Basically, there are businesses out there that look to build "buzz" or at least name recognition by pretending to be a reader of your blog and participate in discussions. They don't announce their affiliation and are referred to as Sockpuppets. (A famous instance of Sockpuppeting include John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods using the alias "Rahodeb" in forums to talk about Whole Foods and pump the company and in many cases defend Mackey against criticisms.)
Sometimes these Sockpuppets are being operated by larger companies in an organized effort, but usually they're just awkward companies with a poor understanding of ethics and how things work with blogs, forums and the internet.
How to spot a sockpuppet:
- Are they commenting in a relevant way about the post? Or does it seem like a canned statement that could apply to anyone's post?
- How did they get to your blog? Are they commenting on a new post? (Some sockpuppets chose fresh content, others will be using a search that will give them posts that are a couple of days/weeks/years old.)
- If they've specified a location in their post, does it match their IP address?
- Does their email address match their "name"
- Does their email address include the domain name of the company they're promoting?
- Are they leaving the same or similar comment on other blogs?
- Do they return to your blog over and over again?
- Are you able to challenge them and any statements or are they long gone?
- Do they use a real email address or input fake info?
- Do you get comments from the same IP address with similar content but with different "names" associated with them? Often the second will "agree" with the first.
- Try inputting their username and the name of the product/service they're mentioning and see if anything comes up.
So, if no one minds, if I notice some of these folks lurking around on my blog and yours, I might send you a note. (I have a short list of them right now, I don't want to name any names here.)
This Post was written by Cybele from Candy Blog