Pharyngula

How not to run a blog

A strange little blog has been carping at various atheists blogs for a while now. Called “You’re Not Helping”, it pretended to have the goal of keeping internet atheists honest and holding them to a higher standard. It wasn’t very interesting — it’s main claim to fame was a tone that combined self-righteousness with whining — but it has just flamed out spectacularly. The author has admitted to committing flagrant sockpuppetry, with four identities (“yourenothelping”, “Polly-O”, “Brandon”, and “Patricia”) who were active commenters there, all reinforcing the same views and sometimes congratulating each other on their cleverness.

So much for honesty and a higher standard.

You can watch sockpuppets in action here. After this revelation, it becomes hilarious. Highlights include this comment from “Brandon”:

Ha! Polly-O! beat me to it. Great minds….

Next best bit is where the blog author screws up and posts under the wrong name, making the sockpuppetry evident…and then tries to make this clumsy correction, posting as “yourenothelping”.

OK, it appears that Brandon is Polly-O! Both commenters have identical IPs. And now both are banned, too.

It’s total chaos. It’s a beautiful illustration of why sockpuppetry is a bannable offense here.

It’s the best example of blatant conversational masturbation that I’ve seen since the days of Earl Curley on Usenet. Curley was one of those net.legends, totally insane and convinced of his psychic superpowers, who used to frequent sci.skeptic with a collection of aliases that would chatter among each other about how clever Curley was. In fact, here’s the original invention of the phrase sockpuppet on usenet:

Earl “voted most popular with hosiery!” Curley lisped:

>but as I
sit here with a room full of friends (yes, gays were welcome to)

Why does the image of a person infinitely uglier and more awkward than Mr.
Bean come to mind, sitting in a room strewn with crumpled printouts, empty
cola cans, smashed beer bottles, and greasy pizza boxes? The chairs are
arranged in a circle, with Earl in one of them, wearing 3 day old boxer
shorts. On each of the other chairs is a sock puppet, with those silly
googly eyes and a name tag scotch-taped on them. One of the sock puppets
has a gay chat line ad from a sleazy weekly paper scotch taped to the back
of its’ chair. Wow, Earl, you sure are “with” the 90′s with your
tolerance!

You had to be there. But really, people who resort to sock puppets to prop up their arguments are universally reviled as pathetic — the author of You’re Not Helping has just had his credibility completely eradicated.

Believe me, if you’re playing games with sock puppets the worst thing that can happen to you is not that you might get banned — it’s that you’ll look pitiful.


I came to this story very late, after the final shameful confession. Much of the legwork that exposed the lies was done by The Buddha Is Not Serious.

And what’s really surprising me right now is the bizarre attitude some of the other commenters at YNH have — they’re still supporting the guy despite the fact that he has a long history of self-congratulatory lying. People are very peculiar.


Self-immolation is complete. The You’re Not Helping blog has closed its doors and is no longer accessible. I guess that means Will from Alabama will pop up somewhere else under a new pseudonym…or more likely, a few dozen pseudonyms.

It’s strange: since some of the persistent and obnoxious New Atheist haters on the internet have been exposed as having inflated their numbers at least four or five fold, suddenly my perception of the number of my critics has diminished, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.