For example - on this question the asker is (removed david) but then an answer has been posted by david.

I'm pretty sure its the same user as he's replying to another answer and the autogenerated avatar image is the same.

I've left my standard comment recommending that the user contacts team@stackoverflow.com, but is there anything else that can be done to reduce the chance of this happening?


The reason the avatar is the same is that the e-mail address is the same. Based on this and other factors, they are the definitely same account/user (now merged). I agree that the system could make it easier to spot this, but there are some complications:

  • we obviously would not want to allow account stealing just by knowing the e-mail address (mine/Jon's aren't exactly secret, for example)
  • it isn't really a huge problem for unregistered users
  • it is already easy enough for us to search by things like e-mail address to relocate and recombine accounts, but again: unless one of the accounts is registered this is a bit like taping smoke back together...
  • Jeff/team would have better access to numbers, but I suspect that the volumes of dup accounts would make it very high maintenance, unless we only reported on duplicates past an arbitrary date, but again: unless one is registered it isn't necessarily useful

So all things considered I'm not hugely sure it is worth changing much, except perhaps locating obvious duplicates where there is a registered account involved.

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  • Is it best to add a comment (as I have been doing) or go straight to flagging the post for moderator attention. – ChrisF Oct 31 '09 at 22:05
  • Comment should be fine. – Marc Gravell Nov 1 '09 at 8:36

...the autogenerated avatar image is the same...

There's a programmatic option right there -- compare new users to existing users using heuristics and automatically flag them for moderator review.

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