Grassroots or Astroturf?

I get a lot of comments. A lot. If you’ve ever been suspicious about the authenticity of my comments, your concern is legitimate. I’m a software programmer by trade. I am able to extend the software platform on which this site is hosted. This gives me capabilities that go beyond normal security measures and analytical tracking. I’ve discovered a disappointing fact: the comments submitted on my posts are largely bogus.

Not Jackie

There are approximately 9 people who post under pseudonyms, each with a minimum of two names, some with as many as eight, all of whom throw rocks from behind a wall of anonymity. These 9 people account for nearly 83% of my comments since May. I cannot definitively say I know everyone’s true identities, but the ones I discovered were disappointing. Many of these people have had pleasant and engaging conversations with me, only to cut me down or skewer a candidate behind a pseudonym on this website. Some engage their own pseudonyms in conversations, an unusually schizophrenic behavior that is at first funny upon discovery, but ultimately deceitful. I located one instance of more than 30 comments between 13 unique names but actually posted by the same 3 people.

I will not reveal any true identities. I will say that it needs to stop now. I choose not host an archive of this behavior. If you’re a participant in all this, your instinct may be to challenge this. Please don’t. Don’t post from the Town Center Apple Store. Don’t use proxy services. Don’t bother changing your writing style. It will not work.

I’m not surprised by every discovery, but two in particular really bothered me. In politics, even if you’re not a politician, you have to be careful who you trust. I learned this lesson when I scrubbed my tracking database this week. This is putting it mildly, but I am really let down.

For the rest of you, things will seem pretty quiet around here. I hope that we can enjoy more genuine commentary going forward and that we can restore things to a level of civility.