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Note: I have read What are the rules governing display names and avatars? which was entirely focused on pretending to be a specific real-life person.

On a site I use regularly, a user has a profile picture that looks like part of an autogenerated gravatar with an orange diamond in the rightmost portion of the picture. As a result when this user posts, that diamond appears before their name. I know that when real moderators post, an orange diamond appears after their name, so I wasn't fooled, but I did take a moment to look through the top users on this site to confirm that there hadn't been some recent display changes.

screenshot

(rep and badges redacted, but note 1k-10k rep, no gold badges) Please don't work out the site from the badge symbol and go make this about who this user is or what this user does. I'm asking about the general concept and only included the image to forestall "or it didn't happen."

Is this ok? I have no idea whether the user is just trying to be funny, or thinks there will be fewer downvotes or close votes if they're perceived to be a moderator, or thinks their comments (which don't display pictures) will have more effect, or what. In the absence of any information about motivation, would you flag a profile picture like this? What would a moderator be likely to do in response to such a flag?

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    That certainly doesn't appear accidental. I would flag such a thing with a custom message if it appeared on any of the sites I frequent. Most sites/communities/games in general strictly forbid this kind of thing, but looking over the ToS, it doesn't cover giving the general appearance of being a mod. The only forms of impersonation mentioned specifically involve assuming another's identity. The closest thing in there is point 4, second paragraph, D. But I'm not a lawyer, so what do I know? – Jonathan Garber Apr 28 '14 at 18:48
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    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/188555/… – Bart Apr 28 '14 at 18:58
  • @Bart didn't appear on my search, and is closed as a dupe of something I'm sure this isn't a dupe of. But does seem very similar to this, except an image of the word Moderator instead of an image of a diamond. Contradicting answers, too. Let's get an official answer here. – Kate Gregory Apr 28 '14 at 19:21
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    Yeah, therefore only "related" and not "possible duplicate" @KateGregory. – Bart Apr 28 '14 at 19:22
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No, it's not okay for a user to try to make themselves appear to be a moderator. There's a reason we strip out the unicode if someone tries to add a diamond to their user name, and that reason is to prevent people from being confused about who is a "real" moderator on the site. Adding the diamond to the avatar, and going through the trouble to very nearly match the font used for usernames on the site, makes me think that the intent was, in fact, to deceive other users.

The community managers are aware of the user that prompted this question and will handle it. In the future, feel free to flag for moderator attention if you see something similar. We'll explain to them why it's not allowed and ask them to change whatever the potentially confusing or deceptive part of their profile is.

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    Are username (diamond) or username [insert diamond here] allowed? – A.L Apr 29 '14 at 0:10
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    @n.1 if you mean adding the actual diamond character then it's not technically possible, the server will block such a name, or just strip the diamond away. – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Apr 29 '14 at 9:29
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    What should a site moderator do if they encounter such a user? Just forward to the community team? At least that's what I am doing now. – Simon Forsberg Sep 30 '17 at 19:40
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The user name field already has a filter that removes the Unicode ♦ character (and some look-a-likes) used to identify moderators. Users are not allowed to spoof this as part of their username.

This seems like a reasonable guideline to me. Intending to deceive the community by making yourself out to be in a position of authority does nobody any favors. I would suggest that such a blatant attempt to do so as part of their profile image should be subjected to the same guideline.

Moderators have the ability to reset custom profile images to the default gravatar one. I would suggest such an action along with a short but polite warning noting that it has been reset and that the guideline is not to impersonate, whether you are impersonate and individual or a role.

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