Anti-social Media with Judd Bagley Exposing User-Generated Discontent

21Oct/06Off

Gary Weiss, your number is up.

I thought the question of Gary Weiss's abusive Wikipedia sockpuppetry was settled long ago. And while I never expected what I've come to realize is an incomparably corrupt band of Wikipedia administrators to do anything about it, I assumed all objective observers would at least concede the obvious.

Then Goofus arrived, leaving a string of comments, each more irresponsible and intellectually dishonest than the last.

I finally decided that one more Gary Weiss-focused post was needed in order to make the case so clear that even Goofus would struggle to swallow the pride necessary to counter it.

My main challenge in assembling these points of evidence was not finding them, but deciding what to leave out. This dilema reminded me of an anecdotal story told about Milton Berle and advice he was given when participating in a very specific competition (details of which are omitted): "Hey Miltie, be kind and only take out enough to win."

What follows is calculated to be just "enough to win."

weiss career edits

Gary Weiss's sockdrawer. Click image to enlarge

One way to understand that Gary Weiss is indeed editing Wikipedia using various pseudonyms is to consider all his edits in the aggregate (from 11/1/05 to 10/20/06).

This image graphically represents the edits of Gary's most obvious sockpuppets (Mantanmoreland, Lastexit and Tomstoner) on a per day basis, stacking them to reach a cumulative daily number.

A few regions immediately stand out as unique. Crossreferencing those regions with what we know about Gary Weiss proves instructive.

#1: The book
On March 13, Mantanmoreland goes silent (while Doright and Tomstoner go very nearly silent) until April 13, when as his first act, Mantanmoreland creates the Wikipedia article for Gary Weiss.

Why take exactly one month away from Wikipedia?

April 13 turns out to be significant, as it's precisely one week after the publication of Gary Weiss's book.

It was necessary to wait one week because Mantanmoreland -- a supposed stranger to Weiss -- used as his rationale for creating Gary's page that he was a fan of his book (implying that he had actually read it), he had to wait a few days to make that claim plausible.

Why take exactly one month off?

It's understood that Wikipedia purges its server logs monthly, thus requests to tie two accounts together as sockpuppets via an administrative process known as "Checkuser" cannot be considered if more than one month has passed since one of the two has edited.

Gary likely wanted to put some distance between Mantanmoreland and the edit warring that defined Mantanmoreland's first two months of existence, not to mention the abuses of his sockmate Doright.

During the same period, a clear increase in "basher" posting on Yahoo's OSTK message board is observed, much of it hyping Weiss's book (more on that subject in a future post).

#2: WordBomb
Beginning April 13, Gary Weiss's Wikipedia editing began to increase dramatically, with all sockpuppets operating in tandem (often abusively).

The first serious effort at publicly unmasking Gary Weiss as sockpuppetmaster was carried out by WordBomb and took place on July 23.

Sadly, all evidence of it have been eliminated by SlimVirgin, FloNight and JayJG.

However, enough people did get the message that Weiss immediately discontinued editing with all outed sockpuppets except for Mantanmoreland and Lastexit, whom he briefly claimed were nephew and uncle living together and using the same computer without realizing each was actively involved in editing articles on naked shorting and Patrick Byrne.

Seriously.

He said that.

However, by July 29, Lastexit had also been put into storage.

And then, as Agatha Christie would have written, there was one.

#3: Cuban
On August 22, Mantanmoreland edited the article on Mark Cuban to reflect what Gary Weiss had been saying in his blog for several weeks. Cuban was alerted and he in turn blogged about Weiss's questionable ethics, sparking a firestorm of Weiss-bashing both on Wikipedia and off.

Weiss spent August 23rd failing to manage the debacle, and then wisely spent the following two days under his desk, as reflected by Mantanmoreland's absence of edits on the 24th and 25th.

#4:India
edits pre indiaMantanmoreland's edit trends before Weiss trip to India: running average of about 20 edits per day.
india Mantanmoreland's edit trends while Weiss is in India dropped to under two per day
Since April 13, Mantanmoreland's most significant reduction in Wikipedia editing activity started on September 25 and appears to have ended on October 18.

During that time, Mantanmoreland's average daily edits dropped from over 20 to under two.

Interestingly, Gary Weiss's most notable absence from his blog started on September 24 and ended on October 17.

#5:Bonus point At the risk of being accused of poor sportsmanship for running up the score, allow me to end with this final point, dedicated to the ever-doubting Goofus:You'll note that Gary Weiss's honeymoon missive from India is datelined VARKALA, INDIA and includes the phrase:

In the seacoast town in Kerala where I am writing this, with its fishermen's huts, coconut palms...

Interestingly, on May 17, 2006 Mantanmoreland made this edit to the Wikipedia article on Varkala, India:

Varkala is a coastal Town in Kerala state, India.

Given how few total edits to that article have been made, even Goofus will have a difficult time claiming that's a coincidence.

Clearly, Gary Weiss needs to apologize for treating us all like fools, and to his lone defender Goofus for making him play the part so well on his fool's errand.