Let’s start by re-stating three key facts as established in Part One.
- In June of 1995, Gary Weiss told the world that his personal email address was firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Gary would go on to use that account to identify himself when posting on Usenet newsgroups for the next 10 years.
- Primary among those newsgroups were soc.culture.jewish (scj) and its moderated (scjm) subgroup.
During garywbw’s decade long tenure on that newsgroup, several regular and semi-regular posters emerged, including:
- Yitz email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Daveumansky email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ted email@example.com
- Teddydichtler firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tdicktler email@example.com
- Annieschwartz firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brenda email@example.com
These eight accounts often posted in close temporal proximity to one another, usually in support of each other’s increasingly venomous flame-wars with an uncommonly obnoxious contingent of anti-Semitic trolls.
Then, exactly two years ago on December 20, 2004, Gary found himself in a fix, which you can read unfold in its entirety here, or summarized below.
Basically, fellow scjm newsgroup user cindys confronted garywbw as follows:
cindys: Hey, Gary! I’m really curious to know why you didn’t share with us that you and Dave Umansky are the same person?
garywbw: If this is a joke…you’ll have to tell me the punch line.
cindys: It’s not a joke. A poster on another group, someone who never posted to that particular group before yesterday, told me that I seemed like a “pretty bright person” and gave me weblink to a certain yahoo group and suggested that I might like to read that particular yahoo group for a while. When I clicked over there, I found that “Daveumansky” was a sometime poster to that group and guess what his email address was? firstname.lastname@example.org How do you explain that?
Garywbw: Well, I can’t explain it and I have no idea how that can be, since I don’t have a yahoo address and have never heard of a “daveumansky” or even heard of the existence of same until you mentioned it. So I think someone is pulling your leg. I don’t see the humor, frankly.
Despite his protestations and ten year posting history, within a few days of this exchange garywbw would disappear from Usenet forever.
In December of 2004, cindys referred to an undisclosed Yahoo group whose membership included a user named daveumansky with email email@example.com.
A year earlier, the Yahoo Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) group counted among its active members a user named garywbw, whose email address was firstname.lastname@example.org.
By June of 2005, garywbw was replaced by username stopthewarrrrr, though the email address remained email@example.com.
By exploiting Yahoo’s dissembler sorting algorithm bug, we learn that indeed, firstname.lastname@example.org = email@example.com = firstname.lastname@example.org.
On another Yahoo group, this one dedicated to Gary Weiss’s high school alma mater Bronx High School of Science, we observe garywbw using the email address email@example.com, and this time, conveniently, Gary signs off using his real name and high school graduation year: 1971.
Usenet posts carry with them header data that’s hidden by default, but which includes important information identifying the origin of a post.
Look at this post by Yitz with its header data included (limited to the most relevant data below):
From: "Yitz" Date: 18 Nov 2005 17:51:21 -0800 NNTP-Posting-Host: 126.96.36.199
Compare that with this post by Ted (truncated below):
From: "Ted" Date: 27 Nov 2005 09:25:49 -0800 NNTP-Posting-Host: 188.8.131.52
Note that between the two posts, one element is identical: Posting-Host. This means both of these posts, while nine days apart, were made from the same computer.
In fact, identical Posting-Host data are also shared by daveumansky, teddydichtler, tdicktler, Ted, annieschwartz and Brenda, suggesting they’re all the same person.
The IP address used in the above example (184.108.40.206) is owned by Verizon and assigned to dsl customers in the pool designated as NY325. Most subscribers in that pool see their IP address (and thus Posting-Host) address change randomly, on roughly a monthly basis.
Some time in the first half of December, 2005, the Posting-Host of garywbw, daveumansky, teddydichtler, tdicktler, Ted, annieschwartz and Brenda all changed to 220.127.116.11 in unison: consistent with a single user scenario posited here.
The point of this exercise is conclusively demonstrate that Gary Weiss = garywbw = daveumansky = pascalamb = Yitz = Ted Dichtler
And here’s why that’s really important…
In April of 2005, a blog called Mediacrity appeared, calling itself a “media insider’s occasional rant on goofs, bias and hypocrisy in the media.”
Mediacrity’s inaugural post is dated April 24, 2005. The first reference to Mediacrity on Usenet occurs the next day, thanks to Ted Dichtler, who read that first post and comments “this guy nailed it on the head.”
Within two hours of Mediacrity’s second post, Dichtler is back on Usenet spreading the word.
This time two interesting things happen.
First, a real person, Susan Cohen, asks Ted to clarify the identity of Alison Weir, the post’s subject. Soon thereafter, Mediacrity appends the post with:
A reader informs me that the Jew-baiting pinhead who met with Okrent is not to be confused with a distinguished historian also named Alison Weir.
Second, a couple of days later a new poster arrives on the thread started by Dichtler. His name is Rick Ruby, and his email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org (the original email used by the writer of Mediacrity, recently replaced by a gmail account).
To be certain, let’s compare the header data of Ted Dichtler and Rick Ruby’s respective posts.
Ted Dichtler (full version here):
From: "Ted" Date: 26 Apr 2005 12:10:24 -0700 NNTP-Posting-Host: 18.104.22.168
Rick Ruby (full version here)
From: "Rick Ruby" Date: 29 Apr 2005 07:03:57 -0700 NNTP-Posting-Host: 22.214.171.124
The IP data (corresponding to AOL at that point) are identical, confirming Ted Dichtler and Rick Ruby posted from the same location, and are most likely the same person.
At this point, it seems we can confidently add two elements to the growing list of identities that begins with Gary Weiss:
Gary Weiss = garywbw = daveumansky = pascalamb = Yitz = Ted Dichtler = Rick Ruby = Mediacrity blogger.
If each of those relationships is accurate, this chain of equalities may also be correctly expressed as Gary Weiss = Mediacrity blogger.
Knowing Gary is the blogger behind Mediacrity opens up a whole universe of conflicts and complications to examine, as we shall do in Part Three of this series, set for publication on Saturday, December 23, 2006.
Bonus material: a little running up of the score
“Ted Dichtler” as the name of one of the five fake amazon.com book reviewers we demonstrated were created and abused by Gary Weiss to artificially boost his own books’ ratings while artificially depressing the ratings of those authors who’ve tangled with him in the past.
“Catallergest” (see the email address of Brenda above) is the nickname used by Marty Ross, another of Weiss’s false Amazon.com book reviewer sockpuppets whose reviews have since been deleted.
“Chuck T” is among the remaining five amazon.com reviewers we claim Gary Weiss created and used abusively, but whose reviews have yet to be deleted. According to Technorati.com, Mediacrity belongs to chucktatum, presumably named for the character of the same name starring in the 50s flick “Ace in the Hole” and seen in this image, which is also used on the Mediacrity About Me page.
A reader tells me that originally, Technorati.com listed “Ted Dichtler” as the owner of Mediacrity. We’ve yet to find independent verification of this claim, but are inclined to believe it.
Except for a brief note on Nov. 1, 2006, Mediacrity went dark from Sept.10 – Nov.21: a period encompassing the unprecedented break in Gary Weiss’s blogging and Wikipedia editing seen while Gary was in India.