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Friday, February 02, 2007

Manic's Tips for Becoming a Successful Political Blogger #2: Defending Yourself

Good morning, class. If you recall, yesterday we covered spamming your way to the top.

Today, Manic is going to teach you how to spam yourself out of trouble.

As usual, we are going to begin with some project material:

First of all, you need to know that there are some blogs that are set up in a way that allows the author to discuss politics, but bans others from doing the same in comments. Then, there are other blogs that actually allow you to challenge the author on any given point; the latter set-up can present the author with potential difficulty if he is in the habit of talking complete bollocks and/or unwilling to face difficult questions, but - while these two types of blogs have fundamental differences - many of the same defence techniques can be used in both types to dodge, undermine, minimise and/or bury such questions.

For this reason, you will first need to review the following document, which covers defence techniques as used in the former type of weblog:

Bloggerheads: The De-Briefing (Guido and his political astro-turfers)

When you are done with that, you will need to watch a 'pro' in action as does his best to avoid tricky questions in the latter type of weblog. You can find out more about the issue(s) the author may wish to avoid by reading the following...

Bloggerheads: FOX News Lite on its first major mission

... then watch the author in action via the posts below. Please pay particular attention to the comments, and how they unfold:

Iain Dale's Diary: The Questions the Smith Institute Should Answer

Iain Dale's Diary: Charity Commission Opens Formal Inquiry Into Smith Institute

Iain Dale's Diary: Sticks and Stones...


OK, now that we've all had a good look at the project material, we can begin:

Manic's Tips for Becoming a Successful Political Blogger #2: Defending Yourself

1. You Are The Best Friend You Will Ever Have

As you can see in the image below, the 'anyone'/'free for all' comments setting in the system allows even the author to leave comments under different names and identities, even when he is logged into the system. You can be anyone you choose to be, at any time you please:


So the technical challenge is minimal; all you require is the ability to tick the right box and/or enter a fake name.

The moral/ethical issues raised may seem to present you with more difficulty, but they are easily addressed with the following self-justification technique...

Simply ask yourself the question:

"What would a member of the public say if they were here right now?"

Once you have the answer to that question and you are reasonably certain of it, it should become obvious to you that this theoretical member of the public is now surplus to requirements, and nothing is stopping you from speaking for them in their absence.

You are now ready to give yourself a well-earned pat on the back, but try not to be too sycophantic. Below is an example of a self-congratulator overdoing it:

"That was an excellent video report, Iain. Well researched and very professional as usual. And my, you do look handsome in that overcoat. Intelligence and looks? The Conservatives have a real catch here!"

2. Prompting Actual Comments with Fake Comments

If you have already taken the step above and are lucky enough to have a weblog that already enjoys a high level of response from actual members of the public, then you may also wish to extend matters with this technique...

Simply ask yourself the question:

"What is not being said right now that I cannot say for myself?"


"How can I guide or prompt my faithful charges to say what I cannot say for myself?"

From here, we advance to the most common forms of weaponry you may wish to use when you are suddenly and unexpectedly faced with a difficult question or interjection from an actual member of the public

3. Stalling For Time

If you are faced with a particularly difficult question and you cannot or dare not give an honest/direct answer, you will need time to formulate an alternative response.

Happily, as you are now fully prepared to speak on your behalf posing as several members of the public, you can use this time to undertake a little immediate damage control and also lay the groundwork for your (eventual) 'answer':

4. Questioning the Interrogator

This works particularly well if the difficult question has to do with the motivation behind any given act. All you need do is (posing as another member of the public) ask what motivated the questioner to ask that question. Often, this works as a fine introduction to...

5. Undermining the Interrogator

Here you can really cut loose; because you are not commenting as the author, and you are leaving comments under a variety of pseudonyms, you can use any or all of the following without looking like a complete bastard... and without contradicting yourself!

- The interrogator is mentally unstable*
- The interrogator is physically unattractive
- The interrogator is merely seeking attention
- The interrogator is only trying to promote his own website
- The interrogator seeks to divert us from the real issue, which is [insert issue here]
- The interrogator is a [insert party here] activist
- The interrogator is part of a conspiracy
- The interrogator is a conspiracy theorist

Along the way, invent damaging claims about the interrogator and state them as fact repeatedly until they stick (but do not make the mistake of challenging the interrogator to prove their claims under the same pseudonym).

[*Hint: The longer you keep this up, the more likely it is that the interrogator will press you for an answer. Once he has done this two or three times, you are then free to claim that he is a stalker.]

If you have the luxury of a stable of genuine contributors (or if you are able to borrow from the stable of an associated weblog) then they will soon join in and follow your attack pattern; your role will be blissfully minimal from that point on. You are now (almost) ready to present your alternative to a direct/honest answer.

6. Creating Your Own Loopholes

While you may be pretending to be other people on your own weblog for your own benefit, this does not mean that every comment you leave has to be from 'your side'.

If you are clever, you can appear to take the side of the interrogator and add an easily-refutable challenge or claim. If you can make a claim so outlandish that it enables you to shout "Conspiracy loon!", then so much the better.

Also, if you are facing a particularly difficult question and you are not sure if your alternative to a direct/honest answer will fly, you can garner sympathy by threatening yourself.

This works especially well if you also leave a comment from a 'former supporter' of your interrogator who is disappointed in 'their' behaviour.

Now you are ready to present your alternative to a direct/honest answer.

7. Enhancing Your 'Answer'

Answering the question directly is a hazardous affair, so remember to tie your answer closely to the material you have already prepared (i.e. primarily 'rise' to the easier challenge that you have set for yourself while appearing to answer the original question).

If you get a chance, explain your 'absence' by claiming that you have better things to do than answer silly/pointless questions.

[A quick example: if the question is asked who funds your activities, lay the groundwork that allows you to apparently ridicule the interrogator by pointing out the 'obvious'... that using is free. From here you can further undermine their question by asking if the interrogator thinks you are funded by the Illuminati, the CIA, or Mossad. If your gambit is successful, the question about money will be fully defused, so long as no-one identifies your reliance on what is essentially a false dichotomy... or sees fit to mention that does not typically feed, clothe and house their users.]

8. When The 'Answer' Doesn't Fly

Actually, there will probably be very little need for any action beyond this because, by now, you will have created a comments thread that is so long and so peppered with material designed to undermine the interrogator that the majority of readers will not see the difficult question, or they will assume that the interloper is so despised by 'the general public' that his question can safely be ignored.

However, if you are unlucky enough to attract the attention of genuine members of the public who are also seeking a direct and honest answer to the question (and especially if you are unlucky enough to have them repeat the question or pose and even more difficult question) then it is time to bring out the big guns...

9. Playing The Victim

Remember, if you paint the difficult question as a senseless, partisan or just plain old mean-spirited attack, then most people will take your word for it.... especially if you as the author have never visibly taken part in the nastier aspects of the thread (because you are leaving comments as other people, you can simply let these comments stand and maintain a 'dignified silence').

But what really helps is if you fully commit to the idea of anonymously taking the side of your interrogator... this allows you the pleasure of being as mean as you like yourself, and every comment you leave makes you look more and more like A Nice Guy Copping An Undeserved Beating.

Feel free to go to town on yourself... but try not to use any genuine ammunition. The blows need only look convincing.

If you are presented with further difficulty, wheel out a dead relative**.

[**Note - For advanced users only.]

10. The Master Stroke

By now it should be clear that you have effectively spammed and/or trolled your way out of trouble on your own website.

But it gets better...

At the same time, the interrogator will have been forced to press you for an answer on a number of occasions and/or address a number of fake/genuine attacks.

All you need do now is expand on the earlier 'the interrogator is only trying to promote his own website' groundwork and proclaim them to be a comment spammer!

To the untrained eye, your banning them will appear to be completely justified.

You are now free to immediately delete any future difficult questions from this interrogator.

If you face a new interrogator, simply repeat steps #1 through #9... you'll find that it gets easier over time.

Manic has spoken. End communication.

UPDATE (5 Feb) - Iain Dale migrated to the 'new' version of Blogger over the weekend. As a result, many of the comments by people who could be identified (including yours truly) are now displayed as anonymous comments. When this is fixed, Manic will redistribute the project material.

Manic has spoken again. End communication again.



Ed said...

I can't be bothered to read the post, but I want to know:

As time is money, whose time are you wasting writing this vacuous shite?

2:10 PM, February 02, 2007  
Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:26 PM, February 02, 2007  
Guido 2.0 said...

Ed said: I can't be bothered to read the post,

Manic thinks this is a shame, as Ed would have learned a lot from Part 4 alone.

Anonymous @ 11:26: A new rule - anyone who says "Will you even publish this?" won't get published. Anyone who says "I bet you'll delete this." will be deleted.

There was another comment under Anonymous @ 11:26 that was deleted entirely. The author of that comment also failed to read Part 4 of the lesson, but they were deleted because they 'cleverly' linked to a shock site as part of their comment.

Learn about 'shock sites' here.

See a screen capture of the fully deleted comment here.

10:47 AM, February 03, 2007  
i am impressed said...

the only word which springs to mind when reading this blog entry is - awesome.

with best wishes.

4:32 PM, February 03, 2007  
Bob Piper said...


Excellent. A superb 'outing' of the tactics used by these people to 'stimulate' comments and abuse.

9:19 AM, February 05, 2007  
Guido 2.0 said...

Thank you, Bob... but Manic did forget to add the common 'do not read xxxxx, it is boring' tactic.


11:45 AM, February 05, 2007  
Antipholus Papps said...

Aye, keep up the good work Tim. I'm presuming the emails in your previous post were from our good friend Iain?

I still peruse both his and Guido's sites from time to time, mainly due to the fact that I like filling up my 'working' day with anti-Blair rhetoric. My real job takes place in the evening.

1:45 PM, February 09, 2007  
Guido 2.0 said...

Yes, they were.

Manic wasn't going to say anything until Iain Dale made this snarky remark at another weblog.

Anti-Blair rhetoric is now mostly surplus to requirements. He's finished. What we need to do now is keep an eye out for the next set of bastards.


1:54 PM, February 09, 2007  

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