Outing pseudonymous bloggers.

I've gotten word that another blogger who has been tracking IP addresses associated with comments (on his own blog and on the blogs of others) is preparing to blow the whistle on what he is inclined to view as sock-puppetry. I'm not sure how complete this blogger's information is, nor whether it is consistent with other conclusions besides the ones he is drawing.

But at this point, it might not matter that much. So I'm just going to go ahead and tell you what I know.

I am PhysioProf. The PhysioProf persona has its genesis in my mother's pained request that I drop perfectly good words like "assy" from my bloggging. In a fit of pique, I began leaving profanity-filled comments as PhysioProf, and before I knew it, I was writing blog posts as PhysioProf, too.

Possibly the florid language I use as PhysioProf is a bit of an overreaction to not feeling free to use various forms of "ass" on this blog. I guess naughty words are habit forming.

As it turns out, I'm also DrugMonkey. I got to a point in some of my blogging (especially on topics like the ethics of research with animals and the larger question of how the community of science ought to deal with wrongdoers in its ranks) when I really felt the need to test my views against a tough Devil's advocate. In fact, I got a little tired waiting for such an interlocutor, so I ended up creating one. I think I did a pretty convincing job of it. I left some clues, though. (Notice that the DrugMonkey blog has the very same "Tribe of Science" category originated on this blog.)

It was a calculated risk on my part to use the PhysioProf and DrugMonkey personae to call out unthinking sexist remarks. I'd like to believe that there are men who have enough of a problem with this kind of thing that they'd stand up and voice their objections ... so that's what I did with these two characters. Unfortunately, it wasn't completely believable. I should have used a lighter touch in the execution.

And then there's Dr. Isis. I decided if I was going to play with pseudonymous identities, I should take a crack at one with a personality very different from my own. The result was full-throttle femininity (including the parade of high heeled shoes) and hot science. I also played with a blogging style that is much more visually oriented. And, I brushed off the Spanish I'd been neglecting since college to write some of the posts en Español.

But I made some missteps with the Isis persona, too. I've done a pretty good job keeping the style consistent, and I was sure posting meaty recipes would throw people off my trail. but I made the mistake of posting sound files on this blog and on the Isis blog ... and Becca (and others, no doubt) heard enough similarity to tip my hand. Plus, that old Isis profile pic in the marigold-yellow shoes revealed my pasty white-girl ankles.

I dunno. Maybe on some level I wanted to get caught.

While I'm confessing to my pseudonymous shenanigans, I should also own up to being Sciencewoman. I've always been really interested in -ology (at least in a general sort of way), so it's been fun putting myself in the character of a professor of -ology to imagine how that would shape research and teaching, not to mention the work-life balance. I thought the jeans and boots I used for the Sciencewoman profile pic were generic enough to be anonymous. Sadly, I never was able to get all the mud out of those jeans.

Scicurious is me, too. Blame my nostalgia for grad school -- especially for journal club. I make no apologies for Friday Weird Science, and frankly, I was pretty sure that I couldn't pull that series off here, whether as myself or as Dr. Free-Ride.

Yeah, maybe I pushed some ethical limits in exploring the potential to craft a persona (or six) in the blogosphere. But you weren't really taking a bunch of blogging pseudonyms at face value, were you? The point was to interact with the content, not the person you imagined to be behind it.

For all anyone knows, after all, I may have other pseudonymous personae still blogging. If their posts educate you, inform you, entertain you, even spur you to action, would it matter if those posts actually originated with me?

More like this

LOL!!!... had me going for awhile (...you probably know me better from my other persona, Pharyngula).

No! I'm Spartacus!

By speedwell (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink

You are Spartacus! And you are Spartacus! And you...

Weren't also you Cora, who begat Orac? Or was that a filthy lie from Greg bin Liner? Or Z.P. Meyers, who also cunningly hides his true identity behind a soodynim, a large and hairy soodynim.

Any plausible rubbish is likely...

By Sandra Ock-Puppy (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink

People who would do such a thing should be ignored and shunned by the rest of the science blogosphere.

But actually, I'm Physioprof.

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly.
I'm crying. I am the eggman. I am the walrus

...and as usual it's all your mother's fault!

At least you didn't claim to be me--and I guess I can be reasonably sure you won't.

By Super Sally (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink

Everybody knows you're too good-looking to be me!

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink

But...who's Keyser Soze?

By Roadtripper (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink

Phew, for a second there I thought I was going to be an autonomous cognitive fragment of your psyche too.

Still, now that I think about it, I might be someone else's pseudonym. Fuck. Am I me at all?

WHAT?! YOU OUTED US?! How COULD you, Janet? The other parts of your psyche promise no more Friday Weird Science unless we are appeased. Sci demands chocolate. Isis demands shoes. And PP wants some motherfucking Jameson.

Oh, but the angst you've created . . . Happy April Fool's to you, too!

Are we not, on a very deep and meaningful level, all Dr. Free-Ride?

By Der Bruno Stroszek (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink

Pasty white girl ankles???? Everyone's ankles look pasty in marigold pumps!

But the fact that you knew they were marigold and not just yellow seals the deal that you must be Isis.

And here I thought you invented Alice Pawley as your alter-ego supporting your pseudonymity by using a stock photo on this blog. I'm so disappointed.

Clap clap clap CLAP!

And here I'd been thinking all along that you were Orac. ;-)

Pasty white girl ankles???? Everyone's ankles look pasty in marigold pumps!

But the fact that you knew they were marigold and not just yellow seals the deal that you must be Isis.




I don't know if Uncle Al is Uncle Al. Besides, I thought George Carlin died last year.

I'm Brian of Nazareth and so is my wife!

I'm not going to fall for this. I've been tracking IP addresses, too, and thus I know that PhysioProf is actually … Greg Laden.

i just hope i'm still me. not that i wouldn't mind being someone else, but that would require that someone else be me, and i wouldn't wish that on anyone

also, someone called "OM" seems to have lots and lots of sockpuppets over at Pharyngula ...

[/yes, it's a joke]

"Don Diego! You are El Zorro?"
(Obscure 70's movie reference)

Likewise, I am actually one of PZ's autonomous tentacles.

OK, this is weird. With me, or rather us, it's the other way around.

Paul W. is really three persons posting as one.

But we're just one god.

Confusing, innit?

Now the radpily growing # of blogs here makes sense. Now that this is all in the open, perhaps you can collapse back to one blog to help clean of the Scienceblogs sidebar?

This was so much cooler when only I knew about it.

This post (and the comments) are very funny, Janet! Now I feel rather small -- I just have a single identity on the 'net! Multiple identities -- it's hard enough to keep up with one! Happy April Fool's Day!

It's the 2nd April here. So for a second my bullshit meter was not as primed as it should have been.

You American's are just so retarded when it comes to being in the right day of the week...

By antipodean (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink

Makes me wonder who I am...

By afarensis, FCD (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink

Shhhh.... but I'm really Chris Mooney.

Posted by: Sheril R. Kirshenbaum |

Crap! I'm the guy who left all those inappropriate comments (under various sock identities) to you over on Phil's blog.

Even knowing damn-well what day this is, even *expecting* this all over SB, my jaw just DROPPED when I ready that you were PhysioProf. Well done!!! And very funny. I am happily fooled.

By ctenotrish (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink

Wait, so PZ isn't Matt Nisbet?

Mind if we call you "Bruce" to keep it clear?

Let me guess -- your next identity will be Sybil?

By David Harmon (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink

I am a giant blogger formed by a combination of all the above pseudonymous bloggers.

Aha! The FrankenBlogger!
Now we at least know which state to look in!

By Yagotta B. Kidding (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink

Nah - Nisbet's a shared identity for the science-borg. EVERYONE's Nisbet.

People, people! It's a red herring! Don't be fooled! This is only partial disclosure!

After hundreds of long seconds of thought and painstaking minutes of observation, as well as IP Tracking and Satellite Surveillance (borrowed from the New World Order's Department of Truth), I have come to the conclusion that there is in fact, only one blogger on the _entirety_ of Scienceblogs! It's one gigantic festival of sockpuppetry, the world's largest attention-seeking scam!

Don't be fooled by individuals posting under so called "real names"! They don't actually exist! Sure, you may think you've even met them in real life, but it's just a combination of hallucinogenic drugs and highly-trained actors. I mean, come on. How likely is it that a bunch of scientists are going to waste time posting on a "blog", anyway?

I'm uncertain exactly who this nefarious scheme, this "Scienceblogger" is, but I have my suspicions.

I'm pretty sure it's Bigfoot.


As dreikin suggested earlier:

We are Borg.

We are as one; one as many.

Resistance is futile. We will be assimilated.


No, I am Spartacus!

By Chelonian (not verified) on 01 Apr 2009 #permalink


This is Jesus enjoying the fun.

Jesus, is that you? How come you never call?

And when are you going to cut your hair? You look like a stupid fucking rock star.

I didn't read this post until April 2 so you REALLY had me going. I thought you were going to turn out to be Wesley Smith in drag.

Hi Mom,

Sorry about not keeping in touch. I can explain though. I've quit the rock and roll gig and am trying out reality tv. I'm playing God (the invisible celebrity) and can't break character; it will totally ruin the schtick.

So THAT'S why all of those bloggers' checks have been going to the same "charity"? Janet! You fleeced us!