SOCK PUPPET MARKETING:
I see this taking place in forums a lot... someone has multiple IDs and uses one ID to post a WTS thread and another identity to play buyer... and the second ID sings praises for the first IDs service, ethics, communications, hairstyle, etc. That has actually led people to court in a few cases (see "Fraud in the inducement"), and pretty much as a rule leads to bans from forums. Nobody wants to see you grade your own papers, and it doesn't make you popular to pretend nobody's smart enough to notice.
It is also used in other venues... such as a recent thread here where a person is asking for somone to do both questions and answers on Yahoo Answers and toss out favorable recommendations of their product.
Just as forum mods have a LOT more practice at catching puppet posters and better tools to detect them than the average user thinks... Google is fully aware of the practice and will bust you for it. The word "undetectable" makes them laugh... it's not that the user will get busted IF detected... it is WHEN. They are Google, and as the Bible clearly states...But hey, don't take my word for it... here's the scoop on it from the talented Mr Cutts:Originally Posted by The Good Book of Google
Nothing wrong with someone taking pride in a job well done... but there's a vast difference between someone taking pride in their work vs adding extra IDs to give themself I-trader they didnt earn or deserve. People in forums will generally give a good review for a job that deserves it. In the case of I-trader fraud, the guys that feel the need to give their own "good reviews" frequently are among those that cant get it by honest means.
Aziz (2 March, 2010)
I very much agree with you on the itraders and reviews.
I was thinking more about the video. It made me laugh.
Just the world I grew up in. I was explained to very early in life that semantics is truth with the right spin.
"The best propaganda is more propaganda"
I like the term Sock Puppet Marketing, but it reminds me too much of how our political system operates.
Sock Puppet Marketing happens everywhere in life. It is normal and natural for anyone with marketing skills, but I think it does cross the line when it becomes fraudulent. Phony testimonials--they cross the line. Fake reviews that glorify a crappy product or service--guilty. However, IMHO objective reviews and other methods to promote product interest do not cross the line.
If you want to take it to an extreme, just setting up as many links as you can to a site is Sock Puppet Marketing because the links are not obtained naturally.
One of my friends is in the digital scales market. He has a competitor that has several web sites with "independent reviews" of digital scales. Naturally, the scales that his online stores sell (separate from his review sites) are the best, while all of his competitors' scales are crap--even though in many cases they are the same scales with different private label brands. This guy clearly does cross the line, but he remains a major player in the industry due to his use of fraud to promote his products.
I will be passing the Sock Puppet Marketing video to my friend.
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin
Yep, that "fake review site" stuff is pretty pervasive in several areas. "Hosting review" sites leap to mind as an obvious example. As the web has gone from infancy to heavily commercial over the last decade that practice has blossomed.
One of my favorite examples was a guy in the skydiving industry who had MANY sites created with ownership hidden among various fake IDs... he even had his "who-is" info in on the ruse. He created a nest for himself at Dmoz where he was an editor. He invented his own fake national sky-diving "licensing" body that approved his own sites only to the "accepted" status, then only put those sites in their directory. To make it look more natural he was also editing the same category at several other directories.
I was editing at dmoz at that time, and a couple of us figured out what was going on and cleaned it up and sent him packing... but people get pretty elaborate in their ruses. That one was discovered when a competitor blew the whistle and got his message to the editors via the submission queue (yes, those notes really can generate results).
Just as people that use the web daily know that the nice fellow in Nigeria really isnt going to send $3.94 million to your bank account after miraculously deciding *you* are the perfect person to reach out to in order to solve his banking dilemma... anyone with any savvy knows to take review sites with a grain of salt. Those without that necessary gene that causes red flags to go up are their natural prey who've come to be known as "fish".
@ Will -
Even without it being on a platform Google hosts, there are ways they can separate the wheat from the chaff. As an example... think of how mods can compare the postings in various fora against each other and determine the existence of sockpuppet IDs without access to IP info. Google has whizkids on the job working out relationships that raise red flags in their system, and I do believe they have enough assets in place to spot more than people think they can spot.
As in the Dmoz case cited above... I'm sure reports from competitors that are being disadvantaged by such schemes probably play a huge role in discovery.
Some of the fake hosting reviews kill me. It bugs me to think those sites get SEO backlinks, traffic AND customers. There are a few reviews about my proxy hosting service on some sites. I say a "few" because even though I contacted many sites asking for objective reviews and even offered them a free month of hosting, most of them don't write back. Some wrote back, but it's clear that they pick favorites. Some even write fake hosting reviews just to push their affiliate links.
The review scammers (which can be the reviewer OR the reviewee) make it tough for the hard working people to get legit feedback.
I hate when I'm reading a sales thread, and then a new member materializes out of nowhere and starts praising the OP for his service and claims that everything was amazing and highly recommends it - I mean honestly, no one is stupid enough to really believe these claims. In fact, I'd say that when incidents like that occur, you instantly lose your credibility. Furthermore, I find that people like to fake orders... "Replies sent to all whom inquired." often means 'Nobody really PM'd me, but maybe if you think this service is popular, you'll place an order.'
It's downright unethical and disgusting to see people pulling these tactics.
Plus, I had an incident here at NB for example. I inquired about a domain name, and the guy tells me he just received a low XXX offer, and that if I beat it he would sell me the name. When I told him that XXX was above my budget, instantly the other bidder dropped out, and it was mine as soon as I told him what my offer was. I mean really... come on? Do I look like an idiot? Does he think I bought that? What are these people trying to do...
robjones (1 March, 2010)
Sock Puppet Marketing are everywhere, I remember to post a thread like this in a different forum a while ago with the Matt's video.
Robjones is right, and you can see that often in SEM sites too in huge link schema.
As long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost and science can never regress.
What crosses the line?
I am talking about advertising a product. We will all have different views.
I am not supporting a scammer understand this.
But what really is the difference between a person (Joe Nobody) writing a false review, and a celebrity getting paid to saying Buy Pennzoil it the best oil. Arnold Palmer