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Australian Astroturf

July 27th, 2006

Trevor Cook is campaigning against astroturfing, along with Paul Young. They’ve set up a campaign page.

As is pointed out on the page, Astroturf groups have their Internet equivalent in the form of sock-puppets, one of the lowest forms of life on the Web.

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  1. July 27th, 2006 at 15:41 | #1

    I think it will be difficult to wipe out, but, FWIW, count me in. I have commented under my own name for almost the whole time I have been commenting and make no bones about my background.
    I think it will be difficult to wipe out as any good sock puppets will spend a long time establishing an identity.

  2. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 27th, 2006 at 16:11 | #2

    have their Internet equivalent in the form of sock-puppets, one of the lowest forms of life on the Web.

    Surely on the scale of evil they fall somewhat short of being in the class of those that publish child pornography or send bulk spam. Maybe sock-puppets are further up the ladder in the category that includes the very annoying and generally creepy forms of life.

  3. jquiggin
    July 27th, 2006 at 16:28 | #3

    I’d rank them pretty close to spammers, myself. It’s true that spammers cause damage on a larger scale, but sock-puppeteers are more personally sociopathic.

  4. July 27th, 2006 at 17:42 | #4

    Since everyone that comments on a blog is naturally stubborn to begin with, is astroturfing that much of a problem?

  5. July 27th, 2006 at 20:00 | #5

    There are sad types who just like taking free kicks anonymously and I guess that’s annoying but the real damage is with concerted, well-funded campaigns specifically designed to distort markets and political processes. I think that is something we need to be aware of and be willing to expose and oppose wherever we find evidence of it

  6. July 27th, 2006 at 22:00 | #6


    I’d say that sock-puppets aren’t the equivalent of astroturf groups – but they can be a tool used by astroturfers.

    The internet is fertile ground for astroturfing – and sock puppeting is but one tool these groups can use to fake authenticity and undermine transparency.

    Thanks for posting about the campaign. Would you like me to add your name to the list of supporters of the campaign at the anti-astroturfing home page?

  7. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 28th, 2006 at 01:20 | #7

    Maybe the problem is that some people are too inclined to jump on the band wagon of grass roots campaigns rather than think about issues for themselves. Maybe we need to immunise the population against the mob menatility. Maybe if people get sucked in a few times they will learn to be more wary. Maybe I am too optimistic.

  8. July 28th, 2006 at 09:51 | #8

    Terje – maybe too optimistic but I hope that by raising awareness of these issues we can get people to be more sceptical, in particular, of people claiming to represent organisations. Even if the organisations are real we still need to ask who funds them and why. This is rarely black and white. It can be great that a pharma company funds a disease organisation, or that weight-watchers funds campaigns against obesity and so on, but we need to critically examine the motivations for that support. Ray Moynihan has done some tremendous work in this area and without endorsing everything he concludes or suggests, I think its absolutely correct that we need to be sceptical and not just assume that if something sounds like a good cause than everyone involved has good motives.
    As well as, and more than, asking who is behind it and why we should always demand to see the evidence and the logic not just the emotion

  9. Terje
    July 28th, 2006 at 11:07 | #9

    When you see an ad for Levi jeans there is no logic. Just an implication of impending sex. Marketing is about communicating emotions not logic. Logic is only part of the marketing message in so far as the target audience has some emotions about the role of logic in decision making. Any counter marketing needs to be aware of this. A goog example is the anti-smoking marketing which focuses on images over logic.

  10. July 28th, 2006 at 11:41 | #10

    All marketers are liars http://www.allmarketersareliars.com/

  11. Nabakov
    July 28th, 2006 at 15:35 | #11

    I want to know who’s really behind this anti-astroturfing campaign.

  12. July 28th, 2006 at 15:42 | #12

    I want to know who is behind Nabakov (and maybe Fyodor). We can then market this information to GMB and JC over at catallaxy…

  13. July 31st, 2006 at 12:01 | #13

    Nabakov and Fyodor aren’t sock puppets – the names they use on the internet might not be the same as the names on their driving licences but the names we know them by are used consistently and have solid, consistent personae attached. Sock puppetry is when one person uses a collection of different names with the intention to deceitfully pretend that more than one person is authoring all the different remarks.

    Sock puppeting is *not* the same as using a pseudonym.

  14. August 2nd, 2006 at 00:00 | #14

    You may want to do a quick check through your blogroll. The Bitchin Monaro Guide has gone. I think a couple of others may have as well.
    I do not mind the use of pseudonyms. It was a joke related to what is happening over at Catallaxy.

  15. Ernestine Gross
    August 2nd, 2006 at 13:42 | #15

    Is “Terje” the same person as “Terje(say TAY-A)” and “Terje Petersen” and Terge Petersen?

  16. Terje
    August 2nd, 2006 at 22:35 | #16

    The first three are all me. I have never seen the forth one used anywhere.

    Are you suggesting that there was ever any doubt?

    If your into puzzles see if you can work out which one is me at home minding the baby, which is me goofing off at work and which is me on the train or in a taxi typing with two thumbs (literally) on my new Nokia E61.


  17. Ernestine Gross
    August 2nd, 2006 at 23:54 | #17

    You announced the name change from Terje Petersen to Terje(say TAY-A) on this site. I assumed (not without reason regarding context) Terje is a simplification. I came across the fourth one in a list of names on another web-site. In one of your declarations you pointed to the web-site in question. Somebody may have made a typing error when listing your name.

  18. Terje
    August 3rd, 2006 at 06:24 | #18

    My full name without any simplification is:-

    “Terje Normann Petersen”

    Double “nn” is intentional. My first name is norweigen and in Norway it is common enough. Other people in the universe share my first name, last name combination.

    “tay-a” is a softened phonetic version suited to native speakers of English. It is also what my mother calls me. I only ever write it this way when people want to know how to say my name.

    Most days I am one single human being. If anybody gets the notion that I am multiple people then please tell the ATO so I can income split.

  19. Terje
    August 3rd, 2006 at 06:26 | #19

    P.S. Which website has the 4th version?

  20. Ernestine Gross
  21. Terje
    August 3rd, 2006 at 12:55 | #21

    There is an error there in the email address but it relates to my surname. Could you please check again because I am not seeing the “g” in my first name that you have indicated.

  22. Schwartz
    August 3rd, 2006 at 15:40 | #22

    Copied direct from the Australian Libertarian Society page:


  23. Ernestine Gross
    August 3rd, 2006 at 18:02 | #23

    Terje, you asked me to check again. The outcome is the checking results in more discrepancies.

    “Which website has the 4th version?

    1. Go to http://www.libertarian.org.au/
    2. click ALS bloggers
    3. click Terje Petersen terje.peterson{at}libertarian.org.au
    4. result: [email protected]

    a) True, there is an error in your surname in line 3.
    b) Your correct name, Terje Petersen, (line 3) has a link. It opens up an email address which has your first name as Terge (line 4)
    c) The pop-up email address (line 4) shows a different name of the organisation than the name shown on the dead email address (libertarian vs liberatian)

    How did I find the name ‘Terge’ in the first place? Ha. One day I had difficulties in converting a word file into a Pdf file. In desperation I contemplated asking you whether you would help out (the paper to be converted dealt with the concept of money – you had shown interest in this topic – you are allegedly a computing expert). I wasn’t sure where the stuff would end up and hence didn’t send it.

  24. Terje
    August 4th, 2006 at 09:01 | #24

    Thanks. I will get it fixed.

    I work in IT. I am not an expert on all things related to IT. However I do find that with time and money most problems can be resolved. The pdf engine on our internal server has been flacky for a while now. However I have not yet found the time (or urgency) to fix it. I suppose that even plumbers have leaky taps.

    Mostly my occupation involves people management. I manage an IT consultancy firm and when we sell time it is usually not mine.

    My email address is: terje.petersen&gmail.com

    Obviously the “&” needs to be replaced. I don’t want spam bots harvesting it.

    Anybody that contributes here should feel welcome to email me any time.

  25. Ernestine Gross
    August 4th, 2006 at 09:33 | #25

    Terje, I did get the pdf conversion done anyway.

    There seems to be a problem though with links associated with your name (see the above and the hacker page that popped up on your posts on JQ’s web-site). Hope there are no more surprises.

  26. Terje
    August 4th, 2006 at 19:48 | #26

    P.S. I don’t have anything to do with maintaining the functionality of the libertarian.org.au website and I while I contribute content there I was only vaguely aware that they had a directory with my name on it.

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