As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Trolling For Fun And Profit

You knew somehow it would come to this. John McCain's campaign is offering their supporters redeemable points to troll websites and write pro-McCain comments. It's the professionalization of astroturfing. Because it's a conservative effort, they give them the exact words and invite them to cut and paste them onto the sites.

Activists and political operatives have used volunteers or paid staff to seed radio call-in shows or letters-to-the-editor pages for years, typically without disclosing the caller or letter writer's connection to a candidate or cause. Like the fake grass for which the practice is named, such AstroTurf messages look as though they come from the grass roots but are ersatz.

McCain's campaign has taken the same idea and given it an Internet-era twist. It also has taken the concept one step further.

People who sign up for McCain's program receive reward points each time they place a favorable comment on one of the listed Web sites (subject to verification by McCain's webmasters). The points can be traded for prizes, such as books autographed by McCain, preferred seating at campaign events, even a ride with the candidate on his bus, known as the Straight Talk Express, according to campaign spokesman Brian Rogers.

Just because I'm hoping they have some of those spare tire gauges, let me give this a shot.

"John McCain has a comprehensive economic plan which rewards personal responsibility and entrepreneurship! Juice!"

OK, where's my prize?

This is just an evolution of the Bush Administration paying Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher to carry water for their policies. It's wingnut welfare at the micro-level. And it's kind of sad that you can't find a conservative who is legitimately excited enough about John McCain to promote him online for free. I think the accurate response to any McCain supporter at this point is "how many buttons did you just win for that comment?"

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