You’re never anonymous on the internet.

November 2005. Election eve. A comment appears on this blog. It’s from an unfamiliar name. He’s reacting to the bombshell news that attorney general candidate Creigh Deeds — my senator — has been accused of having a sexual relationship with his children’s babysitter. He declares that Deeds must exit the race immediately.

This was a lie, of course. This comment was posted to a half dozen blogs across the state within a few minutes, each time written by a different person. I erased the comment immediately — one of four that I’ve ever erased — and encouraged other bloggers to do the same.

Every computer on the internet has a unique internet protocol address (or “IP”), allowing them to be tracked. By checking with other bloggers, I found that all of these comments came from the same IP address. And by checking a history of all comments ever posted to my blog, I found that the same IP belonged to a regular pseudonymous commenter. It resolved to his apartment, and the name of the town in which he lived was present in the IP address’ domain name. On a hunch, I searched my e-mail archives for that IP address to see if I’d ever corresponded with anybody using that IP. Bingo, I had a match.

The kid who’d posted that invented accusation was an acquaintance, a Republican activist who was actually working for a statewide campaign. He was a nice kid, if overzealous. He may have a bright future in politics if he can control himself, something he’s historically had trouble with. I e-mailed him immediately to let him know that I was onto him. He was upset, and started inventing excuses, insisting that I call him so we could talk. I didn’t — I just told him that he must never, ever do this again, and that it would be our secret that he’d done it. Provided I never saw a repeat of this incident.

It’s been a year and a half, and he’s kept himself in check. Maybe he’ll make it in politics after all.

* * *

It is popularly held that the way you behave when you think you’re anonymous — that’s the real you. If all it takes is a goofy pseudonym for you to become misanthropic then congratulations, you’re a misanthrope.

Oddly enough, this is what makes other people misanthropes.

* * *

There was a regular commenter on this blog for a year or so. He posted under a pseudonym. He disagreed stridently with everything that I wrote. Which is fine — that’s how good discussion happens. But, gradually, he began crossing the line into simply being nasty, insulting me and other commenters along imagined personal lines, bringing any discussion in which he participated to a screeching halt. After repeated public warnings, I finally e-mailed him to inform him that he was simply no longer welcome on my blog, explaining my reasoning politely, but firmly.

What he presumably didn’t know is that I could see his IP address. That IP is the internet gateway for a law firm run by a powerful Democrat in the General Assembly. Not only is this guy commenting during work hours (one hopes not billable hours), but what he’s writing would prove embarrassing to the head of his firm.

I never mentioned this to him. Didn’t see the need. But I can only assume that he had no idea that his behavior didn’t just reflect badly on his pseudonymous creation, but it could actually come back to be identified with him personally.

He’s more or less been good about staying away from this blog, and has moved along to other blogs, his tone not improved in the least. He never e-mailed me back, but I preferred silence to the desperate excuses spun by many people who know they’re caught in a lie.

* * *

I had had a few comments from “Billy” last year. Nothing inappropriate, but I couldn’t help but notice that Billy shared an IP address with another commenter, a fellow political blogger. It seemed likely that it could end in embarrassment for him. I pointed out to Billy that that if his name was a pseuodnym, I’d know who he really was, and that perhaps he should keep that in mind.

The e-mail that came in response was from Carl Kilo, a Republican political blogger, the very person that I knew to be leaving the comments. Carl informed me that he lives in “a commune of sorts,” and that “Billy showed me your reply to his comment.” He insisted that it was somebody else using his computer without his knowledge, implying that he couldn’t be held responsible for what people did with it. I found this excuse too embarrassingly transparent to even argue with, so I sent back a polite note and left it at that.

Two days ago, another post was made from the same IP address, using the same e-mail address (an e-mail address that doesn’t show up in Google), this time under the unfortunate name of “Teddy’s Turds.” This was a moderately nasty comment, employing a tone that I try to discourage on my blogs. So I changed the comment’s author name to “Carl Kilo.”

So Carl again found himself caught in a lie, only this time publicly. He’s flailing the same as a year ago, rather than quietly admitting it was him or, better yet, saying nothing. (Or calling the police to alert them to the intruder in his home, using his e-mail address.)

This is why I should handle these things privately. It’s embarrassing to watch.

* * *

Democrats in Northern Virginia are having a field day with some poor fellow by the name of George Burke. It seems he’s the chair of a democratic committee, and has also long commented under the pseudonym of “Thomas Paine Patriot.” For many months he has posted rude comments to blogs under that name, and then went and posted a comment under his real name a few days ago. Using the same IP each time. So he was nailed. Everything that he wrote while safely wrapped in pseudonymity is public.

The real George Burke has been exposed, and he’s not good.

* * *

You’re never anonymous on the internet. You can make it difficult to find out who you are, such that a subpoena or a DMCA request is necessary, but neither of those are real difficult to get. Everything you do — every comment you post, webpage you read, e-mail you send — leaves an electronic trail that can be pieced back together. That trail of digital bread crumbs leads straight to your front door.

So who are you, really? Read over the pseudonymous and anonymous comments that you’ve written, the way you’ve behaved while behind your mask.

That’s you. Do you like who you are?

108 thoughts on “You’re never anonymous on the internet.”

  1. I gave up trying to be pseudonymous a long time ago. I thought it would be a difficulty if I posted and was known to be a Democratric Committee chair. I didn’t feel comfortable about it.

    These days I can be an asshole if need be and take credit for it, and the best thing is, nobody cares. People may disagree with me, but at least they know who I am, which is better than not.

    Carl Kilo also published links to my email, USPS adresses and phone number this past spring, merely because I called someone he knows a dick right here on this blog. Becasue this person was being, well, a dick. For all the complaining about that, it is interesting to see the machinations of people who claim to be righteous, but yet pull this kind of crap. In Carl’s case, blustering about lawyers and forgery is really silly.

    I don’t have a commenter problem on my blog. No one comments on my blog, so there is no problem with these kinds of comments. I would rather have none than to consider replying to people who hide behind a false name in order to attack others.

  2. I don’t use my real full name because I have reasons that I don’t want just anyone to be able to Google my name and find everything I wrote, but for those who care and put A, B, and C together, I’m just fine with that.

  3. In my book, Ben, that’s totally fine. I have no problem with people who comment under pseudonyms, nicknames, just their first name, etc. Though I’d prefer that people use their real name, it’s just not that important to me, and I understand that there are many perfectly good reasons for being semi-anonymous. It’s when people adopt pseudonyms to behave badly (or, rather, reveal themselves) that I get annoyed.

  4. A great deal of the reason behind my creation, Neosamurai85, was to play with this concept intentionally, to use the internet as a medium to create a character not like myself. Though I take the same stand as Waldo on pseudonyms, I always justified the creation as a comidic persona, like Richard Pryor’s Mudbone. I’ve pretty much abandoned it these days both because one way or another that claim dosn’t always add up and becasue I’m less of a geek in the ways that Neo exagerated. I got kinda hard to keep one from bleeding into the other in little ways, but above all, I’m tied of how easy it is to excuse anything in the name of satyre.

  5. Let us be clear about this Waldo.
    You have no clue as to actually wrote the comment. All you can say is Kilo has commented from that Ip address before. You don’t know if that is Kilo’s Ip or a friend, or a business, or mine. You have no idea of how many users are on that said address or where that address is located. I know for a fact Kilo did not post that comment. If he had his name would be attached. You are a liar sir and not a very good one at that. If you think for one minute Kilo or me are intimidated by you, you are mistaken. You are a liar. Thats you. There is no mistaking it.

    Wise Girl

  6. published links to my email, USPS adresses and phone number this past spring

    I use a pseudonym once in a while because I fear something like this. Some people can’t just write a thoughtful comment disagreeing with you on a topic, they do something nasty like this.

    Waldo knows exactly who I am and I’m fine with that (heck, I fill in my real email address even when I use the fake name). It’s the deranged people, who fly off the handle when someone disagrees with them, that I worry about. Sometimes I wonder why people who get so worked up bother with blogging. Isn’t the point to have an interesting discussion? What fun would it be with everyone agreed with everything you wrote?

  7. @Wise Girl: Ooh, a pseudonym! Frankly, if someone can’t keep control over their computer, that’s their problem. If you let other people comment as you, it’s your fault.

    If, on the other hand, you find out that someone has been impersonating you or using your computer for asshattery, it is your responsibility to apologize and rectify the situation.

    Since Carl Kilo was apparently defensive instead of apologetic, it is clear that he is at fault. If he wants his name to be in the clear, he needs to secure his system. If he is behind a NAT, he can discuss the problem with Waldo.

  8. Wise Girl: Do you know someone named Teddy’s Turds?

    Is this someone that is able to post from the commune? Is it someone who may be piggybacking on your IP?

    Is the IP associated with your comment today that of Teddy’s Turds?

    I don’t expect an answer, since there has been a pronouncement of innocence from chez turds. We are expected to believe someone after their manner of being a bad actor.

  9. How about it Waldo. Post Billy’s Ip and the one from the comment in question. Are thy the same?
    Waldo has no clue who made that comment. I do.
    If Kilo had made it, he would have claimed it. Ask anyone who has met him, Josh Chernilla, Brian Patton, Paul Anderson, and Waldo knows this also. Kilo will tell you to your face.

  10. Wise Girl “You don’t know if that is Kilo’s Ip or a friend, or a business, or mine. ”

    Is this some sort of supervillian bwahahaha or something?

    Obviously, you guys have some issues over in your communal internet situation that you might want to resolve before considering suing someone for calling you out.

  11. Waldo, there *are* ways of being entirely anonymous on the internet — I’ve used such methods on occasion. It’s tricky to do properly, of course. (Just to clarify that anonymity is possible, but rare.)

  12. I have no actual knowledge of anything going on here, but I do know that IP address are not always individual. Sometimes they are shared among a neighborhood, apartment building or even ISP and assigned as people come onto the net and reassinged to other people later. That’s one of the reasons that counting unique users is difficult. I don’t know whether that has happened in this case.

  13. How about it, Wise Girl? Are you going to interact with commenters here, or did you just come over to call Waldo a liar?

    Why should we have to ask anyone?

    And if you know who posted it, why not end your misery by telling us? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Well, are you going to answer my questions or respond in any way here other that to Waldo? If that is the case, you could have sent him an email or three.

    @Tim: Are you talking about public proxies?

  14. David Mastio
    06/15/2007 1:18 pm #

    I have no actual knowledge of anything going on here, but I do know that IP address are not always individual. Sometimes they are shared among a neighborhood, apartment building or even ISP and assigned as people come onto the net and reassinged to other people later. That’s one of the reasons that counting unique users is difficult. I don’t know whether that has happened in this case.

    End of story. Waldo has no clue, his only motive is to smear a fellow blogger.

  15. “I have no actual knowledge of anything going on here””

    vs.

    “Guys, I know for a fact Kilo did not write that comment. Teddy is right.”

    Hmmm.

  16. Well welcome to the world of the belligerent hillbilly. I was born there and travel back often. I never met Kilo, or his gal-pal Wise Girl…or ever care to, don’t need to, already know them. I grew up surrounded by dozens of guys like ol’Carl and their girlfriends.

    And while they all think of themselves as some uniquely perceptive and different person, they’re really just folks that are caged within their own limitations, illusions, prejudices, and fear. They need the company of similar small minds. Most of them know its just a posture, but they show one another the courtesy of playing along with the lie. It’s real comfortable that way.

    Disagreement is not the departure point for discussion with guys like Carl, its the point where you gird for battle. The hackles come up quick. You can think you are having an open, free-ranging discussion and suddenly find yourself sucker punched. Or you see the emotions so elevated that you simply have to say WTF, and walk away. Like he says on his blog leader – “A Troubled Man”.

    But the worst are the belligerent women. Many don’t have that finely honed sense for pending conflict their men have. While the men develop an instinct for the line that will bring on open conflict (because they’ve had their ass kicked), the women don’t. I had a pair of dogs once, brother and sister. When a strange male dog came around, the butt-sniffing would begin. My male dog knew the routine and stayed cool. However his sister was very high strung, and would start barking. That set all the dogs off, and the dogfight – the two males, would begin. My poor old dog was always getting his ass kicked, while his sister stood around barking. If his sister got a nip from the other dog, the brother would fight harder.

    Well, a hillbilly loves a story, and a story always illustrates the greater point: I think that Wise Girl started yapping on your blog behind her latest pseudonym “Teddy’s Turds”, and now stands around yapping because her old man is getting chewed on for it. Meanwhile Carl feels the need to get indignant, when, in reality what he needs to do is rein his woman in and tell her to own up to her deceit. That’s what a man’s got to do sometimes. And a good woman does too. Get it done Carl.

  17. One way to clear up these problems would be to continue to allow posters their anonymity but to insist each individual e-mail the site administrator with his/her real name. There are still problems with this as both parties would have to place a modicum of trust in the other, but it’s worked well for Waldo and me. I simply e-mailed after I began posting regularly, introduced myself, and thanked him for starting and maintaining this forum. Now we can correspond if problems arise (they haven’t) and nip them in the bud. Also, this arrangement (generally anyway) keeps me from being too much of a buffoon.

  18. Is this a good opportunity to, on a more positive note, mention what a welcome contributor Judge Smails has been to the Comments section of this website?

    I appreciate his often-contrarian views, which are always offered with a tone of decency to both the website host and other commenters. He has shown himself to be capable of revising his views, based upon new information and sticking to his guns, when he remains unconvinced. He has provided me with opportunities to reconsider my own positions in light of different facts and perspectives. Thanks, your Honor.

  19. What about the online Chalkboard? Is that still a going concern? Is it still totally anonymous and protected? Because I seem to recall the very same person who is saying that anonymous speech on the internet doesn’t exist was also the person who designed the Chalkboard for total anonymity.

    Incidentally, this is my real name. I do pretty much everything under my real name and identity nowadays. Once upon a time I cared very much about internet anonymity but at some point I decided that I have nothing to hide and that I might as well make things interesting for anyone who decides to google me.

  20. Well thanks for that, fellas. The one thing that troubles me is that I do feel like, as a conservative, I’m always playing defense here. I suppose that is the nature of the beast when reading and commenting on a site run by an unabashed liberal. Still, I dream of logging on here one morning and seeing the headline “Majority Leader Reid in Outrage Over ‘Incompetent’ Pace, Petraeus Comments.” But I can always read Drudge for that.

    Have a good weekend.

  21. “Incidentally, this is my real name. I do pretty much everything under my real name and identity nowadays. Once upon a time I cared very much about internet anonymity but at some point I decided that I have nothing to hide and that I might as well make things interesting for anyone who decides to google me.”

    lol

    Google: Jack…….. Results 1 – 10 of about 273,000,000 for Jack

  22. On IP addresses: yes, they can be shared. But not for most folks. And yes, they can be hidden.

    As for anonymity – well, I understand the need for it in certain circumstances. I have advised folks who don’t want to reveal themselves to do so. Likewise, I advise them that it’s not foolproof and they should be careful not to say anything anonymously that they wouldn’t say otherwise.

    When I entered the blogosphere, using my real name was a conscious decision, one that I do not regret. And one that keeps my tongue (keyboard?) in check more often than not :)

  23. @Mark Brooks: Public proxies are one method, but they can be monitored by the authorities. There are… other techniques. Look into Onion Routing if you’re curious.

    @David Mastio, and Wise Girl: It is true that IPs are not unique identifiers of individual computers over time, but Carl said that Billy lives there. So this isn’t a matter of dynamic IP rotation.

  24. Plunge,

    If you click on my name it goes straight to my blog which has my full name right there. All out in the open.

  25. Jack…. you do know what a “whoosh” is, right? You just got whooshed.

    i.e., I was kidding.

  26. Mr. Jaquith:

    You probably already know this, but you should be very careful about associating IP addresses with individuals.

    Generally speaking, your ISP gives your cable or DSL modem what’s called a “lease” on an IP address. The period of this lease is generally weeks, although it can be as short as an hour, according to the whim of the ISP. When an IP address is released, it goes back into that ISP’s pool of addresses, and is assigned (probably) randomly to the next device who asks for one.

    Static IP addresses, which don’t change, are usually more expensive, and are used for when you’re running servers in your basement, which most people don’t do.

    Also keep in mind that, if I’m sharing an internet connection by means of a router, everybody who connects via that router will appear to have the same IP address. Everybody at my whole company, for example, and there are thousands of us, appear to the internet to have the same IP address.

    This doesn’t mean that your deductions are incorrect. It just means that IP addresses are fairly weak evidence.

  27. Hawkins: true, but in the cases here, it appears that the people in question already confirmed that it was their computers being used, so the point is moot.

  28. What plunge said. At this point it is safe to say that Waldo’s, claim was unsubstantial. The problem is that Wise Girl had to pull a George Allen (exasperate a situation that could have been dismissed if the accused just kept their big mouth shut or thought before they spoke). As a result, the following things she has said are the matter of discussion at hand:

    “You don’t know if that is Kilo’s Ip or a friend, or a business, or mine.”

    Suggesting she is a suspect.

    “I know for a fact Kilo did not post that comment.”

    How does she know?

    “Waldo has no clue who made that comment. I do.”

    Then WHO???

  29. I honestly don’t know enough about the Burke case to say. And Waldo probably could have done better in pinning Kilo and his posse down if he had stuck with the “Kilo’s computer” right from the beginning as he seems to have changed it in the comments.

    Regardless though, SOMEONE is posting all this drivel from locations that tie back to Burke and Kilo and in both cases there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that should make them squirm enough to at least fess up as to who is behind it if they aren’t. They live just happen to share a router with a complete stranger who just so happens to post on the same blogs that they do with the same opinions they hold: on blogs that have a very very small readership and an even smaller postership in Virginia?

  30. I agree, Triscula. I think it’s his 12 year old daughter, defending her daddy because she did it and is afraid she’ll get grounded if Waldo doesn’t back off.
    (And no, my real name is not VAB.)

  31. ‘The e-mail that came in response was from Carl Kilo, a Republican political blogger, the very person that I knew to be leaving the comments. Carl informed me that he lives in “a commune of sorts,” and that “Billy showed me your reply to his comment.”’

    Lemme get this straight…
    This Republican blogger, Kilo, claims to be living in a commune?
    …..
    ..Seriously?

  32. The writer of the comment has admitted it on Kilo’s blog in the comments.
    Waldo how about doing what was requested of you? Post the Ip of this Billy comment and the Ip of the comment in question. Are they in fact the same? How many Ip addresses has Kilo posted from? All of this should be very easy for you to do. Then please inform us which ip is really his.
    The fact still remains that Waldo does not know who made the comment. He is just trying to smear a blogger who has called him out on many issues for close to three years.
    When I said I do, read the comments on Kilo’s blog. The writer is there.

  33. Hey, I got a better idea Wise Girl. You are a site administrator and self-appointed know-it-all , why don’t you just turn over the guilty party’s identity.

    Its real easy; Look in the mirror and write down the name of the person you see.

  34. LIES!!! LIES I tell you!!! What is this load of panda poop I hear? That Cory is my creator? That brown hat wearing (yeah, look that up in an urban dictionary) semantics nit-picking lovey-dovey ex-hippie goth (so he claims… poser) left-right can’t we get along grammar using waste of good mud throwing wing man position… Cure fan!!!?!?! He thinks HE is the lemur-lubed mastermind behind my hyena-f%*king genius!?!? BULL ECSRIMENT! PURE MISPELLED BULL ESCRIMENT!!!

    I am not some figment of his imagination! I have a soul. I am a sentient being! I am not Kurt Russell in Vanilla Sky! THIS IS MY REAL NAME!!! I am Neosamurai85, conceived at a Dick Hymen concert by a Lone Wolf and Cub fanclub president and a Cramps roadie. I am real! And Cory is a lying fraudulent banana molester-er of opossums!

    Peace.

  35. Still waiting for Waldo to publish the Ip addresses requested Bubby. Is Billy’s ip the same? Or is Waldo just fishing to smear someone who has called him on his ways?

    Cory Capron – What plunge said. At this point it is safe to say that Waldo’s, claim was unsubstantial.

    David Mastio 06/15/2007 1:18 pm #

    I have no actual knowledge of anything going on here, but I do know that IP address are not always individual. Sometimes they are shared among a neighborhood, apartment building or even ISP and assigned as people come onto the net and reassigned to other people later. That’s one of the reasons that counting unique users is difficult. I don’t know whether that has happened in this case.
    Waldo knows this to be true. The fact is that he changed a comment with no proof of his assertions.

    Hawkins Dale
    06/15/2007 4:14 pm #

    Mr. Jaquith:

    You probably already know this, but you should be very careful about associating IP addresses with individuals.

    Generally speaking, your ISP gives your cable or DSL modem what’s called a “lease” on an IP address. The period of this lease is generally weeks, although it can be as short as an hour, according to the whim of the ISP. When an IP address is released, it goes back into that ISP’s pool of addresses, and is assigned (probably) randomly to the next device who asks for one.

    Static IP addresses, which don’t change, are usually more expensive, and are used for when you’re running servers in your basement, which most people don’t do.

    Also keep in mind that, if I’m sharing an internet connection by means of a router, everybody who connects via that router will appear to have the same IP address. Everybody at my whole company, for example, and there are thousands of us, appear to the internet to have the same IP address.

    This doesn’t mean that your deductions are incorrect. It just means that IP addresses are fairly weak evidence.

    Think about it Bubby. Waldo is just trying to smear a fellow blogger.

  36. “I know for a fact Kilo did not post that comment.”

    – Wise Girl

    Q: How do you know?

    A: “When I said I do, read the comments on Kilo’s blog. The writer is there.”

    – Wise Girl

    Ok…

    From Spark It Up! comments:

    “Hey Waldo, I made that comment. Lets take him to court Kilo. Where is JC Wilemore?”

    -Teddy’s Turds | 06.14.07 – 8:00 pm

    Not to beat an undead horse, but if this is your defense, that the same pseudonym that was accused of being on person is saying they are not, you’ve proved nothing. However, this comment makes me wonder if that is all you meant.

    From Spark It Up! comments:

    “Guys, I know for a fact Kilo did not write that comment. Teddy is right.”

    – Wise Girl | Homepage | 06.15.07 – 10:12 am |

    As you can see, this was said roughly two hours after Teddy’s Turds statement… on the same board. Why would you do that if your only “fact” was his statement? It clearly implies you know something else that is your fact. Like, perhaps, the real name of Teddy’s Turds.

    If you don’t know anything other than that a statement was made under the same pseudonym, then you’ve made yourself look very silly and should stop trying to defend Kilo, as it is obviously a disservice to his case.

    If you do know any other facts, as your statement suggests, then your apparent refusal to disclose them also hurts Kilo’s case and, at best, makes you look like the Turd.

    Think about it.

  37. Quite the assemblage of visitors here tonight. I guess the wise one has no need to answer anyone else’s question if she doesn’t want to.

    The reprint of various posts here show me that there is very little substance to the argument. I mean, who would need the assistance of STD for anything? As far as I am concerned, we are all visitors here to this blog, and I don’t make demands of our host.

    Interesting how the quotes blend with the commentary. It would be oh-so much easier to tell where the opining is being done, versus the rehash of previous comments.

    Now, let’s all play nice, m’kay?

  38. I like your premise, Waldo. The only fake identity I have ever used was to pose as a Republican both online and offline. Does that make me a Republican?

  39. Indecipherable? Not to many of the readers Mark. This is not the first time Waldo has been accused of lying, but it is the first time Kilo has been.

  40. As the second unnamed “regular commenter” mentioned in the initial post, I’d like to second (or third, or fourth) what has already been said — namely, IP addresses, and nothing else, is flimsy evidence at best.

    For starters, the name “I.Publius” was chosen by myself and three friends a few years ago, in honor of the Federalist authors. An acquaintance of mine had started using it, then suggested that the rest of us use that name when commenting on those same blogs. I personally probably accounted for less than 10% of the posts, and the name has probably fallen into disuse lately, since two of us have moved away from Virginia and no longer participate. Thus, there are now just two of us. As an aside, we were also pretty sure that somebody else started posting under the name, and doing so really rudely, but who knows, maybe it was one of us. Hard to say.

    I would also note that one of the original I.Publius commenters shared a house with a friend and they used the same computer. During the 2005 Virginia election season and sometime after, both residents of that house posted to various blogs from their shared desktop, though I don’t recall what name the other person used (but it wasn’t I.Publius).

    So my point is that while an IP address, just like a pseudonym, might be one piece of evidence to identify a poster, it’s hardly conclusive, and it seems foolish to rely on it as “proof” of who is who. At least not without some corroboration. Come to think of it, sometimes I would disagree with what one of my colleagues said, so I wouldn’t post as I.Publius at all, but under my own name. I wouldn’t be surprised if the others did that sometimes, too.

    I personally have rarely posted here, and don’t recall which one of us posting as I.Publius did, not that it matters. I preferred Chad’s site when he had it, but that’s gone now.

  41. As the second unnamed “regular commenter” mentioned in the initial post, I’d like to second (or third, or fourth) what has already been said — namely, IP addresses, and nothing else, is flimsy evidence at best.

    For starters, the name “I.Publius” was chosen by myself and three friends a few years ago, in honor of the Federalist authors. An acquaintance of mine had started using it, then suggested that the rest of us use that name when commenting on those same blogs. I personally probably accounted for less than 10% of the posts, and the name has probably fallen into disuse lately, since two of us have moved away from Virginia and no longer participate. Thus, there are now just two of us. As an aside, we were also pretty sure that somebody else started posting under the name, and doing so really rudely, but who knows, maybe it was one of us. Hard to say.

    I would also note that one of the original I.Publius commenters shared a house with a friend and they used the same computer. During the 2005 Virginia election season and sometime after, both residents of that house posted to various blogs from their shared desktop, though I don’t recall what name the other person used (but it wasn’t I.Publius).

    So my point is that while an IP address, just like a pseudonym, might be one piece of evidence to identify a poster, it’s hardly conclusive, and it seems foolish to rely on it as “proof” of who is who. At least not without some corroboration. Come to think of it, sometimes I would disagree with what one of my colleagues said, so I wouldn’t post as I.Publius at all, but under my own name. I wouldn’t be surprised if the others did that sometimes, too.

    I personally have rarely posted here, and don’t recall which one of us posting as I.Publius did, not that it matters. I preferred Chad Dotson’s site when he had it, but that’s gone now.

  42. Wise Girl, you look pretty silly on this one, especially if your claim that the “poster” who admitted it was just someone posting again under the name of “Teddy’s Turds.”

    How many knots are you guys going to tie yourselves up in before you just explain yourselves?

  43. Listen plunge, there are many reasonable people here that see the point of the matter. I received a comment from Teddy saying the comment was made him/her. I have no reason not to believe it. I think if you read back you will see that most reasonable bloggers are not impressed with Waldo’s antics.

  44. This gets curiouser and curiouser. First, the anonymous Wise Girl tells us that “I know for a fact Kilo did not post that comment.” Now, in her most recent post, that turns into “I received a comment from Teddy saying the comment was made him/her. I have no reason not to believe it.”

    That’s quite a turnabout. We start with the statement of a “fact” and we’re left with a disavowal from the also anonymous Teddy. If an anonymous source presents information based upon communication from another anonymous source, can we really expect to have that information presented as “fact”?

  45. Bubby, just wanted to give you credit for dead-on describing the phenomenon that is the belligerent hillbilly and his crazier girlfriend. That ought to make it into an encyclopedia entry somewhere.

  46. It didn’t do much to help the situation at hand though. Pretty tasteless in my book.

    I’m sure Wise Girl will happily quote that as well. She seems quite content to use whatever I say that is to her advantage while completly ignoring my points that are not (good luck Harry).

  47. Honestly, I don’t think that there’s anything left but humor (tasteless or not), at this point.

    ~

    Yeah. The Cramps never had roadies.

  48. What an IP address does is limit the number of possibilities. Because of a shortage of IP addresses, most Internet Server Providers (ISP) have found ways to effectively assign quite a few computers the same IP address. Thus from outside a particular ISP, a bunch of computers may appear to have the same network address.

    Moreover, because there is a shortage of IP addresses, IP addresses are rarely static. If a computer is replaced or just turned off for a while, the same IP address may be reused by different computer.

    Try this trick. At the command prompt on your computer, type IPCONFIG. Then send yourself a comment and check the IP address associated with it. Like as not, you will not get the same IP.

  49. IP addresses are private information and to post them might open up a whole ‘nother can of worms for Waldo. To demand he share private information is to set him up and I for one say he doesn’t need to share, not publicly. I wouldn’t want him posting my IP all over the place, why should he post Kilo’s (or whoever it is)?

  50. “Listen plunge, there are many reasonable people here that see the point of the matter. I received a comment from Teddy saying the comment was made him/her. I have no reason not to believe it. I think if you read back you will see that most reasonable bloggers are not impressed with Waldo’s antics.”

    Reasonable people don’t change their stories left and right. Who is Teddy? How do you not know that it isn’t just Kilo posting under that name? Or the mysterious Billy? Or any of the apparent roundtable of anonymous people posting smears from computers associated with Kilo?

    It’s true that IP addresses are not always static. But in this case that is a complete red herring. Kilo’s computer very obviously DOES have a consistent IP, as confirmed by Kilo himself!

  51. So who are you, really? Read over the pseudonymous and anonymous comments that you’ve written, the way you’ve behaved while behind your mask.

    That’s you. Do you like who you are?

    Yep. I’m comfortable with it.

    When I am in a group of people, and like in this blog, something comes up as a topic of conversation I will share/express the same opinions and viewpoints that I would post here.

  52. If the claim is that the computer was shared, I guess it’s moot in this case… but for those who don’t know, most servers not only log your IP, but other stats about your computing environment, including your browser, operation system, display resolution, Flash version, etc. Some advanced stats packages can even analyze regular visitors’ movements through a site and match those up with others following similar patterns.

    It’s still circumstantial evidence, but in situation where the IP is shared among multiple users, it’s still possible to determine the exact computer being used. Ultimately, there’s more information being passed between visitor and server than most people realize.

  53. I’ve just returned from the two-day beCamp conference. (Where, incidentally, I had a fine time with Anoop and Chris, two of the contributors to this thread.)

    “Wise Girl,” to answer your question, the IP used by “Teddy’s Turds” is precisely the same IP that you’ve used to post every one of your comments here, which is also the same IP used by Carl Kilo in the past, which he confirmed via e-mail was his home computer. He has only ever posted comments from one other IP address, a Charlottesville Adelphia connection, oddly. For the reasons explained by Jason, I’m not about to post that IP — it would open up your/Carl’s computer to malicious behavior on the part of people who may not wish you well.

    Also, I want to respond to the comment by “I. Publius”:

    As an aside, we were also pretty sure that somebody else started posting under the name, and doing so really rudely, but who knows, maybe it was one of us. Hard to say.

    That would be truly wonderful news and, for the sake of goodness in the world, I will accept it as true. The e-mail address and IP address changed, but the comments remained the same vein for a while before they turned really nasty. My assumption, given the identical screen name and tenor (at first), was that it was the same person, of course. It was a matter of great disappointment that you (or, rather, the group of you) would have gone from being a great contributor to being so nasty. To know that it was a different person would restore a bit of faith in humanity for me.

  54. “Wise Girl,” to answer your question, the IP used by “Teddy’s Turds” is precisely the same IP that you’ve used to post every one of your comments here

    Classic! One for the annals of waldo.net. Stick a fork in it, it’s done!

  55. I wonder if a computer hacker wiz kid (or government agent) could make a comment appear as if it was from a certain IP address when it was really coming from somewhere else. Actually, I don’t really wonder at all.

  56. IP spoofing from outside of an internal network is quite difficult. (It’s pretty easy within, say, an office LAN.) The problem is that a computer claiming to have an address other than its real one cannot get any data back. The very first packet of data that got through would be the end of the conversation between the faux-browser client and the server. The only viable approach is something known as “blind spoofing,” which you can read about in this SecurityFocus article. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t work real well on this particular web server — since it’s running an operating system produced in the past decade, it uses a random number generator for the call and response between the client and the server. That makes it mighty tricky to do.

  57. Do you mean to say that (government-employed or otherwise) genius minds don’t perform mighty tricks everyday? Moot point. If it can be done, it will be done.

  58. Bubby – your finely crafted ‘belligerent hillbilly’ should have its own website. Send me your keyboard…I will have it bronzed and placed in a glass case on the downtown mall.

  59. Waldo,
    The fact is you don’t have a clue who wrote that comment. All you can say for sure is I have commented from that location in the past. You know as well as I do that the Billy Ip, that I said was mine in a email to you, and yes I still have those, is not the same as the Teddy ip.
    BTW- Am I at home now Waldo? Can you see me typing? Or am I at work, or at a friends? You don’t have a clue. While you and plunge may be anal about others using your computers, I am not. I use several at many locations. Some with the same ip and some not. If you did not like the comment then delete it.

  60. You know as well as I do that the Billy Ip, that I said was mine in a email to you, and yes I still have those, is not the same as the Teddy ip.

    Of course they are. If you’d like, I’d be quite willing to post the IP in question here, for all of the world to see, and all the bloggers in the land to compare to their own histories of your posts in the past two years. You’d be willing to give the OK for that, if what you’re saying is true. Right?

    But your assertion fascinates me on another level. How in the world would you know that they’re not the same? If your IP is dynamic, then you couldn’t possibly know that. And if it’s static, then your previous confirmation that it’s your home computer and the fact that “Wise Girl” (your girlfriend, as I understand it) is now posting from the same IP removes any doubt that the post came from your home computer.

    Perhaps it’s time you called the police about that burglar?

  61. “The fact is you don’t have a clue who wrote that comment.”

    But you do then, don’t you?

    But you can’t say that, because then it would be patently obvious that, in fact, it was your computer and someone you know, and much the ruckus and hokum about how it could be, well, just anyone in the world is out the window…

    But as long as you stay very vague about it all, speak only in defense attorney slang, plausible denialability and all that.

  62. Delete the message?! Heavens no Carl, its a window into your world. Angry, Delusional, Disguised. Taken with the accountability-moment we have your measure.

  63. So Kilo still has the Billy ip e-mail. Really, he shoud delete it and move on with his life. What paranoia.

  64. I suspect there’s no sense in waiting for Carl to explain how he knows that the IPs aren’t the same, or for him to give me the go ahead to post his IP. He’s smart to simply let this go away quietly, rather than continuing to flail. But I was right about one thing: it was embarrassing to watch.

  65. I love the irony of a blog post about a topic…that spawns it’s own demonstration. It was….um….painful.

  66. You are the one flailing Waldo. My ip is 694221946. Attack away. There are others with logfiles also, and yes some are democratic bloggers who have emailed me the files of Ip’s I have commented from. While bubby and plunge may believe you, many believe me.
    You post what you want to post. It hurts me in the least. Ip addresses do not prove authorship.
    My creditability is solid. Yours has taken some heat in the past, hasn’t it Waldo.

  67. That’s not an IP address, Carl. It’s just a string of numbers.

    It’s now pretty clear to me what happened here. You had somebody at your house, either “Wise Girl” or somebody else. One of you posted that goofy comment. (Either you didn’t type the comment or you didn’t author its comments, but in either case, you were a participant.) I playfully called you out on it. You realized how incredibly foolish it looked to be posting a nasty comment anonymously on a discussion about how your very peers’ identical behavior had cost them an election. You felt on good moral footing saying “I didn’t do it,” because your involvement had been small enough that you figured that was true to the letter, if not in spirit. Which you did. But then you were stuck. Not knowing what an IP is, you didn’t know that the evidence was sealed — the comment had come from your system. So when I wrote this blog entry, you were stuck — it was far too late to say “ha, yeah, you got me — it was me and a friend, and we were just goofing around.” Hence all the flailing, as forecast.

    You now feel it’s far too late to just ‘fess up, to admit that, while perhaps you feel you don’t deserve credit for it, you were involved in posting that one, little, irrelevant comment. And it all blew up in your face because you were too proud to admit that up front. I understand that feeling.

    Lying is like alcoholism, Carl, only we’re all alcoholics. The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Good luck.

  68. “While bubby and plunge may believe you, many believe me.”

    Lol: maybe some of them should anonymously post here in order to support you then.

  69. Two more interesting issues:

    1) I wonder what this “Teddy’s Turds” fellow thinks about all this, seeing as he’s not Kilo. Doesn’t he have any opinions about this subject, seeing as he’s his own man?

    2) Shouldn’t Kilo be irritated that Senor Turds is using an email address to post things that either Kilo or the equally mysterious “Billy” has used in the past? That’s very inappropriate behavior, Teddy!

  70. That’s a good point plunge.
    Couldn’t this all be put to rest if Teddy’s Turds, Billy, or whomever this mystery poster is, were to comment again?

  71. Cry us a river Waldo. First you said I made the comment, then you said it came from my system, now it is someone at my house. You don’t have a clue what the IP is at “my house” or at work, or at a friends. All you know is you received a comment from a ip that I have commented from in the past.
    I have not lost readership or or received any negative feedback from my readers. I am flailing so bad that I am posting everyday. I am so embarrassed I will be at Blogs United. Get real.
    As I said before and the fact remains – My creditability is solid. Yours has taken some heat in the past, hasn’t it Waldo.
    You’re not the poster boy of the blogosphere you once hoped you would be.

  72. STD: Given recent trends, it is more likely that Kilo would post a picture of his own mother and make fun of her by accident:

    * It is clear that he doesn’t know what an IP address is, yet he keeps arguing about it. (Digging a deeper hole.)
    * He and Wise Girl keep referring to unseen people who have not since left a comment here, or contacted Waldo.
    * The story keeps changing.

  73. Shouldn’t Kilo be irritated that Senor Turds is using an email address to post things that either Kilo or the equally mysterious “Billy” has used in the past? -Plunge

    Not if he is sleeping with “Teddy” and “Billy”. I spent some time in a commune, things get messy.

    I have not lost readership or or received any negative feedback from my readers. -Kilo

    Those aren’t readers Kilo, they’re rubberneckers – come by to see the spectacle. And we know how you deal “negative feedback” son. You have all the tolerance for criticism of Saddam Hussein.

  74. You know, perhaps someone has already mentined this but it is possible to resolve non-secure IP Addresses to GPS Coordinants. Figuring our that he sent this from home should be as simple as looking up his home address getting the GPS for that and comparing it to the IP. Right?

    So… Waldo being a bright guy and all, I bet he *could* demonstrate whether an IP Came from this Kilo’s house or not.

  75. You know, perhaps someone has already mentined this but it is possible to resolve non-secure IP Addresses to GPS Coordinants. Figuring our that he sent this from home should be as simple as looking up his home address getting the GPS for that and comparing it to the IP. Right?

    Oh, yes, the IP resolves to near the Tennessee border.

    But, again, Carl has admitted that the IP is his home IP, and his girlfriend posted from that same IP on this very thread, so there’s zero question that it’s his home. He simply lacks the courage to admit that it was him, and didn’t even have the good sense to take the easy out that I gave him. Like I said, lying is like alcoholism, and Carl is way, way off the wagon.

  76. I agree with much of what you’ve said here, Waldo. It is this fundamental truth that caused me, a long time ago, to decide to post only under my own name. To my mind, it’s the only honorable way to behave. I consider all those who post under pseudonyms or anonymously as, to one degree or another, dishonorable.

  77. Well, I’ve always thought that the postings of James Young reflect the ruminations of a man who thinks he has all the answers, when in fact he hasn’t heard all the questions.

    But never mind that, I have comment #101 on this thread and I require compensation! Waldo, give me my prize!

  78. 1) Because of the way internet routing works, IP addresses are geographically structured. If you and your neighbor have the same ISP, you will have similar IP addresses. You will most likely rotate through a short list of similar addresses. My experience is that ISPs tend to be lazy about reallocation. My ISP doesn’t guarantee me a static IP address, but my IP address hasn’t changed in four years.

    2) One interesting problem is the open WiFi network. In my sister’s apartment building in Manhattan, there are dozens of networks, many of them open. It wasn’t worth tweaking the base station in the living room when there was already somebody else’s network in the bedroom. Presumably, some OTHER neighbor is using the open network in the living room.

    The open wireless network defense has been used in DMCA cases, and it makes sense to download music from P2P networks and the like from public facilities, just as it made sense for spies to use pay phones in old WWII movies.

    3) Wise Girl may be correct in stating that IP addresses are not solid proof of identity, however they are evidence, and in some cases there is a preponderance of evidence.

  79. This is my first time to visit this site and, alas, likely to be the last. As a blogger, my problem is not at all tracking down trolls. I judge that for me, it’s not worth my time. The real problem is a blogosphere that is all too often clogged with ad hominem attacks that go nowhere. Even with the IP fillup, that’s all this is. What’s worse, IMHO, is that the attacks all too often resolve themselves into the same old tired sobriquets referencing Hitler and Stalin. Will someone other than George Will ever cite Rome and Carthage? It’s not like history isn’t replete with bad guys or other opportunities for misplaced comparisons. I sometimes long for some hated poster to be called out as a Genghis Kahn or a Pol Pot or anyone else other than those two mad totalitarians from the middle of the last century. I feel the same about liars’ contests: the first liar always loses. I accept them as a fact of life in any coffeehouse-type discussion, but if we’re going to have them, couldn’t we at least show a little elan and creativity? Will someone be gravely mistaken and misguided just once? In the present case, what really makes me the most curious is that the discussion has come down to the quality of Waldo’s evidence upon which he reached his conclusions. Where’s the response from any of those accused of making “nasty” comments that: “It wasn’t me and I don’t abide that kind of argument and believe it is not helpful from any quarter, including in support of my position, and ask that anyone who wishes to support my “side” refrain from such tactics.”? The real question is not who posted or from what IP, the real question is why does anyone put up with the tactic.

  80. I apologize for such a late comment, but I just stumbled across this page.

    I guess everyone’s aware that there are still some folks on dial-up.

    Even without intending to, every time someone on dial-up, um, dials up, he gets a new IP address. This address is chosen by his ISP from a pool of typically 256, though it can be a multiple of 256 and sometimes (my experimentation shows) only 128.

    So someone who makes a vile comment using dial-up is likely to have his tracks covered up by those preceding and following him who are assigned the same IP address. Without even lifting a finger.

    Of course, the ISP has the logs to show who dialed up and used what IP address when. But I’m guessing that most bloggers, Waldo included, won’t bother to contact the ISP, and most ISP’s won’t respond unless it’s a police matter (or the MPAA or RIAA, which are police forces unto themselves).

    So people on dial-up need do NOTHING to protect themselves effectively from non-police investigation into their identity. And (I’m guessing) there are still some people still just on dial-up.

    I have dial-up and DSL. I use DSL unless I want (weak) privacy.

    Waldo, your concerns are valid. Just don’t gloat too quickly over what IP addresses can give you.

  81. IP addresses assigned by DHCP can change, but usually the DHCP server keeps logs of which IP addresses have been assigned recently and to which hardware addresses. Therefore, if your computer is disconnected and reconnected within a certain time frame, DHCP will give you the same address you had previously. It’s a measure intended to keep IPs from shifting about randomly on a given network, as DHCP leases are of a set timespan and must be renewed by the host periodically.

    If Kilo’s the type to leave his tower running constantly and only occasionally reboot it, his IP address would be virtually static, despite being dynamically assigned.

  82. I would only quibbly and say that being truly illusive or anonymous online is very difficult, not impossible. It’s not really all that hard to spoof an IP address.

    However, it’s well beyond the capacity of 99.99% of everyday users if they could even start to grok how it all works. Certainly the appearance of anonymity is deceiving.

    Also, as mentioned above, if you have an open network (wifi or otherwise) things may come from behind your NAT that aren’t from you, or even your roommates. However, the odds of this type fo thing happening in the social circumstances you describe here seem very slim. Occam’s razor says sockpuppets.

  83. I like how the last three commenters seem not to have read the complete thread, but feel the need to weigh in anyway. Wait, actually… I don’t like that.

    @Bill Evans at Mariposa: Kilo has admitted the comments came from his computer.

    @shin-shoryuken: Kilo has admitted the comments came from his computer.

    @Outlandish Josh: Kilo has admitted the comments came from his computer.

    Also, I’d like to point out that IP spoofing is out of the question when the WordPress software requires cookie-based challenge-response.

Comments are closed.