More evidence of professional “faux opinion offering” on blogs by paid “commenters” who are sponsored by commercial interests, via Making Light – go there and read the links, especially this one. Also read a Guardian article called The Fake Persuaders.
Now here is my pitch for why even the linked and referenced astroturf-observing bloggers aren’t being (legitmately) paranoid enough: Many seem to think that you can track this stuff through IP addresses. However, it is very easy for astroturfers to use a proxy server to shield or falsify an IP address, and/or to simply hire people to shill from home, using ordinary consumer-based ISPs.
One important defense to this kind of behavior is common sense and a healthy measure of skepticism. Be observant and trust your instincts. If a small cohort of commenters repeatedly and relentlessly tries to hijack or derail a particular kind of blogular conversation, there very well may be a hidden agenda that is industry-shill or corporate-shill related.