Tobold's Blog
Monday, June 01, 2009
Facts and opinions

Most of the things you can read on my blog are opinions. When I tell you that Luminary is a great game, that PvP sucks, or that World of Warcraft is better with accessible raiding, these are all opinions with which you can agree or disagree. You can value my opinion more or you can value it less, but you don't have to worry whether what I say is true or not true. Opinions are always subjective, there is no absolute truth involved.

The big news this weekend in the MMO blogosphere was about popular blogger Ferarro of the Paladin Schmaladin blog being a complete fake. The blog runs for over 5 years, with the author posing as a cute girl, posting frequent photos. It turns out those photos have simply been lifted from another blog, Techdarling. And lots of people suddenly raised doubts about the authors claim to work for Blizzard and to have been an intern with the CIA. Then Paladin Schmaladin claimed that in fact there wasn't one Ferarro but 7 of them. But finds that isn't true either, based on IP tracking. So now most of the posts on Paladin Schmaladin have been removed, except for a series of paladin guides.

And there is the point: The opinions "Ferarro" wrote about how to play a paladin are completely valid. You might agree or disagree on how useful a certain spell or ability is, but posts like that are always useful. It was the author's attempt to make himself (herself?) more interesting by posing as a cute girl and Blizzard employee, and thus give his opinions more weight, which was a sham.

Of course a person's opinions are always based on the facts of his life. For example in last week's discussion of the microtransaction business model people's opinions were colored by whether they had excess time or excess money. But as soon as somebody starts to try to strengthen his position in a discussion with arguments about his personal background, you have to ask yourself whether you can really believe his story. People say things like "I work for Blizzard", because you can't argue with facts, you can only believe or disbelieve them. But if these "facts" are found out to be untrue, the opinions that were supposed to be supported by these facts are discredited too.

Me, I've always been reluctant to tell any facts about my life. Mostly for reasons of privacy, but also because my work and my family aren't related to games, and thus not interesting in the context of this blog. The Ferarro story just adds another reason to my argument that blogger anonymity is a good thing.
Someone on the internet wasn't who they claimed to be - hardly a surprise that :)

I can understand why did it - they created a personality and wanted to stick with it. They should've been honest but I don't think it's a huge controversy or anything.
Tobold, I'm glad I don't know who you are in real life and you don't link your myspace/facebook (whatever) profile onto your blog.

It's not because I feel that I'd be disappointed with who you are or aren't...but its nice to actually read a blog where the only thing the person cares about is the game review and discussion.

Other blogs will try to get you to be their friend and increase traffic. You, on the other hand, are devoted to what you think about the game and topic at hand, and not about getting the most amount of hits possible so you can increase ad revenue, etc.

So, even when I disagree with you on some topic, I know that the person I'm disagreeing with isn't trying to get me to buy something and is standing on principles, whether I agree or not.

So, job well done in being a private person who just so happens to blog. It's why I think you have a loyal following of readers who know your opinion, whether it matches up with their own, is one that is sincere.
Your blog is unique. The only identifying component of your blog is the hooded caster icon on your main page. For me that is enough "self identification" and is minimalistic to the point of not really even being noticed.

Your blog doesnt stand on the merits of unneeded graphics or the like. Your blog stands on the substance of your posts and your writing style.

Besides, Tobold is a masculine name as indicated by Tolkien. So it's a safe bet that we wont find out in 5 years that you're really a 20-something blonde college co-ed who likes to grow things hydroponically =P
Well, I feel that your background does give some weight to your opinions.

I care more about your analysis of MMO's, as a European and a scientist because it is a different point of view then what I normally am exposed to.
The only identifying component of your blog is the hooded caster icon on your main page.

Just wait for the huge scandal when people find out I don't really look like that, and the image is in fact photoshopped (from a Magic card and my avatar image on the MtGO boards).
i dunno, i think that'd make it more worrying tobold :P
I agree in principle, Tobold, but I don't think you quite realize the full creepiness of what has happened. This wasn't just a case of some stolen photos. It seems more like a case of wholesale personality adoption.

Over in the comments at Warlock Therapy they've been looking at the caches and hashing out what exactly happened. It seems "Ferarro" lifted several posts wholesale from TechDarling, the fact that she lives in Virginia and California, an interview, and even her motto was taken from Sarah Townsend's MySpace profile from years ago. Even some of the photos were taken from Ms. Townsend's private Facebook albums, meaning that "Ferarro" is on her friends list.

Easy to understand the target, I suppose, since Ms. Townsend is beautiful and glamorous.

But if that had been me, I would be pissed. I think there are some serious psychological problems at work here.
I'd say the "creepiness" is matter of interpretation. Ferarro could be a psychologically damaged stalker, or he could just be a lazy bastard and just stole that identity because it was readily available.
Can we just go for "lazy creepy bastard" and make everyone happy?
I am actually quite surprised that it took 5 years for people to find out she/he is not the "cute girl" one would've expected that stealing pictures from another site would've been easily tracked. (Guess the "stalkers" on her/his site didn't try hard enough!)
But yeah, pretending to be a girl while blogging will attract a LOT more traffic, as people will post comments on pretty much everything she posted.
P.S. Mr Tobold, you better not turn out to be a rogue in wizard robe!
i dont think this ferraro meant any harm , he just faking things up and get carried away with this lie.. anyhow ,this is another lesson not to believe everything you read in the net

he just being naughty and pulling this prank for too long.. i bet he's glad this thing is over now..

not defending him , just my opinion
I'll mention personal facts like my career (I work in games) and occasionally how my kids react to games, but that's just because those things relate directly to the subject matter at hand. I see little reason to mention irrelevant facts, or to adopt a blog persona. Why bother?
Your argument doesn't follow though tobold. He isn't in hot water for posting personal stuff, he is for lying about it and lifting someone else's identity.

It would be like you being outed as an employee of luminary or something, rather than like Ixobelle having to deal with disagreement.

I'm surprised people here think its harmless, stuff like that makes me wonder what else he lifted from others in those 5 years. In game anyone who claims to be the opposite gender, let alone have worked for the CIA is the warning signs of a net.crazy. Flouncing posts and lying to deny it is a big issue too.

I think that's Tobold's strength, he is truthful and always discloses fully what he doesn't limit outright. Somewhat of a journalistic ethic.
Hey, Ferraro says that 2 writers were male and one was European. I bet you wrote ferraro, didn't you?
The person spiced up his personal history in order to better sell his product. I do think that the only bad thing he/she did was using the pics, of another fething IT related blogger no less, as his/her own. How stupid is that? And for 5 years?
What is funny is how irrelevant this is. I played WoW for 2,5 years and I never heard of this blog. Even less people may know the Techgirl (or whatever) blog. Yet this is the sacandal of the webz. The paladingate of the Blogsphere.

The bottom line is that using pictures of others as yourself is a bad thing. But lying about yourself in the CV or making up things to spice up the contents and better sell your product? I guess that if you are an idividual it's called lying but if you are a corporation it's called advertising. :)
I'm Ferraro and so's my wife
I agree that it is incredibly easy to be fooled by virtual identity and yet having an identity is still important. I know almost nothing about your private life but having followed your blog for a few years I know a great deal about your views on games and gaming. That puts a context on everything you write and greatly adds value to your blog for me.

The funny thing is I was almost convinced by your "I am Gevlon" prank. I think you have more in common with Gevlon than you realise. Your politics may differ greatly but I suspect that personality wise you are not all that far apart.
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