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GuildWiki talk:Sock puppetry

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an unpolicy...[edit source]

still a policy? I'll review in the morning. —JediRogue 07:33, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Well, there's not exactly a way to break this, so I would challenge calling it a policy (same is true with a few other ones that are currently policy). I'm merely documenting some stuff that people should keep in mind in the absence of a policy, since this topic comes up every once in a while. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 18:05, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Banstick waving?[edit source]

After reviewing the history of User:F G, I am thoroughly opposing any accusations of sockpuppetry, except when

  • the evidence is completely clear, and
  • the alledged sockpuppeteering has had significant to major impact on the operation of the wiki.


  1. Sockpuppet accusations tend to create wikidrama or exacerbate any drama already present
  2. placed on a new user's talkpage, they tend to come across as weird and make it hard for the user to feel at home on the wiki.

For that reason, a sockpuppet accusation and the accompanying drama needs some benefit (i.e. the discovery that the wiki suffered from it) to offset the wikidrama, and there had better be good evidence, or there'll just be drama and no impact.

--◄mendel► 19:33, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

I also have a general stance against accusation of sockpupptry, but I wouldn't wave a banstick unless the accusation is outright hostile and confrontational when the accused account has done nothing proactively disrupting to the wiki. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 00:14, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
See User talk:LongCat. I don't like how this played out at all. --◄mendel► 00:23, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Meh. I still think if properly worded it doesn't have to be harmful and doesn't have to be banned. See the last sentence of the current language of the article. If you see a need to ban, you have the right to do so as long as it's a case-by-case basis on the particular circumstances of the situation. I just oppose a blank ban. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 00:33, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm not advocating a blanket ban. But that last sentence you refer to is insufficient, it's as if you ask someone you meet whether they have an infectious disease. Word it as politely as you will, that person is going to think you're very strange, unless they know you better. (Well, even people who know me better think I'm a bit strange, but you know what I mean.) --◄mendel► 00:38, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
The worthiness of a ban is proportional to how much harm the "ban-ee" has done through their actions. In this particular case, while it was certainly not the nicest thing to do, I don't believe any bans are warranted since it does not seem like any significant harm was done.
Accusations of sockpuppetry are very srs bsns and should not be thrown around idly. While I think there are few legitimate reasons for it, it all comes down to intent of course. For example, if one registered a sock for purposes of an event (User:Spirit of Wintersday comes to mind), then that is harmless. Even if one can "prove" a sock beyond a shadow of a doubt, I don't see the need unless they have done something disruptive/ban-worthy, since then of course the "puppetmaster" must also serve sentence.
By the way I am curious what sparked the sudden interest in this policy, since even though that is our most famous sockpuppetry case it is quite old. Entropy Sig.jpg (T/C) 00:47, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
It's not about "this particular case", I wanted to find out/establish what the consensus is. Explaining my interest is offtopic here, I can do that on irc sometime. --◄mendel► 01:01, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Am I really the only one who thinks intentional deceit is inherently harmful, particularly on a public wiki where transparency is paramount? Felix Omni Signature.png 01:46, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I am not sure if you are the only one, but I know I disagree with you. In fact, I'm going to intentionally lie about my age (and certain other bits of my personal information) if anybody asks me. There is a difference between transparency and revealing everything about yourself, and I do find sock puppetry as being in the in-between gray zone. The three bullet points in the current article greatly sums up my mentality/stance on the topic of sock puppetry. I encourage you to go through the entire article, then raise specific issues/questions you have with the stuff in (or omitted in) the article. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 02:02, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Considering that sock puppetry itself is not established as a bad thing on the wiki, the better analogy IMO would be as if you ask someone you meet whether they have a Byal-Ikandis, or if they happen to be Catholic. If you find being associated with Catholics as offensive, I apologize, but I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with asking the question. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 02:02, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Is that an analogy to being a sockpuppet, or to accusing a sockpuppet? Either way it's not very good. I am Catholic, btw. And I have yet to meet a constructive sock puppet. All the ones that have appeared on GuildWiki in my time have either been destructive (User:Banjthulu,User:R.Phalange) or useless (User:Light Kitty). Felix Omni Signature.png 02:10, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
That was an analogy to accusing a sockpuppet, in response to mendel (see indentation to find mendel's post I was replying to). As for "All the ones that have appeared on GuildWiki in my time have either been destructive or useless", you probably left out "or undiscovered". How do you know I am not somebody else's sockpuppet? -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 02:18, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I just do. Felix Omni Signature.png 02:53, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I would sadly inform you that you are wrong, but then I also decided to lie about random bits of my personal information (as opposed to always lie or never lie). Besides, even if your claim is true, two out of the three bullet points already fully address your claim. If the puppet is destructive, we deal with it appropriately, so it gets banned. There's no need to hunt down the master. If the master is acting benign, then it is better to exploit the master's ego by not banning it to get free labor that improves the wiki. It saves energy, reduces drama, while improves the wiki. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 03:08, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Then the master could just create another sockpuppet, leading to wasted energy, increased drama, and widespread mayhem. Felix Omni Signature.png 03:16, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Even if we ban the master, the human behind the account can still do everything you mentioned, so banning the master doesn't stop anything. If the master is under a benign disguise, it puts us one user account short to exploit for improving the wiki. If the master does nothing, then it doesn't matter. If the mater is also acting disruptively, then we can deal with it without spending energy to prove sock pupptry. In all cases, the human can always create more accounts. So nothing is gained from the witchhunt. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 03:28, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
It discredits the master and makes others less likely to trust him in the future, which in a highly integrated community like the one we have for Guild Wars goes quite a long way toward discouraging future actions. Felix Omni Signature.png 03:40, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
How integrated is this community? o_O""" I'd buy exploitation over this discouragement approach which I personally find vague. In all my time here, the process of sock hunting itself have always created far more drama (due to the hunters) than the disruptions caused by the accused. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 03:59, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I would say that's not the fault of the accuser, but rather of the accused and the onlookers for reacting indignantly, particularly if the accuser has solid evidence. Felix Omni Signature.png 04:02, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
If the accusation is made in public, it expects a public reaction, and thus who accuses is in part responsible for the reaction (there are some similarities to trolling). If the accuser intends no public reaction, he can proceed privately.
Legally, intentional deceit is only a crime if it is done to gain certain kinds of advantages. (Dressing up as a policeman is not prohibited.) I agree that it's usually not the best way to achieve the intended end, but that puts saying "you sock" on a level with "you are dumb", and if I went around the wiki saying that every time I could prove someone had acted stupidly, we'd probably have lots of drama in the short run and an empty wiki in the long. :) --◄mendel► 10:29, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

(Reset indent) Felix, please take the time to review the contributions of User:F G.

The sock puppet being useless means that exposing it probably also is. When it comes to destructiveness, it probably depends on the damage done; starting a flame war is probably a borderline case.

I disagree with Pan that asking for sockness is neutral; ideally, it should be, but in theory, the people that get asked are singled out, and it's been compared to a "witchhunt" in the past, and "witch" is not exactly a positive term. At the very least, when new editors are asked, we make a bad impression. I think an unemotional question, posed to an established user (doing it privately might be even better) is possibly tolerable (i.e. asking Warwick, not Lightkitty, about the sockness of the latter), but given the close nature of the community, even then I would want to have very good evidence before doing that. The best thing to do if you suspect someone of socking is to contact an admin privately and have extra checks run. & mdash; Should we add to GW:AI which admins can be contacted about that? Do we need GW:QDS - quietly deal with socks?

Regarding banning the puppet and not the master, there's the argument at GuildWiki:Admin_noticeboard#block_doctrine - if we ban people for disrupting the wiki, we should ban the whole person; I am very uncomfortable with the idea that users can go Jekyll and Hyde on us, and that Jekyll won't suffer for what Hyde does. At the very least, the reputations need to be connected. The reputation in the community is what our contributors invest in the wiki, and that is what makes them interested in the wiki being a success, and if you separate the actions from the reputation, that is not good.

That said, we've always held that people have a right to start over, i.e. that it is ok if socks aren't used concurrently. It may often not be a good idea to do so (see R.Phalange), then again, some people are said to have successfully done that (e.g. Stabber). It is the nature of the thing that we don't usually hear of the successes.

So in short, "Jekyll and Hyde" socks are bad, "witness protection program" socks are good, accusations that serve no purpose are bad, letting the admins handle it quietly is good. --◄mendel► 08:32, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

The problem with the term "witchhunt" is that the comparison itself is flawed- or at least ought to be. In an actual witchhunt, people are punished because FALSE accusations are brought against them, and the accusation is made in a sensational manner intended to draw attention. If the accused is actually a sockpuppet, or the accuser has actual evidence which he calmly presents, then it is not by any stretch of the word a witchhunt.
When it comes to sock accusations on GuildWiki, the accusation itself tends to be non-sensational, and oftentimes the response is as well. It's when other people start taking sides that the trouble starts. So ultimately it's a judgment call- is revealing the truth worth the risk (by no means a certainty) of involving other people? I would personally be highly opposed to any policy that attempts to prohibit anyone from making that judgment themselves. Felix Omni Signature.png 09:13, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
It does not matter for my if a sock puppet accusation is actually a witchhunt or founded in fact, since my point is that the accusation itself tends to cast aspersions on the reputation of either the alledged sock or the "sock spotter", and it is very hard to diplomatically resolve these kind of situations.
Ultimately, inquiring privately (with the master of the suspected sock, or alerting the admins) minimizes the risk of involving other people. The "benefit" of a public notice is exactly that it addresses the wiki community and implicitly asks it to take sides if a conflict is ongoing, and that is no rational way to have an argument (unless you hold that socking in and of itself is bad, which of course you do). --◄mendel► 10:29, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Extensive rewrite[edit source]

I have just finished an extensive rewrite of this article. I have tried to incorporate what has been discussed above and hope that others can improve on my writing style where necessary and add what I may have omitted. Some things of note:

  • as far as I recall, sock puppet bans are usually infinite, because we feel that if a sock puppet has been used for abuse, we want to deny the master all use of this puppet in the future. It is an outward sign that the socking must end.
  • There is no section on banning for sock accusations, but I stressed strongly that such investigations should be done privately.
  • I have removed the line that there is no socking policy on GuildWiki, because we are operating on consensus, and the article attempts to describe that; that means, in effect, the contents of the article are almost as important as if they were policy, and explicitly stating that it's not a policy sends the opposite message. Given the present scope, it probably makes sense to elevate it to policy status, but since I as the (re)writer feel biased, I didn't want to formally suggest this (i.e. I am looking for someone to second me).

--◄mendel► 10:02, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Something in the first two sections of the rewrite bugs me, but I can't quite pin it down. Additionally, after reading through the whole thing, I still get the impression that "we have no policy on sock puppetry". If you disagree, please summarize for me what the policy on sock puppetry is. BTW, which accounts have been infini-banned for sock puppetry (as opposed to ban evasion)? -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 18:27, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
The sections are written in a loaded way, not completely objective or factual, so they're more of a cross between a guide and a "proper" policy. This is intentional.
The policy on sock puppetry is that it is discouraged, but we don't ban for it; and accusing people publicly of sock puppetry is also discouraged.
Kimsaejung, Jedirogue, Omg Bananas, Spam King, Timerandom, Maywick, User:... , "J" , Critical Sword Saint (and others of the same master), from 11th March on down a whole spate with "sockpuppetry for voting" as the reason, Edge Walkin Thrust Simon, S, Mt_Heart_Attack, Djsmiley2k, Tomoko_Cantha_Greens, Mr Ex Vandal2 have been infinibanned as socks or duplicates. Now you go looking through the block log to find socks that have NOT been infinibanned (IPs have been banned for socking, but not infinitely). Btw, there are some infinbanned IPs more than a year old, I'd want to unblock these, any objections?
See also User talk:Tanaric/Archives#Of socks and puppets... --◄mendel► 20:38, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Most of the bans on "duplicates" were, IMHO, to reduce user confusion. Many people voluntarily have their shoepuppet banned just in case (BTW, shoepuppet accounts aren't only created for mass-editing, as the article currently implies, but also include accounts created for other purposes such as testing). This eventually led to many admins banning known duplicates of users, but most of those are actually shoepuppets rather than sockpuppets (the term "shoepuppet" came about only after the F_G incident, and "sockpuppet" used to be a blanket term that include ban evasion and shoepuppeting). Out of that list, the only ones really were sockpuppeting were the voting ones which were an obvious form of abuse (plus User:"J" initially, but I feel "J" was closer to being a shoe than a sock even if the technicalities would place it as a sock). Jedirogue was an impersonation problem, Kimsaejung was just a spambot/spammer, and most others are just shoes. Anyways, no objections to unblock the IPs. As for socks that have NOT been infinibanned, they wouldn't be in the block log because they wouldn't even have had a temp ban to start with (I don't think sockpuppetry, if established as an offense, should ever have a non-infinite ban). But if it's of any indication, nobody from the (IMHO) most notable F_G incident got banned for sockpuppetry. Not the accused master and not the accused puppet (despite at least one admin knew for sure that it was sockpuppetry. So in summary, we have got shoes perm-banned, we've got socks perm-banned for being used in abusive ways, we've also got confirmed socks not banned.
Now as I re-read your first bullet in this thread and interpret it as "When known sock puppets have been used for abuse and gets banned, the ban duration are usually infinite because we feel that if a known sock puppet has been used for abuse, we want to deny the master all use of this puppet in the future. It is an outward sign that the abuse must end." it becomes something I fully agree with. -User:PanSola (talk to the Follower of Lyssa.png) 23:44, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, that is the way it is meant to be interpreted, because the article says quite clearly that we don't ban socks for being socks; we ban socks for abuse; and when we do, we don't ban temporarily, but infinitely (and I weaken that with a "usually" because I have a hunch situations might arise where we want room to exercise discretion). The only way this can be proven wrong is by showing that we also have banned known socks with timed bans (for abuse). --◄mendel► 05:07, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
The argument could be made that when Auron banned R.Phalange for "wiki disruption," he issued a timed ban to a sockpuppet that was being abused. But then, those two are a special case. Felix Omni Signature.png 06:44, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
It is a special case because the way I wrote the rewrite, Phalange isn't a sock, but a "new start" identity. He'd stopped posting as brains12 a month before R.Phalange was created.
Banjthulu is one precedent of a sock being blocked for a week and the known master not being blocked and in fact going on posting. It is also precedent for at least part of the community thinking that asking the question is a breach of GW:AGF.
Tbh, if I was socking and got asked if I was, I would answer with a clear "no". It is not more of a deception than the socking itself is. The one thing that would make me admit to the socking is the realization that I'm going to be found out shortly anyhow; and for that, a private wakeup call addressed to me on my main would do the job just as well — better, in fact, because it's less dramatic, and gives me time to think - and if the suspected sock isn't really mine, it's not troubled at all. --◄mendel► 07:45, 7 January 2009 (UTC)