What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 133 Stack Exchange communities.

Myself and my friends are using same network and some times same computer due to scarcity of computer resources. My account get suspended due to irregular voting pattern.I am regretting on that and serving sentence of suspension. Some of my friends who tries to support me also suspended, How ever we learned from all these experiences and formed below guidelines and ask our friends who are going to create new account in SE to strictly follow these rules.
1. Refrain voting on each others posts.
2. Refrain answering each others questions.

Even though our best care, our profiles are getting merged and my friends are loosing their accounts, questions, reputations and logins.

We have done the following things after our accounts get merged.
1. We wrote a mail to team@stackoverflow.com through one's personnel mail Ids which was used to create account into SE. But we didn't get any reply from team till now.

My specific questions are below regarding such situations.

  1. Why that is happening? Why should my friends who are not involving any kind of unacceptable things related site suffer because of the only reason that they are using same computer or same network which I am using?
  2. From my end what I can do to avoid that?
  3. What I suggest to my friends who are accessing site from same machine?
  4. Once accounts get merged/deleted, Is there any chance to divergent those back?
  5. If there is a chance, what I have to do in order to divergent the accounts?
  6. If there is no chance for divergent, what the best I can do and suggest my friends?
share|improve this question
    
team@stackoverflow.com –  Rob W Dec 31 '12 at 9:34
2  
Just don't vote on each other posts and you should be fine.. –  Shadow Wizard Dec 31 '12 at 9:35
5  
I'd go further and say don't answer each other's questions either. –  ChrisF Dec 31 '12 at 9:45

3 Answers 3

We are following the below rules which we learned from the experience.

  1. Refrain voting on each others posts.

  2. Refrain answering each others questions.

Looks like that isn't the case here. You seem to have plenty of "user was removed" entries in your rep page, an indication of cross-voting being removed after a merge. Also, your SO account was suspended. Which means that the moderators, with the tools they have, confirmed that there was cross voting.

If you don't want to be hit with this again, do the following:

  • Make sure you don't use SO at closely spaced intervals
  • Make sure all of you register your accounts (if, on a profile, it says "Unregistered" next to the username, click "my logins" to add a login). Mods merge unregistered accounts more freely, since these are temporary anyway.
  • Stop cross voting
share|improve this answer
    
It is not true all the cases. We learned some of the bad experiences and we are following the lessons from the learning. Even after we are refraining what ever you specified above our accounts are getting merged and we never receive any notification mail. I am sorry to say that your answer is not useful at this situation –  Ramya Dec 31 '12 at 10:15
    
@Ramya Were the other accounts unregistered? Sometimes, if there has been evidence of cross voting from a user before, more unregistered accounts from the same IP and coming near the time that user has been logged in are just merged. Register the accounts. –  Manishearth Dec 31 '12 at 10:20
5  
Aside from that, if they create accounts now, to the mods, it just looks like it is you trying to avoid a suspension. –  Manishearth Dec 31 '12 at 10:21

We normally prefer to discuss account suspensions like this in private, but because there might be broader points to be made here, I'll provide a little more detail.

We have many, many users here who share the same outward-facing IP address as others, as well as a lot of coworkers and friends who all use the sites at the same time. It is perfectly fine to have multiple people from the same place asking and answering questions here, but there are some activities that throw up red flags and cause us to take a closer look.

Unfortunately, we've had problems with groups of friends and coworkers who have attempted to manipulate the voting system by all agreeing to vote for one another's posts. Others have created outright fake accounts or had friends create accounts just to vote for their content. This can lead to terrible questions or outright wrong answers being voted higher than much better ones, reducing the quality of the content here and undermining the trust people have in the Stack Exchange system. As a result, we are somewhat suspicious of excessive numbers of votes being exchanged between people at the same location.

Without going into specifics, we have tools that notify us of anomalous voting patterns like this, as well as observant users that flag odd activity. In your case, that happened multiple times across multiple Stack Exchange sites, which is what led to the removal of your friends' accounts.

The problems in your case started on English Language and Usage, where you and two other users were found to be coordinating votes for one another. Every single one of your four answers there were to questions by one of two users who shared an IP address with you, and they received an abnormal amount of votes given the quality of the answers, which set off warnings among the users there. In particular, this answer being accepted by your friend above others of better quality looked extremely suspicious. This led to the suspension of your account, those of your friends, and the manual invalidation of votes between the three of you.

You then proceeded to do the same on Stack Overflow. Your two friends only created one question and one answer each, which you apparently voted for, then they cast votes exclusively for you. Because your friends didn't provide much of value in those accounts on Stack Overflow, the easiest thing for us to do was to destroy these new accounts. Despite this, one of your friends created a new account and used the 100 point account association bonus to get them to the level where they could vote for you again, which they proceeded to do. We again destroyed this account, because it had nothing of value to it and it was being used to manipulate the voting system.

Votes should come based on the quality of an individual question or answer, not because of who is behind it. While we understand that you're more likely to look favorably upon a coworker's posts, please do not go out of your way to vote for everything they write. When the only posts that you vote for are those by people from the same location as you, that looks extremely suspicious. If you and your friends refrain from this behavior in the future, you all are perfectly welcome to have separate accounts and keep posting questions and answers here.

share|improve this answer
    
What about the last account with ELU, which you had destroyed and merged into this account. That account is perfectly doing good. The only reason is it is created after suspension. Does some one creates account after the suspension, How come it effects the quality of the content? –  Ramya Dec 31 '12 at 16:40
    
@Ramya - I'm not a moderator on ELU, so I can't comment on any account merges there. I don't believe that we've manually merged any accounts into yours on Stack Overflow, only deleted the accounts that showed anomalous voting activity and no genuine posts. We usually don't merge accounts unless we see definitive proof that they are by the same user and that they are being used to vote for one another or work around suspensions. –  Brad Larson Dec 31 '12 at 16:55
    
Now I ca not post my concerns in to the meta also. What is the best way to discuss these matters to the moderators in private? –  Ramya Dec 31 '12 at 16:57
    
@ramya you can reply to your suspension, go to the place where you see the suspension message –  Manishearth Jan 1 '13 at 6:29
    
@Manishearth: It is not about suspension. It is about account getting deleted. If the account gets deleted how can I post concerns. –  Ramya Jan 1 '13 at 6:36
    
@Ramya I was talking about your suspension on English Language & Usage, which involved some deletion of accounts. You may also use the "contact us" link on the bottom of the page –  Manishearth Jan 1 '13 at 6:39

I'm assuming that you are not getting suspended and no moderator messages about vote fraud, so you are triggering the automatic account merging process and are not merged manually by a moderator.

As far as I know, the most important way to trigger the automatic account merge is to log into another account on top of your existing one. So if you are already logged in and your colleague used his credentials to log into any other SE site, the accounts might be automatically merged.

So you should always use a different browser session, either create multiple user accounts or let your colleagues log in using a different browser or the incognito mode of any of the browsers.

Accounts can be unmerged, but that is a rather messy process and likely won't work completely, especially if multiple accounts have been merged together. Use the "contact us" link at the bottom of the page to request SE to unmerge your accounts.

share|improve this answer
    
You may want to add that moderators do not merge registered accounts unless it is obvious that the two users are the same. Unregistered accounts may be merged, though –  Manishearth Dec 31 '12 at 9:48
    
@Manishearth I don't think this is moderators merging, and I'm not sure if the automatic process still has an SE employee checking every case or not. –  Mad Scientist Dec 31 '12 at 9:50
    
I know, it probably isn't, but it would be a useful note to have on the post for future reference. –  Manishearth Dec 31 '12 at 9:51
6  
    
@Mad Scientist: Now is it safe to suggest my friends to create an account? –  Ramya Dec 31 '12 at 12:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .