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"Sock Puppet Accounts Locked" Topic


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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian17 Mar 2015 7:25 p.m. PST

A while ago, a possible case of sock puppeting was reported to me.

After an initial inquiry, I found sufficient cause to lock some accounts while continuing to investicate. Meanwhile, I received additional reports which needed to be looked into.

This is what I have determined so far:

The logs indicate that the "khurasanminiatures" and "Heinz Good Aryan" accounts were created by the same person on the same computer system.

I sent PMs to both accounts, asking them to explain the situation. Khurasan Miniatures could not explain how this happened. Heinz Good Aryan declined to respond.

The Heinz Good Aryan account was used to comment positively on Khurasan Miniatures products, and also made negative comments about competitors' products:

"Tank looks huge!" link

"I like the guy on the right the most. which of your ranges is he from???" TMP link

"i like their carapace armour. i wish i could see the guns better but if they are like the guns on the gothas they should be fantastic….." TMP link

"that's cool but what is a drakon nextgen tank???" TMP link

(Just a few examples…)

Both accounts will remain locked, since this is a case of using a sock puppet account to deceive customers by implying that comments are from a true third party.

Quaker17 Mar 2015 7:39 p.m. PST

Are you kidding? Not only would those be the most pathetic sock puppet comments I've ever seen (they are well below the quality of praise Khurasan normally gets), what evidence do you actually have that they were both Jon?

Both using the same IP? Last I checked Khurasan miniatures is located in New York, and as most people are given dynamic IP addresses it would be unsurprising that two wargamers in that region at some point shared an IP.

Both using the same email? Then you might be onto something.

boy wundyr x Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 7:51 p.m. PST

I would have sworn HtGA wasn't a native speaker of English from his other posts.

Personal logo Cyrus the Great Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 7:59 p.m. PST

Bleeped texting Priceless!!!

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian17 Mar 2015 8:14 p.m. PST

what evidence do you actually have that they were both Jon?

I'm not going to reveal our methods, but the evidence is compelling.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 8:24 p.m. PST

To clarify the relationship between "John the OFM" and "Winston Smith":

What is "Sock Puppeting"?
Sock puppeting is the use of one or more anonymous accounts in a manner designed to deceive others. For instance:
Posting a message on the forums, then using other member accounts to "agree" with yourself so that you seem to be winning the argument;
Posting messages from multiple accounts to give the impression that a "crowd" is interested in your favorite period/rules/subject;
Sock puppeting is not allowed at TMP.

First of all, we are one and the same. Not hard to figure out. Even the dullards at Frothers have figured that out.
Second, the only reason they are separate is that I can't remember the password for … me. grin
Winston is on my cell phone. Me is on my PC.
Third. I am not Braxton Bragg. Obscure reference. Oh, wait. That's about arguing with yourself. Never mind.

When I worked for Bleeped text for 27 years, I had a separate account called "John the OFM at Work".
In an insane series of jobs after that, I had a succession of names on my "work computer". Cat Shannon, William Pitt the Eldar, Frodo Corleone, etc. Pity I can't remember their passwords either. grin

So, winston is my sock puppet, merely to have fun. No deception is intended.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 8:26 p.m. PST

No, John. You are MY sock puppet!!!!

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 8:29 p.m. PST

How do you know the computer system wasn't hacked into?

BobGrognard17 Mar 2015 8:34 p.m. PST

I love the idea that someone hacked into a trader's system in order to then post positive comments about his products on a hobby web site, what a kind and thoughtful hacker!

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 8:34 p.m. PST

To create a TMP account? Awful lot of work, it seems to me. grin

evilcartoonist Inactive Member17 Mar 2015 8:34 p.m. PST

Granted, I haven't seen the compelling evidence, but Khurasan seems like the last company that would need any help from a sock puppet; those products get plenty good compliments in the first place.

How bad are the negative comments?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 8:35 p.m. PST

Hey Winston. I can always switch from Verizon to Sprint, and then you are screwed. Just like William Pitt the Eldar!

Quaker17 Mar 2015 8:36 p.m. PST

I'm not going to reveal our methods, but the evidence is compelling.

I already know all possible methods. Either you logged the IP the account was created on, logged the email associated with the account, logged already existing TMP cookies, or logged browser fingerprints. Explaining what method you used reveals nothing as any smart sock puppeteer already takes steps to avoid all those methods of detection.

And sorry but "trust us the evidence is compelling" has never ever worked. You are accusing Khurasan of deception, and unless you have strong evidence that accusation is libel.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 8:43 p.m. PST

Going over the posts, if Heinz is a sock puppet, he is not a very good one. And his account was created five years ago.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 8:47 p.m. PST

@Bob: If you wanted to jam somebody up under the "sock puppet" rule, that is exactly what you would do. Just throwing ideas out there. Since the account in question was created five years ago, I think we can rule that out.

Quaker17 Mar 2015 8:48 p.m. PST

@79thPA

That's what struck me. I'd be a bit more willing to believe the editor if Heinz didn't post illiterate garbage. I have a hard time believing that Khurasan felt he needed that kind of "boost" for his product which is generally regarded as the best 15mm there is.

tberry7403 Inactive Member17 Mar 2015 8:53 p.m. PST

It also makes you wonder who "ratted him out".

Personal logo MrHarold Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 8:53 p.m. PST

I'm sure he can see the IP of each post as well, I would expect that has something to do with it?

LoudNinjaGames17 Mar 2015 9:00 p.m. PST

Why would Bill oust one of the most prolific industry posters on this site he created for the purposes of serving the hobby/industry without seriously weighing the evidence he had? I am also confident that Bill has been at this long enough to make that determination.

-Eli

skippy0001 Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 9:03 p.m. PST

TMP Men In Bricole.

Personal logo MrHarold Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 9:07 p.m. PST

And, of course, this is very disappointing.

As a producer in the miniatures industry, and the 15mm sci-fi niche industry at that, I can say the best part is the camaraderie with not only the other producers but with the customers too.

This kind of violation of trust is sad, and unnecessary. Also, not only that, but it would also be unethical and possibly illegal under New York law.

The fact that it appears to span at least half a decade really points to a serious issue.

All-in-all very disappointing.

Quaker17 Mar 2015 9:07 p.m. PST

Why would Bill oust one of the most prolific industry posters on this site he created for the purposes of serving the hobby/industry without seriously weighing the evidence he had?

'cause he's banned producers before after a minor spat.

I am also confident that Bill has been at this long enough to make that determination.

Given the quality of the forum software I'm not confident in the Editors technical skills.

Refusing to reveal which of the several well known methods he used to detect the alleged sock puppeting makes it hard for me to believe the Editor.

GypsyComet17 Mar 2015 9:08 p.m. PST

There are a couple people on the FB 15mm group with a serious hate for Khurasan, so it would not surprise me the least bit to discover that this is a smear job.

tberry7403 Inactive Member17 Mar 2015 9:17 p.m. PST

After publicly revealing the alleged "sock-puppetry" at least Bill gave Khurasan the opportunity to publicly defend himself.

Oh, wait…

Quaker17 Mar 2015 9:21 p.m. PST

@GypsyComet

That seems unlikely to even me. If someone was out to get Khurasan banned for sock puppeting I would expect the "Sock's" comments to read like PR releases in order to make the fake sock puppeting look obvious.

charared Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 9:24 p.m. PST

oy.


frown

Rebelyell2006 Inactive Member17 Mar 2015 9:34 p.m. PST

Going over the posts, if Heinz is a sock puppet, he is not a very good one.

I thought English was not his first language. Perhaps that would make him an excellent sock puppet. Or maybe there is something going on that Bill won't share.

McWong7317 Mar 2015 9:36 p.m. PST

I really, really hope all the other 15mm industry guys stay away from this one. Bill tends to ratchet these things up to 11, and I don't think any of you guys want to get this muck on you. It is a small niche of the hobby, and you don't want people to pick sides between manufacturers because Bill was being Bill.

LoudNinjaGames17 Mar 2015 9:49 p.m. PST

As to the assertion that there is some sort of smear campaign going on that would be highly unlikely.

One of the great things about being a part of the 15mm industry is the level of comradery and support between the different manufacturers. I am in constant communication with at least three or four different producers with semi-regular communication with others.

There is pretty much nothing resembling competition or hostility among the producers in this industry, so the idea that a "smear" is a bit hard to swallow.

Heck, most of us own stuff from "the other guys" including KM's stuff.

-Eli

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2015 9:55 p.m. PST

I took it to mean the "smear" was personal rather than professional.

GypsyComet17 Mar 2015 9:58 p.m. PST

Yes, I was referring to a personal smear.

Just a quick look at HGA's posts show a couple things:

-somewhat inconsistent posting language ranging from collected, logical and informative to "I'm a pseudonym on the intornetz! Woo!"

-A Handle change from just another one of us old wargamers to borderline offensive is suggested by a topic not too long ago.

-HGA posted a rather ambiguous missive in an IP topic, and we all know Jon loves his "nots".

-Jon usually ignored HGA's posts. While this might be suggestive, it is not suggestive of just the scenario Bill acted on.

-One post by HSA, in hindsight, obviously came after Bill's PMs. This seems odd for an actual Sock.

In the end, Bill is convinced. We have all seen what happens in such cases.

As a player and collector of 15mm SF, my list of reasons for coming here just got shorter.

LoudNinjaGames17 Mar 2015 10:07 p.m. PST

I misunderstood then.

My apologies.

-Eli

Jojojimmyjohn Inactive Member17 Mar 2015 10:44 p.m. PST

Um, yeah, I don't think I will be buying this one. I always assumed that HGA was some sort of white power Bleeped text judging by his handle and less than coherent posts. Khurasan has always been a fair and honest trader at least by me. I am not sure the same can be said of Our Dear Editor. Seems like it is time to get off the crazy train that TMP has become.

Bill is a Deleted by Moderator, Games Workshop Rulz!

McWong7317 Mar 2015 11:40 p.m. PST

Tend to agree, if Khurasan isn't welcome here, thats a big reason for me sticking round the past few years gone.

JezEger17 Mar 2015 11:49 p.m. PST

May be right, might not. Given the fact that KM has no chance to explain, I'll doubt we'll find out.
However, you have a guy with a very aggressive release schedule of some of the highest quality 15mm out there. He has to regularly close his store to keep up with demand. To repeat, he voluntarily closes his store because he cannot handle more orders, all the time. This does not sound like a business that needs to try and use tricks to gain business.
Plus, even on other forums, where he could indulge in off colour language, he doesn't. I don't know the guy, but he comes across as a stand up type.

platypus01au18 Mar 2015 12:05 a.m. PST

Why would KM need s sock puppet?

As Jez says above, he needs no help in gathering praise.

And like others, I thought HGA was on the edge of bad taste.

JohnG

MajorB18 Mar 2015 1:42 a.m. PST

what evidence do you actually have that they were both Jon?

I'm not going to reveal our methods, but the evidence is compelling.

well, you can't rely on IP addresses alone. Most ISPs NAT their addresses so "the same IP address" doesn't tell you it's coming "from the same computer" but only that it's coming from the same ISP.

MHoxie18 Mar 2015 1:53 a.m. PST

Innocent until proven guilty.

GarrisonMiniatures Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2015 2:24 a.m. PST

It seems very unlikely to me. Khurasan Miniatures are very active on different forums and have enough supporters to make any kind of sock puppetry unnecessary.

PiersBrand18 Mar 2015 2:45 a.m. PST

Is this the 'Spring Flare' up to drive traffic until another Frothers spat?

By the by… I have painted for Jon at Khurasan, and commented positively on his products, could this by chance make me a Sock Puppet too?

Oh well, Im off to buy something from Khurasan…

Jimboba18 Mar 2015 2:46 a.m. PST

I'm HGA!
I'm HGA!
I'm HGA!

Jimboba18 Mar 2015 2:47 a.m. PST

Wonder if that gets me banned? Or crucified.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian18 Mar 2015 2:56 a.m. PST

well, you can't rely on IP addresses alone

I'm well aware of that

Quaker18 Mar 2015 3:03 a.m. PST

I'm well aware of that

You should also be aware that just saying "the evidence is compelling" isn't a compelling argument.

You have nothing to lose by disclosing the method by which you detected the alleged sock puppetry. You have everything to lose by not revealing this information in the face of honest skepticism.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian18 Mar 2015 3:08 a.m. PST

You have nothing to lose by disclosing the method by which you detected the alleged sock puppetry. You have everything to lose by not revealing this information in the face of honest skepticism.

Disclosing the method makes it easier for people to avoid future detection.

I see that a Frothers committee member is identifying Khurasan as being behind the "Da Bish" account over there, which he says was used to start flame wars.

Quaker18 Mar 2015 3:20 a.m. PST

Disclosing the method makes it easier for people to avoid future detection.

As I already stated there are a handful of detection methods and anybody can Google how to counter them. An easy way to avoid them all is to just rent a VPS (virtual private server) and use that to post sock comments from.

Also I thought the Frothers were a bunch of liars that spread scurrilous rumors?

squiffy Inactive Member18 Mar 2015 3:26 a.m. PST

I have to agree with Garrison it does seem unlikely.

Rhoderic III and counting Inactive Member18 Mar 2015 3:57 a.m. PST

I really, really hope all the other 15mm industry guys stay away from this one. Bill tends to ratchet these things up to 11, and I don't think any of you guys want to get this muck on you. It is a small niche of the hobby, and you don't want people to pick sides between manufacturers because Bill was being Bill.

Well said. As a customer of many dozens of miniature manufacturers (and an admirer of dozens more from which I have not yet had the occasion to order), I want as much distance from this downright tragic controversy as possible and to that end I hope other manufacturers won't make themselves controversial by wading in.

The chips are still in the process of falling with this one. Let's please wait and see where things stand a few days, or one week, or one month from now.

GarrisonMiniatures Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2015 4:47 a.m. PST

'I see that a Frothers committee member is identifying Khurasan as being behind the "Da Bish" account over there, which he says was used to start flame wars.'

That would be, at best, hearsay rather than evidence and a deliberate attempt to stir the pot a bit at worst.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian18 Mar 2015 5:02 a.m. PST

That would be, at best, hearsay rather than evidence and a deliberate attempt to stir the pot a bit at worst.

I didn't say you had to believe him… grin

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