"Many forums are tightly-knit communities of people who 'know' each other pretty well. Any [newbie] that starts posting random stuff about products and stuff is just going to draw an immense amount of ... bad attention. That account and/or IP would be banned if I acted too quickly. For the tightly-knit forums, I'll be charming people toward my client's product after a week of innocent posts. Other super-huge sites ... can be coerced within an hour.
"I never only have one account. I always have several accounts. Why? Because people follow the popular crowd ... everyone does, just like a herd of cows being moved to the slaughter. If several people are talking about a certain 'something special' and how awesome it is, it seems more popular than it really might be.
"About 25 percent of my day is spent switching between different ISPs, proxies and other forms of IP spoofing. Would a post from a sergeant in the military who has commented about how crappy Iraq feels compared to home be posting from New York, Michigan or Canada? Course not, his IP traces back to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, but not Iraq because I haven't found a way to do that yet."
When asked if he enjoys his job, Jack seems to be conflicted. His apparent glee at being able to influence so many people is obvious, but it is also clear that the job can be draining. "I like the creativeness that I have freedom over," he says. "The thrill of the reactions of people online in response to my efforts and the false power that I feel while doing my job over the online masses. Unfortunately, I'm not an evil person, so the unethical and immoral strategies that I employ [weigh] heavily on my soul. It's hard to keep doing this [for] 50-plus hours a week (at one point, my contracts had me working 85 hours a week) without being spiteful of yourself.
"Honestly, it's a form of advertising that is completely legal, but ethically, I'm convincing the 'online sheep' to go where I tell them to, whether I personally think the product is good or bad. I'm a fun person [who] likes to socialize, go out on the town and hang out with friends, but when I'm working, I'm methodical, unrelenting, charming, convincing and completely uncaring of my targets and of the people around me. The problem with this 'night and day' mentality is that during the 'twilight' hours, I'm sad and remorseful of what I've done."
"Will I ever be caught?" He asks. "Sure I will, right? Good always wins over evil, right? LOL, [newbies]. Now go back to the forums and chat rooms and complain and rant about this expose. I'll be there in a minute."
Russ Pitts is an Associate Editor for The Escapist and the host of Escape Radio, The Escapist's podcast. He has been writing on the web since it was invented and has played every console ever made.