Fraud And Schadenfreude: The You’re Not Helping Archives And Post-Mortems

Quiche Moraine has a humorous poem up telling the tragedy of the You’re Not Helping blog and then a nice piece on Sock Puppets and a link to the archive where you can now relive the entire saga, up to the last post in which the big confession was made, which is not there in the archive but instead can be found (with incisive commentary) at George’s blog.  (and as you read, remember Patricia, Brandon and Polly O! are all the same person as the one blogger, who is also posing as several people, including an older woman).  Milton C. also seems remarkably suspicious but was not confessed to.

Included in the blog’s saga were two posts debating me, which are now here and here.  They were written in response to my posts, The Gulf Disaster: Prayer And Priorities and What Exactly Are We Supposed To Be Doing? Will ungraciously did not bother to link to my original post in his second comment.  He instead instructed readers to find it on the trackback of his previous post, which is asking a lot from readers, seeing as they are on the whole averse to unnecessary link clicking, as any attentive blogger should see.  When I tried to remedy the lack of link to my post in a reply post which only selectively quoted my original remarks, I got this snide response from Will, who you will remember was just days later exposed as a fraud:


Reread the beginning of our post. You are linked in the trackback to our last post, which we urged readers to browse both of. Sorry if we didn’t give you the attention you think you deserved. Apparently every action we make has a nefarious subplot tied to it… (“curiously”)

So be sure to give Will the attention he deserves by utilizing the convenient mirror archive of all the posts from his now deleted You’re Not Helping blog to watch him talk to himself and commit shameless acts of hypocrisy day after day after day.  We owe the mirror archive to the blogger Oedipus Maximus whom Will lied about offensively.  Maximus set about investigating Will, exposed his fraudulence and in the process went from obscure blogger to the stuff of internet legend in a matter of days.  And managed to set up this handy archive to preserve all but Will’s confession for posterity and for evidence of the scam.

But back to Quiche Moraine which, in addition to a poem, has a nice post which collects together truly stupefying and astounding hypocrisy.  If there were an Olympics for hypocrisy, You’re Not Helping would be its Michael Phelps. Here is a taste of the record QM has assembled:

Those who engage in sock puppetry, however, are making a raid on reputation. They’re stealing it, either by exploiting the bandwagon fallacy to accrue unearned regard for their position or by disowning the negative effects that attacking someone else has on reputation, basically shoplifting a smackdown every now and again. YNH did both.

They wanted to have both this (mirrored since the original blog was locked):

No. You all seem to have discovered the convenience of just making things up to attack those you disagree with when you can’t do anything to attack what they’re actually saying. It would be pleasant to see some sanity from all of you and to see the wild finger ponting stop, especially since none of it to date has been true.

And this:

The continued attacks and accusations makes one wonder if it’s not all bitterness from OM about YNH getting him right.

Trolly trolly troll troll troll….

Both this:

OM was banned because he/she/it was posting as multiple sock puppets, using different names and emails but the same IP, to espouse opposing opinions in an attempt to sabotage threads. He was warned, he kept at it, and he was banned. It’s a dead issue.

And this:

As for sock puppetry: yes, I am responsible for several of the commenters (sock puppets) on this blog, namely “Patricia,” “Polly-O!,” and “Brandon”

Both this:

Remember: you do not have the right to not be offended. But if you are, you could always try sticking to reality-grounded, sensical criticism and dialogue, too.

And this:

Ophelia tries desperately hard to turn the use of the word “flustered” or “shrill” or the like into the equivalent of being a long-time victim of physical spousal abuse, overblowing it and taking it out of proportion and context as little more than a useless little cop-out from actually responding to others. It’s a fucking disgrace to women and a disgrace to those who are actually victims of sexism, not the preceived, feigned sexism victimization of a fragile little prat who lacks the guts and emotional intelligence to respond to criticism after she’s dished out a shit-load of it – often complete with the same marginally-sexist language – herself.

In other words, the blogger(s) called YNH were trying to accrue reputation for being on the side of honesty, openness and accountability, while the puppets claimed by YNH were accruing the benefits of dishonesty and baseless speculation in trashing the reputations of others. They were accounting with two sets of books. They’re cheaters.

Those quotes reveal that his misogynistic hatred for Ophelia Benson was even sicker than his main blog remarks let on and even worse (if that’s possible) than his claiming to be a woman so he, dubiously, could claim the right to make them.

Go read the whole post.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Greg Laden

    It is very strange to read that old stuff from YNH where “William” (and no, I don’t believe for a second that that is “his” name) refers to himself in the plural. It is hard to not imagine him with the socks on his hands while he types, conversing.

  • Daniel Fincke

    hahahahahaha, that cracked me up to picture

  • Daniel Fincke

    Besides the quite obvious reasons to doubt his name is really William, his throwaway line “my friends call me Will” is straight out of Cliche-Dependent-Fiction-Writer 101. Sort of like Brandon and Polly O!’s “Great minds!”

  • Oedipus

    A clarification: I archived the YNH site and made the zip available, but Josh ( put it online.

    Though I wasn’t explicit about it, being the target of YNH’s lies was the seed for this, posted a week before his confession:

  • Oedipus

    I think you’re giving me too much credit. Hitch was the one who calmly got YNH rattled, using some form of Internet Tai Chi to redirect YNH’s aggression back on itself, producing the final revelation.

    While that happened I wasn’t really paying much attention. Commenters like Stewart and others directed me to it.

    So “internet legend”? I hope not. The most ironic thing is that my “curious case” post was really about why I hate the blogosphere, almost pleading with YNH to take a small step with me in making it better. In the end he fulfilled my plea in a different way, by leaving.

  • Hitch

    He was accusatory and deceptive to the end. At each stage he pretty much revealed what he had to.

    I certainly experienced his bandwagon tactics. It’s funny how 3-4 supposed independent people all use the same line of argument to troll-bait, you stay factual and then the supposed moderator comes out and agrees with the bandwagon and warns you that you are trolling.

    Basically the story is quite simple. He used the sock puppets to create an impression of validity of his views and to discredit critics. If the criticism persisted they were used to try to paint the critic as troll.

    Really not much else going on there.

  • Daniel Fincke

    It appears You’re Not Helping is now not only blocked off but outright deleted.

  • Jimmy_D

    It really wouldn’t surprise me if the original blog author was none other than Andrew Rosenberg, the kid that recently had his dox dropped on the PZ site for being a whiny baby because PZ smacked him around.

    If I do recall correctly Daniel, you linked to YNH in what I can only imagine was support of his claims against the PZ commenters. A most bitter irony, I think.

    • Daniel Fincke

      Re: Jimmy_D

      While I do not think there are any real reasons to think Andrew Rosenberg was YNH, I have indeed thought that now the YNH’s claims about what they saw show up as search engine terms are all in doubt since they come from a shamelessly fraudulent source. They may still have turned up in the search engines and you are still quite wrong to defend such behavior simply because it can be done and is done. If Pharyngula commentators were looking to personally invade the privacy of 18 year old Andrew Rosenberg for having the “gall” to take a nasty tone with PZ Myers, then they are not anyone I want to associate with or have as representatives of atheist behavior. And the evidence of their hysterically mean-spirited overreaction to him from the Pharyngula site itself still is upsetting. If it tuns out that the Pharyngula commentators are all You’re Not Helping‘s sock puppets too and this is all one grand conspiracy he has been perpetrating since the inception of that blog, then he wins the lifetime internet performance art achievement award. But, less comically, maybe the handful of Pharyngula commentators who behaved badly were a small set of relatively newer commentators who were the sock puppets of You’re Not Helping. Is there any proof of that?

      Because if the case YNH made against those commentators is based on true comments from true commentators, the case still stands, however rotten and hypocritical YNH may have been, when its arguments stand on the facts and the logic, they are true. Dismissing them because they come from a bad and hypocritical person is fallacious, it’s to resort to ad hominem. Sometimes, bad people are right. Sometimes an unbelievably cruel and shameless and hypocritical bully and troll can accurately criticize other cruel, shameless, hypocritical bullies and trolls. It may be highly ironic when this happens, but I taste no bitterness. I’m not embarrassed. I looked at the evidence and agreed with YNH’s assessment on its merits and imagine that if I reexamined the evidence it’s possible I still would. But it is also possible that without the alleged evidence from YNH’s google search results which is now completely tainted, the case against the Pharyngulites does not look nearly as strong. At minimum, missing that worst piece of evidence (which, again, I don’t think you should have blithely excused or said was deserved, since it makes you a bully excuser and undermines your right to criticize YNH as despicable for its bullying) necessarily softens the case against the Pharyngulites. And, of course, to that extent I regret that I trusted what proved to be an unreliable source for information.

      I do not think it was any negligence on my part in being fooled about the general credibility of the site. To that point I had no reasons not to trust YNH was what it said it was, no reasons to guess that it was as unbelievably dishonest as it was. I was not a comments reader after the first week wherein I posted there a lot about their first truly petty attack, one on Greg Laden. After that I mostly just read its articles, found it smart, occasionally insightful and clever, often nitpicking, often petty, and often convoluted in their attempts to explain some arcane way in which an atheist had stated a good idea ever so slightly wrongly and should be excoriated for it. But I also thought it had raised an important distinction between the value of being uncompromisingly and unaccommodatingly critical of religion without taking any recourse to childish name-calling or tribalistic “Othering” of atheist dissenters and religious people and, certainly, without descending to unacceptably violent language. It was unafraid to piss people off and it had a strong voice as a result. I thought it was often wrong but what was right about its apparent intentions and its explicit general argument about tone and about its occasional glimmers of solid insight, I thought made it worth generally hearing out. In short, I thought it was flawed and petty, but I liked it because when it was “on” it was helpful and worth having around.

      The only glimpse I had into its true, rotten character was its treatment of Ophelia. And my one real regret is not taking a harder line against such misogyny myself, allowing myself to buy the “one of us is a woman so it’s okay” bit as reason to give the treatment the benefit of the doubt. I still thought it was wrong and that the woman on board had a baffling lapse of judgment. And I had no idea about the sock puppets making things even worse and I had no idea there was no real woman there and that it was just a young man taking male privilege to a whole new order of shameless blindness—thinking he had the right to claim he was a woman so he could treat them misogynistically, I mean, I still cannot wrap my mind around that chutzpa. At the time I just interpreted the coarseness with her as part of the site’s no-sacred-cows attitude that promised to give it a truly independent voice. Now I see it was the naked exposure of the gigantic, hideous ego which really pulled all the strings and really motivated the attacks on the atheist blogosphere.

      So, I should have taken the character clue to be important and to have been a serious clue that it was flouting its own standards not only unintentionally (as I could recognize) but in fact fully, shamelessly, and deliberately. I have to work a little harder against my innate tendency to assume the best intentions of people.

  • Stewart

    Thanks for the h/t, but I think the most credit goes to those who actually did a round in the YNH sock pit, which I never did. All I ever did there was monitor stuff, because the sock-puppetry jumped out at me the first time I looked at it, which was not till Ophelia did her “Twilight Zone” post. I was a little surprised at how quickly it all went after that, but if we had not speculated as wildly as we did, the guy might not have realised he had to pull the plug to avoid the damage getting out of control.

    That said, though, YNH mainly did itself in. He could have socked away on a less inflammatory level for much longer without being caught. When I look at the exchanges, it’s clear that he really enjoyed disorienting real people by ganging up on them. If he felt someone was dangerous, he could have pulled the plug on them right away, using the same IP excuse he usually ended up using anyway. But no, it was obviously really important to him to jump up and down on their egos a bit first and make them feel they must be losing it. I can imagine the level of glee that must have immediately preceded the big slip-up. Someone ought to do a little anthology of references to sock-puppetry made by the socks themselves. It’d be sobering reading.

  • Stephanie Z

    Thanks, Daniel.

    Jimmy_D, YNH, who lives in Alabama, was most decidedly not Andrew Rosenberg, who lives in Wisconsin.

  • Daniel Fincke

    Oh, and in addition to Stephanie’s reason for saying Andrew Rosenberg is not YNH, one must remember that PZ chose to highlight Andrew out of countless people who write into him. YNH could hardly have controlled that or been lucky enough to guess that precisely by sending two e-mails, one with a change in tone, one could get PZ’s on-blog attention. His puppet-master skills only extended to his own socks, not the entire internet.

  • Ophelia Benson

    “I still thought it was wrong and that the woman on board had a baffling lapse of judgment.”

    I, on the other hand, strongly suspected that woman was not a woman at all – I strongly suspected that most if not all of that particular exchange was bogus.

    But, two YNH commenters commented at my place during and about that exchange; one gave an AOL email address, so I figure she was genuine; the other…I dunno. YNH never (openly, as YNH) commented at my place, so I figure it was cautious about leaving its IP where people could see it. So I had reason to think one and maybe two commenters were non-socks.

  • George W.

    I can tell you that Andrew Rosenberg has an IP close to his hometown (he commented over at my blog), I doubt there is any connection with YNH.
    I still can’t get over the gall of the last post by “William”. It was a giant mess of conspiracies and allegations with no sign of penitence to be had. It made me angry to listen to someone toss blame so shamelessly around with no mention of his own culpability.
    I think that “William” did more to marginalize himself with those comments than anything he did up to that point, and certainly more than Greg or Oedipus or Ophelia ever did.

  • Jimmy_D

    “And, of course, to that extent I regret that I trusted what proved to be an unreliable source for information. ”

    That is all I was looking for.

    I still stand by my statement that Andrew will (or has) got what he deserved – good or bad – often a bit of both. Just like ‘William’ is getting exactly what he deserves as well – only a whole lot worse.

  • Daniel Fincke

    Big believer in karma, there, Jimmy_D?

  • Jimmy_D

    Your question, whether you know it or not, is actually really funny to me for personal reasons. I argue with a fella at work about karma all the time. He believes it, I don’t and he’s always making fun of me about it.

    I believe in consequences not karma.

  • Daniel Fincke

    You believe in more than consequences, you seem to think they’re always just, whatever they are. That sounds like an implicit faith in karma to me. :)

  • Jimmy_D

    Oh no, you misunderstand. Consequences aren’t always just. Heck no. I’d never think such a thing. That would imply that I thought life was fair, which I totally do not find any evidence to believe that such a thing was true.

    I don’t think consequences work in some mystical way. I mean, if you stick your hand in the thousand pound press and then press the button and you loose your hand, that’s a consequence, it’s immediate and it’s results will be long term. In the case of Andrew he tossed a paper airplane but then when it didn’t fly, he threw a rock instead and then got bombarded with a thousand rocks in return. In the end, he learned a lesson from THAT particular consequence but he also got his questions answered by people who aren’t in the habit of throwing rocks in the first place.

    Not all consequences are external either. If you do something wrong and you know it’s wrong but you’re the only one that knows your doing it then it either will weigh on you or it wont. Depends on you you justify it personally.

  • Daniel Fincke

    I was teasing you, Jimmy.

  • Jimmy_D


    I get teased all the time about one thing or another. It’s all good!

  • Andrew Rosenberg

    I have absolutely no connection to “your not helping.” But I have learned plenty from this whole ordeal :)

  • Daniel Fincke

    HA! I think we all have, Andrew. I think we all have.