The sock puppet definition is too vague. If I think of a better way to define it, I will change it.
I believe 'sock puppet' is originally a USENET word, which refered to a poster who used a second identity to post into his own comments, generally with positive comments, but not always.
Sock puppet infers much more than simple concealment of identity. It also must inlude the use of this concealed ID in a dialogue with another ID of the same person; talking to oneself using a proxy. That's why it's called 'sock puppet'.
Maybe the definition has expanded to include persons using a pseudonym in an attempt to provide extra credibility to their real identity, but originally, it a sock puppet was one individual, using more than one ID in the same USENET thread.
The reason it is important to expand the definition is that currently it is so broad it includes anyone who may wish to pulblish something anonymously, or an individual who uses different pseudonyms in different namespaces, and this is not what a sockpuppet is.
--hugh_manateee 12:34, 19 Sep 2006 (EDT)
Real name no guarantee of integrity
Agreed, the definition used in this article is faulty. If a sock puppet is "an anonymous identity assumed on the Internet for the purpose of concealment" (and what other purpose could there be?) then this applies to a very high number of internet postings, perhaps even the majority. Lots of people use pseudonyms on the internet for privacy or out of concern for their personal safety. Mary Rosh is a sock puppet because John Lott used this fake persona to defend his own works on Usenet and elsewhere, not just because it's a pseudonym.
Then again, I know of a medical doctor who uses many of the familiar tobacco industry strategies to argue against all manner of tobacco control measures while still calling himself a "tobacco control advocate," so using one's real name on the internet is by no means a guarantee of integrity. I also note that his supporters, a small band of smokers' rights zealots many of whom post anonymously, are extremely hostile and sometimes make threats against supporters of smoke-free laws, prompting some to support such legislation anonymously.
Interestingly, the pro-tobacco corporate-funded lobby group Citizens Against Government Encroachment lists Dr. Michael Siegel as an "ally," and Dr. Siegel has returned the favor by expressing strong support for Citizens Against Government Encroachment on his blog.   This makes perfect sense when you consider that they both appear to have the same objective: to oppose public and private policies wherever possible that would make it harder for people to smoke.