My Fiance and I both use the stack exchange system from our homes where we work. We have many of the same interests, so she occasionally upvotes some of my questions or answers and sometimes I do the same. This makes me a little apprehensive though, not because we have done anything at all wrong, but because we might get falsely tagged as sock puppets.

A few months ago we were kicked out a web game for having the same ip address and there was no recourse at all. Is the same thing going to happen here?

Is there a way to declare users of the same household?

Is there any recourse if you've been falsely accused?

Is it possible to know if there any outstanding socket puppet claims against you?

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I suspect this is a pretty common situation, particularly with coworkers at the same company (behind NAT). –  Greg Hewgill Jan 25 '11 at 23:24
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You've got a fiance that enjoys SO as much as you? I really don't think you have room to complain... –  Adam Davis Jan 26 '11 at 1:14
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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Is there a way to declare users of the same household?

No, not at the moment. Even if you declared yourselves and we found a lot of cross-voting, you'd just be considered a "vote-ring" instead of a "sock-puppet" and the two things are handled the same.

Is there any recourse if you've been falsely accused?

By "falsely accused" I assume you mean "accused of being the same person when we're not." As I said above, if there's any suspicious voting it would be dealt with the same way, so there's really no "false" accusation.

Is it possible to know if there any outstanding socket puppet claims against you?

No, not without getting a warning. We moderators do put notes in user's accounts for a variety of reasons, sock puppeting being one of them. I don't think we want to share this information, even with the user in question, because more information could just be used to refine their puppeting... what's the word? ...skills?

I will tell you that IP address matching is only used as confirmation once we suspect voting fraud to begin with. Tons of people share IP addresses, so that by itself really doesn't raise any red flags. You definitely do want to watch how you vote though. If you don't go out of your way to vote for each other more often than you vote for any random stranger (given roughly the same activity level in roughly the same set of tags) then you should be fine.

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My particular problem seems to boil down to: what's the difference between a 'vote-ring', and people from the same ip that have the same voting views. –  Mark Rogers Jan 26 '11 at 4:34
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@Mark: "The same voting views" to me implies that you'd be voting for other people at the same rate that you're voting for each other. If that's the case then you have nothing to worry about. If a disproportionate number of your votes are going to your fiancee, then it's going to look like a vote ring. –  Bill the Lizard Jan 26 '11 at 12:09
    
Still someone could be accused of being a vote-ring while being completely innocent of that charge. But I guess the only alternative, at the moment, is to let vote spammers mess up the stack exchange system. –  Mark Rogers Jan 26 '11 at 15:43
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If at all possible, try

  • not to upvote each other
  • not to award bounties to each other
  • not to answer each other's questions

If you take care not to do any of these, you should have no problems at all. Sock puppeteering is only a problem if it is used to game the system.

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Sure, and, at first, I tried to use that strategy. But my fiance feels that if she finds the question or answer desirable, then she has every right to upvote, just like everyone else. I can't think of a solid counter argument to that, other than we might be wrongly accused of being socket puppets. –  Mark Rogers Jan 26 '11 at 0:15
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A few months ago we were kicked out a web game for having the same ip address and there was no recourse at all. Is the same thing going to happen here?

You can always e-mail team@stackoverflow.com and talk to a real person. I don't know about how often a ban like this occurs, but most likely the cross-voting would need to be pretty significant for there to be a real problem.

Is there a way to declare users of the same household?

No, because actual sock-puppeteers would use this facility to game the system.

Is there any recourse if you've been falsely accused?

See above. I believe the first thing that happens is that the votes will be cancelled and both users' reputations will be recalculated. I'm not privy to the exact system, but I assume this is something that's done manually, as opposed to automatically.

Is it possible to know if there any outstanding socket puppet claims against you?

AFAIK, there is no such thing. The "claim" would be derived entirely from the voting data.

If you're really concerned, send an e-mail to team@stackoverflow.com to discuss the situation. Since this involves IP addresses, you probably want to discuss this through a private channel rather than here. (I suppose you could also private chat with Jeff if he's around.)

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"No, because actual sock-puppeteers would use this facility to game the system." - Sure, but there are some sites that do allow you to declare multiple accounts on an IP. No doubt cheaters game those systems, however that doesn't mean those sites are unsuccessful at catching them. These systems are kind of a way to give the site admins a heads-up when they are dealing with a potential socket puppet account, like a courtesy. –  Mark Rogers Jan 26 '11 at 0:56
    
"sock-puppeteers would use this facility to game the system" - why can't they simply use other means to mask the IP? –  Sklivvz Feb 23 '12 at 12:19
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