Well, here I am fresh back from a 1 week vacation and what should I find in my email but a pointer to this:
UPDATE: Please see my follow-up post here.
The mysterious sock puppets.
It seems that some unidentified individual has been creating sock puppets who for all the world appear to be editing exactly like William M. Connolley (WMC for short). Even WMC himself is careful to refer to this individual as “unknown”, but not so careful as to avoid tying my name to the deed by including a reference to the above sock puppet investigation with my name plainly in sight. Clearly he would like you to make the suggested association, and to assume my guilt without any evidence … just a small oversight I am sure.
But who would make such a suggestion without any evidence? One of WMC’s closest allies on the climate change pages, Stephan Schulz. In his report he references this post from my blog asserting that this is somehow evidence that I am the sock master, because he deems it implausible that I would have been able to follow this link on the day I made that post and find this information therein:
- 08:58, 4 June 2010 (diff | hist) Gaza flotilla raid (Undid revision 365985084. I don’t see how a web site’s report on an radio interview of an unnamed involved party is notable or helpful.)
- 08:40, 4 June 2010 (diff | hist) The Deniers (Not all really advanced those – that’s just S. mistaken interpretation) (top)
- 08:30, 4 June 2010 (diff | hist) User talk:Stephan Schulz (Undid revision 365981116 by VLB Pocketspup (talk) WP:DENY)
- 07:34, 4 June 2010 (diff | hist) m User talk:VLB Pocketspup (→Reported as AN/I: FF)
- 07:34, 4 June 2010 (diff | hist) User talk:VLB Pocketspup (→Reported as AN/I: new section)
- 07:33, 4 June 2010 (diff | hist) Wikipedia:Administrators’ noticeboard/Incidents (→Disruptive sock or pointy simulator: new section)
- 07:14, 4 June 2010 (diff | hist) The Real Global Warming Disaster (Undid revision 365976100 by VLB Pocketspup (talk) Wrong reference)
- 20:45, 3 June 2010 (diff | hist) Talk:Energy & Environment (→Edit request from Thistlethorn, 31 May 2010: Reply) (top)
- 20:04, 3 June 2010 (diff | hist) Wikipedia:Reference desk/Miscellaneous (→American iPhone –> Turkish iPhone: Reply)
According to WordPress, this is when I created the post he refers to: Published on: Jun 4, 2010 @ 17:06. This is some eight and a half hours after he made his report. For comparison purposes Stephan made his first revert of the puppet at 07:14, 4 June 2010 for an edit made at 07:00, 4 June 2010. In other words, Stephan was able to thwart this puppet a mere 14 minutes after it made it’s edit while it took me almost eight and a half hours to notice it. I find that timing curious. (Note to self: perhaps I should do another post analyzing the times associated with the other puppets as well, and perhaps even a similar look at the Scibaby puppets might be in order.)
Now, it should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed along the past few years that (a) I actually do keep track of the contribution histories of the prominent !Cabal (read not a Cabal) editors (I actually have them bookmarked for easy reference), and (b) that when I see them bald reverting anything it draws my attention. Why would I do such a thing? Simply because it is the most efficient way to keep track of what the !Cabal is up to. I simply run down a few bookmarked contribution lists of the main players and viola, I have a quick overview of what’s happening on any given day. It can take as little as a few minutes (depending on which day, obviously).
On the naming of cats sock puppets.
The critical thinkers amongst us will no doubt note that Stephan’s theory doesn’t seem to account for why I haven’t bothered to blog about the other sock puppets. After all, if I was trying to advertise my involvement to the !Cabal via my blog why would I only blog about the one? From my perspective the answer is simple. The first puppet had a nice juicy quote from a neutral observer that effectively described the puppet’s editing pattern (which, of course, was mirroring WMC’s own editing pattern). I had seen the STOATblog puppet but it’s activities appeared unremarkable from a blogging perspective. I didn’t even know about the last one until I found the above pointer to this sock puppet investigation in my email.
Cursing Gnome, a curious sounding name for the third puppet. In his sock puppet investigation report Stephan highlights some obvious linkages between the names of the first two puppets and WMC but fails to note any connection for the third. The connection will be obvious to anyone who has had any substantive run in with WMC in the past or has been involved in the debates. Indeed it should be eminently recognizable for a close ally like Stephan and yet he doesn’t draw attention to it. Why? Perhaps the answer lies in the nature of the connection itself. Completely out in the open for all to see WMC maintains an attack page:
This page is easily found for anyone searching the subpages of WMC’s user space as any number of his political enemies might have been inclined to do. And he has no shortage of political enemies. Maintaining such an attack page which is technically a violation of policy wouldn’t give Stephan any reason to somehow miss this obvious connection, would it?
Indeed, Wikipedia itself almost invites you to find it. Simply type “User:William M. Connolley/” into the search box on almost any page and wait for the suggestions to come up. From there a curious set of links show up, including some that include “For me”. That’s inviting stuff for his political enemies, no? Now add one more letter to make “User:William M. Connolley/F” and all of the “For me” subpages are dutifully served up for your viewing pleasure.
Now Stephan would have you believe that this requires some years old, in depth knowledge of Wikipedia to uncover and hence I must be the only one capable of creating these puppets. This theory falls quite short, however, on two critical points: (1) none of these names requires any indepth knowledge of Wikipedia to construct, including that last one as the previous paragraph clearly demonstrates, and (2) I am hardly the only person with such in depth knowledge that can be construed as having a score to settle with WMC.
And indeed, even that is a bit of a stretch isn’t it? What score do I actually have to settle with WMC? What has he personally actually ever done to me? He wasn’t involved in any of the discussions that led up to my ban. I don’t recall him ever seriously even suggesting that I be banned. He did certify the RfC that Raul654 had created against me, but that was ages ago and he himself suggested it be closed without even suggesting any action against me. The true extent of our interactions basically consists of him complaining about my editing and my complaining about his. That all seems rather mundane in this environment to justify embarking on a vendetta which would require such an extensive undertaking as we see here. But, I guess the !Cabal’s seed of suspicion has been successfully planted. I trust that anyone with more than two neurons to rub together can recognize this for the pure folly for which it is.
Who has the most to gain, and who has the most to lose?
Who is creating these sock puppets, and why? That’s the real question. The answer to such questions typically lies in determining who has the most to gain and who has the most to lose.
For my part I have been banned but obviously I would like to be unbanned. In that respect, please see this edit and note that I have chosen option (ii) which presumably will require the restrictions identified in the standard offer. Creating sock puppets and risking detection of such would seem to be counter to that goal, would it not? And if these charges stick I would have zero chance of ever being unbanned again. That’s a lot to put at risk from my point of view, to create a bunch of totally obvious sock puppets which would be easily directed at myself and which would have absolutely zero chance of actually harming WMC in any way.
That there is zero chance of these puppets affecting WMC has now been demonstrated. Indeed, WMC could be the true source of these sock puppets and he could be socking this blatantly with absolute impunity. He boasts of being all powerful on Wikipedia, perhaps this is just a demonstration of that fact for his comrades in arms. Stranger things have happened on Wikipedia for sure, but I doubt that WMC is the source of these particular puppets. Others? Perhaps.
On the other hand, the !Cabal would appear to have some incentive to ensure that I am NOT unbanned. In deed, Raul654 has for years been trying to get me banned (unsuccessfully, of course) and this is well known. What was his most recent modus operandi in that regard? To accuse me of sock puppetry without providing any evidence and meat puppetry for Scibaby. Starting to sound familiar?
So, in summary, people are expected to believe that I would create a bunch of sock puppets who would have zero chance of affecting WMC in any way while risking my ever being able to get unblocked, whereas people are expected to summarily dismiss an alternative explanation in which someone from the !Cabal creates these sock puppets (which will still have zero chance of affecting WMC in any way) to provide a “convenient” option for them to sling mud at me with some reasonable probability of it sticking (and thus ensuring I stay indefinitely blocked). Hmmm. Critical thinkers should take note of this.
Note also, that a side benefit of this approach would, quite obviously, be that WMC is immunized from any future accusations of sock puppetry because I (or at the very least some unidentified sock master) would continue to be a convenient scape goat to cover his tracks should he ever be caught socking. <sarcasm> Yea, that’s exactly what I would want to do. You’re welcome, WMC. </sarcasm>
Who knows how to defeat checkuser?
Note that Raul654 is a former checkuser and is intimately familiar with the workings of the tool and, one would assume, precisely how to defeat that very tool. For my part I have never had any access to the tool or even seen what information it can provide. Raul654 is also a prominent member of the !Cabal, although not so much (at least above board) since having to relinquish his checkuser access for his misuse thereof. It should go without saying that if Raul654 knows how to successfully defeat checkuser that all of the trusted members of the !Cabal know as well.
Since these mystery puppets without identified sock masters have emerged, several editors closely associated with the science wing of the !Cabal have made some truly remarkable statements regarding sock puppetry in general:
I can think of at least three ways to confound and circumvent a cursory checkuser examination without leaving my desk, and I could scrape up a handful more if I were sufficiently dedicated. (For obvious reasons, I don’t want to go into any detail about what I know about how the tool works and what information it provides, and I would urge you to confine any questions or speculation in that direction to off-wiki communication with checkusers.) Checkuser data can be a superb final nail in a sockpuppet’s coffin, but behavioral evidence always has been the most important test. — TenOfAllTrades 12:45, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
On the other hand, because I actually do know how checkuser works, couldn’t it be argued that my willingness to be checkusered demonstrates that, like people who know that polygraphs are fake, I’ve merely employed countermeasures on my deviously employed sockpuppet? — Hipocrite 12:52, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
Not sure who added this account, but I would not endorse a check on them; they seem like a good-faith new contributor. — NW 20:31, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
That’s my addition, which I forgot to note below. I haven’t been wrong yet. — Prolog 22:45, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
FWIW GoRight is technically proficient and as such would be able to implement the simple precautions needed to defeat checkuser. Any evaluation would have to be based on behavioral evidence. — Short Brigade Harvester Boris 23:06, 5 June 2010 (UTC)
GoRight is technically highly proficient so checkuser will be of limited use in confirming lack of association. There are some possibilities of less obvious connections but more likely any socks of GoRight would be undetectable by technical means, unless he ”wants” them to be detected. — Short Brigade Harvester Boris 14:34, 14 June 2010 (UTC)
Now, to be fair, I have been known to engage in idle speculation on what one would need to do to defeat checkuser in the past. But as the record shows one of the !Cabal editors (KimDabelsteinPetersen in this case) summarily dismissed my suggestions as being wholly inadequate. Go figure.
Prolog is an outliar in this saga to be sure, but certainly one worthy of note because of his spectacular ability to “never be wrong” about identifying Scibaby socks, even when experienced checkusers like NuclearWarfare wouldn’t even consider doing a check. (Note to self: Look into the spectacular ability of the !Cabal editors to identify hundreds of Scibaby sock puppets in just one or two edits and possibly within a very short time of them having been made. It’s almost like they have inside knowledge in that respect.)
Prolog is also notable here because he not only blocked an anonymous editor who reported these very same sock puppets as potentially being associated with WMC and then went around and covered the entire mess up by removing the SPI report with no notification to anyone and removing the suspected sock puppet tags that user had placed on those puppets as well (see this, and this, and this, and this). An amazing bit of work. Truly. An administrator with possible ties to the science wing of the !Cabal (Note to self: check on this connection) can make amazing catches of Scibaby sock puppets and then silently covers up any allegations of the obvious behavioral connections between these sock puppets and WMC. <sarcasm> Nah, that isn’t even a little bit suspicious. </sarcasm>
So, to summarize a bit more, people are expected to believe that I have somehow transformed myself from being the likes of Randy in Boise into an undetectable sock puppet mastermind while all of these self-made proclamations by !Cabal members of having inside knowledge of the inner most workings of checkuser are to be summarily dismissed and ignored. People are expected to believe that I would masquerade as a WMC look alike whereas the possibility that they are actually the ones behind these puppets (and indeed the whole Scibaby bogeyman) are to be dismissed as pure fantasy.
Note also how Short Brigade Harvester Boris repeatedly makes the assertion that I could easily defeat checkuser on objective technical grounds (just how does he know this?) and so they MUST instead rely on the much more subjective behavioral grounds. Now why would the !Cabal want to shift the analysis from the object realm to the subjective realm? <sarcasm> Gee, I haven’t a clue. </sarcasm>
Lacking any on-wiki participation on my part for them to complain about it would appear that this was the next best option.
My response and declaration.
Let them run checkuser. I have nothing to fear because I have not done in the past, nor do I plan to do in the future, anything that would jeopardize my chances of being unbanned. To that end I decline to even log into Wikipedia until my 6 months have passed simply to avoid giving the !Cabal any rationale to argue that my 6 months should be reset.
A simple request of any kind soul.
Given my current defenseless position on-wiki, if some kind soul would see their way fit to post a link to this post on my talk page , on the Sockpuppet investigations page, and on the Climate Change Arbitration Evidence talk page where WMC has smeared my good name it would be most appreciated. Although it may be advisable to ask an experienced administrator if this would be permissible first given my currently banned state of being. I don’t wish there to be any unintended collateral damage here.