A Troll* inside Huffington Post?
/From Huffington Post/ Last week a reader challenged me. He didn't like the fact that I was wondering why some unusual readers monitored my blog, such as the Rendon Group, since after all, this is a public blog. So on my blog How a Public Relations Firm Helped Start the War, he wrote:
Wow. I can't beleive (sic) all these people are spying on your weblog. It should be illegal for people to read things you post on the internet. It's a huge invasion of your privacy. Do you have lengthy articles on any of your other readers you'd care to share with us? By: yacomink on June 13, 2006 at 03:01pm
And I thought, since this "yacomink" was challenging me, maybe I should take a closer look at yacomink. Perhaps there's a story here . . .
It didn't take long until "yacomink" appeared again. In my next blog, Now I'm REALLY freaking out!, where I wrote about the Department of Homeland Security showing up on my blog, he made this comment: "Are you insane? This is a public website. If there are people you don't want reading your blog posts, don't put them on a public website." By: yacomink on June 14, 2006 at 12:10pm
And two days later I wrote a blog called Are Many Companies Criminal Enterprises? My new admirer was there again, saying among other things, "This thing reads like a 6th grader's first attempt at a research paper." By: yacomink on June 16, 2006 at 02:02pm
But it wasn't what he wrote that interested me as much as what happened with what he wrote. Within half an hour this comment was voted "Readers' favorite comments." That was rocket speed I'd never before seen at the Huffington Post. Just to makes sure, I checked my stat counter and traffic had been low during that half hour, in fact, this was one of the last replies that day.
And now I started getting suspicious. I have blogged at the Huffington Post for about three months, and written over sixty blogs. Those sixty blogs have received 1278 responses, and out of those responses only 18 have been voted "Readers' favorite comments." That means the probablitity for any response to win that vote is 18 divided by 1278, which is 1.4%. About the same chance as winning the lottery. It also appears to take a lot of votes to achieve this status, so usually replies featured as "Readers' favorite comments" don't show up until the next day.
This made me conclude that something was really wrong. Somehow yacomink had gamed the system, I thought. But how? I tried to see if I could fool the system, and I clicked many times on one reply, deleted my cockies, etc., but nothing worked. Now I was really curious. So I set out to discover who yacomink was.
First I went to his reply and found his IP address.
Then I crosschecked his IP address with my stat counter for the web page. It was easy to find him, because he kept reading the blog he disliked, over and over again. Actually it was almost a bit freaky. And I learned that he was probably located in New York.
So now I had what I needed to go on a search for yacomink. I immediately found a person calling himself yacomink on this site.
And here's the photo he posted of himself. I also found this photo on a scout site, and learned his name was really Andy Yaco-Mink, and that “Andy is working towards a BS in computer sciences. He'll be done in May of 2004 at which point, if all goes according to plan, he will be leaving Madison for the sunny beaches of Manhattan.”
I also learned that among Yaco-Mink's goals was to "like people" according to his website, and he wants to learn to weld. I hope he wont weld some sword and come after me . . .
But there were more photos Yaco-Mink had posted, and they certainly match the angry replies he made to my blogs.
I guess he won't mind me showing these, since he marked them “public” on Flickr and already posted them for the whole world to see.
And when I watch those picture I suddenly understand how yacomink could write on my blog Build the Wall! the following scary comment:
You know what was great? The Berlin wall. By: yacomink on May 25, 2006 at 12:23pm
Next picture from Yaco-Mink's web site was a bit freaky, almost like that movie, "Fatal Attraction." It was uploaded a year ago and Andy Yaco-Mink had given it the appropriate headline, “Violence.”
I also found something called yacomink's Profile Page. According to this profile, "Andy Yaco-Mink is a Brooklyn-based web developer."
Here's a picture from Fatal Attraction if you didn't see this movie.
I could almost hear the eerie screeching noise from that terrifying scene in my mind . . .
Then I found this entry:
"I've needed to solve exactly this problem on the front pages of huffingtonpost.com and democrats.org. /Cut/."
Posted by: yacomink January 23, 2006 07:43 PM
My eyes almost popped out. Did the pen name yacomink have something to do with the HUFFINGTON POST? So I clicked on his pen name, and was linked to . . . the HUFFINGTON POST's tech page. And I learned, according to the bio on that page, that "Andy Yaco-Mink is the Huffington Post's technology manager. He lives in Brooklyn."
Huffington Post's technology manager is out to get me!!!, was my first thought. And if this was the case, it would be easy for him to make it appear as if his reply had been voted "Readers' favorite comments."
I also found a much more recent picture of Andy on the Huffington Post and learned from other postings that before he worked for the Huffington Post, he worked for Air America. And he appears to have used the pen name yacomink on that site as well.
But just to be really sure I also did a background search for the entire U.S. on Yaco-Mink and Yacomink. What was weird was that only Andy Yacomink's name appeared, not even a relative showed up. The other strange part was that it listed two different ages.
After all of this, chances are that Andy Yaco-Mink, is indeed the guy using the pen name yacomink on the Huffington Post. If that is the case, this is clearly a delicate situation for the Huffington Post.
In order for the Huffington Post to maintain its credibility, the site needs to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest or rigged rankings. I don't know if the Huffington Post technology manager fiddled with the vote for his reply. After all, there is a 1.4% chance he won the ranking fair and square. But normally that would have taken at least a number of hours, on a day with lots of web traffic. But half an hour with low traffic?
Let me emphasize again that I am not accusing anyone of anything, I'm just showing you IP addresses, links, pen names, real names, photos, and giving you mathematical probabilities. There is also a possibility that there is an evil twin out there, and if so this could explain all this.
Under all circumstances the person behind the pen name yacomink can't really complain about this entry. After all, yacomink wrote: "Do you have lengthy articles on any of your other readers you'd care to share with us?" By: yacomink on June 13, 2006 at 03:01pm
I guess I just did share such a story.
By the way, should this blog suddenly disappear, for technical reasons, you can go to my private blog, here.
*Troll definition: http://www.archivemag.co.uk/gloss/T.html