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After answering a question today, I noticed that the author responded (wrongly, using an answer rather than commenting) with another unique account.

I'm not sure what to do when I notice this type of behavior on SO. Do I report it? Is it permissible, even though it's primarily accompanied with voter-fraud, etc.? I'm not suggesting that this user is deviating from proper conduct — only curious about what users are to do when they identify this type of stuff taking place.

Other (possibly related) accounts:

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6 Answers 6

up vote 12 down vote accepted

There are legitimate reasons why someone might end up doing this (lost password, lost cookies for unregistered account, broken OpenID provider...) so I advise against being too quick to jump on them.

That said, various answers and blog posts indicate that the site admins take this very seriously when it is done with malicious intent. If you're concerned about potentially untoward interactions between two user accounts, flag one of them for moderator attention and let the site's moderators know about it.

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Best edit comment award... goes to shog! –  Hugo Dozois Nov 4 '13 at 23:20

The particular incident you are talking about simply involves a user whose browser cookie was lost somewhere in between and now the system is looking at them as a new user.

I do remember one high rep user who publicly "dropped" his account to "start over". (http://stackoverflow.com/users/75834/oscar-reyes, http://stackoverflow.com/users/20654/oscar-reyes) Eventually he is going to have two 10k accounts, which means he packs twice the power of any 20k+ user. Is that fair?

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I saw your suggestion that this may be the cause - but three different accounts? I suppose it's possible...but seems odd that somebody would lose access that often. –  Jonathan Sampson Jul 5 '09 at 19:04
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My roommate uses Stackoverflow sometimes and it happened to him really easily until he finally made an account. I am pretty confident the user had no evil motives, just doesn't care for registering and has strict browser settings that clears his cookies often. –  Paolo Bergantino Jul 5 '09 at 19:09
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If you accidentally make extra accounts you can ask for them to be recombined. –  Brad Gilbert Jul 6 '09 at 15:43
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Well that has an explanation. I've got addicted to StackOverflow in a negative way. I always said to my self "when I reach xxx rep I'm done with this" ) So I've got my first 500 rep and I can edit wikis, 2k edit other. 3k open/close... And I was like: "when I reach 7k when 8k, when 9k etc." Until finally one day I saw it. "I will definitely quit at 10k no excuses" So I did. I stop answering/posting questions when I've got 10k. And I could catch my sleep finally, and I could see TV again, and then I could get back to work... [to be continued] –  OscarRyz Aug 26 '09 at 3:20
    
[continuing] ... And everything was ok for about a week or so. I logged into my account and I see with satisfaction I still got reputation with the inertia. But ( why is there is a but in every happy story? ) I still was a developer, I still had a work to do, and I still have programming questions!!! I can't go back to Y!A or any other source when I have been at SO. I couldn't re-use my account to ask something without feeling dirty. So, I create a new one. Use the same user name, and I have been very very careful not to cross up vote my self. Remember: bit.ly/S3xPQ ?? –  OscarRyz Aug 26 '09 at 3:30

If you believe their is abuse, then flag for moderation (including details). It is pretty easy to investigate and (if appropriate) merge and/or delete some of the accounts.

No, it isn't desirable to have multiple accounts, and in particular gaming will not be tolerated. It is expected from ad-hoc visitors who are unfamiliar with SO and just want to ask a question, but even then it is pretty easy to patch the accounts together if there is reason to do so.

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I'd look out for ``sock puppeting'', but beyond that (given the questions here dealing with OpenID glitches) I would not worry about it.

If you see someone answering a question, then using another account to upvote the answer / leave positive feedback, that's a sock puppet. Similarly, someone using an alter ago to leave comments / upvote their own questions or even voting to re-open them.

I would not be bothered if someone had two 10k accounts, I'd be bothered if they used them to game the system.

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I should add that there are checks in the system that look for sock-puppet voting, so if you suspect that someone may be doing that, alert the moderators and they'll look into it. –  Kyle Cronin Jul 9 '09 at 4:51

Generally when a person has two accounts and is active on the same question with both of them, you should flag. This is because there are two explanations for what you're seeing, and they both require moderator intervention:

  • people can get disconnected from their accounts (lost their cookies, forgot their passwords, assorted perfectly normal things) and a helpful moderator can reconnect the accounts and make sure that the user gets all the privileges they deserve (such as being able to comment on their own question - it isn't recognized as their question if it was posted from another of their accounts.)
  • people can be vote-rigging and then can forget what account they are signed into. A helpful moderator can take action in this case, too :-)

You don't need to figure out which it is or accuse anyone of anything. You just flag the question and use Other, something like Kate123 and Kate124 seem to be the same user; can you get the accounts connected properly? has always worked for me.

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I'd leave a comment on the question and/or answer and see if he requests that the accounts are merged or the new one deleted.

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