Wednesday, August 26, 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.]

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