I am active on math.stackexchange.com, physics.stackexchange.com and philosophy.stackexchange.com, but can no longer log into any of them. I presume this is because I am logged into other Stack Exchange sites (where I am also active) under another login name.

This has never been a problem before but it seems to have become one under your new login procedures.

The only way I can log into math, physics and philosophy sites (and now meta) is to open a separate browser.
I am certainly not going to be willing to do this very often, therefore, unless you fix this, I won't be back. I do hope you fix it.

  • 2
    No need to go all dramatic! :) Meta.SE is the ideal place to discuss possible bugs.
    – M.A.R.
    Jul 11, 2015 at 12:46
  • 3
    @M.A.Ramezani: The drama was occasioned by someone (who seems well informed but might not be) telling me that this bug was created intentionally. I hope he's wrong.
    – WillO
    Jul 11, 2015 at 12:47
  • 1
    Bugs intentionally? They must be kidding.
    – nicael
    Jul 11, 2015 at 12:48
  • @M.A. But that's actually dramatic. OP can't be back on the sites they can't log in, this seems to be very logical.
    – nicael
    Jul 11, 2015 at 12:50
  • 1
    WillO, have you read Upcoming login changes See if it answered there. If not, you may want to ask there by posting this in the answer. That post is highly monitored and chances of getting answer are more. Jul 11, 2015 at 13:27
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    It is not a bug, it is a change. Multiple logins (which I also have) were never officially supported in the same browser (though they happened to work for me.) You have identified the fix, which is to use two browses. Do not hold your breath waiting for a change back. The login process was flawed and needed to be changed, and when designing the solution, this consequence (two browsers for multiple accounts) was considered and accepted as ok. You are not telling the developers anything they didn't already know, except perhaps for how strongly you feel that two browsers isn't acceptable for you. Jul 11, 2015 at 14:34
  • You can use an incognito window in the same browser too, in case that helps. I also used to have two accounts that I wanted to keep separate; I used separate browsers because it was just the one site I had to keep separate, but incognito windows might work better for your use case. Jul 12, 2015 at 5:10
  • @MonicaCellio: Thanks for this, though in many ways the existence of this workaround makes the whole thing even more infuriating. It suggests that the stackexchange people don't actually care that much about multiple logins --- if they cared, they'd have done something to prevent the workaround. So it seems the new policy is designed to make users' lives more difficult in the service of a goal that the administrators don't even consider terribly important.
    – WillO
    Jul 12, 2015 at 12:43
  • @WillO I think it's probably more like this: multiple logins weren't a factor when the system was designed (long before we had sites like parenting, workplace, the religion sites, and others where you might want to keep a low profile), they accidentally worked so long as you were careful, they don't work using those tricks now but there are others, and it would involve major surgery to make them work the way you want. Major surgery is likely to be reserved for things that don't have workarounds. Or, put another way: they didn't care, now they might but it's hard, but can fix at client end. Jul 12, 2015 at 16:51
  • @MonicaCellio: Thanks for this too. It suggests that StackExchange didn't set out deliberately to jeopardize users' privacy, but simply didn't care enough to protect users' privacy after it was jeopardized as an unintended consequence of some other change. I suppose that's a (slightly) more benign possiibility, but of course all that matters in the end is that the problem exists and won't be fixed, not what caused it in the first place.
    – WillO
    Jul 12, 2015 at 18:38
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    @WillO I don't think "didn't care enough to protect users' privacy" is a correct characterization. They never said you could have two accounts in the same browser session, but there's an obvious workaround. How many other sites support simultaneous login into different accounts in the same browser? I don't think that's the norm. As I said before, this affected me too -- I later deleted the "liability" account for other reasons, but I've been there and what I did to make that work still works -- no negative change from SE on this. Jul 12, 2015 at 18:44
  • @MonicaCellio: I very much appreciate the dialogue. I have a thousand things to say in response, but I don't want to try your patience and I fear this is the wrong forum in any event. If you really want to continue this, I'll be happy to do it by email --- but I'll be equally happy to let it drop, with thanks again for your insights.
    – WillO
    Jul 12, 2015 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


I'm sorry to see you go, but what you describe will not be supported. If you want to switch accounts, you'll have to log out or use different browsers/browser profiles.

The fact that you were able to sign into multiple accounts in the same browser was a bug itself. That wasn't supposed to be possible under the global auth system we had, even though it apparently did work for some people.

Having said that, you can read more about the technical reasons behind this change here and more information about the rollout here.

  • Wow. That's a pretty cavalier way to treat your users, especially when you rely on them for 100% of your content. Of course it's your site and you make the rules, but I doubt very much that driving users away is going to be a good strategy for you in the long run.
    – WillO
    Jul 11, 2015 at 22:38
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    @WillO you're obviously upset by this, but don't you think you're overreacting quite a bit? Can you point to a single other person who's threatening to quit the network just because SO have fixed a long-standing bug? I don't think you can, it's probably just you at this point. I wouldn't worry about "driving users away", this change is very unlikely to do that in any sort of significant measure
    – Clive
    Jul 12, 2015 at 13:56
  • @Clive: When a product is suddenly changed in a way that makes it much worse, I tend to stop using that product. I'm a little baffled as to how this could count as an "overreaction", unless the word "overreaction" refers to the fact that I took the trouble to express my displeasure, in the vain hope that someone would care.
    – WillO
    Jul 12, 2015 at 14:22
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    I was just suggesting that "unless you fix this, I won't be back" is probably a disproportionate reaction, based on the assumption that you must find the network useful to even use it in the first place, and to care enough to write this post. Yes, you can't use it in exactly the way you're used to (I suppose whether or not it was perceived to be a bug or not is irrelevant to that), but saying that you won't be back because the login method has changed is an overreaction to me. Nothing wrong with expressing displeasure at all, that's part of the reason meta sites exist at all
    – Clive
    Jul 12, 2015 at 15:35
  • @Clive: I do appreciate your comments, but of course you can't be fully aware of all the reasons why I'd prefer not to stick around --- and I realize this is probably the wrong forum for elaborating.
    – WillO
    Jul 12, 2015 at 18:41
  • @WillO Supporting multiple accounts the way, say, Google does it is a whole big project unto itself. We never officially supported that and while it sort of worked, there were other problems - accidental account merges, for example. I'm sorry if that's a dealbreaker for you. I really, honestly am. But the reality is that I would be lying if I said that making in-same-browser account switching work is anywhere on our radar at this point. Asking folks to log out to switch accounts or use different browsers is how many sites work, so it feels like an reasonable compromise all things considered.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jul 14, 2015 at 0:48
  • @AnnaLear: I accept that what I'm asking for might be a whole lot harder than it appears to me. The fact that I can log into iTunes with one login name and simultaneously log into the New York Times with another suggests to me that I should be able to log into math.stackexchange with one login name and simultaneously log into, say, physics.stackexchange with another --- it's hard for me to see why the issues are any different. But again, I'm sure you're the expert here and I'm not. (One more comment coming....)
    – WillO
    Jul 14, 2015 at 1:13
  • @AnnaLear: I started to type a comment explaining why this is such a big issue for me and why it's extremely inconvenient for me to employ any of the workarounds. But I suppose none of that is relevant, since it's not going to change your mind. I do appreciate your attempt to explain the issues at your end, though unfortunately this does nothing to alleviate the practical problems at my end.
    – WillO
    Jul 14, 2015 at 1:19
  • @WillO I'd be interested to hear about your concerns regardless. They may help inform our future choices. If you'd rather keep them out of the public eye, you can email me - the address is in my profile. As for the rest... iTunes and NYT are run by two completely different companies while all our Q&A sites are ours. As I, perhaps too briefly, mentioned in my answer, we always intended for our logins to be network-wide, but the system we had in place didn't always work as expected, which was partly a reason for its replacement in addition to the other technical considerations.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jul 14, 2015 at 3:28

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