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Say a company (or a team of contributors to a FOSS project, or whatever other group of people) wants to show off its expertise in some area. Would it be ok for it to create a profile on SO and let the people in the group use the account to answer questions?

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+1 very interesting question, even though the answer will probably be "no, get individual ones." :) –  Pëkka Feb 21 '10 at 1:50
I have a similar question: is account sharing allowed? –  Andreas Bonini Feb 21 '10 at 1:58
@Koper if the two of you are married, yes. :) –  Pëkka Feb 21 '10 at 2:03
@Pekka: My wife has technically used my account to up-vote an answer once :) –  Jonathan Sampson Feb 21 '10 at 2:11

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

It's ultimately up to Jeff and wouldn't be easy to enforce, but everything in me says that this is contrary to all that StackOverflow is about, from using the rep earned to establish trust in the contributors to using it as a way to build personal brands. For example, if a major contributor on your team leaves for greener pastures, does your team still deserve that score?

If you want to show off your team's skills, build a nice gravatar to share, use your team as part of your display name, and link to your team-mates in your profiles.

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Reputation already builds brands by gauging one individual's skill (reason why it's used on SO Careers, for example), so extending it to groups wouldn't be contrary to SO philosophy in principle (I was thinking Folding@Home scores). The problem, as you point out, is with trust, particularly regarding moderation rights. You're right that they can't be given to groups w/ fluid membership (esp. because bigger groups would have more power). I like your gravatar + display name idea. Maybe also an external (nominal-only) score board would be nice :) –  obvio171 Feb 21 '10 at 17:45

Interesting idea. I'm going to guess (along with Pekka) that the official line will be no.

However, there is a specific use case that this helps with. If you have a team of members with their own individual accounts, and all are on the same project, it stands to reason that they will naturally end up upvoting each other -- not out of malice or attempting to game the system, but purely because they're already on the same page, and will likely naturally tend to agree with one another's posts.

In that scenario, sometimes the accounts end up looking like sock puppets, even if they're not. As a result, mod action may get taken. So while I think that on the whole the idea is probably not going to be well-received, I can see it potentially alleviating that specific issue.

Of course, that assumes that this issue is actually widespread. My hunch is it's not, and that the downsides of doing this far, far outweigh this one positive.

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