Thursday 28 November 2013

Focus on Metal Detecting: Sock-Puppet "Balenim" et al.

Evil Tekkie Sock Puppet
In recent weeks, there has been another outbreak of tekkie sock-puppets trying to disrupt and deflect discussion on this blog and Heritage Action's. Metal detectorists (like US coineys) garner succour from belonging to a group of like-thinking individuals all focussed on a single aim, hoiking and having pretty bits of the archaeological heritage for themselves in their own personal collections. When it turns out that there are not enough of them able to write coherent thoughts on the issue in response to points made by the preservationists, it seems certain individuals attempt to employ multiple assumed identities to counteract the shortfall. They forget that their computers can be tracked, no matter what measures they attempt to employ to ensure anonymity. Not only the NSA knows all about you.

In the comments to a blog, I spent some time discussing some issues with one such individual who went by the name "Balenim" who was clearly one of these folk. On checking, it turns out that the same person was writing to Heritage Journal under a number of other assumed identities. Some of the comments under some of these assumed identities  (sleepers?) used by this writer were agreeing with the posts on the blog and were intended to lull the moderators of the Heritage Action blog into a false sense of security. Others, on the other hand, were intended to deflect the public discussion on that web resource onto a side-track (a typical deliberate tekkie tactice, rather than a lack of focussed thinking).

But this person's destructive activities went even further, when you look up the ISP number revealed by the tracking software (, it turns out that the same address has been associated with sabotage on Wikipedia and has had two accounts blocked/disabled there for this (including for "insulting other editors"). This address was also the source of some foul-mouthed comments to a recent news item on a newspaper, and sending death threats to another. The same address is associated with somebody stalking somebody else across several discussion boards.  It is connected in some way with a porn site. More disturbingly, on top of this abusive behaviour, the address figures in a list of people who have been banned from the servers of a discussion group (reported reason: "administrator of who approved of child porn and known hacker"). Nice people these metal detectorists associate themselves with.

 It would seem that the opponents of Heritage Action and PACHI include those that are associated with some pretty nasty folk who quite simply have nothing to say that they could put under their own name, they have to hide themselves, pretending to be somebody else. These fantasy existences seem quite common in UK metal detecting, where very few individuals write to a discussion forum under their own name. A selection of the screen names from the home page of a metal detecting forum near you will illustrate the point:
Allectus, alloverover, oliver, Philthy Phil, Maximuswarks, Danzigman, lord lovell, kopparberg, Tomo, lordofthecoils, Glenfiddich, Fishermansam, Mega B, mrix, Daniel o' Beirnes, coal digger, The Ferret, coinhunteruk, slowsweep, coil, stevieB, Dave, slippery, FUBAR, busterhamer, paul, liamnolan, Jason, janner, ironage, Donington Mudman, Cantiaci, beaubrummell, cord, Fusion, stanslad, Geeza, TDEVON, stargazer, east coast stu, slinky, Verulamium, Machinist, yellow, FisherX, sweepstick, GREGGOWREX, alfaowner, roamingrob, NeverWntdDance
What is it that these people have to say about their hobby, what they do and what they think, that cannot openly be said under their own name? Why can they not use the names on these forums and in discussion here which they use in real, not fantasy, life, the names they use at work? Metal detecting is legal in the UK, there is no need to hide the fact that one is a metal detectorist in the UK, so why all the secrecy?

TAKE A GOOD LOOK at this behaviour, for these are precisely the sort of people the PAS wants to grab more and more millions of public quid to make into the "partners" of the British Museum, archaeological heritage professionals and to whom they want us all to entrust the exploitation of the archaeological record. Take a good look and decide what you think about that as a "policy".  


Daniel Pett said...

That IP address is a proxy.

Paul Barford said...

Thanks Dan, so this person is not only not writing under his own name, but trying to hid the computer he's writing from. All the more reason to question his intentions.

Paul Barford said...

Interesting too that neither "Dan Pett" nor "British Museum" show up as visiting the blog at the time that was sent... Now why would they be hidden from my tracking software? The "Bloomsbury Computing Consortium" shows up half an hour later, but from the Department name, I assumed that was somebody else.

Daniel Pett said...

No. We're on the BCC for infrastructure. If you read this article: You'll find out more about the proxy. So multiple people have probably learnt from each other to use this proxy and that is how they appear to your blog. Most of your users won't be on fixed IP addresses and they might appear for different users suggesting they are using the same machine - depends on their ISP.
People use them to conceal their identity, and many won't blame them after all the privacy scandals with the IT industry and government snooping. Personally I don't care....

Paul Barford said...

Thanks for the comment. I think PAS/BM reads my blog from a number of platforms, some openly, I suspect some of the time not.

As far as the metal-detecting related stuff goes, this poster is the same person, you get a feeling for style when dealing with them. It's almost certainly the same person adopting several fantasy identities. This one has a characteristic misspelling of certain words which is a dead give-away.

I hope you are keeping well.

Unknown said...

We also call each other by our forum names it's not to hide anything or being sly it's just a hobby thing, Most people in the detecting game call me slow as in slow n low even though they know me as Neil jones, You should skip the paranoia Paul and get a sense of humour while your at it.

Paul Barford said...

"A hobby thing"? I am not sure why "Neil" is more difficult for any of them to say or remember than "Slow and Low". Who else calls you "slow" to your face?

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