My latest piece is posted at Public Square Today, my blog at Washington Times Communities:
"Do Not Feed The Sock Puppet" by Flickr user dichohecho
The Trolls Vs. The Vigilantes In Public Life
At an online community I co-manage, there’s a conflict.
The community in question is a forum for people to discuss local issues, and we’ve set it up intentionally so there are a few hoops people need to jump through before we allow comments. It’s supposed to be an antidote to some of the uglier things that go on in the public square these days — the kind of place where you don’t say what you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
Recently we discovered sock-puppetry among some of the commenters. That’s when you create an alter-ego and post as both yourself and the fake person. The sock puppets were, as you would imagine, fairly uncivil customers. But, by and large, they stayed just on this side of the line, so we allowed some of their comments even though we wished they would not have been made.
Things were a little more heated than usual because there were municipal elections going on and one of the races was hotly contested, with a bitter division between candidates.
Once we discovered the deception going on, we put a stop to it by banning those individuals from any commenting, and we tightened up our comment policy. But there are those who are now curious as to who these sock-puppet trolls might be. They want us to out them so they can be known. . . .
Read the rest here!