I thought the hoo-ha about this had died down, but came across it on a forum the other day.
For those who don't know (lucky you) it's the creation of false identities, on line, to argue with on forums, or twitter, or put lovely comments on your blog so you can look really popular. Some months ago a writer admitted on radio to using countless sock puppets to develop an internet storm about his books - and there was general agreement that this was cheating.
It still goes on, apparently. (You yawning already?). Which leaves me wondering - why? Am I missing something? Should I, too, have an alter ego who drops by the blog on a regular basis and tells me how clever and witty I am?
Whether I should or not, I'm not going to. I have enough trouble keeping the person I am in order without creating a separate persona. It feels too much like hard work. For instance, when commenting on your own blog, do you write something witty and wonderful and risk someone clicking on the link - and then finding it's you all the time? Or write something tedious and make it look as if you have a following of plonkers? And if you review your own book do you eulogise about its wonderfulness, or remind people of the wonky bit on page 74 that you were secretly hoping nobody would notice? No - it's all far too complicated for me.
But - is it cheating? Really? When it's so easy, and I understand it's common? We beaver away at our own little blogs, and love it when there's a gathering of comments. Everyone must love us. Or does it simply perpetuate an illusion that online popularity matters - when it is really the love of friends and family that keep the world turning, not the number of comments on a blog.
Or am I simply naive?