Yesterday in a SE site there was an answer claiming that the accepted and upvoted answer was blatantly wrong and there was a gross mistake.

The poster revealed that the accepted answer was by a sockpuppet of a mod, and that he was aware that there was at least one more alias of his.

The correcting answer was deleted twice, and we'll never know if the accepted answer is misleading or not.

I was just wondering if this practice is acceptable. I suppose (or rather hope) that that mod refrains from upvoting his sock's posts, but what happened indicates that a mod can easily impose his own views (even when they are probably wrong).

Could someone who is in charge of mods clarify if such practice is tolerated or should be reported.

It seems necessary to specify that this question is not insinuating anything, let alone suggesting a conspiracy by anyone. I simply and faithfully reported a fact, something I witnessed, that raises some questions. I appreciated the answers but, if a Manager thinks the episode deserves investigation I'll report to them (and only to them) the details of the incident through a discreet and confidential channel.


It is deplorable that this question continues to be misread or misinterpreted after so many comments and clarifications, I can't see what information can be gained if I disclose the site and the question, since there is nothing wrong there to be seen, and you need 10k+ rep in that particular site in order to read deleted stuff and you have to be a TM if you want to check multiple accounts.

I regret, also, that somebody insists on the conspiracy string and that the simplicity of the title has warranted a deliberately wrong, restrictive, literal interpretation of this question as a duplicate. I'll ask a new question, of course mods can have multiple accounts, as long as they do not protect them abusing of their priviledges.

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    Same rules that apply to ordinary users apply for mods: as long as they are not voting for themselves, it's fine Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 7:37
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    @ShadowWizard, the problem is clearly not voting, here
    – user234285
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 7:39
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    @user234285 true, and sounds like it's also not really related to sock puppets of the mod, just a mod who might misuse his/her power to delete answers without good reason Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 7:40
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    @shadow and they should say so, either in their about me or elsewhere... Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 7:40
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    The post was deleted correctly since it is not right for an answer to complain about another answer. If you have any problems with the mods, click the contact us link on the site in question. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 7:41
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    @DeerHunter, I am not a member of that site, and before reporting I wanted to make sure there is something to be reported.
    – user77639
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 7:52
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    @DeerHunter sometimes the comment space is insufficient to expose the flaws in an answer - and the best way to refute is to write a better answer in which the flawed argument gets deconstructed. Without seeing the original posts I can't tell whether the deleted post should have been a comment (in which the correct course of action would be to convert it to a comment rather than simply delete). I disagree with your statement "it is not right"... - II is not right to "only" complain.
    – Floris
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:45
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    @Floris, you have priviledge to verify if here there are two (deleted) answers that claim the answer (by user6972) is wrong (and that the poster is same user as DanielSank and dmckee). You have also the expertise to judge if the claim is grounded. I also suppose you are not prepared to share your conclusions with us, since a mod is involved
    – user77639
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 6:50
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    I'll ask a new question, of course mods can have multiple accounts, as long as they do not protect them abusing of their priviledges. - That's answered in the duplicate. I'm not sure what the new question is.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 23:12

3 Answers 3


Sock puppets are tolerated as long as they don't interact at all with the parent account. That obviously means no voting, but it also means that you shouldn't answer questions of your main account with a sock, or even comment on posts by one of your other accounts. You also must not use socks to circumvent any restrictions like e.g. the maximum number of questions per day.

I'm a moderator and I have used socks for various purposes. But they never interact with my main account at all, and don't participate in any meta activity. It would also be an obvious conflict of interest if I would act as a moderator on a question that my sock has participated in.


Evidence seems to be lacking in the incident as described but my understanding is that all mod actions are logged.

Consequently, using the Contact Us button to alert the Community Team to your (or the poster's) suspicion would make the trigger for this question something that could be easily investigated.

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    Thanks for your answer, Poly, but I'll wait for an answer from one of the Managers to say he is willing to investigate that. I posted here just because I am not a member of that site, and cannot fear retaliation
    – user77639
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 7:57

What is a sock puppet? An account that is solely created to vote on your own or your friend's posts. So sock puppets are always wrong.

That said: if the moderator doesn't vote on his own posts, or strategically votes on related posts, there is no problem with having more than one account (that makes it not a sock puppet). A lot of regular users have too for their bots, or just to see how it was like on the other site of the reputation barrier.

Another thing to consider is this: a moderator should be free of suspicion. As a moderator you have to be really careful what you do and how that is perceived.

If a moderator deleted posts that dispute his, for disagreement as only argument, it is wrong obviously. I think there might be going on more. Maybe the answer was a link-only or otherwise low-quality answer, or maybe a comment as answer. If you want to dispute deleting that post, the best place is the site's own meta since we aren't subject experts, nor can most of us see that post.

If you think a moderator has stepped out of his boundaries, feel free to contact the SE team.

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    That is rather naive, Patrick: top users (insiders) are usually aware of the real author of an answer. The member who exposed it is most likely a member of the clique who has been in some way disappointed. A sockpuppet is useful to write something which you suspect may be rubbish, and then you can support it in many ways.
    – user77639
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:07
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    But a second account isn't by definition a sock puppet. It can be, but it doesn't have to be. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:07
  • If the term is not appropriate, feel free to edit the question. I reported the exact term used there.
    – user77639
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:09
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    Well, that distinction is what I try to make. Sock puppets are never allowed. Secondary accounts are, if use appropriately. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:10
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    I had to think about this for a bit and am now inclined to agree with Patrick. Any post by a moderator tends to be viewed as having "a lot of authority". This makes it hard to make a point "gently". A secondary account that allows the mod to post content, with a reputation that reflects the content that this second account has posted (not artificially inflated), does seem legitimate.
    – Floris
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:16
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    If it is about the deleted answer being okay or not, that is something for the site's own meta, since we can't see nor judge the contents. We just have to go on what you post here. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:23
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    @user77639 Added more information about the deleted answer. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:30
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    @Ben I admit I misread the question - I had somehow got the impression that the refuting answer was by the mod's account. It is not clear to me whether the second answer was deleted by the mod. That would certainly cast a different light on the whole thing.
    – Floris
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:40
  • There are more than one moderator @Ben. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:51
  • @Ben I am yet to see a site where all odds act as one, and I think they are far more likely to act as many with tensions between their views on many issues. To me it seems very counter-productive to this Q&A not to be providing the name of this site so that the question can be migrated to its Meta. Any case to take to the Community Team via the Contact Us button would be far strengthened if the action of a mod had been discussed on its Meta first.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 10:39
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    Thanks for your comment. OP feels it might come back at him, so I understand his worries. Nevertheless, he should address it the appropriate way. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 10:50
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    @Ben A moderator removing meta posts that criticizes them would in most cases be a serious abuse of power and I'd expect quick action by SE if they became aware of it. I'm not aware of any cases in the network where this has happened so far. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 13:11
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    ... and the other moderators too. There is more than one moderator on each site. The moderators moderate each other too. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 13:14
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    I have one too actually, and I need to use it more often. This feels all conspiracy theory-ish without any mention of which questions or posts are involved. Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 14:47
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    @MadScientist The question has been phrased very cleverly to insinuate something wrong at Physics. In fact there is a deranged user who is slinging wild accusations at a number of established users. As in, this person desperately needs mental help and is unsuited for living in society, whoever they are. Yes, accusations were made against a moderator, and yes those have been deleted, but if you could see them you'd see the madness for what it is.
    – user206562
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 5:11

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