I had answered this question 2 days ago. The user had accepted the solution to my question. Today, he unaccepted it, and has marked a new answer (posted recently), which has some of the same wording my answer has! (Note the usernames)

So I went on and find he does this on a majority of questions. It looks like the user is gaining rep from a answers to questions that were asked by folks who "joined" 21 days ago, or from the other user with a similar name.


  1. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/14409691/how-to-set-distribution-target-to-ios-3-0-on-xcode-5-0/14409727#14409727
  2. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/14129179/making-keyboard-recede-on-ios-simulator/14129217#14129217
  3. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/14137607/what-method-should-i-use-to-overwrite-files
  4. Update App Store submission before review
  5. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/14351843/getting-compilation-error-while-using-for-loop-in-c-program/14351852#14351852

Also, the number of up-votes he/she (assuming it is the same person at this point) gets is sometimes disproportionate to the quality of answers.

  1. is it possible to download image at low resolution from url?
  2. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/14169274/approximently-how-many-bytes-will-cause-a-stack-overflow-segmentation-fault
  3. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/14166831/adding-a-uiviewcontroller-to-xcode

More bad answers with upvotes

  1. https://stackoverflow.com/a/14136867/
  2. https://stackoverflow.com/a/14135601/
  3. https://stackoverflow.com/a/14148390/

I agree, it all hardly matters, but I am curious whether there is a way someone can spot a pattern if he is gaming the system in such a manner.

More detective work:

Set of weird accounts created few days ago with question(s), answered by Mark. (not sure if it is a pattern though)

  1. https://stackoverflow.com/users/1946968/user1946968
  2. https://stackoverflow.com/users/1945458/user1945458
  3. https://stackoverflow.com/users/1946798/user1946798
  4. https://stackoverflow.com/users/1998585/user1998585
  5. https://stackoverflow.com/users/1952498/user1952498
  6. https://stackoverflow.com/users/1945464/jane-robinson
  • 9
    Looks like a sock to me. Jane even gave a bounty back to Mark - probably an attempt to transfer the rep back to the main account.
    – Mysticial
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 5:13
  • 1
    A mod might be able to. Flag it for attention. Not much more we can do.
    – Bart
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 5:13
  • 7
    They are siblings (or at least they claim to be).
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 5:27
  • 2
    So either siblings who are interacting a little too much. Or one guy trying to hide under that excuse. I've always wondered what the mods do in these cases...
    – Mysticial
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 5:30
  • 3
    One would figure. But even if they claim to be siblings, that doesn't make their behavior any less abusive. xP
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 5:31
  • 5
    @Mysticial We unleash the... Oops, sorry, can't say.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 5:31
  • @Yannis Suspension? Account burninate/merge? I'm not aware of any other things that a mod can do. (other than a puny warning) Those two are pretty destructive already. :P
    – Mysticial
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 5:33
  • @Mysticial here's an answer but I'm not sure it's an authoritative answer :P Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 5:34
  • @Mysticial In very general terms, suspension is the more probable action, if vote abuse is verified. We (mods) can only see voting patterns, that show up only after there's been significant voting between two accounts. If the voting patterns are inconclusive but we still have strong suspicions (for whatever reason), we simply ask a SE employee to take a closer look at the database.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 5:39
  • 2
    Decided to look around. Check out the comment to the question here then check out the revision history. Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 6:06
  • @rikitikitik If you are referring to the fact that the code removal isn't shown in the revision history, it wouldn't if it happened less than 5min after the question was posted. Mark posted his answer 3min after the question appeared (thus he had access to the code, even if it didn't show up in the revision history), and edited the question a few seconds after the 5min window expired. Nothing fishy seems to have happened there, don't get paranoid.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 6:09
  • @Yannis That's something I did not know. Thanks! Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 6:13
  • 2
    @rikitikitik Edits by the post author in the first 5min don't create a new revision, it's a small grace period for post authors to correct spelling mistakes, etc.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 6:15
  • 2
    Smell of socks... flagged a mod to open the window. Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 8:06
  • 6

1 Answer 1


Giving answer marks/votes to either yourself, or someone on the same internet connection isn't just gaming the system, it's sock puppeting and is a very serious violation. If you see or suspect such behavior just flag a relevant post with the "other" category and state your reason for thinking they are voting for themselves.

Note that if the other answer really is from a different user, on a different connection, and there is no clear evidence of a sock puppet in the eyes of a mod, then there's nothing wrong here. The OP has every right to retract an answer and give it to a newer one at any time, and for any reason they want.

  • 4
    I totally agree. The unaccept is not a concern at all. It is the other answer, which has the exact same wording, and the fact that this is a pattern that repeats across a majority of his questions & answers. Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 5:18
  • 9
    Hmm every question Jane asks, Mark answers. Every question Jane answer is either Mark's or Mark has a competing answer (except for one). I don't think you need to look at IPs Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 5:25
  • 4
    Wondering where Alice fits in to this. I mean, she's gotta be around somewhere. Commented Jan 29, 2013 at 19:45
  • 1
    Check this out: Read the question, then the comment by Mark, then look at the revisions. Mark adds the missing code to the OP. I already flagged the question but I figured I'd mention it here too. However, I can't tell if the user had taken out the code in the preliminary edit time where it isn't shown on the revisions page. Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 22:54

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