Sockpuppetry is the use of two or more pseudonyms in a single online discussion or venue, and the pretence that they are separate writers. It is used create a false impression of participation in an argument. Each identity is called a sockpuppet. Sometimes each sockpuppet is given a "real" sounding name, sometimes an obvious pseudonym. The term "sockpuppet" might also be used for a single identity that has a background story that is discovered to be faked, especially if the sockpuppet claimed to be part of a minority group that the writer isn't actually part of.
Most commonly when there's more than one puppet, the sockpuppet identities appear on the same side of an argument. However, another tactic is to have them disagree with each other, or to have one sockpuppet behaving in a vile and harassing manner to the other in order to either create sympathy for the primary identity, or to discredit its real opponents as allies of the abusive sockpuppet.
Use of sockpuppets is widely despised in online discussions and frequently banned. It is regarded in some groups as an acceptable reason to out the real identity of the writer.
Users of sockpuppets in geek feminist discussions
- The troll behind Debian and LinuxChix harassment makes trivial use of sockpuppets, using new email addresses and names to avoid bans rather than having them interact with each other