14 thoughts on “Australian Astroturf

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

  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. John,

    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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  11. PrQ,
    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.

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