On Politics and Sock Puppets

Here’s a blog post that we, as a newsroom staff, have been working on for more than a month. The delay in posting it reflects the care we took to weigh an appropriate response to a specific incident or rather series of incidents. At one point we thought it might dictate some sort of policy about blog comments. In the end, it became more of a philosophical issue, one on which we invite you to weigh in.

After I wrote about McCormick Woods a few months ago, Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola commented on this blog to clarify his position on what he thought was a critical story. His response was followed by several other comments in his defense, several under the screen names ‘Gumshoe’ and ‘LocalPoliticalJunkie.’

At least one other reader noticed similarities in tone and word choice between those two users and Coppola, both on that blog entry and elsewhere, including Coppola’s personal blog, which he has since (as of Dec. 1) turned over to guest writers.

We thought the similarities suspicious as well, and checked on where the posts were coming from.

We can’t get specific detail on a commentor’s residence from the registration form our users submit, nor can we even confirm the identity they use when they register. People comment anonymously on our site, and we allow that. But we can check the Internet Protocol Address of each user, which is a unique number for a computer or network hosting a number of computers. Using the IP address, our system can give general details, such as a residence in Port Orchard, or a government building. We don’t regularly check the IP addresses of users, but we can, and so we looked at those being used by Gumshoe and LocalPoliticalJunkie.

Their IP addresses matched the one used by Lary Coppola, who had registered and posted under his own name. That gave some credence to the suspicion that all three online users were the same person. We asked the mayor about it, and he said it wasn’t him. He didn’t have an explanation for why the IP addresses would be the same, but said he suspected the others were copying material from his personal website and using them on the blog here.

We can’t confirm Lary is either one of the other posters, but, in light of the evidence we found and his response, whether to report on our discovery became a protracted discussion in the newsroom. It’s an issue we haven’t come upon in the past, but as the nature of journalism moves increasingly online, it’s sure to come up again. So we’ve decided to bring it up now, even though we have seen little of gumshoe or LocalPoliticalJunkie over the past month.

There’s nothing explicitly wrong with readers using more than one screen name to register at kitsapsun.com. There is no law against using a second online identity to support comments you’ve posted using your first online identity (known in the online community as “using a sock puppet“). But the idea of an elected official doing so bothers us.

What would happen, for example, if a public official began to post misinformation on an upcoming vote, or a candidate for public office acted under many personalities in the course of campaigning? That doesn’t seem like behavior voters would look for in a public servant.

People are going to manipulate the system at some time, on some level, and there’s too much information and opinion out there to catch it all. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be skeptical at the appearance of such behavior.

We think elected officials should be held to a higher level of transparency in this new age of communication. Do you agree?

On a final note, we commend Lary for the comments he has made as a Mayor of Port Orchard. He is one of the few Kitsap officials to take part in the public conversation on the blogs, and we would encourage others to follow his lead.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter
David Nelson, Editor

56 thoughts on “On Politics and Sock Puppets

  1. Is it a philosophical question or an ethical question? If it’s an ethical question, I certainly hope you’re not going to stop with the Mayor’s office.

  2. Very good piece. Until now I thought that those that posted using screen names other than their own were clearly known to the Sun staff. I guess that is not so. In general I think individuals should post under their own name or not at all. They should take ownership of what they say. I have seen many very strong comments made under the cover of false identity. I can think of a couple of very narrow reasons that a hidden identity should be allowed. At this point these reasons need to be privately discussed.

  3. I have noticed many bloggers who refrain from identifying themselves. I guess it is a way to say things you would not normally say to people to their face or as a way to prevent backlash from giving an opinion that may be unpopular with their friends, workers, bosses, or neighbors.
    If you read the blogs it is interesting to see the many similarities of thought and technique in the bloggings. When you allow anonymous blogging you can expect multiple entries by some, it is the nature of the beast. I agree that elected and non-elected officials need to take ownership of their comments. If your blog opinion is so much different than the public persona you follow, then as a voter and taxpayer I would be very curious as to where your loyalties lie. I on the other hand will make comments and have no problem listing my name. I would say the same things to your face one on one or in a public meeting. The good thing about a blog is you can write what you think and read it over before sending. It allows for a little thought before publication. In public, I need to speak, but be very careful of what I say as my tendency to be more colorful or expressive when vocalizing my thoughts can be somewhat disruptive to those with sensitive ears. It is interesting that the Sun can track to an IP address, but yet only one person claims to use it and 3 bloggers send from it. It is good that the Mayor blogs. I would like to see all elected officials respond to this segment of the voting population. Most are still stuck in the old days of snail mail and door knocking. At least with Obama the technology available is being used, maybe it is time for the rest of the elected officials to get on board with another way to communicate with the voter and taxpayer.
    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

  4. Here’s my two cents,
    Sockpuppeting is wrong, especially for an elected official. It’s misleading, and the Sun has done a real service by exposing it in this case. It’s called propoganda when elected officials manipulate the media to push their narrative.

    Anonyminity is part of blogging, and I think it’s fine that some folks have two accounts, one where they use their real name, and another for a pseudonym. I appreciate people who have honest pseudonyms, where it’s obvious that that is not their real name, at least they are being honest about blogging anonymously.

    However, using multiple accounts to create the impression that many different people support one persons statement is wrong. When it is suspected, I think that suspect comments should be removed.

    If you can’t muster real support for your statements, then perhaps you should find statements that really resonate with people… and not just make up fake people to support you.

  5. http://www.pdc.wa.gov/home/stakeholders/111208.Stakeholder.Mtg.pdf

    I wondered about Mike Shepherd’s posts on the Bremerton Beat, as well. I appreciate he’s willing to go online and engage, are there any rules as to campaigning, speaking as a private citizen, etc… That may not be a similar situation to this original post about sockpuppets, but isn’t it partly that there aren’t norms and accepted practices for this technology?

    Isn’t that in essence what happened to Bill Belichick?

  6. FYI… It is entirely possible to have multiple different users posting with the same IP address. If they all reside on a network utilizing NAT (network address translation), such as found with nearly any home or small business network using a gateway router that allows “internet connection sharing” with one internet connection. To the outside world (sans any advanced IP packet tracing/digging), all the computers behind the NAT device appear to have the same address. Perhaps Mayor Coppola has family members posting, or friends at city hall (assuming they are on a NAT’ed network) doing the same. Or maybe not. The identical IP addresses raise serious suspicion, but don’t prove any guilt. Your network administrator could probably rack up a lot of overtime trying to find out for sure.

  7. It gets curioser and curioser. “john”, the blogger/reader that made the sockpuppet case in the first place, has closed his blog to invitation only. I wonder who “john” is a sockpuppet for? He posts a link so he can plead his case and then he shuts it down? Were things getting a little warm for “john”?

  8. Now that I think about it I access the net wirelessly through a DSL modem that my wifes computer is hard wired to. I think the IP is the same for both computers.

  9. There’s nothing explicitly wrong with readers using more than one screen name to register at kitsapsun.com. There is no law against using a second online identity to support comments you’ve posted using your first online identity (known in the online community as “using a sock puppet“). But the idea of an elected official doing so bothers us.

    As it should. If Lary has done this it would be unfortunate. Spike89 raised valid points regarding IP addresses, and a weigh in by your technical staff with supporting documentation regarding the tracking of IPs would round out your investigation.

    Regarding the anonymous feature, it is indeed a standard aspect of blogging given those who want to share their opinions without being penalised by employers, clients or what have you. It is the nature of the posts which determine whether or not this feature is abused, notwithstanding another’s subjective belief that credibility solely resides with those who use their name. If a poster speaks to facts about an issue and includes hyperlinks or other data to support his or her comments, I don’t particularly care what their name is given my ability to confirm the veracity of their comments. Those who use anonymity to behave maliciously are the ones who taint it. My 3D comments are no different than those in these blogs, though my directness can be misperceived in this medium.

    Finally, if a person creates a blog to blast another person, especially an elected official, why not use the same standards being advocated. A blog open to invited readers only seems a rather ironic and less than transparent way to proceed in light of the situation.

  10. Registered Voter – Regarding your suggestion for a weigh-in by our technical staff, we did consult with our IT staff numerous times as we were formulating our response. We summarized their input on what the evidence suggests regarding the IP addresses within this post. Chris Henry

  11. Chris,

    Are you saying your IT staff’s position is that it isn’t possible for multiple different users to post with the same IP address?

    In other words, I’m looking for the data which links what the information suggests with the final conclusion the Sun appears to have drawn.

  12. As I understand it from our tech folks, an IP address – in the form of four numbers separated by periods – gives the unique identification for a computer or network hosting a number of computers. According to our IT department, commenters with the same IP address do not necessarily have to be using the same computer, but they would have to be sharing the same network and in reasonably close proximity, like inside the same building. Gumshoe claimed to be a resident of McCormick Woods, so logistically speaking to have him/her posting from the same IP address as the mayor would be a stretch. While we cannot say with 100 percent certainty that they are the same, the data suggests that they are or are at least related.

  13. A networked computer system will likely have the same IP for multiple computers. For that matter, a single computer could be used by several members of a family or employees at a business. As an example, we have three family members at my house who all use the same computers (networked). If my kids post something, it would appear as the same IP that I am posting from right now.

    All that being said, in answer to Chris’s question about whether elected officials should be held to a higher standard, I think so. We have an elected duty to citizens to be honest and above board as we execute public policy. I think that in order to be honest and above board, we rightly sacrifice some ‘freedoms’ in order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

    The public has a right to know where I stand on issues and I have a responsibility to constituents to be honest and forthright about my position on issues. I think the blogs are a good venue for this and for the exchange of ideas, concerns, and encouragement. Though I know that MANY of my elected peers feel just the opposite. As the venue becomes more accepted as mainstream and the “ground rules” become better established, I am hoping many of my peers will change their perspective (as businesses and elected officials did with email).

    For the record, I have always posted with one name… my own. I made that a personal policy a long time ago… long before I ran for office.

    With all due respect to those of you who post with pseudonyms, your words don’t have the same weight as a person willing to post with their own name and reputation on the line. Yes, I know that some of you have good reasons. But I do wish that the Kitsap Sun required people to post with their real names just like they require letter writers to use their real names. I think it is bad policy for a news agency to allow anonymous individuals or organized groups (yes, that happens) to spread rumors, innuendo, or out and out slander without requiring that person or entity to own their own words so that if they are proven false then at least it impacts their own reputation.

    All that being said, I appreciate the insight I get from everyone who participates in the blogs.

    Kathryn Simpson

  14. Was the IP address determined to be a residence, or government building? There are different implications for each scenario.

    Gumshoe claimed to be a resident of McCormick Woods, so logistically speaking to have him/her posting from the same IP address as the mayor would be a stretch.

    If the sock puppets were posting simultaneously or close enough in time to render travel from one place to the other unlikely, this would make sense. Were they?

  15. Though American history certainly has instances where one voice is deemed less than another, there is no objective or internationally recognised body which declares this as fact regarding the internet. All voices have equal value unless proven otherwise.

    It is also a mistake to refer to anonymity whilst only referencing its extreme as a descriptive basis for policy. Everyone doesn’t use it to libel, post rumours or innuendo. Elected officials make a deliberate choice to expose themselves at a level private citizens do not. Finally, Letters to the Editor include “name withheld”, so there are clearly instances when this choice holds merit. Attempts to equate print with the internet is one reason many media outlets are dying: old school thinking clashes with a much broader future.

    When the going gets tough, we are called upon to rise to the occasion, not lower standards or clamp down in fear to cater to the lowest common denominator. A better use of the Kitsap Sun’s efforts would be ensuring all posters have a voice, and encouraging them to communicate with respect and civility wherever possible. Trusting others to do this and rewarding those who comply is much more effective than shifting policies to focus on posters interested in ruining or impacting reputations.

  16. Chris, as I understand journalism, you should have provided us with the IP address of “john”, and his aliases. Unless you already know them.

  17. Chris, I have to say. I was a little disappointed in the report you wrote about the McCormick Woods West expansion. I was at the meeting you were at and I thought your report left out the two most important points.

    One, the new neighborhood would be an over 55 neighborhood. I think that’s important when the hearing examiner is trying to rule on emergency services.

    Two, the development company was going to get around the UGM (Urban Growth Management) by building a community center for the over 55 group in lieu of the required multi-family housing. Apparently, that’s how their legal representatives were interpreting the regs.

    None of our hands are really clean, are they?

  18. RV,

    Asking people to take responsibility for their words does not cater to the “lowest common denominator”. It simply levels the field so that those who speak and those that are spoken of have equal risk. To me, that speaks to higher expectations, not lower.

    Anonymous words do not have the same value as the same words with an individual’s name and reputation behind it. Would Woodward and Bernstein have acted upon an anonymous tipster with the same information so persistently if they didn’t know the real identity and position of “Deep Throat”?

    That being said, I also see your point that there are times when the choice to remain anonymous has merit. I also agree that most anonymous posters are fair minded and civil, just as some people that use their own name aren’t always fair minded or civil.

    Finally, I think you can appreciate that it is easier to respect your words and your point of view because I have met you and know a little about you. Others don’t have that benefit. I don’t have that insight with very many of the anonymous posters here. So, yes, your words have more value to me than an anonymous poster that I don’t know. Perhaps that proves my point or condemns it. C’est la vie.

    Kathryn Simpson

  19. I am in agreement with most posting entries that if someone is not willing to use their true identity that their opinion holds less weight.

  20. Karen,

    I have no idea. I didn’t even know it existed until RV pointed towards it today in post #9. Like you, I find it twisted.

    Kathryn Simpson

  21. Kathryn,

    People take responsibility for their words no matter their name. We each participate in a manner where an opinion is formed about us. You can be voted out because you chose to be a school board member. Clients and leaders could choose to no longer work with me. The antidote is avoiding destructive behaviours.

    A policy which penalises the majority because of the few is fear-driven and does indeed cater to the lowest common denominator. Leveling the playing field means raising the level of dialogue beyond personality, not forcing everyone to use their name because of a few fools.

    Bill Mahan and Lary Coppola take risks when they enter these blogs to correct misinformation or speak to the facts. The stakes are higher for them, county commissioners, state reps, and congressmen. The average person — if their comments are reasoned and factual — shouldn’t have to worry about thhis just to post on history, clean tech, taxes, or parking.

    Woodward and Bernstein…not a good example. Leaks and tips occur frequently in media and politics, oftentimes without knowing the source. This is a blog for a local newspaper on a peninsula. Besides, saying George Washington was the first president is not an opinion; it’s a fact. The crux of the issue is what bloggers write.

    You had respect for my words before we met and said as much. My real name and “taking responsibility for my words” had little value at the time. Instead, it was a tool to cull information in an attempt to discredit my reputation as a diversionary tactic. And I was posting on topic and providing links to substantiate my assertions. Meeting helped us to better learn about tone, intention and our respective lives. It changed how you viewed my words, but for me solid or flawed arguments are separate from the person.

    As for Lary, I hope the Sun answers the open questions on this issue. At least John reopened his blog (Chris’s link, not mine) versus restricting it to invited readers. And though I want to know who he is, more important is whether or not his words are ultimately true.

  22. “Here’s a blog post that we, as a newsroom staff, have been working on for more than a month. The delay in posting it reflects the care we took to weigh an appropriate response to a specific incident or rather series of incidents. At one point we thought it might dictate some sort of policy about blog comments. In the end, it became more of a philosophical issue, one on which we invite you to weigh in….”

    Wow, Chris..another example of the importance of blogging and reporting to give and get information…the Internet at its finest…good job!

    It never occurred to me that a elected official would be so lacking in decent, moral and ethical character that he would sign up as another person in order to slam anyone who speaks out against him and then toot his own horn.

    Under the circumstances, to avoid more and worse snake in the grass of deception and manipulation, the Sun should know who the bloggers are. The real names. And protect their identity until/unless that person violates a stated code of conduct.

    I don’t mind anyone posting anonymously if they post good information that might compromise them if their names were used and the public benefits.

    I’ve recently lost regard for a blogger I used to respect but who now seems to be a toady of a manipulating elected official. Too bad.
    Thank you all for giving us a voice and an ongoing ‘continuing education’…
    Sharon O’Hara

  23. I don’t know much about IT stuff, but would it make a difference at all if a laptop were taken to, say, Barnes and Noble, and was used from there? Would that change it’s IP address?

  24. I think the Bloggers should remain anonymous
    to protect the sanctity of free discussion, however…

    Bloggers who create “Sock Puppets”
    should have the number of user names posted from the same “IP Address”
    posted next to their names.

    For every Internet connection there is but ONE “IP Address”
    Most homes connected say thru Comcast or DSL have one IP Address.
    Every computer in that home will show up as the same “IP Address”
    If you are at work and work has a LAN (Local Area Network) connected to the internet then all those work computers have the same “IP Address”
    Take you laptop from home to work then you show up as the work “IP Address”

    For example…

    On November 23rd 2008 Dave Dahlke wrote a letter to Editor in the Kitsap Sun about the internet rumor about “The Obama Birth Lawsuits” at:


    Dave posted in support of his letter with his regular name… dahl

    but then Dave created no less than 8 sock puppets to support his letter.

    Dave and his 8 Sock Puppets posted over 143 comments in support of his silly premise on that story alone.

    I asked the Sun to remove my post if the same “IP Address” wasn’t used to create them. The Sun had the resources to see Daves IP address and choose to agree with me.

    Dave uses so many socks to create his “Puppets” that Jennifer is afraid to wash them.

    This is the dirty laundy that is the Internet. And it is about time the Sun “Addresses” it.

  25. Yes Sally, using your laptop from another location will result in a change of IP address. Further, you’ll be sharing that same IP address with all the other users of that Barnes and Noble wireless network.

    That’s why you can’t prove that two people who have the same IP are the same person. There are 5 computers in my home that, thanks to Network Address Translation, all share one Internet-facing IP address.

    Oh, and American Voter’s question: “Was the IP address determined to be a residence, or government building?”

    There were actually two shared. I’d love to answer this, but, since I’m not a journalist, I’m not sure if we’re allowed to.

  26. I have complained several times about the Kitsap Sun allowing anonymous names in their blogs. While I understand this is a “right” of bloggers and the Sun does not want to discourage activity on their blog, I have two suggestions. First, require any blogger to register by identifying themselves and the screen name they intend to use. And secondly, do not publish any comment from a person using a screen name on your editorial page which is the same policy you have regarding letters to the editor.

    It seems to me that by implementing these suggestions the Kitsap Sun will reduce the manipulations of the blog as well as seeing more responsible comments.

    Bill Mahan

  27. Kathryn – I don’t think whether the commenters have the same broadband provider is the issue, as there are, for example, thousands of Wavecable customers.

    As we’ve already established, multiple users can have the same IP address. A search of comments from Lary’s IP address also showed multiple comments from gumshoe, who claims to be a McCormick Woods resident. The search also showed comments from LocalPoliticalJunkie. Simply put, there were three users we felt were writing in common, including Lary, and they all ‘happened’ to have the same IP address.

    Then a separate IP address for another profile Lary is registered with (no problem with this at all mind you), matched gumshoe as well. The latter was part of the City of Port Orchard’s IP address block, which we obtained from a public records request. The other was a residential location that could have been a business operated from a home.

    More to the point, the reason we even checked on the IP addresses in the first place is because of the appearance of sock puppetry. We don’t have the time to do this on a regular basis, and I’m sure as heck not getting into the business of outing every sock puppet on the Kitsap Sun. To be honest, we singled Lary out for extra scrutiny because he is a public official and we felt a different standard should apply, as we said above.

    That being said, “did he or didn’t he,” seems less the point – especially given the relatively benign nature of the comments – than the overall discussion we are having here.


  28. I’ve recently lost regard for a blogger I used to respect but who now seems to be a toady of a manipulating elected official. Too bad.

    Boo hoo. Cry us a bloody river.

    Regarding the topic, I agree that the Sun should know who everyone is via their registered account. As for revealing that person’s anonymity, I doubt the paper is foolish enough to risk the slew of users they’d lose, or anonymous free speech lawsuits when others have already won at the Supreme Court level.

    AMERICA, you are on point. Anonymity is fine; sock puppetry is not.

    And it would seem “did he or didn’t he,” is precisely the point. Otherwise, the purpose behind tracking and writing about it would be moot. A platform to pontificate about holding elected officials to a higher standard rings hollow if the subject may not be guilty of the charge discussed. Rather than saying it was bothered by “the idea of an elected official doing so”, the better phraseology would be “might have done this”….particularly if the relationship between the three profiles isn’t known.

    And lest some flame thrower mistake the above for ‘toadying’, I’ve made it quite clear that if Lary is indeed guilty of this, it would be most unfortunate. He should be above this behaviour, elected official or not. My purpose is to get additional information about what took place to lead to The Sun’s certain-sounding pronouncements regarding his guilt.

  29. Registered Voter: I hope you get that information on Lary. I do. You know I’m always up for an opportunity to prove Lary’s innocence just as much as you are. Oh and Bill, RV wanted you to take a nice good look at my blog, where I am not anonymous, I do write to what I feel is important, and he thinks that my writing style is like landing in France without a translator handy. He’s my best editor yet. And yes, I’ve even myself questioned the writing styles of Mr Coppola and that oh so anonymous blog that I won’t even make mention of here. I’m thinking, maybe I should bump that little challenge I issued back to the top of my blog. Anyways, read up. RV loves me, and I need a few more fans. http://blog.hannie.org (Please forgive me Chris, I was only assisting RV there for the win!)

  30. “We think elected officials should be held to a higher level of transparency in this new age of communication”

    Bravo, Kitsap Sun! This story about the possibility of my town’s mayor using “sock puppets” on the Internet is disturbing indeed. The only way I can see that a poster could post from McCormick Woods and Lary’s office at the same time with the same IP address is if the person were “spoofing” the address.

    Why would someone do that? Doesn’t make sense.

    I propose that this unique Internet accusation requires a unique kind of investigation. How about Chris Henry does a video interview of the mayor and posts it here on this blog?

    I, for one, want to see my mayor’s face while he makes his explanation of how the same IP address could be used from different physical locations.

    Jeez. And I voted for the guy. Do I feel dumb.

  31. I suspect all three profiles (or one) feel duly chastised for suggesting a Sun reporter be removed from the McCormick Woods annexation story. Anyhow, Lary’s guilt or innocence isn’t for me to prove. Just hope I’m around to ask the right questions when you’re the one presented as a snake in the grass or unethical. And I’m female, not male…though I understand why many think this.

    One of my links? http://www.foreignpolicy.com/resources/forum/. Perhaps there is even a thread about peppermint lattes.

    La critique est aisée, mais l’art est difficile…..my thoughts on “wins”.

  32. This came to me from Tim Matthes, the Republican candidate who narrowly lost to Charlotte Garrido in the race for South Kitsap Commissioner. Chris

    Tim says:
    “My name is Tim Matthes and I would like to comment on what is shaping up to be the great blog identity debate of 2009. I have been the subject of many negative, as well as positive blog comments during the last eight months or so. The first thing I noticed very early in my campaign for county commissioner was that only cowardly bloggers used false identities, and these seem to be in the majority on your web site. This is the reason that I did not employ the blogs, or read them during my campaign. However, I did notice that the people with serious comments to make had integrity, and either used their own name or an easily recognizable screen name. The Kitsap Sun December 30 article, “Online Anonymity” says that it is impossible to identify bloggers, and then proceeds to tell how they can do just that by using an IP address.

    This isn’t brain surgery; we don’t need to call Dr. House to come up with a solution. How about not accepting a blog registration for the Kitsap Sun blog unless the site owner’s name and phone number are identified. Accept only blog comments that include name and number. The Kitsap Sun is very careful to get this information before printing letters to the editor. If you can eliminate the use of sock puppets, and the game playing that is so obvious on your blog today, maybe more honest folks would participate. It’s worth a try, don’t you think?”

  33. If a blogger wants to remain unknown, so be it. I take anything an unidentified blogger says with a large grain of salt. In the past was there not times when Letters to the Editor had a issue with clone letters and serial letters? It may be easier to spoof the public using blogging, but the idea of gaining support by spoofing Letters to the Editor is old news. How many people actually read these blogs? Does the Sun keep track of usage and which blog gets the most read or commented on? Has the Sun taken a survey of elected and non-elected officials to see if they read the blogs? How many Federal, State, County, or city offices read the blogs? Is any action taken because of something a blogger has written? If the Mayor wants to pretend to be multiple people on-line, so what? Odds are people who do that will make a mistake and be outed by their own ignorance or actual in depth investigative reporting. As for a name and number requirement, we all know that that can’t be faked or spoofed, I mean how many names, address’s and phone numbers could one person have? A blog could be a way for not only the people in a community to exchange thoughts, but it could be a good way for the elected and non elected officials to see if they are on the same page as their constituents, even if it only 6 of them. It is nice to know that some of us bloggers are not “honest folks”, everything needs a little spice to make it better and more palatable.
    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

  34. Complaining about internet anonymity is pointless. There will always be people who fabricate fake persona’s online, and there will always be ways for people to do so. I’ve been using the internet since before the birth of the web, and I’ve learned that the best way to operate is to assume that everyone is anonymous.

    Tim Matthes’s suggestion to require a name and number for comments is a waste of time, and he’s fooling himself if he thinks LTE’s are all written by the person whose named is signed, especially during an election cycle. Besides, is the Sun now going to require the blog admin spend the time and resources to manually verify each poster? A name & number can be easily fabricated by a determined individual, and not a reliable proof of identity. There is not a reliable, cost effective way of determining anyone’s identity.

    Online anonymity has been with the internet since the beginning, and unless some major restructuring happens (and it won’t), it’s going to continue to be a part of the internet for the foreseeable future. The growth of net access hubs has made it even easier to be anonymous. Various voice-over-IP programs, Skype, MagicJack, etc, make getting a phone number, from any city, a trivial matter.

    The hard reality of the internet is that anyone can be anonymous if they want to be. It’s easier to just accept that and take what you read with a large grain of salt than to continue complaining about the inevitable.

  35. I don’t think anonymity is the real issue here. To me, the idea of deliberately using multiple false identities for the purpose of supporting one’s own position (or to attack one’s detractors, real or imagined) is fundamentally dishonest. We have every right to demand honesty from our elected officials. I hate to say it, but it’s becoming apparent to me that the Mayor is lacking in that requirement.

    The creation of sockpuppets is not only dishonest, but if the Mayor is using them to post on Kitsap Sun blogs on the city’s time and using government resources, it may be grounds for removing him from office.

  36. No, Elliott, the issue is who is John. The rest is a diversion.

    This is a corrupt, backwoods, regressive community. Whether it’s the ignorance about sexual harassment law, throwing “Christmas” up on all the School District reader boards, or the archaic idea of Jr. High. There is nothing in this community or the School District that is about hope, reaching potential or discovering ability and talent. It’s all about keeping people down, shutting people out, and covering up misdeeds.

    And to suggest that you are allowed to weigh in with an alias is, well, obviously, just not true.

    Small minds talk about people, average minds talk about events, great minds talk about ideas.

  37. Karen,

    You think it’s acceptable for a public official to deceive his constituents by creating false identities in order to push his agenda, but it’s wrong to expose such a deception and not use your real name, perhaps for fear of retribution? You think the ORIGINAL deception is a “diversion”?? Sorry, but that makes no sense at all.

  38. Elliott…good post!
    The post before your comments to Karen. You are mistaken about her post.

    Reread her post…she is a person of integrity with a strong sense of right and wrong.

    I’m ashamed for PO/SK … the decent people deserved better.
    Sharon O’Hara

  39. So Karen

    I believe it is a very wrong move to put the 9Th grade physically in high school, therefore I would never vote for around a 100 million dollar high school whose main purpose is to facillitate that move. I have no problem with schools acknowledging any and all religions even though I am not particularly religlious. If I understand you correctly that makes me backwoods, regressive, lacking in hope, willing to keep people down and shut people out. If my understanding is correct you might want to look in the mirror.

  40. Larry,

    I know this is way off topic (sorry Chris), but why do you think it is wrong to put the 9th graders at the high school? That is the way that the vast majority of high schools in the state align themselves these days.

    Kathryn Simpson

  41. When I was growing up, my fathers question when I tried to justify some action by saying everyone else is doing it was always the same. If everybody was jumping off the Golden Gate bridge would you do that to? For me what everyone else is doing is just a data point. To some it is keeping up with the Smiths. To others it is a call to action that can not be resisted. The herding instinct is strong.

    We are living in a society where kids grow up way too fast acting and doing things beyond their mental and emotional capacity. Some of this is a result of parent action and some is school action. Some can not be avoided. The social and emotional gap between between grades 9 and 12 is vast. It is my judgment that it is not necessary nor desirable to expose 9th grade boys and girls to the social pull and peer demands of being housed in the same buildings as grades 10, 11, and 12.

    I know the board articulated some academic reasons for making this change. I feel that the academic reasons are a distant second to my concerns.

  42. I appreciate your response, Larry.

    Social pressures are real. I won’t argue that they aren’t. However, there are also positive social pressures for students. My children are currently in 8th and 11th grade. My experience with the 7-9 junior high is that 9th graders don’t feel positive social pressure to perform well at 9th grade because they don’t think they are really in high school. The pressure hits at 10th grade and some are then already in an academic hole. I think it is important that 9th graders have the academic opportunities available at a high school. This includes opportunities for advanced classes, remedial classes, and vocational courses as their needs develop.

    I know there are differing thoughts on high school alignment. For me it isn’t a matter of being a lemming, but trying hard to decide what is best for students within the resources we have available.

    Kathryn Simpson

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