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Multiple accounts on SO are merged if they share the same IP/OpenID/etc. However, is there a way to analyze upvotes statistics to detect "cross-pollination" of some accounts which regularly upvote each other? I.e. some new user spends most of the upvotes upvoting the answers of the other for some long period of time. Is there a tool do detect it?

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    Multiple accounts on SO are merged if they share the same IP. Err, no, they're merged if and only if "cross-pollination" is detected between the accounts. In other words, we already do what you're looking for. – Frédéric Hamidi Jul 30 '13 at 13:19
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    Cross pollination? Do you mean voting rings? – Oded Jul 30 '13 at 13:23
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    @Oded, every time I read this I think of some hack-n-eyed gangsters meeting in a shady bar to discuss how many votes they will fix that day. "Cross-pollination" has a more poetic feel to it ;) – Frédéric Hamidi Jul 30 '13 at 13:25
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    @FrédéricHamidi - I can see a comment thread starting here, finding more poetic versions... If someone can figure out one with Unicorns and rainbows ;) – Oded Jul 30 '13 at 13:27
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Multiple accounts are not necessarily merged, and certainly not automatically. You are allowed to have multiple accounts as long as you do so responsibly and follow some basic ground rules.

Moderators will only manually merge user accounts if there is evidence that they are violating those ground rules, for example conspiring to commit vote fraud.

So yes, these "cross-pollenation" tools that you describe do exist, but they are only available to ♦ moderators because they are based on statistical information about voting and other patterns that we don't want to fall into the wrong hands.

And not all of them even require moderator intervention. For example, there is a process that runs every 24 hours to detect and automatically reverse instances of vote fraud.

  • Do moderators still merge accounts? I was somehow under the impression they would no longer do so? – Bart Jul 30 '13 at 13:40
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    @Bart Moderators can't merge accounts anymore, they can only request SE to do so on behalf of a user. But for sock puppets we generally just nuke the accounts now instead of merging. – Mad Scientist Jul 30 '13 at 13:44
  • Ah thanks @MadScientist. I knew I read something along those lines before. – Bart Jul 30 '13 at 13:45

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