Today at blogworld I am speaking on a panel about dealing with spammers, trolls and sockpuppets.  Also on the panel with me is John Chow.  I think between me and John we have a fair amount of experience with each.

First and foremost I suggest you read my post on why you should embrace negative press.  Its one of my better posts and I get a lot of great feedback on it from other people that are in the spotlight and have been attacked a lot.

I think I have talked a lot about how we deal with spammers and trolls but I have never really got into the sock puppet part.

Defining sock puppets:

For those who do not know a sock puppet is someone who “speaks through a sock” if you will.  Sock puppets like to remain as anonymous as possible. Depending on their technical ability they minimize all traces that could possibly reveal their real identity.  Changing names, emails, and ip addresses by use of public proxies is usually the bare minimum for these puppets.  But there are ways in which you can track a sock puppet…  My background in computer security comes in handy sometimes. I remember the first time I connected a sock puppet who razes me every day about how I am looking fat or how I’m full of shit or whatever was the same guy emailing me daily who I had been helping build a successful online business.  People trip me out!  and perhaps I will write about those another day and even give some juicy examples people would give a kick out of 😉 (and probably get me sued)

The bad sock puppets:

Bad sock puppets are anonymous “keyboard warriors” who like to attack and slander people (usually with zero quantification).  For instance I recently wrote about my friend John Reese and within minutes in YouTube and my blog there were bad sock puppets coming out of the wood work hating on him.  Calling him a scam artist… saying he ripped them off…. etc etc…  Amazingly everyone who posted a comment like that on my blog was using a proxy and some anonymous email.  I know because every single person who posted that John had “scammed them” I personally emailed them to ask what happened.  Not one responded and most emails bounced back.  The bottom line is John Reese has built an amazingly successful business with a ton of incredibly quality products and services and if someone did feel they were ripped off John would be the first person to want to know how he could make it right.

Bad sock puppets are all over the internet.  Web 2.0 has given every person in the world a soapbox to anonymously slander any public figure and instantly feel better about themselves.  Its kind of like that friend you have that always has to find something negative to say about you just so they can justify to themselves the fact they never had the balls to try anything or stick there pecker out (link to post).  Well now they don’t even have to leave the host to justify their shitty life.

The good sock puppets:

There are good sock puppets out there and many good reasons why using a sock puppet can be good. Its rare,  probably less then 5% of the time, but occasionally someone will leave a helpful comment on masking their information.  These people do not have bad intentions but because of their job, public status, or affiliation with a company they feel the need to be anonymous.  I can respect that.

It might surprise you but I have used a sock puppet before.  In fact lots of times on public forums I will stop using the nickname ShoeMoney and switch to something else that has zero affiliation with

Why?  Well I started on forums helping people and throwing in my 2 cents.  But in the last couple years every time I post as my moniker – ShoeMoney the discussion quickly turns into-

  1. A debate whether or not its the real ShoeMoney. (and my head gets a little bigger)
  2. The thread goes completely off topic and the user asks me how they can make good money with Adsense like I did 4 years ago…
  3. I get bombarded with private messages on the forum.
  4. Bad Sock Puppets come out of the woodwork to attack!

So in general it makes it easier for everyone for me to use a sock puppet.  I get to go back to being joe schmoe with 50 posts giving his 2 cents on how to fix your problem and the thread stays on topic.

Alarms for sock puppets:

On your blog obviously its easy for you to spot a sock puppet.  You can see the persons username, email, and ip address.  But on forums how do you know?  I think just some common sense will tell you.

  • The poster will have 1 or a couple posts.  As a moderator in a pretty popular forum we see this all the time.  Someone makes an additional account, makes one post anonymously (they think) to talk smack, then goes back to using their regular account.  Digital Point has a ZERO tollerance policy of sock puppetry of any kind and I would wager more people are banned on DP daily then most forums get new users… in a year =P.
  • The poster will have an incomplete profile -  Nothing will be filled out for home location or homepage… or in the case of DigitalPoint – the “recent blog” feature.

So that covers forums but what about emails?

Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo are very important tools for sock puppets to communicate to you.  I don’t think I have ever got a death threat from anything else.  Wonder why.

On the plus side though there are good sock puppet wants to reach you without disclosing their information.  I have gotten many tips from people working inside companies who wanted their identity to be anonymous.  Always be sure to follow up and even inquire with companies before acting on the information. Don’t stick your pecker out only to get it cutoff!

So in closing hopefully this makes it more clearer what sock puppets are,  why they exist, how they are used, and even how to identify them.

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

98 thoughts on “Sock Puppets”
  1. I completely understand you why you kind of mask your identity in forums, for everyone’s well after all, the thread stays on topic and you don’t get bombarded with messages.

    1. It is a great idea and really selfless. Because you could easily love the attention and traffic from it, but you do it to help other genuinely. This is a great show of character

      1. Exactly, only someone who doesn’t care about their own personal gain would hide on a forum.

      1. Not Jeremy…. otherwise they’d be Shoe puppets.
        Seriously though, Wikipedia says earliest known usage was in 1993.

  2. The easy option is to be nice to people, and not try and bag them. That way you would never have to worry about being a sock puppet. And if anyone attacks me for no reason and is not contactable to discuss it on my blog I just delete their comment!

      1. I totally agree, the bigger you get the more haters there are, and they ride your coat tails via their hate!

  3. So basically sock puppets are only used by the very lame and the very great. Us middle of the road folks have no use for such vehicles of comment. =)

    1. well, unless you want to star and alter ego for branding. write some pretty inteligent things and get some hype over who you are. It’s like a genius writter who keeps writing to the editor of a newspaper. It gets a small following but it is always from, “the unknown.”

  4. hey shoe.. thanks for the sock post.. it was useful to me..
    and one more thing.. first of all, i apologize.! 🙁 i really though that you were a big jerk with full of money in your pockets and have a big headed person..! I dont know why it came to my mind.. but it did. :p
    well, i guess i was wrong.. once again.. sorry and thank you for helping people like me 🙂

  5. Wow, truthfully I didn’t even know that there was such a thing as a sock puppet so you have now made me aware of this. Hopefully I will not have to come up against too many of these negative sock puppets and I build my blog/online empire. But now I know what they are so if they come up I feel more equipped to tackel them. Thank you

      1. I haven’t heard of the term sock puppet either, its good to
        know people like that exist so I can be aware of it

  6. I personally don’t like to “put myself out there” for security reasons mostly. Over the years I’ve received numerous death threats from crazy internet bullies who didn’t like getting the boot from one of my forums, or didn’t like that I removed their spam, etc.

    I use to have my profile with my picture on all my sites. Now I lay low. I have a family and a child on the way. No need to open the door for more crazy folks like that to find me. Just not worth it.

    1. Oh.. Well I put a lot of personal stuffs on my blog mainly because Im just a student and unpopular… Maybe someday I can see why I should keep my privacy…

    2. Keeping a low profile isn’t a bad idea at all, but then again that’s probably as much my personality type as it is logical concern.

    3. I think there are two types of big IM folks out there, those that keep a high profile (shoe,chow,patel, etc.) and many more (arguably more successful) that don’t blog, don’t share their ideas, and just keep banking. I prefer to be the latter.

    4. I find that me posting stuff about me and doing vblogging adds more personality to the words on my reader’s screen, thus why i do it.

  7. Great read. I really have not gotten much hate from these sock puppets because I am no popular but well the tip makes sense to me… When I receive an email from gmail or someone w/yahoomail, I normally ignore especially when it came from the contact form of my blog…

  8. Interesting. I’ve never heard the term sock puppets before. Though I’ve surely seen them floating around the internet.

  9. Another reason that one may need to be a sock puppet is to protect clients. I know attorneys who have to mask their identity on forums/blog comments because people would attack their clients (as “the man” etc.) — and I don’t just mean verbally attack, I mean file frivolous lawsuits costing millions of dollars.

    I can’t deal with commenting w/o my name — guess I’m just too darn opinionated to not do stuff under my own name. Or too much of a crazy marketer.

    ~ ElizabethPW

  10. Thank you. Very informative. Sorry you have to go through the drama of people being idiots. As a daily reader, I have learned alot and it is upsetting that people would treat you that way. It was nice meeting you yesterday, Jeremy!

    1. definitely… We small people dont really need to bother much w/sock puppets.. But at least this information helps..

  11. Seriously how sad, what do they gain from this? Very ill people… However, thanks to them we have you to warn us about this. sock pockets hmmm….. they sure stink!!!! 🙂

      1. Some people will go to great lengths for an ego boost. Not being famous themselves, messing with famous people is a way for them to get that rush.
        I don’t understand it, but I’ve known a number of people that seemed to glory in it.

  12. I would say I’m really good at spotting and even better banning them considering I’ve been an admin on a really popular forum for over 4 years. I take hate remarks with a grain of salt but I actually do read them and sometimes think about them. They can help you improve, that and any publicity is good publicity.

  13. A Yahoo email address? An alias avatar? Oh no! I’m a sock puppet! Wah! Wait! I can always turn my blog pink and come back as Kumiko . . .

  14. ok now let’s talk trolls. Thanks for explaining sock puppets. I thought it was a reference to shel israel until your post.

  15. I think many of us in them (even recent) past have been “sock puppet”. I will not justify them, but sometimes defend our privacy and not writing a detailed profile of us in forum is not a bad thing. We are already spied enough. The problem of sock puppets is (IMHO) only when these are petualnt bugs in our life.

  16. Hey Jeremy,

    First time EVAH to your blog and I’m trying to wrap my head around 22,562 readers. I bet if I admitted I had never even heard of “ShoeMoney”, you’d a) think I lived under a rock, b) think I was lying, c) think I was a miserably disconnected blogger, or d) not give my comment the time of day.

    Oddly, I popped over from a tweet from Chilihead, and I wondered who she was wanting to video…and I find a guy with 22500+ readers.


    But you’re talkin’ Sock Puppets so I suppose I should comment something relevant to your post. First time ever hearing the term used in this sense…and I realized I’m a plankton in a vast sea.

    Sometimes, that’s just fine :).

  17. im a sock puppet! 🙁

    j/k lol

    that’s funny stuff… hey Jeremy, our guys over at Unique B D finally finished my new theme! guess Nate is on “building” mode

  18. Screw sock puppets, I myself miss the old school trolls. You know? The type that actually trolled with a mean spirited sense of fun? Nowadays, you only find idiots trying to be funny.

    P.S. Please don’t point me to 4chan now 😀

  19. That’s just crazy that somebody would be anonymously blasting you, while at the same time you are personally helping them build a business. That’s just weak sauce.

  20. I’d heard you mention sock puppets before, so it was nice to have explanation. That’s a topic that doesn’t affect all bloggers, but would certainly affect any blogger that ends up in the big time.
    Sucks that you have to deal with so much junk along those lines, but you seem to handle it amazingly well. Glad you put up with it to help keep the rest of us informed!

  21. So, I was just looking at the shoemoney comment t-shirt contest and I noticed the last winner was “no Post” who said no post today, now that shows if no post can win, why not me….I’ll keep commenting because I know I will win!!


  22. I can see many reasons for being a sock puppet! I have never heard it called that before, but I love the name. So far, on all of my sites, I have not had a problem with them. I think it is because I am not popular enough to bother with yet! LOL

  23. Yup, sock puppets are flippin irritating. Thank you for the post Shoe, now I have a solution to my problem.

  24. LOL, it’s happened to me on the a forum once, posted adsense screenshot.
    The worst thing about it was the mod believed the sock puppet and I banned from the forum.

    Thou i did get unbanned.

    Great information Shoe!

  25. Hmm a sudden lack of posts coming from Shoe, perhaps i missed a post about him having a day off? I missed not being able to read something in my lunch break. Hope everything is good, Post soon 🙂

    1. It is unlike him to go so long with out a post… I guess the man is busy with one of his 3890987042 businesses

  26. Dealing with haters is the biggest problem for me… On a few sites I manage some people just can’t deal with others being successful.

  27. Hate to break it to you but this is how the world works…. When money is involved it makes people even crazier.

  28. Thanks a wonderful piece of information Jeremy! I have never heard of term sock puppets before.. 😀

  29. I think the fact that everyone who commented negatively using proxies and anonymous email says that they were probably all 1 person with a grudge.

  30. Well. since I am new to the social networks, I must say that this is my first time hearing the “sock puppet” name. LOL funny, but very true. I usually try to use some good feedback on people’s site. You know the saying, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Makes me rethink whether I should make put a dofollow on my blog ( Gosh….

  31. I am fairly new to blogging. Do these people not have anything else to do? I have seen this happen on a forum and still don’t understand it.

  32. this was a great session because it covered the areas that most people never talk about. glad you got placed onto this panel and made it to the session 😛

  33. It’s like what Madonna says- it doesn’t matter what they’re saying, as long as they are talking about you.

  34. That’s a very interesting post Shoe. I agree with you about the anonymous people posting on blogs. They are always there do bash at other’s accomplishments, but yet have little to show themselves in terms of talents.

  35. I usually try to hide my identity like my name, address, and such. The internet is a scary place to have all your information out there. Its a good idea to remain anonymous on some things but not to slander people etc. I see a lot of that on myspace, forums, and other social network places. Great post.

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