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So there's this girl I know.

She's kind and funny and sweet and basically kinda awesome, and as we've gotten to know each other better, my participation in Stack Exchange has come up as a topic of conversation more than once. Obviously something rubbed off, because earlier this week she signed up for English Language & Usage SE (she's an English teacher; it was never gonna be Server Fault), answered two or three questions, and then told me about it.

I was, of course, delighted, and although she didn't tell me her username, it wasn't hard to find her profile. When I did, I saw a minor formatting error in one of her answers, so did the obvious thing: create an account on ELU.SE, and suggest an edit.

I even upvoted a couple of her answers, being careful to only do so if I'd have upvoted them had I not known her, and also to take a wander around the site and vote on a few questions and answers by other users.

The next day she came over to my place after work, and wanted to login and see whether she'd got any more votes, comments etc. Typically if she wants to borrow my computer for something I'll open a Chrome instance for her (I'm a Firefox boy myself), but it turned out I was also logged in to SE on Chrome. No problem though; I logged out, she logged in, she checked her account, all was good.

It did occur to me that this meant two simultaneous logins from the same IP (albeit different browsers), but I figured whatever anti-sockpuppet machinery SE has in place has to be intelligent enough to handle that kinda thing with a degree of common sense, and as far as I know, no warning bells went off anywhere.

Fast-forward to today, and this post on Stack Overflow Meta.

"Huh", I thought. "I suppose I could have been caught by that". Still, the machinery seemed to have worked, no harm done, etc. etc. Then I read Shog9's answer – specifically this part:

If you're logging into your account while your friend is still logged into his... On the same machine... In the same browser... They're very likely to be merged. The solution is to not do all of that.

Now: the fact is, it was harder than I expected to logout of SE in Chrome before letting my – let's just call her my friend for the sake of this post – before she logged in. I had to do so twice, for some reason, and I suppose it's possible I wasn't in fact "properly" logged out.

For all I know, it's possible that SE did register two simultaneous logins from the same IP and browser – and one of those accounts had previously upvoted the other. Twice!

Nothing happened, but I have to admit I'm a little nervous now. I suppose the worst that could have happened is that the accounts got merged, but although she really is a very nice girl, I'm not sure I'm ready for that level of commitment just yet.

So, I'd like to know: Was my/her behaviour wrong, and would repeating be it liable to get us merged before we're quite ready to "tie the knot"?


EDIT: To be clear, my concern is that I had certainly been logged into SE from the same browser on the same machine seconds before she logged in, and given that I had to make multiple attempts to logout (still no idea why), I can't be absolutely certain that SE didn't register simultaneous logins.

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    Next time open Incognito Mode instance for her. Both safe from being auto merged, and she will be happy to know you won't be using her account yourself to spy on her. :-) Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 14:49
  • No, at least I don't think there is a big possibility :) I used up to 30 sock puppets in the same browser and still they do exist separately :D
    – nicael
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 15:29
  • (^^^ I mean a little possibility that they would be merged. In case you're afraid, incognito mode or faking IP would probably help :D)
    – nicael
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 15:38
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    Frankly, I'm shocked any guy would let his girl use his browser while logged into his user account. Or are you like some kind of an incognito ninja?
    – user1228
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 16:54
  • @Zero Make sure to update us with this story of you two!
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 18:05
  • @Won't innocent face I don't know what you mean ...
    – user201929
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 18:45
  • Practically speaking, it takes a request and a dev deciding its a legitimate request to actually merge an account in my experience. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 3:38

2 Answers 2

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I'd say Shog9's answer you linked to pretty much answers your question here.

Shog9 stated:

If you're logging into your account while your friend is still logged into his... On the same machine... In the same browser... They're very likely to be merged.

You stated:

Chrome instance for her (I'm a Firefox boy myself)
I logged out, she logged in

So you are only doing 1 of 3 things Shog9 warned about - being on the same machine.


It did occur to me that this meant two simultaneous logins from the same IP (albeit different browsers)

Although problems may occasionally happen, I think you can safely assume that Stack is cleverer than that. Universities and large companies often share the same network to an external connection, and often therefore the same IP.


If you are still unsure, then the solution, again, is in Shog9's answer:

If you use the "contact us" link at the bottom of this page and explain what's going on, we'll see what we can do to help you out

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  • I've just edited my question to clarify: the thing is that as far as I can see I was at least two for three, and given the apparently somewhat shaky logout process, it might have looked to SE like three for three.
    – user201929
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 14:37
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    I'd hazard a guess that as your accounts have not been merged by now, they probably won' for that past incident. The occurrence could be stored in a database somewhere waiting to see if you do it again, I'm not sure. Just make sure you don't login on the same machine at the same time. And use a separate browser. Hell, Stack probably even have to cater for public machines - same machine, same IP, same browser - the only thing missing there is not at the same time.
    – James
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 14:40
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I don't see your accounts getting merged if neither of you is posting spam or taking other illegitimate actions.

That said, I can't make a guarantee. A safer option, in the future, would be to open in incognito Chrome window.

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