The Real Paul Jones

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Fred-mania in Wired

Fred got to whack Sybils back in September via entries in his blog. Now he gets a well-deserved citation and credit in Wired “Herding the Mob: On the Web, we let strangers tell us who to trust, what to read, and where to go. Which means your good name can be worth real money. And reputation hacking can be big business.” By Annalee Newitz (see page 2 for Fred)., the social bookmarking service, also allows users to vote on the most popular articles of the day; a link to a story counts as a vote. Like Digg, the site, owned by Yahoo, is ripe for crowdhacking.

Last September, Fred Stutzman, a PhD student at the University of North Carolina, followed a link on to an identity-management startup called my:eego. Curious, Stutzman began checking out the users who had recommended the service. The first 16 all had exactly the same linking pattern — they had bookmarked two other startups, and their accounts contained no other information or links.

Hours after Stutzman blogged about the Sybil attack, deleted the accounts of the link spammers. Had the Sybil gone unnoticed, however, my:eego’s scheme might have worked. Legitimate users like Stutzman would have visited my:eego and possibly bookmarked it, creating more buzz on until the misled crowd had provided the link swarm my:eego was after.


  1. rock on. i’ve never met fred but from a distance he sure seems smart and creative. i hope, paul, some of that good ol’ jones-freakiness is rubbing off on him.

  2. Paul

    3/1/2007 at 4:47 pm

    I am now Very Conservative! Fred, in his naive youth, hides his politics hoping that we won’t come after him.

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