Saturday, May 17, 2008

On the Sock Puppet technique

Apparently someone or more than one person has been attributing statements to people who did not write them, turning them into "sock puppets." Of course this is done anonymously. This is unacceptable. I ran into this a couple of years ago, and it turned out to be just someone having fun at everyone's expense. Maybe I've got to cut of anonymous posts.


Timothy David said...

I think you should.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you should.

Anonymous said...

Hello Victor,

I believe that you should not allow anonymous posting. Some friends of mine over at Arminian Perspectives had similar problems with the Triablogers posing and pretending to be other persons and posting anonymously. By posing in this way they could engage in inappropriate comments and personl attacks and do so without their true identity being known so there was no accountabilitty. At Arminian Perspectives they switched to a system where these kinds of anonymous sock puppet actions could be eliminated. In your case here it was calvinists posing as sock puppets but in the future it could be atheists or anyone else as well.

If you eliminate the anonymous posting, then it will no longer be a problem and you can then get to what makes this site such a great site: intelligent discussion of ideas done in a civil and fruitful manner.


PS- Glad to see that you recognized that the person or persons pretending to be "Lurker" and myself, were pretending and lying so their comments can be disregarded. And for those who engaged in this sinful behavior, what you are doing does not establish your calvinism to be true but leads people to conclude otherwise. You need to repent and turn from your sin and seriously reconsider your manner of communicating with others.

Victor Reppert said...

Calvinists are supposed to preach total depravity, not practice it!

(I am not here presuming to say who is using the sock puppets.)

Anonymous said...


The Arminian Perspective post was shot to pieces, I thought? Didn't a handful of people come forward and prove they were genuine individuals? In fact, didn't one have to grovel on the floor and invite your friends to their state for breakfast and coffee so that they could "prove" who they were. It is obvious that your emotions are driving you guys. This explains the paranoi and the massive blunders. Also, I thought an anymous below proved that you sock puppetted on Triablogue. You posted as Henry and Robert. The "evidence" was just as good as the Arminian Perspective "evidence." You can't priase the one and condemn the other.

steve said...

Robert said...

"Some friends of mine over at Arminian Perspectives had similar problems with the Triablogers posing and pretending to be other persons and posting anonymously."


Do you have any hard evidence to back up this allegation?

Anonymous said...

The evidence the AP guys provided IS pretty convincing. There is no hard proof, of course, but it is suspicious how all these mysterious anonymous/pseudonymous posts which seem to channel Paul’s distinctive writing style appear so ubiquitously whenever he is around. This pattern has been apparent for years on multiple blog sites.

If I were in Paul’s shoes and innocent of the charge of Sock Puppetry, I’d have quickly assured my interlocutors of that fact rather than evading the opportunity multiple times as Paul has done over at AP. It’s just that much more damning for him.

Have you read the AP threads, Steve? Look at the writing style of all those mysterious posters. All so similar to Paul’s, yet amazingly appearing under ten or so different names, many of them fired off just minutes after one of his posts. And so many of those anon posts appear at ungodly hours of the night, just like many of Paul’s. Then, as soon as someone calls him on it—POOF—the anons all mysteriously disappear.

I think the evidence raises at least a reasonable suspicion among honest folk, most of whom would take Paul at his word if he just denied the sock puppet charge. If he’s clean, he obviously is a magnet for trollers who ape his style. It is baffling to me why he wouldn’t take an opportunity to distance himself from them, especially since they are so distracting from the substance of his posts.


Ilíon said...

Well you know, it really isn't difficult to remain anonymous while still establishing an identity. For instance, I'm using my Hotmail account (i.e. I'm anonymous in name as well as in fact (*) ) to establish my identity as "Ilíon."

(*) by "anonymous in fact" I mean that I'm no one at all, so even if I used my full name, it would be irrelevant and meaningless to any other participants.

steve said...


Robert's allegation wasn't limited to Paul. Robert spoke in the plural. Does Robert have any hard evidence that Triablogers (plural) were guilty of what he alleges? He states this as a matter of fact.

It would be ironic if Robert, in the name of honesty, has fallen into the sin of gossip-mongering. At the moment, it looks like he's propping up one allegation (his own) with another allegation (the AP's).

And, as Paul points out, at least one of the alleged sock puppets came forward and identified himself as a real person. So the allegation was false.

Anonymous said...


When you mount a cumulative case argument for sock puppetry, the likelihood of implicating the wrong person is pretty high. That is one of the reasons sock puppets are so toxic: they cast suspicion on everyone. The AP guys were clear to point out that their case didn’t stand or fall on every suspected post turning out illegitimate. Obviously, a successful cumulative case argument doesn’t stand or fall on any single bit of evidence.

There was, indeed, only one guy who protested the AP charge; all the others, seemingly, fell off the face of the earth. Not a peep from them since. I find that telling. But even more telling is that Paul refused to issue a denial. Just circumlocution.

As for Robert’s charge against the collective over at T-blog, all I’d say is that if Paul is clean but for some baffling reason refuses to claim as much, then he does a disservice to the T-blog crew, since, whether fair or not, it makes them look guilty-by-association. And, of course, if he DID do it, same problem.

Paul has been known to post pseudonymously in the past in the name of ‘satire’. Perhaps he’s been pushing the envelope a bit too far of late.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Andy,

The exact same evidence that convicted Paul would convict Robert of sock puppetry, but yet he denies he puppeted. And, if I'm not mistaken, didn't 3 or 4 people come forward and try to prove that they were the people Arminian Perspectives said were Paul? I also recall that one piece of evidence, regarding the spelling of some word, Paul posted a Google link with that same spelling and showed numerous people all over the internet who had spelled the word that way. Does Arminian Perspectives want to go so far as to say that ALL those people are Paul?

And, if I am nt mistaken, didn't the "mysterious anons" disappear because Arminian Perspectives shut down the ability to anonymously post?

And I thought Paul addressed the charges but since the debate had now fully moved away from any debate about things that mattered, he was done with the Arminian Perspective guys. Now, if I remember correctly, wasn't there, in that thread, another Arminian who admitted to sock puppeting? Why, if it is so evil, did he not get a hard time?

As far as being a magnet for trolls, doesn't Paul have quite the hostile following of atheists? If I'm not mistaken, didn't Triablogue have numerous "anonymous" posters causing havoc in many of their threads? These "anonymouses" would then comment on how the other anonymouses were Paul. Arminian Perspectives used the statements of these anonymouses as part of their "evidence." But why have the discussions at Triablogue been absent of the kind of ignorant, obnoxious, and childish that previously colored the comment pages? Didn't Arminian Perspectives say Paul posted as a sock puppet with a blogger I.D.? So why doesn't he, if he's a sock puppeteer by nature, continue to do it on Triablogue? How come they riff raff has totally disappeared over there?

Also, why say you would believe him? Didn't Arminian Perspectives disbelieve people's admissions multiple times? Didn't some have to invite them to their state to prove who they were?

Now Andy, if you were planning on going into law, look for a new career!

Given that it has been proved that the majority of those they said were Paul, we not, what about the minority? Given all the evidence, we should conclude the same. But, maybe Paul did do one or two. Is that really an excuse to avoid the real debate? The more interesting question is why the author of the sock puppet post turned his attention to side issues pertaining to sock puppeting and didn't use his time to do as he promised. He promised to respond to Paul. Someone who breaks their promise is untrustworthy. So, you're admitting that you take the word of untrustworthy people as evidence.

But let's ignore all of this stuff and get on with the real debate. Didn't the sock puppeting here start when Robert did the same thing he accussed Calvinists of doing? If would have acted consistent with his critiques of them, I bet the puppeting would have never happened.

Anonymous said...


I'll let folks visit AP and decide for themselves whether they make a convincing case. You know where I stand, having heard both sides.

By the way, why would Paul go to such great lengths to try and shoot holes in the AP cumulative case (in a style eerily similar to yours, I'd add), but still remain unwilling to simply deny the charge? If you were Paul, wouldn't you do both? That is, wouldn't you offer a sincere denial, then make your counter case.

By the way, are *you* Paul??


Anonymous said...

I think "Andy" is a Sock Puppet for Arminian Perspective guys.

It's hard to take you serious, Andy, when you're puppeting.

"AP" guys are the only ones who say "AP."

"AP" guys are the only ones obsessed with Paul Manata on this issue. "Ben" uses the same old "We'd believe him if he admitted it" line and the "This is defacing Triablogue's reputation" line. He's the only one who makes those appeals.

The "AP" guys spun the whole "cumulative case" yarn (after their "evidence" started getting debunked, piece by piece) ad nauseum, just like "Andy."

"Andy" has never posted here on Reppert's blog. He just comes out, conveniently, when "sock puppet" and "AP" and "Paul Manata" become a topic? And he comes out defending the "AP" side-tracking with more gusto than a non-APer would be expected to do.

"Andy" is a sock puppet. Arminians have been known to do this (e.g., "Robert," "Henry," "commenters in the AP combox," etc.). The funny thing is that, though both sides puppet, the Calvinist side seems to remain strong in the argument giving game. Let's get back to that game, shall we? Look, if you Arminians don't care whether someone is a universalist, open theist, or an errantist, then why do you care if someone sock puppeted?

(Keep in mind, to debunk one or two lines of this impressive evidence doesn't affect a "cumulative case." To debunk the majority of the lines is to do what Manata did.

Anonymous said...


I was *repeating* Paul's arguments.

FWIW, I thought Paul said he wasn't going to get dragged into the mud with them. I thought he said all he cared to spend time posting on was on issues pertaining to his arguments. That seems like a good reason to me. And, that they refused to accept numerous people's denials that they were Manata should rightly make Manata suspicious of any "admissions". Why would Manata think they would "all of a sudden" respect someone's admission? In fact, *demanding* that Manata "clear his name" is a bit childish. Who are you, anyway? Look, it's only the Arminian Perspective guys who are pushing this. No one else cares anymore. You're acting like a 4th grader.

Am I Paul? Would it matter? What would that have to do with the *arguments* I have offered? In fact, perhaps that is why Manata might want to puppet. It seems people frequently want to change the focus of a debate to Manata's character rather than dealing with his arguments. Can't you see this only makes it look like you can't answer the arguments. And, who cares to "win" a "victory" over pointing out flaws in someone's character? Isn't that kind of stuff going to be dealt with at the consumation? Right now, in this age, let's deal with arguments and not people. Sound good?

Anonymous said...

And said,

"By the way, are *you* Paul??"

I've seen Paul do the two question mark thing (??) numerous times.

Andy = Paul!

Anonymous said...


I'm not an AP guy. I've posted on a handful of occassions at T-blog and have found the site helpful at times. I sign off as Andy or Andrew if you want to do a search. Often I've engaged Steve/you on the whole question of "certainty". You can look it up. It was your/Steve's "horn locking" with AP that brought me to that site. Lately, I've not bothered to post because T-blog shut down anon access.

I give you my word on this, which is all I can do. Why won't you do the same??


Anonymous said...


For the record, since I frequent the T-blog site, the character of its keepers is important to me, so I don't see it as the Red Herring you seem to. Character is tied to credibility in my twisted world, I guess.


steve said...

Hi Andy,

Always good to hear from you. Hope your working through the certainty issues. I assume you can post under a pseudonym if you wish to engage us at Tblog. That would still protect your true identity. Your questions are always welcome.

Anonymous said...


Arguments don't loose force because the one who gives them isn't credible in your eyes.

If Hitler said:

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

Would you be more likely to believe the conclusion if Mother Teresa said it?

It seems to me, though, that this sock puppet thing only comes up in certain contexts. How come Manata doesn't do it to everyone? Perhaps the AP guys (and those of their ilk) fuel that kind of fire?

I feel like Manata now. This is a time wasting conversation. Going back and forth over something stupid.

(Btw, I don't believe you're not an "AP" sock puppet. That's what the AP guys said when someone gave them their word, so how 'bout that character?)

(Btw, Btw, how come you don't ever see Triablogue starting these kinds of conversations? They are always about the argument. They never make a headline post complaining about their interlocutors. They give and can take. I happen to appreciate that. People who write whole posts complaining about subjective issues that don't affect the conclusions of arguments have a low character in my eyes. That's call mud slinging. That's how politicians debate.)

Anonymous said...

Correction, "lose force."

Error said...


According to my estimation, there were about 4 people who came forward and claimed that they were real people other than me.

I did do a couple, but their "cumulative case" was so ridiculous, and implicated people who had to beg the AP guys to come to their state, and implicated someone else I know from San Diego, and one from a friend who lives in Washington, I refused to be dragged into that discussion.

Furthermore, I had no desire to debate the AP guys about this. I only cared about the objective issue. I also had emailed "Ben" and offered an apology (since he was sensitive) and said I would agree to knock off any offensive comments. I won't mention his response back so I don't harm his reputation, and because he asked me not to.

The Arminian trump card is the "you're a big meany and aren't showing the love of Christ" card.

I'm not going to waste my time getting into debates of that kind. It does *nothing* for *anyone.*

So, if it makes you feel better, I posted anonymously a couple of times, but their case was so overblown and ridiculous, and they were making people jump throw all sorts of hoops to "vindicate" their word (and you seem to indicate that the word should be enough), and the discussion was about *nothing* of substance, and so *that's* why I refused to say anything. My say-so would not have been accepted.

So, you can take my say-so here, or not. But this issue is squashed for me.

Error said...

Also, Andy, I think, if I remember correctly, that I have always dealt respectfully with you. My approach to respdonding to an interlocutor is often determined by the approach the interlocutor takes. When the AP guys mock Calvinists, act rude, engage in massive amounts of sarcasm, and then turn around and bring attention to our doing what they call the same thing, I lose all respect. Same with "Robert." You can see how his treatment of calvinists is the same as that of the calvinists he blames for acting un-Christian. Those people can, and should, expect a different tactic of debate from me.