UPDATED 8.12.12 11:40 a.m. PDT - bottom of original essay, before comments
Apparently at least a couple well-known people here have created many – dozens, if the scuttlebutt is true – false identities (alters) for the purposes of: rating their main identity’s (Main) posts, commenting on the Main’s posts and, even more bizarrely, their own, thereby making it seem that Main is very popular, thereby attracting other unsuspecting readers/raters, promoting themselves and their (usually self-published) books and duping both the participants/writers/bloggers here at Open Salon and the nonparticipants who come to this site to read.
In some cases – one in particular that I am all too personally aware of because I was one of his victims – the Main’s alters are shields for leaving nasty comments about people (targets) on OS blogs, sometimes really vicious and ugly things that are absolutely untrue.
From what I’ve seen in the last three years from these two Mains, they aggressively seek to make ‘friends’ here, effusively praising people’s posts, fawning to them and about them to others, often (but not always) without regard to whether their target’s post(s) are deserving of such praise. They send unsolicited PMs (private messages in the OS email system); they like to cozy up. Their efforts, to me, soon felt fake and, frankly, a little slimy.
I’ve known for a year about one Main and suspected a number of alters belonged to him, alters with OS blogs using variations of my name – cant danz, for example – and I had seen (and saved) nasty things said about me in comment strings. For example:
Some of the his alters called me an addict or a drunk, neither of which I have ever been. One of them referred to my mother (who, unfortunately for her children, was an alcoholic). One of them made me out to be a slut, leaving what was leeringly referred to as the garage door open for a man on OS.
I use Statcounter, a program that allows me to put a piece of invisible html code in my posts on OS. When someone clicks on it, their computer leaves behind (usually, but there are a few exceptions – the explanation is technical and irrelevant here) an identifier, the IP address. Many people here on OS use it. Thus, I knew the IP address of the Main (because he had left me plenty of comments before last year), but he was careful only to leave the nasty comments about me only on blogs that belonged to people who were his sycophants, never on blogs controlled by the two people I had confided in; therefore, I never had IP proof. If I had ever been able to match the IP addresses of the Main and his alters, I would have sent the information to OS management (who I had alerted and discussed this with), and all this man’s blogs here would have been removed.
In the meantime, for almost a year, I kept writing, set up my own website, watched my brother die, and kept paying attention.
Last weekend the whole Fusun / rwnutjob anti-Semitic bomb went off here on OS, spread over several different blogs and posts. If you missed that horror, you can start with this: Sally Swift's Gun Violence post
and follow to the other posts. It’s fascinating, finding out who you didn’t know won’t condemn a bigoted remark and can't even see one when it’s squarely before their eyes. But, horrible as it was, that isn’t the point here.
One of the next posts in the series was aim’s “Unforgiven” (see link below). Near the very end of the comment string, last night (August 9 7:11 PM) a writer here of long standing, Sirenita Lake, notices and questions that there were at that time 81 ratings on Fusun’s post, applies logic and some math to the numbers of comments and rates and wonders whether there are alters being used to increase Fusun’s post’s ratings.
Link to "Unforgiven": Unforgiven - aim
We old-timers know that comments are captured by the OS software and, unless deleted, show up in the Activity history of the post they are left on. But I had not (and apparently Sirenita hadn’t either) paid attention when OS modified the software a while back and included Ratings along with Comments under Activity. Because that will (and does) identify every rating each of us has ever left on any post by the identity we used when we clicked “Rate”. And while you can delete a comment (on the blog where it was left if you have the password), you can never delete a rate.
But someone knew that. And he was eager to out Fusun as a shadow-user, pumping up her own ratings. He left this comment right under Sirenita’s:
I would ask that you reread the last sentence of Chicken Maaan’s comment.
Right after that, Chicken Maaan reveals what he says is one of Fusun’s shadows: OS Blog macart .
I read this stuff last night and spent a few hours tracking down and matching up identities and ratings and comments. I was going to leave a comment on “Unforgiven” this morning, but when I got back there, I found that our brilliant Sirenita had done the work and posted the results. It appears that someone who is interested in upping the ratings for Fusun’s posts has created many alters for the singular purpose of rating and commenting on Fusun’s OS posts. Some of these alters are: okaya, onay, seysu, sumjoy, smithson, ayhan, victhar, macart, thecoach, trudie-j, sashira, golsen, sidarneil, swallowtail, blufeather, ushigrey, sophie_g, stillgreen, nmb, yavuzhan, emmrose, Britney, and seafarer .
And then another curious thing happened on “Unforgiven.” A greyhead identity with the name Travis Rodgers (who might or might not be in the same category as sumjoy and the other shadows above) left some comments, accusing Chicken Maaan of having “fake followers” and naming some of them: myopic, tsauni (lady love), oliver Monroe (Edwina cummings), randy newgate, sonja bjorn and mary beth weinberg.
So I went to those OS blogs and looked at the comments and the ratings for each. I followed them around and found frosty funk, uriah heep (originaly cant danz), henry alddrich (originally nanateehee).
In each case, I saved the pages of the each blog as a webarchive. Even if the sites are ever taken down (deleted), the pages as they exist today are on my computer, including all links. I took screen shots of various comments after linking through to the blog that one of these alters was commenting on.
I have... a lot... of data.
We all know that Chicken Maaan is Matt Paust. He has said in numerous places on OS that Chicken Maaan (originally ClarkK) was a fictitious identity that he uses to post chapters of a book, if I recall correctly. He has said it is no secret. He has also said on posts that he has only ever had that one other avatar, Chicken Maaan.
At the end of this post I’m going to include links to all the OS blogs for the alters listed above, both the ones that rate the Fusun posts and the ones that Travis Rodgers attributes to Chicken Maaan/Matt Paust and the ones that I suspect belong to the same person. You can click on them, see what’s there, what they say, what other blogs they lead you to and what conclusions you personally draw.
I’m not a lawyer, but I know if I had the IP addresses of the computers used to post these comments and add these rates to blogs and they matched with self-identified posts on Statcounter reports, that would be clear objective evidence (unless someone’s felonious friend or relative had sneaked into his home or office hundreds of times and used his computer, pretending to be an alter who was pretending to be him – insert emoticon for Incredulous Face here) of who had done this.
But with the rates that link back and the comments – between even multiple alters on Main’s posts - what you will see if you look at what I saw last night and today is what they call in court “circumstantial evidence.” Like I said, I’m not a lawyer. But I’ve heard dozens of judges tell juries that circumstantial evidence has exactly the same weight as direct evidence.
* * *
I argued with a woman who used to post on a blog here. I pointed out that she was factually incorrect once in the cut-and-paste stuff she used to post with a sort of pseudo-journalist cape on. I also implied she was following OS’s “How to Get More Viewers” lesson by pulling bits off the headline news stories online and “writing” posts about them which, using SEO algorithms, will get you lots of views for little work (and sometimes very little worth). She had a lot of OS pals who were appalled that I would dare say she was trying to get views (and, therefore, AdSense money), when I had saidthere wasn’t even anything wrong with doing that but it was insulting to pretend that her posts were some sort of Public Service Announcements and that she had done a bunch of investigative work. One of those pals was Matt Paust.
I didn’t call the woman a witch or a bitch or a dope or a fake or an anything. I don’t call people names. I “questioned her motives,” as one of her most vocal supporters said. I sure did. Because I don’t like feeling like someone is playing me, like someone is pretending to be someone else or pretending to do something that they aren’t doing.
This is the link to that post, if you care to see where it all started:
* * *
I think we are all owed an apology by the people who did this. They are fakes. They tried to game the system here to make themselves look important and popular. They used their positions as self-promoted and, therefore, well-known bloggers on this site to help people who they chose as friends and to hurt people they chose as victims and targets. And they got away with it for years. My personal opinion is if either of them can’t admit to and apologize for what they’ve done, their Main identities should be deleted. All the alters should be deleted immediately, apology or not.
And if, after carefully examining all of this – what my smart colleague Sirenita calls “a massive fraud” – there is even one person here who would defend either of them? Who will twist and weave and pivot and try to find a way to say what went on is acceptable?
Well, speak right up because the rest of us deserve to know who you are.
(Most of) the alleged Fusun shadows:
(I got tired. You can do the last few by typing the names in yourself.)
The other guy’s shadows:ClarkKMyopic ratingsBlog - Frosty Funk
(included because, according to one of his friends, Matt Paust tells people Frosty is his avatar.)
There was one with the name of Candy Ass. It was particularly vile, and I’ve saved the archive of it, but the user has been very recently deleted from OS, so a link won’t take you there.
Oh, and my family name is Mann. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.
UPDATED: August 12, 2012
Paust posted "Kiss my candy ass" today - 8.12.12, 8:02 a.m.
Matt Paust - Kiss my candy ass - 8.12.12
Screenshots of the OS User CandyAss (deleted recently), post entitled "Hello!" dated 9.14.2011, 6:19 p.m.
Note Bio, comments and similarities to "Kiss my candy ass"