Tuesday, June 20, 2006

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


Anonymous said...

Well, don't that beat all. Your post disappeard from Huffpo while I was trying to leave a comment.

So here's my comment:

Isn't it lovely to know that the technology guy for huffpo is a snarling, rabid right-winger. Huffpo started to lose all credibility with me a few weeks ago when the most obnoxious mouth-breathers' comments kept getting ranked as reader's favorites. Now we know why.

I don't have a problem with huffpo emplying someone who is rabidly anti-american (as all right-wingers are) but when their position allows them to bully others and to change ratings... I do have a problem with that.

And now I'm sure that this post won't go through.

---- and it turns out my post didn't even get a chance to disappear because yours did!

Anonymous said...

Looks like they got to it.

Anonymous said...

I tried to leave this comment at huffpo but I get this error message "An error occurred
No such entry '23387'." even though your post is still there. Maybe a totally non Yaco-mink related technical glitch but it does add a lot of creedence to your theory.

Excellent article. I love a surprise ending and a good mystery story but I was a bit floored that your "troll" possibly turned out to be an insider.

The few times I've had to "out" a poster on one of my websites, it's turned out to be the stereotypical pimply 13 year old boy with raging hormones and a predilection for the cap lock key.

Anonymous said...

You're Learning Rost.... you have almost figured it out.

We knew you would finally start telling people about our "watchers"... the problem is that you can't check everyone, all the time.

Digging deeper won't be good, and asking "Am I a crazy paranoid?" will only bump your adrenaline once you realize that you are on to something insidiously real...

We can't wait to see what your next move is going to be... keep it coming

Anonymous said...

some things don't last on the grid.... Remember .... not every posting is good for readers to read...

Anonymous said...

Recently, a dailykos poster (bella?) made a comment that her corrective comments regarding Hillary Clinton were getting edited and re-posted at Huffington Post as her words.

Instantiable said...

This all does look rather suspicious.

Anonymous said...

It's a damn shame we can't make them put this back up...it would be very interesting to watch it play out.

insider said...

Hi Peter,
Great investigation and reporting.

I wonder where else on HuffPo the "hand of yacomink has rocked the cradle"!?

It all makes my little blog/life seem a bit, well, dull, really!

Who will win in the World Cup tonite? Sweden or England?


Anonymous said...

You should make sure Arianna knows about this... I don't care if the guy is left, right or pink, he should not be playing these games and should be fired immediately. If she lets him continue working there she loses all credibility with me (not that she would care much about that :).

Anonymous said...

My post disappear, or do not get posted either, especially not when I offer an opposing opinion from the main thread. And I do get error messages, or, that I am NOT ALLOWED to post, since I am not registered, and so on. The HufPost is changing before our eyes into something stupid. I do not think it is against us bloggers and posters. I think it is against a free voice and opinion. This is a free nation, and free speech, but NO BACKTALK and no individual opinions either. I missed your blog yesterday and today, so I came looking here.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. I'll admit I was pulled into the blogosphere only recently and had been relying on DailyKos and HuffPost quite heavily. In the last couple weeks (as mentioned above) I too have been turned off by the comments left on HP. Pretty rabid stuff, clearly from the right. Looks like it's being taken over (or diluted to the point of inconsequence). I decided I could visit if I didn't read comments, but now I'm not interested in visiting HP at all. Glad to find you're stuff is posted here as well. It's always interesting.

Anonymous said...

I just posted or I think I posted an answer to your posting about the troll/lurker/scum who is destroying huffpost over at huffpost.

It seems as though you had the ability to track down this person and I certainly hope Arianna fires his ass. And maybe anyone else who has been working to undermine Huffingtonpost.

I've been wondering just how on a liberal/progessive site the hate spewing rightwingers posts were being voted best comment by readers.

It's time for Arianna to take a more active role in checking on her site. It appears she simply turned it over to other people and has acted like congressmen/women by losing site of what is going on outside her ivory tower.

Great detective work!!

Anonymous said...

Hold your fire.
I happen to know Andy Yaco-Mink. He is not a troll, scum, right-winger, etc. at all. Stay tuned for updates and clarifications.

Karen McL said...

Yikes now that is a *freaky* *trollish* thing to discover.

I mean there is a bit of the strange off -the-cuff (or their rocker) types one can run across (as compared to the FAB Bloggers who post on alL sort of interesting stuff)...but that is CREEPY.

Does HuffPo have any replies to you about this? Or even looking into it?

Anonymous said...

Apparently you have been removed again!

What the hell is going on and more importantly do you have a way of contacting Arianna and tell her about this?

Anonymous said...

I have been posting to Huffington Post since the site first opened. Lately a lot of the comments I have made never got posted. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. I don't remember what my comments were that didn't get posted. I just figured it was due to heavy traffic of some problem. My comments are never as vile or mean or full of foul language as some are. So I never thought that content was the reason for my comments not being posted. But maybe it was the reason if a right wing kid is monitoring the post.

Anonymous said...

The neocons have planted people everywhere to undermine advancement of the progressives in our society. In the blogs, radio and even in the Democratic party. We'll need to focus on these people like lasers and root them out of the establishments that they are undermining.

Anonymous said...

Very nice investigative work, Peter. I say that with all due respect. Now that you've now lost jobs in the pharma industry and in the blogosphere, perhaps you should try investigative journalism next...

Anonymous said...

Well the good Dr. hasn't said as much on this thread but he was fired from Huffingtonpost and one has to wonder who authorized the firing since Arianna hasn't been watching over her site much lately.

Something wrong in the blogosphere and it smells real bad...must be Freepers creepin' around.

Anonymous said...

You are quite right my friends. I posted comments on a few of the fluff stories on Huffpo and said something like, "This is fluff, what I want to know is, what are you going to do about the Troll?” I added the link to this story and surprise, the posts were never posted! Someone is snuffing out posts that ask questions about this issue over there. I have not noticed this type of thing before, but as my number one favorite website, after adoring Arianna ever since she slept with Franken, I am very disappointed over this. I would not have believed it.

Anonymous said...

I often have a problem with HuffPo's blog site not accepting my post because it says I wasn't registered even though I did register and had my cookies on. It just seems if I let more than a few mins go by as I'm typing something then it won't accept the post because at certain amount of time passed before I could click on the button to post it. Probably is just a website time check issue that only allows you to be registered for so many minutes without having to sign in again just like my Internet banking does but when you here stories like this it makes you wonder.

Anonymous said...

Not too long ago, I had a comment deleted because of my criticism of Jews (no, it wasn't anti-semetic). After that I had my comments restricted to "review only," where they review it before allowing it to be seen.

I'm curious if this pasty geek "yacomink" is a jew.... probably...

Anonymous said...

I came here from LGF and have been enjoying your writing.
Too bad Arianna didn't want you around her place anymore, but her loss is my gain, I bookmarked your blog.
I love tongue-in-cheek writing, keep up the good humor and don't let DHS get you down!

Anonymous said...

Well, it's all fair game then, isn't it? My hubby was in computer security, and he and his buddies figured 5 or 6 of them could shut down the Internet pretty easily. I really don't thinkthe right are the only people with techie skills, or even any significant portion of them. Most techies I've known are fairly center or left in their viewpoints, and rabid privacy advocates.

I've had posts read from interesting places, including the CIA, but I really don't worry about it much. There are far bigger fish for them to worry about, like spreading rumors about Kos this week, and they don't really realize that all us little bloggers are a whole bunch of piranhas - yet....

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Rost,

I was able to get in a post or two to your blog at Huffingtonpost.com (the one about the Rendon Group as I posted the Rolling Stone article link and the additional links about Bamford as well). Huffingtonpost.com has been banning me for making posts about Mearsheimer and Walt (and similar) like the following one:

Why aren't we discussing this Mearsheimer/Walt segment on the pro-Israel lobby which aired on C-SPAN's 'Washington Journal' this morning?:


Dan Richardson said...

Aren't you being a bit silly? He didn't like your posts and left some snarky comments. He bumped his comments up so other people could read them. Big deal... it's a website. He probably shouldn't work at the Huffington Post anymore, but he's not out to get you.

Anonymous said...

The following includes the comments page at which I posted what was mentioned above:


Here is a tiny URL for the above one:



Anonymous said...

Huffingtonpost.com just banned me again within minutes for posting the following to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-love/the-freedom-to-blog-on-th_b_23712.html?p=2#comments as there is incredible censorship going on there:

The following was posted in the comments section of the various blog entries by Peter Rost via http://peterrost.blogspot.com

Dear Mr. Rost,

I was able to get in a post or two to your blog at Huffingtonpost.com (the one about the Rendon Group as I posted the Rolling Stone article link and the additional links about Bamford as well). Huffingtonpost.com has been banning me for making posts about Mearsheimer and Walt (and similar) like the following one:

Why aren't we discussing this Mearsheimer/Walt segment on the pro-Israel lobby which aired on C-SPAN's 'Washington Journal' this morning?:



The following includes the comments page at which I posted what was mentioned above:


Here is a tiny URL for the above one:



By: HPcensoringtruthhere on June 24, 2006 at 03:01pm

Anonymous said...

Just noticed that Huffingtonpost.com even removed the above post from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-love/the-freedom-to-blog-on-th_b_23712.html?p=2#comments after I was banned for making it just minutes ago.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

They are censoring anything on Israel because, the Zionists know the jig is up thats obvious.

Israel and the Zionists can't hide or play the blame game now that they've ruined our country, via neocon intervention.

Those losers are all the same now, just like the trolls such as returnofdrevil2, Al Rogers, Nan Ellen of the Daily "KOS" propaganda press.


Very much agree with the above.. My HPCensoringBigTime Username was just banned at Huffingtonpost.com for posting on pages 1 and 2 of the comments at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/06/24/excia-aide-reveals-new-d_n_23738.html about the Zionist war for Israel agenda and the Mearsheimer/Walt paper on the pro-Israel lobby segment which aired on C-SPAN's 'Washington Journal' program this past Friday..

Abraham Foxman (of the ADL) was hammered hard by the caller (a lady with the Brit accent calling from London) on C-SPAN's 'Washington Journal' this morning as she mentioned the USS Liberty attack/cover-up (http://www.ussliberty.org) and Paul Findley's 'There Dare to Speak Out' book and Jim Bamford's 'A Pretext for War' book as well (both the Mearsheimer/Walt and Abraham Foxman segments can be viewed online via the links at the following URL):


Here is the tiny URL for the above one:


Additional at following URLs about how MSNBC's Keith Olbermann dissed the Mearsheimer/Walt paper:

MSNBC's Olbermann Disses Mearsheimer and Walt Critique:




Anonymous said...

Hello Dr.

You gave me good advice, in the past, about where to find web site analysers. Thanks!

I agree with this poster:

"rosethejet said...
Apparently you have been removed again!

What the hell is going on and more importantly do you have a way of contacting Arianna and tell her about this?


I believe that she may not know the whole story. She needs to know, with bibliography, just what has gone down with your side on this.

Send her an objective snail-mail package, return reciept, telling her about the; Troll, the rigged voting, the right-wing shading of comments, and whatever else you think she needs to know.

Don't trust her website email. It's useless as you probably already know!

Then, when you get the return reciept, just kiss it all goodbye! Be cordial, but, just leave it in her hands. She has to make her own choice of how to percieve it.

Keep writing, you'd make a great investigative reporter!


Anonymous said...

I got banned again minutes after posting the following at Huffingtonpost.com via http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/06/25/dem-senator-now-it-tur_n_23773.html and other blog entries there (incredible censorship still going on as mentioned prior):

JINSA/PNAC Neocon Richard Perle: Why Did Bush Blink on Iran?:



Ole Ullern said...

Dear Peter Rost,

A late - but still alive - addition to your posting here:

Your story here recalls an experience of mine with Huffpo.

Since posting this comment to Arianna Huffington's column, having it rejected, appealing, and then finally posting it on Alternet, I have also (like your commentor "Cinemaven") met with curious "error" messages. It's had a clear bias to criticizm of A. Huffington.



Posted by: Ullern on May 11, 2006 2:19 PM [Report this comment]

Arianna Huffington is very good at supporting criticizm of media failing to speak Truth to Power - as in this column on Colbert's "evisceration of" Bush and what she herself calls "the lapdog press". But when she slides over into that "lapdog press" herself, she's less good at receiving criticizm.

The comment below on her cozying up to Condi at a recent party and boasting of it in a column May 10, 2006 ("Partying with Secretary Rice: Condi Names Names") was left out of the comments allowed to be published on Huffington Post, comments which at times were even more negative of her, though maybe less direct.

Even upon appeal, the comment was not included. That column is now no longer headlined on Huffington Post. It sure seems Arianna Huffington herself suffers from double standards, allowing foul-mouthed comments on her adversaries which she won't allow concerning herself.

Here's the comment, with the later appeal. Judge for yourself:

Hey, Arianna - so why wasn't my comment below, sent yesterday, published? Chicken about showing the reactions you get? Too harshly personal for you? If so, let me remind you that you were the one to put your head on the block by BEING personal in the column. Then you should accept a fairly reasonable though personal comment, like mine, on that level too. Pls do - and don't take it too personally.

The comment by "cynic" quoted as a Reader's favorite comment - published after my comment was submitted - perfectly echoes my sentiments, though better written, I'll admit. So my comment is not unrepresentative, only more caustic. Again, don't take it so personally, and print my comment too - pls.


Arianna Huffington addressing Condi Rice at a party: “So after exchanging pleasantries, I decided to ask her the one question to which I honestly and truly had no idea what the answer would be: "Who designed your dress?"”

What a nincompoop you show yourself to be there, Arianna. Proud of it too, it seems, enough to brag about your sycophancy in a total waste-space column, just because you can, owning the web-site.

Now after failing to speak truth to power whence the chance occured, I guess you're back to criticizing the established media for not addressing serious issues.

Oh, that's right: you did give Condi an ad-dress. But talking about her or your dress isn't really a serious ad dress. It's not even quite hobnobbing, it's air-head banging. That's why nobody feels it, and nobody quite cares.

You now seem to be the kind who'd ask Marie Antionette what kind of cake she thought the poor should eat. Mmm, such a good question, dear.

Even your hindsighted attempts at sarcasm were pretty lame, I'm sorry to say.

You lost a ton of respect there. Not only mine, I'm sure.