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How does a Stack Overflow moderator know about sock puppet accounts? How do they trap the user?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jun 15 '11 at 9:33

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IP or something else –  Harsh Jun 15 '11 at 9:19
    
@Ocaso Protal:) merge it plz –  Harsh Jun 15 '11 at 9:24
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Using supreme ninja powers. –  Octavian Damiean Jun 15 '11 at 9:38
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I'll give you one tip: the absolute easiest way to spot sock puppets is to take a look at people who've done it before. People who've do it once will sometimes do it twice. And people who've done it 20 times will always do it a 21st. Refs: 1, 2 –  Dori Jun 15 '11 at 10:17
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Theyz in yr webcamz watching you. –  slugster Jun 15 '11 at 10:26
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They tend to give themselves away by asking unsubtle questions in the third person... ;) –  Benjol Jun 15 '11 at 10:47
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"You have to tell me if you're a moderator, you know." –  user149432 Jun 15 '11 at 20:06

4 Answers 4

up vote 23 down vote accepted

I am not going to answer this directly, for reasons that should be obvious.

However; this isn't a "trap" - it is our attempt at enforcing reasonable behaviour; using a sock-puppet for any purpose (most commonly, but not exclusively: upvoting yourself) is unacceptable.

If you want the vote of the masses; write good questions and answers.

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@Marc Gravell:) i m sure through IP only ... because in my whole questions, one question has been asked by my friend in stack overflow, and nahid question can also merge in my acount .... –  Harsh Jun 15 '11 at 11:25
    
@Hary, it's unlikely that SE will ever fully disclose these methods, but they are in place and, for the most part, I believe they are reliable. Also, Jeff has a very good answer here –  tombull89 Jun 15 '11 at 11:30
    
@Marc Gravell:) see this question can be ask my Friend nahid stackoverflow.com/questions/6213182/… Your site can also merge his account why ? I think no Privacy is there –  Harsh Jun 15 '11 at 11:37
    
@Marc Gravell:)but his IP is 208 and my IP is 246 then how You merge this question, and by the way it there any security there ? –  Harsh Jun 15 '11 at 11:41
    
@tombull89:) see my comments –  Harsh Jun 15 '11 at 11:42
    
@Hary I don't know the specifics of that merge, so I can't directly comment. However, glancing at the system a good number of accounts have been combined there. To trigger that, there would have been some pretty clear unusual activity. Now, maybe a genuinely unrelated account got caught up in that, but I'm assuming (again: I wasn't directly involved) that most of these were either duplicates (unregistered etc) or puppets in some way. –  Marc Gravell Jun 15 '11 at 11:43
    
@Hary not everything is governed by IP. –  Marc Gravell Jun 15 '11 at 11:45
    
@Marc Gravell:) okies means no security, If someone work in a same office and want to ask some private Coding related questions then no security is there Your Site can merge them, let us think if she is my boss then what she think? –  Harsh Jun 15 '11 at 11:46
    
@Hary and if there is no wildly unusual behaviour between the accounts, there will be no interference. Again, I wasn't involved here so I can only comment in the vaguest terms. But a typical scenario here would be 2 accounts artificially (and significantly) inflating each-other's reputation. Is it "correct" to leave that unchecked? –  Marc Gravell Jun 15 '11 at 11:50
    
@Marc Gravell:) if registered, then You all have the Rights to catch the information but this is Wrong way to capture someone acount and merge in to others. –  Harsh Jun 15 '11 at 11:52
    
@Marc Gravell:)I accept that i have some fake ids, that's why my stack overflow account had suspended, but god sure its my friend nahid acount, she always asked me how to ask questions in Your site and also she is my boss one day i just tell him how to register and ask the question ... she asked and Today i just seen that stack overflow can merge his question in my account, now no security is there. Right? –  Harsh Jun 15 '11 at 11:57
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@Hary - I don't agree with "no security"; unusual measures were taken to deal with many fake ids. If one real account got confused as a result, then, well, we can fix that if we really need. –  Marc Gravell Jun 15 '11 at 12:01
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@Hary : ok, here's the solution: stop using sock-puppetry. Problem solved. –  Marc Gravell Jun 15 '11 at 12:06
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"using a sock-puppet for any purpose is unacceptable." I was under the impression that it was ok as long as it wasn't abusive - for instance I have a few for testing various aspects of the system (ie, when I wanted to understand the edge cases of bounties on deleted questions eons ago). –  Adam Davis Jun 15 '11 at 13:05
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This exchange of comments reminded me of 419eater.com –  jmfsg Jun 15 '11 at 20:01

They have ways of finding pretty much any kind of sock puppets using their sites...

sock puppet

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) it is not the ans of my question –  Harsh Jun 15 '11 at 11:23
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Nice photo! How's SO on an iPad for you? –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 15 '11 at 19:19
    
@BoltClock, it's really good on the iPad. The Only thing that's sort of annoying is the comment actions (flag/spam) –  davidsleeps Jun 15 '11 at 22:55
    
Ah yes, I hate that and 10k-rep retags on my iPhone. Probably the classic hover style problem with Mobile Safari. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 16 '11 at 6:33

You know, throughout your posts here, you keep referring to this as a "bug" or a "trap". It's not a bug at all; it's a feature designed to prevent people from abusing the site. Which is exactly what you were doing.

In your comments on Marc's answer, you complain that your friend "Nahid" got her account merged due to suspicious behavior. If that's true, and Nahid actually exists and was playing by the rules, then what happened to her was because your behavior made her look like another one of your sock puppets.

Why did this happen? Not because of "bugs" in Stack Overflow, or the malice of the evil moderators. It happened because you abused this site so badly that everyone around you was thrown into suspicion. If you hadn't tried so hard to make your fake accounts look like real ones, your friend's real account wouldn't have looked like another of your fakes. If "Nahid" is upset that her account got merged, she should be blaming you for that. If you're upset that you lost reputation, you should blame yourself. You cheated. You got caught cheating. That's your fault, not Stack Overflow's.

You've suggested that SO might lose users due to features like this, but I think it'll gain users when they see that their reputation means something. People don't like being taken advantage of by others who don't play by the rules, and they don't like cheaters filling up their community space with garbage. Even in your imaginary "99 lost professional users" scenario, I suspect the number we'll gain far outweighs the number we'll lose due to accidental merges.

To sum up, the solution isn't to ask how to cheat more effectively, and it's also not to blame others for noticing. The solution is to improve your behavior, start playing by the rules, and try to be valuable to the rest of this community.

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) KKK If i m cheater then it is not the law to punish others ... !!!! and by the way my friend seated on the other system they do not aware more about stack overflow ...!! –  Harsh Jun 16 '11 at 4:18
    
and also if this question is related to bug only then i also ask this question in the other way ... !!! –  Harsh Jun 16 '11 at 4:27

Actions speak louder than IP address… Possibly even a “view” of a question is an action.

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