:
    @Big Bill

    This. I occasionally (though very rarely) alter my username when my comment gives away a few too many details about myself. Occasionally I alter it when my comment is maybe a wee bit offensive, but I don’t think even those comments come close to being inflammatory in relative or even absolute terms.

    Before taking the default position of automatically exposing sockkpuppets you may want to take that into consideration. My problem with soxkpuppets is when people use a second (third, fourth, twelfth) handle to say “hey, great point!” to their first handle.

  66. @interesting

    Agree. Disqus blows dead dogs. I stopped commenting at the Belmont Club when they imposed it.

  67. Bill says:

    I don’t immediately see how he is going to do what he says he is going to do. Presumably, he is going to assume that an IP address is a person. And maybe, right now when he isn’t using IP addresses to do much, this is roughly true. But it will stop being true the moment he tries to suppress trolls that way.

    There are innumerable, easy to use, web proxies. Plus there is Tor. Those are a real problem. You could just try to block them all—there are lists. On the other hand, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of allowing anonymity? I assume there are people connecting via proxies or Tor specifically because they think they need the extra layer of anonymity.

  68. @Wally

    I see you deleted Bunny’s post. So much for your standards,

  69. tbraton says:

    I encountered the exact same problem a while back (9 months ago?) and, no matter what I did, I could not find a remedy. Then, without doing anything that I recall, suddenly the system became accessible again. I think the problem was entirely at their end. BTW in doing some Googling to discover a possible solution, I discovered a lot of people were having the same problem. If you haven’t tried it lately, you might want to give it another shot.

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