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US-only (now). I do not know whether other countries also call it dmv. How do I update the description? – 51local ↵ 6 hours ago

51local - do you see an edit button under the description? I assume you have the right to do that - if not post here what text you want and I (or someone else) will change it for you. – Mark Robinson ↵ 4 hours ago

Thanks Mark. I have updated it. – dmv51 ↵ 6 mins ago

Two usernames in dialogue with Mark?

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Wow - I got a mention in a meta question! Slight feeling of pride. More seriously, the dmv51 comment has gone now. Don't know if that is significant. –  Wikis Aug 12 '10 at 18:12
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@Mark: It can't always be Jon Skeet :p –  Tobias Kienzler Aug 13 '10 at 7:03
    
@Tobias: =:-) Seriously, here is more evidence for the sock puppet theory: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/17678/… –  Wikis Aug 13 '10 at 7:06
    
@Mark: I only see that these two are the only followers, where there comments before? –  Tobias Kienzler Aug 13 '10 at 7:27
    
@Tobias - sorry, I don't understand your question. –  Wikis Aug 13 '10 at 7:50
    
@Mark: sorry, I meant "were there..." as in when you said there's more evidence did you only mean that these two users are the followers or was there something else I don't see? –  Tobias Kienzler Aug 13 '10 at 10:18
    
@Tobias - only that those two are the only ones collaborating on that site which is quite a coincidence. Has the software flagged anything unusual? –  Wikis Aug 13 '10 at 12:36
    
@Mark: I don't know, we'd have to ask a mod. But I flagged one of the proposals for attention, maybe something will happen –  Tobias Kienzler Aug 13 '10 at 12:48
    
@Tobias, OK good one. –  Wikis Aug 13 '10 at 13:22
    
Hmmm. Same user that posted this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/60766/… ? –  Diago Aug 13 '10 at 20:27
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i.imgur.com/9drlz.jpg –  Peter Ajtai Aug 14 '10 at 21:05

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

We've merged all his accounts and sent him a warning email to not create any more accounts. We won't delete his posts quite yet because:

  1. A few others have committed to them
  2. They appear to have been proposed with good intentions (actually wanting the sites to be made, not just trolling)

We'll keep an eye on his activity. If necessary, we can suspend him / ban his IP but don't want to do that without some warning.

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Thanks David for the reply. But I'm still puzzled why the software didn't pick up on this. Does the detection work differently on each site? –  Wikis Aug 26 '10 at 20:27
    
@David - and have you warned him? –  Wikis Aug 26 '10 at 20:27
    
@Mark The checks are mostly around users trying to use sock puppets to gain rep. They didn't turn anything up here because he/she wasn't voting very much. –  David Fullerton Aug 27 '10 at 1:57
    
@Mark yes, we sent a warning email today –  David Fullerton Aug 27 '10 at 1:58
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@David - thanks for the replies. Probably worth considering a new sock puppet detection algorithm for Area 51 if this occurs again. –  Wikis Aug 27 '10 at 6:15
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Is his proposal-creating ability at least temporarily suspended? He has, after all, created 19 proposals in his 15 days of membership, and he also has asked more than five example question e.g. at BT. –  Tobias Kienzler Aug 27 '10 at 6:54

dmv51's only activity has been on the DMV proposal he made, and 51local's only activity on the "Local things" proposal he made, so it looks like the user is just trying to keep a separate account for each proposal he's active on. I'm not sure why you would do that, but it doesn't seem malicious

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well, it allowed him two proposals on one day (and he could theoretically upvote himself) –  Tobias Kienzler Aug 12 '10 at 14:24
    
@Tobias true, but the engine has mechanisms to detect cross-upvotes like that. –  Pëkka Aug 12 '10 at 15:42
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@Tobias Ah, I didn't realize there was a one proposal/day limit –  Michael Mrozek Aug 12 '10 at 18:03
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Both "users" have made another proposal today. It really seems a bit fishy to me –  Tobias Kienzler Aug 13 '10 at 7:04
    
Indeed, this could be malicious, but I'm giving the benefit of the doubt here... maybe he's just confused and thinks you're supposed to create a new username for each site, or something. –  Pops Aug 24 '10 at 14:54
    
@Pekka - I have my doubts about your confidence in the engine... –  Wikis Aug 26 '10 at 14:51
    
@Mark In my experience, it works fine on SO proper - but I don't know about the other SE sites... –  Pëkka Aug 26 '10 at 15:08

I don't yet know the answer but you have to admit: if one is a sock puppet it's pretty daft to have such similar names...

However, they are both following exactly the same Q&As, so it seems likely that they are either the same person or two people with a telepathic link.

Update: could be that he's added a new sock puppet: http://area51.stackexchange.com/users/16197/outdoor check out watch list. How come the software has not picked this up yet? Evidence:

Update 2: check out the followers on both the proposals above - I have no doubt they are sock puppets.

Update 3: it's kind of hard to believe this so I'll just state what happened. Some went to my Wikispeedia Area 51 proposal and voted "not a good example" to all five of my questions and then, moments later "another user" voted one of them down as well. Coincidence or sock puppets? Since all five down votes happened in the same minute, I suspect not. Maybe an administrator can take a look?

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I've flagged this for moderator attention, since nothing seems to have happened so far. –  Wikis Aug 24 '10 at 13:39
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Robinson: So did I, I guess it needs more attention, or more evidence. I don't know... –  Tobias Kienzler Aug 24 '10 at 14:28
    
Thanks Tobias - maybe we just need to keep plugging? I thought (from Pekka's comments) that the software should have flagged this a long time ago but apparently not. Thanks also for accepting this answer. –  Wikis Aug 24 '10 at 14:34
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Also see the comments here: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/18054/white-hat-hacking. Looks like Robert changed the name of the proposal, but originally, "outdoor" chimed in in place of 51local to defend the name. –  Aarobot Aug 24 '10 at 14:42
    
@Aarobot - thanks again for the info - this is so sad (i.e. pathetic). –  Wikis Aug 24 '10 at 14:43

Another one: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/17911/outdoor-activities/17992#17992

cheater?

51local once again replies in lieu of the proposal owner. suspicious...

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Yep, agreed - see my comments above. –  Wikis Aug 24 '10 at 13:38

Sure looks like sock puppetry to me. What are the odds that seven users who all just registered in the last 12 days are following nearly identical proposals that have almost nothing to do with each other?

Just look at this follower crossover:

════════════╬ Int'l BizBTDMVLocalFish/Hunt | H&H | WHH | Outdoor
living well ║    ●      │  ●  │     │       │           |  ●  |     |
petlover    ║    ●      │  ●  │  ●  │       │           |  ●  |  ●  |
dmv51       ║    ●      │  ●  │  ●  │   ●   │     ●     |     |     |
user16481   ║           │     │  ●  │       │     ●     │     │  ●  │    ●
outdoor     ║    ●      │  ●  │  ●  │   ●   │     ●     │     │  ●  |    ●
bbc101      ║    ●      │     │  ●  │   ●   │     ●     │  ●  │  ●  |    ●
51local     ║    ●      │  ●  │  ●  │   ●   │     ●     │  ●  │  ●  |    ●

What's more, all of these users have created at least one of the proposals and submitted questions on several of them.

I think our "white-hat hacker" is clearly trying to spam proposals and questions. Even if there's no cross-voting going on (and I sincerely doubt that), this idiot is still blatantly trying to game the system.

Some of these users also have newer proposals with fewer followers (like Family, "Life Experiences", API Application Development); don't be too surprised if other users suddenly "stumble upon" those new proposals and start following them too!

Oh, and couple with the fact that all of these users suddenly start materializing 12 days ago - the exact same day that our friend posted his Will the Stack Exchange Network fail? discussion whining about not getting enough activity on his proposals - makes you think, dunnit?

Ban this f***er and delete his proposals!

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@Aarobot - nice answer, especially the researched table. But doesn't the software have a way to detect this? –  Wikis Aug 24 '10 at 14:41
    
@Mark: Theoretically yes, but that's not to say that somebody determined enough couldn't find a way to stay just under the threshold. The users were all registered on different days, posted questions in different proposals, and probably only voted a few times. I think the system is designed to find 1 or 2 sock puppets on 1 master account, not 10 sock puppets all on random subsets of each other's accounts. (Disclaimer: I have no inside knowledge of the algorithms used on Area 51) –  Aarobot Aug 24 '10 at 14:44
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I also flagged a few of his proposals directly for moderator attention, but nothing has happened so far –  Tobias Kienzler Aug 24 '10 at 14:52
    
Well, it seems that this is not just any user with these sock puppets but someone who knows how to play the system. –  Wikis Aug 24 '10 at 15:50
    
(S)he's still at it! area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/19329/crowd-ideas Hello, administrators? –  Wikis Aug 26 '10 at 8:36
    
@Mark: There's also Leadership and Who did what. This guy's not going to quit until he's sh!tcanned. –  Aarobot Aug 26 '10 at 14:14
    
I can't understand why 1. the admins haven't stepped in yet and blocked him and 2. why his IP address(es) haven't been blocked yet. Please would more people flag this issue - otherwise it might look like I'm nagging! –  Wikis Aug 26 '10 at 14:50
    
@Mark: Looks like they did an account merge. Unfortunately that means he gets to keep all his proposals and have more than 5 questions in the proposals he really spammed hard (like Brain Teasers). Oh well. –  Aarobot Aug 26 '10 at 17:08
    
@Aarobot - thanks for the reply. That leaves me with two questions - 1. Why don't the moderators reply here? You know, "Thanks for flagging this, we've done...". 2. How come the moderators didn't delete all his account and his proposals and let him start from scratch (or ban him for a period)? Weird. –  Wikis Aug 26 '10 at 18:32
    
@Mark: You should probably e-mail the team. Looks like David was the one that took care of this. Maybe they thought his content was too valuable to delete, I don't know. –  Aarobot Aug 26 '10 at 18:33
    
@Aarobot - I tried hunting for their email addresses - apparently not enough because I could only find team@stackoverflow. Should I be looking for a meta address? –  Wikis Aug 26 '10 at 19:53
    
@Mark: That's the address. It's the same team. –  Aarobot Aug 26 '10 at 20:01
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@Aarobot - thanks, email sent. Nice bit of research, above, btw. –  Wikis Aug 26 '10 at 20:24
    
@Aarobot - and David simultaneously posts an answer below... =:-) –  Wikis Aug 26 '10 at 20:26

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