Riding on mass transportation? Sitting in a restaurant? Lounging in the park? The person next to you tapping on a smart phone or other wireless Internet device might be a birther.
I wanted to share a curious result with you. I was applying a ban today, and made a comment that a particular commenter had used several sock puppets. I think the identifications I made were probably right; however, I wanted to dig a little deeper to see if perhaps there were others. I have a tool that lets me quickly search by commenter name and branch off from there to look at other entries with the same IP address or email address they used. Today, I thought I would upgrade my tool to do recursive searches, so that I could enter a commenter name, and find every IP address they had used, and every name that had ever been associated with that IP address, and all the IP addresses they had used and so on and so on.
When I turned my tool to the recently-banned commenter it went on a very long journey, so long that I wasn’t willing to wait for it to finish. I stopped it after 200 commenter names. “WOW!” I thought. This is sock puppetry beyond anything I could imagine. Since the result was so surprising, I looked at it a little closer and found that one of the commenter names was that of a well-respected, and long-time participant on this blog. I examined that IP address and found not one, but two such long-time participants, and I could tell by the email addresses that impersonation was not what was happening. Nor can I justify the conclusion that they are all the same person.
What I found with all of these individuals is that they use many, many different IP addresses, and I found that the particular IP address I looked at pointed back to mycingular.com, a wireless Internet provider now owned by AT&T. So what I have concluded is that there is considerable duplication of IP addresses for users of this site. This may explain some of the mystery moderation events of the past.