At work we are a few programmers behind one static public IP address. I have introduced a coworker to Stack Overflow (SO) and of course another one uses SO regularly. Although we don't have much overlap of fields, I wonder what I should do if I ever do encounter a coworker on SO. Should I ignore his SO posts online, completely?

My concerns are that our shared IP address might get flagged if we respond or upvote to questions and answers. I am aware of other Meta SO questions regarding the ethics of the issue, which I am not asking about. I care only about suspensions, not about reputation.

I asked here about SO but I think the same would apply to any Stack Exchange site.


What Stack Exchange would check for are votes between users, whenever they are sharing the same IP address or not.

If a number of your votes go to the same user, who then votes you, it is probable the votes would be reversed. If that happens, you could get a message from one of the moderators, but suspension is not what normally happens on the first occasion.

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If you're not seeking your colleagues out to specifically vote on their posts, there will be no problem. With as you say hardly any overlap, you're free to vote if you see a contribution of theirs that is worthy of an upvote. The guideline there is, don't target the person but evaluate the post.

In the highly unlikely event that you get suspended due to a shared IP address, your voting behaviour should be sufficient to demonstrate that nothing fishy is going on.

As such, you don't need to take explicit measures to avoid them at all cost.

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In the end, suspensions are all decided on by actual people, not the system. Someone has to look at the evidence before them and decide that there's a clear pattern of abuse there, then manually decide to suspend your account.

We recognize that many coworkers and friends at the same location will work in the same area, and will preferentially vote for their friends. We provide a little leniency here. Where this becomes a problem is if there's clear voting coordination going on (almost every answer by a user being upvoted by all their friends, or all members within a ring voting for everything by the other members). Our concern is the potential for wrong or bad content being pushed ahead of better material through artificial vote inflation.

The only time the system will step in is for rapid-fire serial upvotes (or downvotes) that are suspicious enough for a script to invalidate. There's no penalty to the users involved aside from the invalidated votes, and we do realize this sometimes is a false positive. Only if we see a pattern of attempted gaming do we step in and do something more.

Basically, answering a few questions by your friends or voting for a few of their posts won't be a problem. It's when these votes and answers start to be clearly coordinated to boost those within a ring that we pay attention.

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