Tobold's Blog
Thursday, August 27, 2009
My secret evil twin identity

After several people in yesterday's mega-comment thread advised me to write in a more contentious style, because that attracts far more comments than a long and balanced post, it is time to come clean. About a year ago I had pretty much the same idea, wondering whether if I wrote about basically the same WoW, economics, and game design stuff in a more outrageous, preferably unpleasant way, I would get a lot more visitors and heated discussion. But as I didn't want to change the style of this blog, and the "Tobold" brand and identity, I simply created a second artifical blogger identity. Opened up a second blog on blogspot, and started posting in a deliberate anti-style to Tobold. The result was a success beyond my wildest dreams. You guessed it: My other identity is Gevlon, the Greedy Goblin.

I always thought that somebody would sooner or later guess that behind Tobold and Gevlon in reality there is the same writer. Two bloggers, both which exist only as their avatar icons, with no real name or photograph behind it, no information about their private lives, both on Blogger (too much hassle to master a different system), and writing diametrically opposed views on exactly the same themes, that should have raised suspicions. Guess I underestimated the power of brands, where when people see the exact same item sold under two different brands, they believe the two are actually different. I even got away with frequently cross-linking and cross-quoting the two blogs.

While I couldn't really hide my naturally verbose writing style, and tended to produce walls of text as both Tobold and Gevlon, I simply used a book about Ayn Rand and objectivism as philosophical background for the Gevlon persona, to create the deliberately objectionable and controversial "evil sociopath" persona. Based on the knowledge that the hardcore are a known vocal minority, and the majority of players are social, casual players, I deliberately baited this otherwise silent majority by making fun of them as "socials", or my famous M&S, morons & slackers.

And it worked so well! My Greedy Goblin blog after one year has as many readers as my Tobold blog after over 5! And I got away with the most outrageous stunts, without anyone noticing! Nobody ever asked why somebody who is so obstensibly anti-social than proceeds to take somebody he would call a moron and slacker under his wings to teach him how to make 5k gold per week. Nobody ever questioned what somebody who pretended to not feel any social bonds was doing in a raiding guild (although that might say more about raiding guilds in WoW than about my ability to fake a personality). Pretending to have bought my way into that guild was a stroke of genius, and people believed it even after I posted screenshots demonstrating that I was doing a good job as healer in raids.

But now it's time to end the charade, post a final big announcement as Gevlon on my Greedy Goblin blog, and go back to be simply one virtual blogging character, Tobold. Getting lots of visitors, and lots of feedback, isn't everything, and isn't actually all that pleasant when most of that feedback is predictably negative. Running two blogs in the end was too much work, even if I posted a lot less as Greedy Goblin. My apologies for the ruse, but I thought it was a rather interesting experiment on the nature of blogging and reader reactions. Just shows you can't believe everything you read on the internet.

[EDIT: You might want to read the next post before commenting.]
If this is true, that's an astounding coup, Tobold, considering how much hatred Gevlon stirred up in the blogosphere.

Doesn't this mean you fooled us all with having told us you quit WoW?

I read both blogs, so this is very unexpected, yet fascinating.
8/10, good one. Cannot be proved or disproved without compromising both pseudonyms. It would have been better if it was simultaneously posted on both blogs.
No Way!

You don't even write similarly. Great job if this is true.
Woah... if this IS true (and I have a few doubts because the writing style and grammar have some rather distinct differences). Still.. if it IS true, this is going to shake the blogosphere up on about the same level as the "Paladin Schmaladin / Ferraro" debacle a while back.

Seriously? It was all you? Even the Scott Jennings as crying kid article? I mean that was just NASTY.. Wow.. pretty shocked here.
i always thought gevlon was a bit over the top, and i tended to overread the ranting, since there WERE useful tips, like the glyph industry...
What Hirvox said.

I still prefer the Tobold identity, Gevlon's extreme roleplaying of a greedy goblin character was quite annoying and not as interesting as your blog.

Or are you just making all this up and you are not Gevlon?

If this is true (there's still nothing about it over at Greedy Goblin at the time of me posting this) then you have really succeeded to fool a lot of people. I hardly ever checked that site because I really didn't agree with much of what "he" said.

I must say that it's pretty funny if it's true. Well done. :)
Looking forward on reading the final post on Greedy Goblib. Too bad, just as I started liking Gevlon... but then again, Gevlon has gotten softer lately...

C out
So... when you said you were sick of "Super Mario Raiding", and WoW in general, that was all a big con? Are you actually returning to WoW then?

Wouldn't such a declaration start to eat at the credibility of the "Tobold" blog?

Brilliant, dude. You fooled me! I found this blog via your Gevlon one lol.
Wow. I have to admit, you had me fooled. I've had to do the same thing quite a bit, play a different "persona" to actually play my own game and not get hunted down by the M59 players for being me. ;) Guess I'm out of practice spotting the fakes. Seems obvious now that you've given the clues: the rampant cross-posting should have been a big sign. This might also be one way you built up your reader count so fast: it's easier to attract a known group to a similar location. That's why popular game developers and publishers wield so much power: because they can get the audience already interested in what they offer in something new.

Good show, at least. Ironically enough, I've never felt the need to comment on "Gevlon's blog" because I assumed it'd get swamped by all the other angry comments; I only did one post related to the blog on my own blog. So, while you might have gotten more readers and comments: were they of the quality you wanted?

I also think there's a balance between posting contentious thoughts like Gevlon and encouraging discussion with topics that aren't well-trod. I'd love to see some thoughts on the topics I posted in the previous comment thread from the Tobold point of view. :)
Please let this be true.

Absolutely Outstanding Tobold.
YOU can't be Gevlon! I AM Gevlon!
You have fooled us all, either with the split identity of Tobold/Gevlon or with today's post.
I am utterly amazed. I had to check the calendar twice to make sure it wasn't 4/1. I went back to the GG blog and confirmed that his writing style was not the same as yours. Wow.
Well, I only read three WoW blogs: tobolds, greedy goblins & pink pigtails inn. So it's no coincidence!

At least the Greedy Goblin blog got me in to Obectivism. Still got Ayn Rands books on my shelve to read one day... The blog poses some interesting ideas and while I agree with a lot if it, it's often too extreme, too black and white. But I'm sure most people don't agree with all his statements.

And yes, so you did keep on playing WoW?
I'm reserving judgment until Gevlon posts his side. Or your side of his side... or something.

I'm confused.
You always manage to suprise us, great job and I can't stop smiling about this coup :-)
to be honest I prefer to read the Greedy Goblin site - so my advice is close Tobold down and continue as Gevlon :-) hehe
Ha ha ha

Awesome job, fooled me! I'll miss Gevlon, quite liked the viewpoint.
Heh - I'll be eager to see if this is true, Tobold. If so - you arfe obviously a fantastic writer being able to do both styles!
So you started out by asking Larisa in the PPI advice on how to get noticed?

Or is your last sentence not to believe everything I read so not to believe your post.

Or maybe you're Paladin Schmaladin, and that's why you chose paladin over warlock for your alt!
Well played, and a fun experiment. Guess you proved to yourself which gets more flies.

he said it himself in his post: "dont believe everything you read on the internet"
I think (sure, I can be wrong) most of you (including Gevlon) didn't fully understand this post. It's not the truth. Nor is it a prank. It's just Tobold's subtle and verbose way of showing us, what "contentious" writing style actually looks like, and why he's not in the business of producing flame bait, even if such always generates more feedback.
What? WHAT? WHAT...

That's the only thing running through my head, haha. I didn't even suspect -- guess because the attitude and writing style and grammar were all so different. Holy crap!

I still love you Tobold, even if I do disagree with stuff you say here and on the goblin blog.

PS Are you sure you're not pulling our legs?
Wait, what?

So you never actually quit WoW in the first place? How did you manage to find time to play all those other MMOs while still raiding in a top end guild?

This is just an experiment to see if we would believe anything we read on the internet right? I don't believe it until you actually post this on Gevlon's blog.
Hehehe - marvellous. Of course, the truth is that Gwvlon is really a closet Marxist, hoping to discredit free-market thinking by taking it to absurd extremes.

Keep up the good work, both of you!
Lol chap, a most awesome wheeze.

Excellent illustration.

Keep them guessing mate, keep them guessing ;)
mmhh interesting, but not sure it's true either. I *DID wonder about the connection between the 2 blogs, it almost felt like you 2 knew each other, the themes & references were so frequent. Now to think you 2 would be the same, ofc not... that's a little bit "outside of the box thinking" ;)

Also, Gevlon's writing style is inconsistent: some paragraphs are well-written, gramatically perfect, very consistent with Tobold's style. Then he goes out and makes stupid, big english grammar mistakes in some posts/paragraphs. Made me wonder if it was 1 person or 2...

Gevlon theorizes about economics in general quite a bit too, reference his healthcare post...

Last thing, your point about Gevlon being "social" after all does ring a bell. One thing is sure, despite all he writes, Gevlon does care about human beings - just not all of them ;)

Whatever the outcome, very interesting topic to follow !!

You're not Gevlon.

I am.
Nice try, Tobold. Made me chuckle ;)
I must say I'm surprised, although after going back and reading both, I can see it.

I read the greedy goblin on occasion, but I snobbishly thought Tobold is a much better writer. Stupid me!!

I was a great believer in your writing ability, now I think you are fantastic!

I log on to Tobolds every day, for at least 3 years now.... and will continue to as long as you still publish.

Seriously, I do not believe you! I am waiting for Gevlon to confirm this.

Fascinating =)
I call hoax! Or not, i dont know:) I wouldnt call Gevlon anti-social perse. More a natural-born cynic with a sarcastic, scathing sense of humor. Personality traits i can relate to btw, probably more than i would really like, but thats what getting older () in this day and age does to a person. Maybe.

The whole setup reminded me a little of something i read about HPL recently, him and Smith (and others) both working in sneaky ways to establish and highten the credibility of each others work.

If not a hoax, Id say keep your writing style fluctuating between both extremes. No sense in constricting yourself and it would make for an even more entertaining blog. Imho.
Posted by Gevlon on his blog today:

"PS4: Tobold is being very funny today. My comment on the topic is this, and no more, all comments on my blog about Tobold's joke/experiment will be deleted."

Plot thickens!
Long time reader of both blogs, first time poster. Thats clearly a hoax!
If not, go on with both even if that means only half the amount of posts on each blog. Goblins ftw.
Yeah, most likely it is this post that is the experiment. But I guess we will see. :)
If that's true (no post at gevlons site yet). WOW.

However, there always was a lot of contradiction in Gevlons posts. I often assumed that he actually tries hard not to see it. But I always was and am even more surprised that the Gevlon community didn't see it.

What's especially fun is that in yesterdays post I commented:

If you want to have a quality blog about gaming you'll have less readers than Gevlon, just like 'FAZ' has less readers than 'Bild'.

Interesting comments. To add oil to fire - maybe Gevlon just came up with those 100,000$.

Did the monthly "ad hominem Gevlon" alarm buzz again Tobold? The funniest part of all this is that, firstly Gevlon doesn't care what you think about him, secondly, you make yourself look like a dumb troll with these kinds of posts (whether it's an entire post, or one of your regular "puns" between the lines), and lastly, not any of these posts/remarks have anything constructive to say, they're actually... contentious! Oh noes! Hypocrisy!
Please stick to quality posts Tobold, that's what you're good at.
"Just shows you can't believe everything you read on the internet."
I've made my choice. I call bullshit you are not Gevlon! :)
Nice try!

And yes, this kind of post will attract lots of comments as well. :-)
If it's true, i hope you'll still make critical goblinish posts.
I really liked Gevlon's style and choosing of post themes.
Ha ha, this is great. Slow summer times are definitely getting bloggers to "interface" in internetastic ways. heh.
Wow. Really??

Well done.

I, for one, didn't follow Gevlon's blog because I figured it would be the same "hardcore-er than thou" nonsense taken to the extreme. Turns out I was more right than I realize!

I really hope you write more about what got you into this project to begin with.
This would have been so much funnier if you had chosen to say that you are really syncaine ( :)
I don't believe this is true. If it turns out to be true, then good for you, 'congratz' etc. etc.

I prefer the Gevlon blog however.
Awesome post, Tobold, you made my day :D
Dearest Tobold:

To my own annoyance I really wonder whether it's true, or what is true. It annoys me, because that's exactly what Tobold wants ;)

From my point of view there are two possibilities:

- Tobold is right, but he wants to extent the experiment (or changed his mind after writing this post). Thus, at Gevlons site there's just a short remark - nothing else. The link in this remark, however, is extremly ambiguous.

- Tobold and Gevlon are in this together. Playing a funny game with their readers.

- Gevlon spontaneously joined Tobold and extends this sharade with his ambiguous remark taht appeared just a few minutes after Tobold posted this post.

- The obvious, last possibility is that Tobold is lying and Gevlon is not and I am really annoyed about my opinion, but I just don't feel so :)

This is one more example of the narrative fallacy. Humans are extremely good at creating explanations for (alleged) facts after (alleged) facts have been revealed.
Suddenly you see a million reasons why Tobold must be Gevlon. Just as the guy in the news tells you (and is himself convinced) that the stock market had to crash this year, because ...

Point is: Don't fool yourself. If something wasn't obvious before you knew about it, it wasn't obvious. Pull stop :)
Tobold = Gevlon = Syncaine = Ed Zitron

Now that would be something!
I'm Gevlon and so is my wife.
all i can say is if this is true thats one less blog i read (never liked this one anyway but follow greedy goblin)
I haven't read Gevlon's posts more than once or twice, but as I recall the style is completely different. I'm pretty sure Tobold is yanking our chains here (though to what ends, I really don't know...)
I seriously could care less if you are actually Gevlon as well. Both blogs contain useful information. Both are entertaining to read. Both always enjoy 10 minutes or so of my time each day.
Because of the writing style (as Tobold) being near-perfect English from a native speaker or one who has heavily prioritized their English skills, versus Gevlon's non-native tongue with obvious flaws in his/her understanding of the language, yet almost always has near-perfect spelling (at least someone uses spell check besides me!).

I would file this under my belief of the Cataclysm leak - false until proven right, yet it is truly hard to "prove" things on the Internet, especially as anonymous as a blog or avatar can be.
I love it. Great work Tobold. I never believe the greedy goblin was real, but i did not suspect you. I love both your blogs btw.
heh in a general note I've been reading the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and just this morning on the train read this piece where he wrote "In the conduct of my newspaper, I carefully excluded all libelling and personal abuse, which is of late years become so disgraceful to our country." He went on to say that his writers begged him to print all sorts of nasty things to drum up subscriptions and get people talking, also just to spread their ideas. But he refused.

He also had a philosophy group where they would meet and discuss a different question each week, but one rule was no one was allowed to praise anyone or use ad hominem.

It's funny because if you watch the US Congress now, or pundits, or news, it's all ad hominem, all personal all angry all the time. Few if any use reason and logic to appeal to people's sense, instead browbeat and insult. This is especially true lately with the debate over how to reform health care, with everyone calling each other Nazis.

Your first paragraph just reminded me of this.
I am Gevlon Number 4
This feels like an Andy Kaufman joke :)
Not having read Gevlon, I can't comment on the believability of it. However, it shakes the trust of readers in the Tobold "brand". Is it real? Does he really think that? People will now even second-guess the ruse itself -- the "fake" is a fake! Let the conspiracy theories begin!

Anyway, the Tobold blog is still good reading, partly because of your mature writing style but also too because of the intelligence of your contributors.
My hat's off to you sir
Sounds like Gevlon was thinking of giving up and you did this as a poke at him. hehehehe
I play Forsaken Mage for a reason....Trust No One!
Absolutery brilliant, Dr. Jeckyll! You won the mmo-sphere ;-).

I often hated Gevlon's views on games and the world itself with the same intensity than liked yours. Very, very funny!
Your almost five months off. April Fool's Day was quite some time ago. Still a good one...

Ironically, I don't visit the Greedy Goblin site unless you link him...

BTW - I have to wonder if this controversial post and yesterday's pity post aren't just experiments of their own to see how many comments you get. More than four it appears...
I am so looking forward to the day I will find out that I was Tobold.
When I read the title I really thought you were going to claim to be Syncaine :-) Amusing post. You've been in my reader for a while, but I've liked your posts a lot since you came back.
This is not true. Gevlon is Hungarian and has a character with a Hungarian name. His English is also much worse than Tobold's. This is an absolute hoax.
Well there goes the basis of my whole belief system...

Skarlarth and Co.
Hahahahaha. Oh man, I am so disappointed this is not actually true. :)
True or not true, what does it matter?

I enjoy both blogs and will continue to read. I don't care if the author is a Hungarian Engineer or a supremely talented monkey, I'm reading the posts for the posts themselves. Not the author.
absolutely hilarious
Apart from when I've seen him quoted in other blogs, I've never even heard of the Greedy Goblin. I try to read all the blogs linked on the "Recent MMO Blog entries" panel on Virgin Worlds' front page, but usually I don't quite get to all of those each day.

I don't recall ever being directed to a GG link from there. If they are both Tobold, set up by him, why's that? All Tobolds's posts get linked.
I call BS. I think your posting the outrageous stuff to see what kind of replies you get, but I won't believe this until I see it on his blog too.
The walls of my existence just came crashing down around me!!
Personally I enjoy Gevlon's Blog. It has occaissional education value... but always entertainment value. It's been much fun watching his theories and "fact" opinions change over the year depending on what he was participating in. I especially enjoyed his implying this last blog that his tradeskills were picked due to the enhancement of his stats vice their money making ability which is a 180 from just months ago.

Where once M&S was anyone unable to cap their gold...
now it's those who are unable to raid Ulduar 25 man for any reason.

Good times.
"Just shows you can't believe everything you read on the internet."
No one see the irony of believing him? I followed the link to here from Gevlon's blog and I'm glad I did. Very funny, especially seeing all the people who believe you slightly.
I unfortunately can not be one of those people=P

I only happened across the greedy goblin blog through JM2C forum, no idea about this blog. I didn't know about this one, so meh. Im assuming this is a fake post, but thanks for the help in the Glyph market. Either way, ill check both blogs, i love having more to read!
Well played old boy!
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