We, along with many of you, have been monitoring the curious case surrounding one of the most prominent Paladin bloggers, Ferarro. We originally did a 15 Minutes of Fame with Ferarro on May 26th. The article was about her life as a blogger, a paladin, and a game tester for Blizzard.
After the article was written, a few things happened.
First, Jagoex posted a story on Ferarro's use of pictures from the website TechDarling. Ferarro was claiming she was the person pictured, when in fact she wasn't. Sarah Townsend, the author of TechDarling, has stated she doesn't know who Ferarro is.
Secondly, Ferraro's blog, Paladin Schmaladin, suddenly switched over to privacy mode blocking anyone from reading it who didn't have an invitation directly from Ferraro. Her Twitter account had the message "Stalkers are cool," and was then locked until it was deleted completely a day later. Her WoW character disappeared via a likely server transfer, and her contributions at RetPaladin.com were removed completely. Update: After this article was posted, Ferarro has once again made her blog, and thus her statement, private. However you can view a google cache of the page.
This began raising many eyebrows and brought on a lot of speculation. All of which ended today when she posted claiming herself as multiple persons, which after investigation is now brought into question as well.
Initially Ferarro announced she was being stalked and something got serious enough that warranted removing herself from the internet. That would be understandable since someone's life and safety is much more important than a World of Warcraft blog.
But others in various forum posts thought that she felt the heavy hand of Blizzard come down on her for potentially lying about her involvement with the company.
Still others thought that is was just a way of clamping up and removing herself after embarrassing facts were revealed that more or less permanently tarnished her credibility.
All this speculation played out on the official WoW forums (most threads have now been deleted), and via the comments section over at Jagoex's site. That speculation continued until this morning when Ferarro posted a response.
She basically says that the person we've come to know as Ferarro has been used by seven different people. Only one of these people writes as Ferarro at a time and only one uses Twitter. Each time a new person takes over Ferarro everything is handed over. With one exception: the Ferarro WoW account has been passed around "early on", although it's currently being played by "Ferarro #3." Note that the sharing of WoW accounts like this is in direct violation of the Terms of Service and you're subject to severe penalties, including an outright and immediate ban.
As for the TechDarling pictures, those were used without TechDarling's permission and do not represent the real Ferarro.
What's true and what's not?
We've investigated, and have determined based on IP address records of comments left by Ferarro on WoW.com between July of 2008 and May of 2009 that the comments all came from the same small subnet of IPs, and are all geographically very local to one another. This means that unless "Ferarro #1" through "Ferarro #7" live within a few miles of each other, they're the same person.
An IP address is a unique address that your internet provider gives to you when you use the internet. It used to change a lot back in the day, but now if you have a cable modem it'll only change once in a while. All internet service providers have a group of IPs they use to give out to their customers.
The same small ISP gave out the same couple IP numbers to Ferraro during the time that she claims to have been different people. In particular Ferarro claims that her current personality took over the blog in January of 2009. However our IP records directly contradict this statement. They directly indicate that it is the exact same Ferarro commenting here before and after this period.
It's possible that "Ferarro #7" has been the only one commenting here over the past couple years, but that's unlikely given her statements on the post made via her blog today. According to the blog post, the email address associated with Ferarro is turned over completely to the new Ferarro owner each time, and the new Ferarro even goes to great lengths to forward emails to previous Ferarros when appropriate.
Given all comments are associated with this email address, we have a clear continuity of IP and email addresses that directly refute her story.
What about the 15-minutes of Fame Article we posted?
It's a shame things have turned out about this. Lisa Poisso gave Ferarro multiple opportunities to clarify, refute, and expand upon things in the article, and Ferarro never took her up on those opportunities. In particular the photos were directly questioned, and Ferarro brushed aside questions concerning them.
We've since taken down the TechDarling photos and have placed a disclaimer at the beginning of the article.
What's happening to Paladin Schmaladin?
We'll have to wait and see.
It's unfortunate things have turned out like this. Paladin Schmaladin is an excellent resource for Paladin and WoW players in general, and it's sad to see the authors' actions tarnish this otherwise reputable source of information.