I am a longtime SO user, but recently I created a new account for Parenting SE. (As in, new username associated with a different email address.) I do this because I use SO and similar sites (Server Fault, etc.) in the professional sphere--I have a SO careers page and I anticipate prospective employers checking out my SO profile.

On Parenting SE, on the other hand, I ask question(s) in the domain of--obviously--parenting, which I do not consider part of the professional sphere. And in fact whatever questions I might ask there, since they of necessity reveal information about my children and family life, I would like to keep private.

So I am dismayed to find out that as of yesterday, mods at SO (or AI?) has figured out that my two SE profiles are the same person, and merged them. It gets worse: I also used an alternate account to ask a sensitive question about contracts, and this too has been merged into my main account.

Is this SE policy, or did some lone wolf moderator go out and do this? In the former case, what considerations outweigh my desire for privacy? Is there another way to achieve privacy within the SE system?

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    Moderators are limited to their own site; they cannot go around and connect user accounts across sites. It is absolutely not policy to just merge accounts, you are allowed to have multiple accounts provided those accounts don't interact. Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 15:17
  • That was most likely automatic merge due to error on your side i.e. you were not careful enough. Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 15:23
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    You'd once used the email address on your new account for your existing account; the system flagged them as likely the same person and they were merged. This is done automatically and semi-automatically on a daily basis as a service to folks who have forgotten their IDs and inadvertently created new accounts; in rare cases, someone will create two accounts intentionally as you did and trigger the same process. See also my answer to the linked duplicate.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 15:36
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    @Shog9 Thanks for sorting this out. Perhaps SE should ask users if merging is desired before doing so? I.e. with a popup or something like that. Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 16:05
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    You can ask to have that sensitive question disassociated from your account.
    – user1228
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 19:07
  • The UI could use a bit of love, but it is not trivial @matthew; there are security concerns, and in many cases the owner has lost access to his previous account. The proper behavior here is probably to identify these a lot faster and simply refuse to create new accounts in many cases.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 0:58
  • @Shog9 No, I imagine it's non-trivial. But I would point out that as the number and variety of SE proliferates, this issue will probably arise more frequently. It feels a little too easy to do an accidental merge as I did right now. Commented Jun 17, 2015 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


Moderators can't do that. Your accounts were probably merged automatically. You said you used different email addresses, but if you used the same OpenID credential, then the system recognizes you as the same person and auto-connects the accounts. Further, if you're logged in to two different OpenID providers (say, Facebook and Google) and you are also signed in to two different SE accounts using those credentials, the software puts two and two together and merges the accounts.

You'll need to use a separate OpenID and be careful not to be logged in to both at the same time in the same browser session to prevent the auto-merge. This is what I was told when I asked how to set up an alternate account that wouldn't be connected to my main one.

  • Ok thanks that could explain it. Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 15:36

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