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GuildWiki:Sock puppetry

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What is "sockpuppetry", and are there teams for this sport?

  • See Wikipedia:Sockpuppet (Internet). Basically, someone who uses a different account for malicious purposes such as Vandalism. Shoepuppetry is creating a different account for usually benign reasons.Entrea SumataeEntrea [Talk] 03:28, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Well, the point of sockpuppetry is basically that you make your own team if you don't have one ;-P One could also describe it as the reverse of having imaginary friends, i.e. they are imaginary to you, the sock puppet master, but seem real to everybody else until they give themselves away by some stupid mistake. Now imagine some people imagining imaginary friends everywhere on the wiki, and you've got your basic sock puppet spotter. For anyone so spotted it is a bit awkward, because although sometimes there are ways to prove that two accounts are controlled by the same person, proving the opposite is well nigh impossible. --◄mendel► 04:06, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

— (copied from User talk:LongCat)

Using a sock puppet[edit source]

You are using a sock puppet if you are secretly using several account on the wiki, reserving some accounts for certain types of posts, usually concurrently. The motivation is usually to protect the reputation of one account (the main) while being able to do less reputable posts with the other (the sockpuppet). A variant of this is to use a new account to see how people react to you if they don't know your history.

Using accounts in this way has often proved detrimental to the wiki and to the reputation of the puppet master, because a user's reputation is his or her stake in the community. It is no coincidence that the users who have been here the longest are usually the most reputable to the wiki. If the sock is used concurrently with the main, there are many opportunities to give yourself away, and strong interests to find out who you are, so often the sock is connected to the main eventually, and the damage to the reputation is greater than it would be had you posted with the main from the start.

If you feel you are limited by the role your existing account puts you in, try reshaping the role in other ways. Some editors have managed to change their roles like this, and even though it takes more time and is less absolute (some users will always identify you with your old role), the effect is more lasting and may in itself gain you respect with the community.

Not using a sock puppet[edit source]

Some uses of alternate accounts are legitimate. For example, users who have tools to semi-automatically edit the wiki usually make accounts for them. The user page of such a "shoepuppet" identifies the main account it is connected to.

Posting as an anon is sometimes done because people can't or won't login, for example when using somebody else's computer. Sometimes the connection is disclosed on the IP's userpage, sometimes not.

Some accounts get abandoned. The password may have gotten lost and can't be recovered because there is no email address set up, or the address that is set up can no longer be accessed (change it in your preferences if you can), or a user simply wishes to make a new start, for whatever reason. While the endeavor is not always successful, the community usually tolerates this. This does not cover creating a new account to evade a ban on your old one.

Discovering a sock puppet[edit source]

In the history of the community, accusations of sock puppetry have consistently been the result and/or precursor of much bigger drama than the sock puppets themselves have caused.

Thus, a public accusation of sock puppetry is a net benefit to the wiki only if the sock puppet is being used to damage the wiki or its community significantly, and you have certain proof.

If you do not have certain proof or are unsure how certain the evidence that you do have really is, please contact an admin privately with your suspicion (see GuildWiki:Administrator information); often, additional evidence can be procured.

If you are concerned about an account potentially being the sock puppet of a user who had a disruptive history on the wiki (or elsewhere), please consider the following alternatives:

  • If the account in question starts to behave problematically, then the account can be dealt with per its own behavior.
  • If the account in question is not behaving problematically, then it is harmless and nothing needs to be done.
  • If the account in question is contributing in a positive way, then staying quiet about it being a sock puppet allows us to exploit the problematic user's alter ego to improve the wiki.

The general idea is that it is often unnecessary to go hunt down sock puppeteers.

Holding the expectation (a.k.a. "defending against the possibility") that the account in question might do bad things in the future, based simply on the suspicion that it is the sock puppet of a user with a problematic history, is against the Assume Good Faith policy.

Please refrain from asking new users whether they are a sock puppet of an established user. If they are not, this needlessly singles them out and confronts them with a downside of wiki editing before they have had a chance to feel at home in the community. Instead, consider privately asking the established user whom you suspect of controlling the sock.

Banning[edit source]

Admins will not ban an account just because it is a sock puppet. A ban will be issued when the actual usage/behavior of the account warrants it (eg. vote inflation, causing disruption on the wiki etc). Depending on cirumstances, such a ban may extend to the "master" account, or it may not.