31 January 2008

The TasteSpotting Stalker

When she mixes her state of Florida psychotropic drugs
(mandated after her SECOND suicide attempt) with alcohol she goes onto numerous blogs and posts non-sensical ramblings such as the one above, using a Proxy Server so as to hide her IP address and to attempt to avoid further harassment lawsuits.

She claims to be a Professional Chef, a Pastry Chef, a SeriousEats advisor, and other "things".

An excerpt from a comment left by a Gastro Troll.
Reproduced from
Gastronomy Domine, December 2007

When The Grocer, Purple Goddess & I launched our new Meat Pie review blog I was allocated the task of promoting our new baby. Thinking that it was a site that would be appreciated by homesick expat Aussies I submitted a snap of the pie above and permalink, with a tie in to Australia Day on TasteSpotting.

For those unfamiliar with TasteSpotting it is a site where you can flag food blog posts you like, by inserting a piece of food porn and a permalink. The material may not be yours; the sole requirement is that you should register with them.

Now TasteSpotting can bring you a thousand hits if the viewers love your snap, but to our surprise it also delivered something more sinister.

It came in the form of a comment which set about deliberately to inflame us and other readers. It was childish, bigoted and a little twisted. It was couched as being written by a woman but to me seemed obvious it was from a man. Some derogatory responses ensued from others and I began to suspect that we had now become the focus of entertainment for a person with Multiple Personality Disorder.

We discovered that this Internet Troll had been doing the same on other blogs flagged by TasteSpotting. It was all put in perspective by a comment from ‘Elizabeth Anne’ with a link to a website that had posted an article from 2003 on a person in the Baxter Bulletin, which told of the troll's conviction for harassing several people in North Central Arkansas, USA. Elizabeth Anne also mentioned that he had appropriated the name of another Blogger, whom he had also been stalking. I suspect that the Blogger mentioned is just one of his personalities though.

I have since been researching this person and he has many pseudonyms, probably to the full range of his personalities. There are comments as Liz and Elizabeth claiming to be the wife of the stalker - that must be one of his personalities - the intro comment is an example of this. He mentions bashings and homophobia on other sites, possibly the trigger for his illness. I know that he uses search engines to see who’s talking about him, so will not mention his name or unique pseudonym’s, as this would give at least one of his personality’s great delight.

Bloggers be warned. If you post on Tastespotting, be wary. This man is targeting Food Blogs. He has visited many. It has been said that if he takes a fancy to your profile picture he will harass you by email as well. He is all over bulletin boards, chat rooms and travel forums. His Blog and Myspace page are testimony to his illness, and comically the other personalities in his head leave comments there too as readers.

If you see something fishy in your comments from a TasteSpotting reader, delete it. Don’t give him/them the time of day or satisfaction.

The Food Pornographer wound up posting the following after tiring of his harassment.

“Please read this before commenting. Due to recent events, all comments will be moderated from now on. Therefore, your comment may not appear immediately after posting. If you've left a legitimate comment I assure you I will do my best to moderate comments as quickly as possible. Any abusive or obscene comments, and comments which convey prejudicial sentiments such as those against persons of particular sexualities, races and backgrounds will be removed. Any comments which are intentionally inflammatory and specifically written against the spirit, context and culture of this site and/or its owner will be removed. In other words, trolling comments will not be tolerated. You may express your opinions courteously and disagree with something I've written, of course- I do not expect everyone to agree with my opinions 100% of the time, but I will not tolerate abuse from anyone. This also applies to any emails you may send to me. If these terms are violated I will take further action according to my discretion, which may include banning your IP and reporting you to your ISP. To the genuine readers and supporters of this site, I really appreciate your comments and support. I apologize for this rigamarole and hope you will continue to enjoy the site. Simple maths spam protection is in effect as that allows me keep spambots under control.”


grocer said...

As i have had some previous correspondence w/ tastespotting, I have forwarded the link for this to them with the following response:
"Thanks for the heads up~ that's SO bizarre! I'm so sorry to hear there's a crazy commenter going for food blogs,

I wonder if there's anything that can be done, other than a mass IP banning (but that would assume they stick to one static IP)... i guess moderated commenting is still the safest way, and just consider it like spam?

And congrats on the awesome meat pie blog!

so well done on all fronts...

Jen said...

Hey Sticky,
I too have had a couple of "run-ins" with this particular individual you are referring to. It's quite sad that someone has so much time on their hands to bother to go around and do this but as Grocer mentioned, moderating comments is probably the best way not to indulge this person.

purple goddess said...

It's cos the three of us are so damn hot, you know.


Anonymous said...

Ok, that's just weird, and creepy. The only 'troll like' comments I get on my site are from cafe and restaurant owners trying to make themselves sound good anonymously.

And being an attractive woman should not immediately make you a target for freaks and perverts...

What exactly does this person say ?

stickyfingers said...

Hi AG. I found it's creepy and comical at the same time. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this kind of thing happening on a food blog.

It's a sad case of a mentally ill person who seems to have started out originally with harassing phone calls, faxes and emails. The person was penalised with a six month imprisonment and a one year ban from being near a computer or fax machine in 2003.

On blogs, the Troll first makes ignorant and disparaging comments about a post's subject matter and in our case also about Australia.

Amongst the personalities this particular troll harbours, the main protagonist then talks about pimps and prostitution, things of a violent or perverse sexual nature, religion and has insulted gay bloggers and readers.

The other personalities then chime in under other pseudonyms and inevitably a blog link is revealed by one of them, giving the real name of the Troll. Along the way the MySpace page is revealed too. Some of the personalities argue with the main one, others just inflame the situation further.

We will continue to remove any posts the troll attempts to leave. This should discourage them and if others wise up to it too, perhaps foodblogs will be left alone.

Anonymous said...

I had this person(s) leave a comment on my blog yesterday. The comment was so odd that I researched the name a bit and was troubled by what I found. The more I read about this person and the various rants started on other blogs, I was a little frightened that my blog was somehow known to this person.

I deleted the person's comment right away and will continue to do so. Thank you so much for raising this issue!

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

This "person" also made the rounds at my blog a few months ago as well as many many others (I had found some other threads talking about it)...I found it creepy and blacklisted him. Moderation is a pain but it's the easiest way to protect yourselves. Too bad he targeted you. :(

stickyfingers said...

Hi, commiserations and a BIG thank you to those visiting this blog post, who are wondering what happened to Tastespotting. It seems that a great many fans have been upset by this event.

To that end, I have written another post and there, in the comments section, I will be listing the sites that are popping up to fill the Tastespotting void.

I have also been looking at some of my internet research on the subject of the stalker and have found that all the pages detailing the real identity of the Tastespotting Stalker have since been erased. That is, with the exception of a trail of less disturbing blog comments that he invariably left on various blogs. The Chiff0nade MySpace page also remains.

It leads me to suspect that he may have been charged with harassment offences or that legal action has again been taken against him.

Anonymous said...

I had the "boyfriend" of this person haunt my blog awhile back and was glad that I had the first comment someone makes monitored.
What a sad, sad life they must lead.

Anonymous said...

I definitely came across some comments this person made...so incredibly sad!

puppymomma said...

OMG! Totally creepy. I thank the person who sent me a comment on my blog so I could read your post.

It seems that DocChuck and "Elizabeth" have been commenting on my blog, but I didn't get the creepy comments.

But the very last comment I got from DocChuck said that the real identity of the previous comment was some troll named DocChuck and that they were sorry that DocChuck had found my blog. The weird thing was that the comment about DocChuck was coming from DocChuck.

I do moderate my comments and will be more vigilant now.

Perhaps I wasn't his "type" as I didn't get the sexual comments.

hungryandfrozen said...

Fascinating post :) particularly in light of Tastespotting's closure. Whoever this being is, they've sent creepy messages to some bloggers I know...mercifully not me. Sorry to hear so many people have had similar run-ins. Totally didn't expect this when I started food blogging!

stickyfingers said...

Tastespotting.com UPDATE 19 June 2008:

In trying to resolve this situation, TasteSpotting.com is in the process of having a new owner. She would like you to know that "we're just marinating a bit longer, but tastespotting will be back shortly...

stickyfingers said...

The 'Food Interviews' Blog has posted an interview with TasteSpotting's new owner - Sara J Gim - where she candidly discusses the selection process, hints, tips, rival sites and her plans for improving the new TasteSpotting.

Sweet Bird said...

A nice lady named Betty pointed me to this posting after I was hit by the lovely troll. At first I was offended that a person would say such horrible things, and then I realized who it was. I probably shouldn't have, but responded by posting that should the troll make any more comments they'd be deleted immediately. Which of course prompted more comments of a more personal nature.

Honestly I just don't get it. I agree that this person must have some sort of mental illness to continue this behavior for so long. At least now I know a little bit more about the situation, thanks for posting this as a heads up. It really helped.

stickyfingers said...

Thanks Sweet Bird.

That awful person has read this post too and has left their calling card - though in a more benign way.

Sadly I believe that Betty is one of his multiple personalities, albeit less malicious. He has left a comment here under that pseudonym and also has used Mabel Jones. Perhpas I should have erased them?

It seems that although his original profile and blog was removed from Blogger, he has come back again complete with fake profile and photos.

Mental illness is tragic and it is mainly up to the sufferer whether they recieve cognitive behavioural therapy to address their issues. I believe that this person must have had an extremely unfortunate childhood to have become so unwell.