Friday, July 13, 2007

Astroturfing (very curious, from Bloggasm)

An interesting article (and a few related links).
It’s called astroturfing. A hired PR agency will send its minions into a blog that is criticizing one of its clients’ companies and defend it. But instead of admitting that it’s a PR agent, the person will act like he or she is an everyday reader [...]
Look familiar? Remember trolls from The Klausner Protection Squad on the Amazon 'discussion board' and review-comments threads? People who'd materialize out of the blue and immediately attack you whenever you'd question the credibility of 'reviewers' like Klausner/Harp/Boudville/John Matlock "Gunny" ? Remember Eileen Rieback, LE Cantrell, Cherise 'Switch-the-Topic' Everhard , FTF, Pam "not a requirement" T., and the rest of strange personages there? If the shoe fits... For more detail on this 'business model' visit Buy comment spam, by Simon Owens
Also curious on the same theme:
1. Peddling comment spam (again), from Making Light
2. I am not content; I am a human being (Making Light)
3. Astroturfing - from Wikipedia


scotdog98 said...

You find the best info!

I have to admit if I could write a book I would seek out any & all means available to me to sell my product. I would like to think I wouldn’t rely on liars, cheaters or scammers to get this job done but as in any industry it’s all about the $.

Really sad!



Deborah Hern said...

Sadly, this is not a new practice. It's extremely wide-spread. I read several review and book-related blogs, and this happens all the time.

For instance, there has recently been a bit of turbulence in the world of e-publishers. For any post that says 'e-publishers are lesser than NY houses for whatever reason,' there will ALWAYS be a bunch of posters, usually people who are anon or who have never posted there before, who descend to defend whatever e-publisher is being discussed. It's bizarre.

I'm totally convinced that many companies must employ people whose sole job it is to troll the internet, looking for anything negative said about their company, or author, or book... and then they release the hounds.

On the blogs I frequent, this sort of thing is expected and viewed with a sort of weary amusement, but never surprise or outrage.

Stephanie said...

What an interesting article. I am amazed at some of the "jobs" out there. I have wondered time and time again how someone could side with someone like Harriet. This explains it a bit.

Barbara Delaney said...


I just checked my Paypal account, where is my sixty cents?

Malleus said...

Probably got mistakenly credited to Cherise! :-)

Barbara Delaney said...

I was reading a rather old article (written more than a year ago), on the rise of blogging and how it would amplify the power of empiricism. It cited Moore's law about the exponential increase in computer capacity and seemed to feel that there would be an increase in both participation and quality of knowledge.

So with the rise of astroturfing in all areas of the internet it sort of shoots that theory in the foot. Why would you be willing to lie for twenty cents? What about the ethical concerns?

Malleus said...

I still think it's true. Well, I don't know exactly what was said there, but something like that sounds reasonable, I think... Just take our blog for example.

Of course there'll be (and there is) a comparable amount of junk there too, so one must read analytically and selectively, but I think there actually is an increase in participation and quality of knowledge.

About lying for twenty cents, I don't know, perhaps it's not feasible -- but lying for pay is certainly nothing new. Astroturfing is a cute and likeable term, but the thing itself is good old infowar, propaganda, false testimony, fraud; call it what you want.

I've never seen it's done so subtly that you couldn't tell what's going on though. The harm it mostly does is because of noise, not deception. Especially if you can counter it: and here the rise of blogging plays a positive role, I think.

Consider what would happen ten years ago: say, as now, we noticed something funny on Amz, we started carping on their board, we got banned: end of story. Not so today! We set up a blog and can go on carping and they can't shut us up here.