Over on Bitcoin Stack Exchange we recently had a minor self-promotion issue with a user. Nothing new or special there, except that the user's profile name is MtGox, the name of the biggest Bitcoin exchange, and that user is explicitly astro-turfing a shady-looking service in the same vein as MtGox's legitimate business.

This specific instance probably isn't a big deal, this user is fairly obviously here to spam/turf and not to contribute so following SOP they'll probably end up banned/burned/whatever anyway, but I'm curious about precedent.

My understanding is that so long as no one shows up threatening legal action and they're not totally offensive, usernames and about pages are more or less free rein, but what about potentially fraudulent impersonation of legitimate entities, which especially poses a serious threat on sites like Bitcoin.SE and Money.SE where such fraud or impersonation could end up having serious financial consequences for our communities.

Is there already a policy in place for this sort of thing? I feel like burning this account is the right thing to do to keep my users safe, but I also feel like it's a risky precedent to set...


1 Answer 1


Trademark enforcement is not the job of the moderators, I would think that this should be handled the same way as copyright infringement, directly via SE.

But in your example, the problem for the site is not the potential trademark infringement, but the issue of impersonating an organization. If a user claims to represent a specific organization, and actually doesn't have anything to do with them, I would argue that it violates the rules and the name should be changed by a moderator.

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    I don't think that the mods have the possibility (much less the jurisdiction) to check if someone really belongs to company A or not. That doesn't mean that they should do "some things" if a user constantly annoys people with "I work for A and we're awesome" or the company calls in, but I think it's for the most time outside of the scope of the moderator. Apr 11, 2013 at 6:46
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    @SulfurizedDemonbobby probably true most of the time, but in this one case I happen to have the actual owner of MtGox in my Skype contacts and we chat from time to time. Maybe this is the rare localized case where I actually directly know the person they're imitating but I still feel like some employee input on this would be a good idea. SE hasn't had site tackling financial issues until quite recently and I think the stakes are higher on these kinds of sites than they might be elsewhere. Apr 11, 2013 at 6:53
  • I actually meant "That doesn't mean that they shouldn't do"... Apr 11, 2013 at 10:33
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    @SulfurizedDemonbobby In general it is probably not necessary to do anything about this. But if a user is doing something shady and using a spoofed identity for this, or if the real person or company complains to SE about a user spoofing their identity, then it should be possible to find some way to verify the whole story. Apr 11, 2013 at 10:40
  • @MadScientist: I agree. Such verification would for sure differ from case to case and would be...uh...obvious in that very situation. Apr 11, 2013 at 11:43

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