Friday, February 23, 2007

Blog-ignorant reporter in action

Reading stories about the blogosphere by obviously blog-clueless reporters is painful:

Political bloggers fear publicists will infiltrate sites
By Alan Wirzbicki, Globe Correspondent February 23, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Erick Erickson has been running the popular blog long enough to know what his readers' postings sound like: red-meat conservative rhetoric served up with a little dash of populist anger.

So when postings from an unknown writer on the site showed up praising Senator John McCain -- one of the site's least-popular Republicans for his deviations from hard-core conservative orthodoxy -- Erickson thought he smelled a rat.

Or maybe a sock puppet, shill, or a troll -- Web slang for bloggers who pretend to be grass-roots political commentators but instead are paid public relations agents. . .

The reporter evidently has never heard these terms before, and got them garbled when hearing them in the course of reporting the story. Sock puppet, shill and troll have completely different meanings.

Here's a primer in these words for Mr. Wirzbicki:

A sock puppet is a false Web identity constructed by a person who also posts under his real name. The false Web identity is used to post material the person doesn't wish to have associated with him or her.

A shill is someone who acts as an agent for someone else, either openly or surreptitiously.

A troll is someone who deliberately posts inflammatory messages for the purpose of causing arguments.

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