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Can I open a second account under a different name for testing purposes (not for community involvement?).

I want to conduct a small research on how a community behaves as a community.

Is it allowed? Will the system auto-merge it to my main account?

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What did your research ethics board say to your research proposal? – Gareth Rees Dec 20 '12 at 18:31
up vote 10 down vote accepted

There is no specific rule against merely having multiple accounts, provided you don't use extra account(s) to cheat in any way (such as voting for yourself). That said, it is possible your accounts could be merged, under certain circumstances.

However, I must say my spidey-sense goes off a little bit at the idea of using Stack Overflow for "research" on how a "community behaves". That sounds a little bit unconstructive, and not at all related to the purpose of the site.

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No. It is not related to the purpose of the site. Like I said. I want to see how the community behaves when presented with certain conditions (Good questions, bad questions, bad answers). Not something very large or harmful to the site (as crap is deleted in seconds), but just for some data :) – Madara Uchiha Dec 20 '12 at 11:55
I strongly urge you against doing this. As you note, 'crap' is deleted quickly - leaving you almost no actual data, but taking up the time of users moderating the site. – Andrew Barber Dec 20 '12 at 11:57
Aren't there enough samples of good & bad questions already? Why do you need to generate some of your own? @MadaraUchiha – Mat Dec 20 '12 at 12:00
@Mat: I'd like to observe this behavior in real time (I actually need some concrete data :P) – Madara Uchiha Dec 20 '12 at 12:19
@MadaraUchiha: just hit refresh on the main page, there's loads of stuff coming continuously. – Mat Dec 20 '12 at 12:20
Possible solution: Make a well detailed list of the metrics you need, and the reasons for needing them. Submit this information as a request to the SE team asking for their assistance in obtaining such metrics. If they wish to oblige you now have a really good source for this information. Otherwise – rlemon Dec 20 '12 at 18:55
Agreeing with rlemon: All the SO data was provided (under NDA) to a couple of people last year -- -- for mining. It's possible that, if you're convincing enough, you could also get access. @MadaraUchiha – Josh Caswell Dec 20 '12 at 19:41
@MadaraUchiha, if you really want to see bad questions and bad answers in real time, come hang out in the PHP tag or the jQuery tag between 4 AM and noon GMT -- 8 PM to 4 AM Pacific. You'll get plenty of sample data. – Charles Dec 20 '12 at 20:24

It is not forbidden to have multiple accounts. There are various reasons for doing so, for example someone using SO in work could like to have separate account for his private time researches.

But if you want to test how the community react to the bad questions, it isn't the problem with multiple accounts anymore, but the problem of asking bad questions. Doing it deliberately is considered as trolling and it hurts the community. I don't think that people would accept it and say it's OK.

And it's quite probable that some users are doing that what you have written, only they don't ask for permit. It can happen you would be suspected for some of such actions now :)

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