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Possible sockpuppet - What's the procedure?

I am not sure if it fits in here, but today I have encountered 2 UserAccounts on SO which seem to be connected somehow. Most answers of each account are directly answered by the other. Both account names are written similarly. The way questions are asked are nearly the same and I have the impression this mockery is only done to gain some reputation.

If this is the case this is really annoying. Is there something I can do or can someone prove/disprove my suspicion ?

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marked as duplicate by George Stocker Jun 26 '12 at 13:41

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
They didn't both register on the same day. Member for 5 months vs 12 days. Does seem suspicious that 3 out of 6 questions (one just deleted) should be answered by the same user though. –  Martin Smith Jun 26 '12 at 12:41
    
    
@Mark: my fault, sry for this false accusation –  SvenG Jun 26 '12 at 12:47
    
I would in general not call them out here in public, precisely for the possibility that there is nothing wrong. Just flag one of their contributions for moderator attention and explain your flag. –  Bart Jun 26 '12 at 12:55
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That first one is very fishy; the answer by Chandru comes fully half an hour after many others (which it effectively duplicates), yet it is upvoted twice and accepted. –  Ernest Friedman-Hill Jun 26 '12 at 12:57
    
@Bart: You're right, I deleted the links to the post and the mentioning of the account name. My aim was not to publicly accuse someone but to share the information ... Thanks for your support ! –  SvenG Jun 26 '12 at 12:59
    
I have no info on this case but a reason might be timezone : if I ask a not too obvious javascript question while America is sleeping, there aren't so many SO users who can provide me a good answer. –  dystroy Jun 26 '12 at 13:13

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is called a voting ring (several users running self-supporting accounts) or sockpuppetry (users pretending to be many accounts).

Flag the answers and/or questions for moderator attention with your suspicions and the moderators will investigate it further. They have access to more information to determine if this is really the case.

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Thanks for all your advice! I flagged the answer and provided my information. And you're right: They could just be good friends and I might be a little paranoid ;-) –  SvenG Jun 26 '12 at 12:57
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The distinction between voting ring and sock puppets isn't the number of accounts. It is the number of distinct users. 50 accounts all run by the same user would still be sock puppets. –  Martin Smith Jun 26 '12 at 13:01
    
Ah, of course. I'll correct, although the definition came from another MSO post. –  Martijn Pieters Jun 26 '12 at 13:03
    
@MartinSmith 50 accounts all run by the same user would still be sock puppets That's a sock ring ;) Generally speaking (since the "definition" is probably from my post), 50 accounts all run by the same user is more of a mythical beast, we've seen some persistent trolls on Stack Exchange but 50 accounts by the same user is just too much. –  Yannis Jun 26 '12 at 13:25

There is a second theory that they are friends outside of the internets?

Its possible they talk about issues they are having and see it fit that if they do find an answer add it to the stack?

I've answered friends questions after I've spoke to them IRL.

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I don't think there is enough clear evidence of this occurring. It does seem ever so slightly fishy but not convincing.

There is only one answer that is directly after the question but I think the benefit of the doubt has to be given on this occasion.

It could be the case that they are in touch with one another (maybe online friends or have shared software discussions in the past) and they tell one another their problems, if they know of a resolution then they will provide one.

Although good spot, it's worth keeping an eye on this in case things speculate!

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If you see something fishy I still think the best thing to do is flag. Mods have more tools available (IP's accessed from etc), and stand a much better chance at proving these sort of things. –  Matt Jun 26 '12 at 12:46

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