A University of Michigan professor named Juan Cole identifies two blog practices he considers dangerous. The first is called “blog trolling” wherein someone makes false and inflammatory comments on a discussion board to which other posters feel they must respond. The second is called “astroturfing,” in which a grass roots campaign turns out to be sponsored by a think tank or corporation. Cole goes on the suggest that the Iraqi bloggers at Iraq the Model may represent a case of astroturfing — in other words Cole thinks they may be getting funding from “neoconservatives.”
Cole’s “evidence” is that the views of the Iraq the Model bloggers are “outside the mainstream of Iraqi public opinion” according to “public opinion polls.” Cole doesn’t identify these polls and, in any case, one cannot rationally reach the conclusion that the bloggers are subsidized from poll results. Cole’s only other support is that Iraq the Model uses an internet services provider based in Abilene, Texas. How damning.
In short, Cole’s unsupported allegation of “astroturfing” seems like a pretty good example of “blog trolling.”
See also Michael Totten’s excellent take on Professor Cole.
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