Monday, March 30, 2009

The identity of the Angry Potato

Not quite two years ago I described a phenomenon that I called "anonymous blogging syndrome." Here's how I described this phenomenon:
Anonymous Blogger Syndrome is the bizarre power trip brought on by the ability to strike a perceived enemy anonymously and without suffering any adverse consequences to one's own reputation. The syndrome frequently afflicts political bloggers and people who read and comment on political blogs.

The free exchange of political views online generates heat and, not infrequently, anger. Sometimes someone feels they cannot win a face to face exchange with another writer or believe they would suffer negative consequences were they to enter into political discourse under their own name. For these people, the ability to hurt someone anonymously without suffering themselves is an amazingly seductive proposition. By and large these people are moral cowards of the first order.

But, like the serpent in the garden, the seductive apple offered by blogging anonymously is illusory. This is because nearly any blogger worth his or her salt can track IP addresses or knows someone who can. In the case of really abusive behavior, internet service providers have been known to cooperate in investigations.

A savvy blogger who discovers the identity of a particularly pernicious anonymous poster may not "out" the miscreant right away: they may choose to delay the embarrassing revelation until a time and place of their choosing. Food for thought.
In recent weeks another abusive anonymous blogger has surfaced in Virginia's blogosphere. Calling himself "The Angry Potato," this person started mildly enough, and there were some in the blogosphere who found his posts amusing enough to link to him, but his tone soon changed as the syndrome kicked in. His language changed and became a deranged string of obscenities. He made increasingly violent personal attacks on other bloggers--using their names while concealing his own identity in a fashion I find to be cowardly.

Unfortunately for this coward, the syndrome has a side effect that nearly always results in the anonymous blogger being found out and his identity revealed: it makes you sloppy. The rush that comes with the power trip of striking your enemies anonymously apparently also impairs the judgment of the anonymous blogger, and he makes mistakes. The Angry Potato made such a mistake when he identified his alma mater in a post about the NCAA. The excellent and very observant Karen Duncan caught the Angry Potato's slip and immediately identified him. Sort of.

Karen is reluctant to "out" this person because he could suffer adverse consequences if his identity became known (or so she thinks). But I followed the hints that Karen left and also discovered this person's identity. I hesitate to out him myself. I have outed other abusive bloggers and I don't enjoy it: it is a nasty business.

Therefore, I am calling on the person blogging as The Angry Potato to do the right thing and out himself, or I will be compelled to do it for him. I think he owes some people apologies (not me, he's never mentioned me), but it's up to him whether he makes those apologies. He's also free to continue his online attacks on other people if he chooses, but after today he'll no longer be doing it anonymously.


AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Thanks for the link and the plug. But I got a denial from the person, who doesn't want it made public.

So, I went to theory two. I've held both and go back and forth.

But in everything else, you are completely right. Anonymous Blogger Syndrome is cowardly.

Anybody willing to ridicule and hurt others behind the protection of anonymity deserves neither to be taken seriously or protected if he can be outed.

But it's important to really, really have your facts before accusing somebody.

BTW, I'm the blogger who can't find an IP address. But I am logical and observant (thanks for noticing) and the Villanouva reference and a couple of other things originally led me in that direction.

But the little angry spud once said he was unemployed and my original suspect is very employed and worried about this affecting his job. That crosses him off my list.

So now, let's look for a recently unemployed Republican who is pushing Shawn Kenny as the new RPV chair. Because that's the latest post on his site, and it's too much Republican insider baseball for a Democrat to care about.

spotter said...

In the meantime, here's some good reading.

nick said...

In One of His postings He had a different alma mater
"I bet right now James Madison is rolling in his grave thinking that Jefferson got to build his own university (Go UVA, my alma mater) and Madison just got his name plastered on the result of the third place winning entry of the crack addicts’"

So either He's planting fake clues to screw with you or He went to Villanova and UVA