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I recently decided to revive another person's question on Stack Overflow with Reverse Engineering related tags, and seeing how participating in RE discussions can be controversial for some jobs, I decided to create a new account to keep things separate, just in case. As far as I know, this is OK with Stack Overflow.

Somehow I still accidentally posted under my old account, but I immediately deleted that answer and later re-posted it under the new account. This was not cheating the system, just an accident. There were not two answers posted at the same time from different users.

Almost immediately, I was suspended for two weeks, with no explanation. I have read the terms, and googled and read a lot of posts on Stack [insert X here] before posting. I can not find any rule saying I did anything wrong.

My answer was relevant and not abusive.

Is there any way that I can find out why I was suspended? Would it not be polite to at least attach something automatically generated?

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    in case if moderator didn't know that your two accounts are sock-puppets and thought that they are different, they could perceive your second post as plagiarism which tends to be considered quite abusive – gnat Jul 12 '16 at 13:34
  • Wouldn't it be more abusive to suspend somebody on a whim without carefully reading what they posted? "He was probably doing something wrong, I don't know, I can't be bothered to actually read his post, let's just suspend him, lol" – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 13:39
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    you need to understand that false alerts like your are very rare, and most typically posting exact copy of deleted answer (moderators see them) is real plagiarism. And for real plagiarism, fast and reasonably long suspension is a standard thing: fast in order to prevent copying of other posts and long enough to make better chance for user to notice it (some may pop up, post the copy and disappear for 3-5 days so they won't even notice shorter suspension) – gnat Jul 12 '16 at 13:46
  • @user6576405 How would reading the post that you posted from two different accounts have shown the moderator that it wasn't plagiarized, but was instead a re-post from the same user? – Servy Jul 12 '16 at 13:54
  • Well, I can see where you're coming from, but where is the plagiarism? If I plagiarize another user's answer to gain "points", there is plagiarism, because I'm "stealing" somebody else's "work" to gain something for myself. Perhaps I'm not familiar with common patterns of spamming on SO; when would somebody plagiarize in a way similar to my re-posting? And why? – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 13:56
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    @user6576405 If the moderator didn't know that both accounts were the same person then it would be plagiarism. As for why people plagiarize, is it really that hard to imagine why anyone would ever take credit for someone else's work? Usually it's because they either are unable to create work of that quality on their own, or don't want to take the time necessary to produce such works. – Servy Jul 12 '16 at 13:58
  • If the post was deleted and then reposted, it'd be very difficult for a low-rep user to plagiarize it... seeing as they can't actually see the post any more... Yes, there is the slight chance that they saw it before it was deleted but I think a message asking what was going on before suspending would have been nice... "assume the best" and all... – Catija Jul 12 '16 at 13:59
  • @Servy but that is my point, it was obvious that the answer was not "work". It even said in the first sentence that I wanted to bump an old post, and then detailed what I had done myself to investigate further. Can you suggest what I could have done that would be acceptable and not violate the "no duplicates" rules? – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 14:15
  • It would be a lot easier for people to look into if you could post the user profiles of the accounts you used to create these answers and that are now suspended... I understand if you're trying to prevent further bad stuff happening but... – Catija Jul 12 '16 at 14:18
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    @user6576405 To be clear, you didn't violate any rules, I'm just agreeing with gnat that it looks suspicious, and there's no real good way for the moderator to have known that both accounts were yours. You're claiming that they just didn't read the answer, but unless you said, in the answer, that you posted it with another account, deleted, it, and then re-posted it (which I doubt you did, if the whole goal was to be anonymous) then the mod wouldn't have known both accounts were yours, so it wouldn't be clear to them that you didn't break the rules. It's an easy mistake to make. – Servy Jul 12 '16 at 14:19
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    Your experience on SE would be a lot more pleasant if you stopped thinking of them as forums. They aren't. See my edits to your question. – user102937 Jul 12 '16 at 15:29
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I'm the moderator responsible for this, so I can explain what happened.

You first posted what appeared to be a follow-on question here in an answer to a Stack Overflow question. You then immediately deleted that non-answer and re-posted it under your new account here.

That caught the eye of a few people and a pile of flags came in on it. This kind of deletion and re-posting via a second account is a common tactic of sock puppet accounts being used for voting fraud, so people have learned to recognize it.

When I looked at this, I saw no evidence that you were using this second account for voting fraud, but it looked to me like you might be using it to avoid a system-imposed question or answer ban. In cases like those, moderators on Stack Overflow have started deleting accounts with the "no longer welcome" marker.

This gradually builds a location-based block to prevent future accounts from being created, and it also now locks the account credentials so any new accounts created using them are automatically suspended for 14 days. That's what happened to your new account, and why you didn't see a message about this.

Frankly, with the only content being posted by this new account being a non-answer, I thought little would be lost by deleting this account as a preventative measure. Repeated question- or answer-ban evaders are a severe drain on Stack Overflow at present, and I like to stop them before they have a chance to annoy too many people.

As you've explained what is going on, I've lifted the suspension on your second account. I would just suggest that if you have a new question to ask, you do so in a new question instead of an answer. You can refer back to the previous question in the new one, if you need context.

Sorry about the confusion here.

  • Thanks for taking the time to explain. But what if I don't have a new question, but the old question (by the other guy) was simply never answered? I have the very same question. Of course I read that question and "investigated further" but I didn't come up with anything (apart from a poor work-around that I mentioned in my non-answer). – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 20:54
  • By the way, I changed your answer to be the accepted one not to gain favor but because I realized that the previously accepted answer, while answering the title question, was actually wrong in the very first sentence (the "always" and "Always always" parts). – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 20:55
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    @user6576405 - Follow-on questions left in answers don't work well, structurally, on the Stack Exchange network. There's no way for someone to answer you there, answers don't get the kind of visibility as questions, and this quickly become a mess in the early days of the site. As a result, follow-on questions in answers are removed as a matter of site policy to keep things clean. If you just wanted to post a poor work-around there as a way to deal with the situation, then separately ask a new question that had clarifying information and linked to the original, that might work well. – Brad Larson Jul 12 '16 at 21:02
  • Even if your new question with some additional details ends of being marked as a duplicate of the original question, it might bring renewed attention to the first and your additional information might be enough to hook the right people into answering. I've seen that happen on several occasions. – Brad Larson Jul 12 '16 at 21:04
  • @user6576405 I've edited my answer accordingly, though I still think this one should be accepted because it addresses your specific case. – David Z Jul 13 '16 at 10:45
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    "common tactic of sock puppet accounts being used for voting fraud" how does that work? – John Dvorak Jul 13 '16 at 11:29
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    @JanDvorak - Create new account. Find two questions you've answered. Delete your answers from your main account and post copied-and-pasted versions of those answers from your new account. Vote up both of these answers from your main account. Congratulations, you now have a sock puppet capable of voting for your main account. Every person who tries this thinks they're the first one to attempt it. – Brad Larson Jul 13 '16 at 14:10
  • So, the trick is just that you milk your old account for good/plausible answers? Thanks. – John Dvorak Jul 13 '16 at 15:05
  • @JanDvorak If by “trick” you mean “an excellent way to get the new account deleted”, yes. – SevenSidedDie Jul 14 '16 at 6:09
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  1. With one exception that I know of (as described in Brad's answer), suspensions are always accompanied by a message explaining the reason for the suspension. The system does not even allow moderator to impose a suspension without an accompanying message. Read that message. It can be accessed in your inbox, in the top bar of any SE site, the same place you get notifications about comment replies and answers to your questions and so on; it also gets sent to the email address associated with the suspended account, if there is one.

    The content of the message is ultimately up to the moderator sending it, but there are some standard forms that they usually tend to follow. Here is an example (with all identifying details changed) to show the level of detail you might get:

    Hello,

    I'm writing in reference to your Secret Agent Stack Exchange account:

    http://spies.stackexchange.com/users/007/bond-james-bond

    Due to clear signs of falsified accounts being used to artificially inflate your reputation, your account has been temporarily suspended for 7 days.

    It is not fair to other users of Secret Agent Stack Exchange to allow users to gain reputation through sockpuppets.

    The offending accounts have been removed and the votes invalidated. Please refrain from this behavior in the future.

    Regards,
    M
    Secret Agent Stack Exchange moderator

    In some cases, depending on the reason for the suspension, the message will contain links or quotes of the content that prompted the suspension.

  2. If there's something you don't understand about the message, you can reply to ask for clarification. As long as your attitude is one of learning - specifically, that you want to learn how to avoid the problematic behavior in the future - then you should get a polite and (hopefully) helpful response, and you will make a good impression on the moderators too. That's good for your future participation on the site.

  3. After the suspension expires, you can post on the site's meta to get further input from the community about why your behavior was inappropriate and how you can avoid it in the future. Again, if you honestly want to learn, this should be well received, but if you want to complain, it probably will not be.


Note that a quality ban can be imposed without any notification (until you try to post). That is an entirely different thing from a suspension.

  • Where is this message supposed to go? It was not sent by email and I can not find it anywhere in my Stack Overflow user panel. It did not go into my email spam folder or elsewhere. – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 13:33
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    I thought it should show up in your inbox, but actually I'm not sure. It should also have been sent to the email address associated with the suspended account, if there is one. – David Z Jul 12 '16 at 13:39
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    @user6576405 It goes into your global inbox (the one you can access by clicking the little red number in the top bar on any site). You should see an item there labelled "moderator private message". – Rand al'Thor Jul 12 '16 at 13:44
  • Is unspecified "rule violations" considered a full and legitimate explanation of reasons? Because I did get a message like that, that I was "put in the penalty box for rule violations" – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 13:50
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    @user6576405 The message you received should have gone into more detail than that. – Rand al'Thor Jul 12 '16 at 13:59
  • The user is listed as suspended on their profile, so it's not a post ban, it really is a suspension. – Servy Jul 12 '16 at 14:26
  • @Servy well, based on the question I've been assuming we're talking about a Reverse Engineering account, which user6576405 doesn't have. If this happened on Stack Overflow instead, then... hm, that might make more sense. – David Z Jul 12 '16 at 14:32
  • You're right and I was wrong, it was on Stack Overflow, and not the Reverse Engineering forum, just some related tags. (I could have sworn it was RE...) – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 14:37
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    @user6576405 a little tip that might help you keep these things straight in the future: they are sites, not forums. There are no forums here. ;-) – David Z Jul 12 '16 at 14:42
  • @DavidZ oh you young whippersnappers should just be happy I'm not calling them lists! Now get off my lawn! – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 14:45
  • I am embarrassed that I had mistaken where I had been posting. Doesn't make for a good plea to lift a suspension... Do you guys think I should just make a new post in SE Reverse Engineering? The original post (by the other guy) is from 2015, but it should have been made in SE RE imho. – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 15:06
  • @user6576405 I'd wait on that for a little while, maybe a day or so - wait until you get the situation with your Stack Overflow account straightened out. – David Z Jul 12 '16 at 15:16
  • @user6576405 so you have another account, on Reverse Engineering site? (which is also suspended?) – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Jul 12 '16 at 15:18
  • @ShadowWizard maybe. Maybe not! :) No I don't, but I think the question (about configuring IDA for 68k) belongs on SE RE rather than on generic SO, so perhaps I will start a new question on SE RE rather than dealing with being banned by SO mods. – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 15:20
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    @user6576405 did you find the message? If not, you should see it here. – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Jul 12 '16 at 15:22
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You should have received an email on the email address known by SE (so check your SPAM folder). There a moderator explains why you were suspended. If you didn't receive that, go to the Contact Us page in the footer on every page. Kindly request explanation of the suspension reason.

A moderator suspended you for the reason of 'rules violation'. What that exactly is and what you did wrong here, that is not something we can see, just the moderators. So contacting them is your only option. (As discussed in comments: it is not for creating multiple accounts. Maybe some actions you performed that influenced the other account which isn't allowed, but again, nothing we can see.)

Keep in mind to stay constructive and nice. Don't blame the moderator for suspending you, just hear the reason and see if you can learn from it.

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    Just noting that recommended use of the CW checkbox is site-dependent. – David Z Jul 12 '16 at 13:27
  • Was not a re-port of somebody else's answer, was a re-post of my own answer that I had deleted, which is a big difference. But I know you were not the mod who suspended me, just wanted to add that in case somebody else tries to find out why they are suspended for similar reasons in the future and reads this post. – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 13:30
  • So why repost your own deleted answer by another account? Wasn't it just you who created that content? Why hide that? – Patrick Hofman Jul 12 '16 at 13:31
  • It is explained in the first sentence of this question. – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 13:35
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    I think what happened is that the moderator noticed you posting under different accounts and thus suspended you because it looks suspicious. By creating another account it looks like you are trying to hide who you are. That's not actually a violation of any rules. It's explicitly allowed to use multiple accounts, so long as you don't do anything that you couldn't have done with just one. – Servy Jul 12 '16 at 13:48
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    You're also in no way obligated to use CW when quoting content of another user. You are obligated to cite it appropriately, but using CW is merely a convention that some people like to use, no more. – Servy Jul 12 '16 at 13:49
  • OP could have just undeleted the original question. Taking a walk with someone else's questions is not the way to go. @Servy And I did not say he has to use CW, but if you copy someone else's content, I find it a good thing to use CW, but that is just my opinion. – Patrick Hofman Jul 12 '16 at 13:59
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    @PatrickHofman The OP never had a deleted question, so no idea what you're going on about there. The OP posted an answer, then deleted it, created a new account, and posted the answer with the new account (so that it would be anonymous). That's all acceptable behavior. As for CW, you didn't say you prefer using CW, you specifically said that CW should always be used when posting content of another (even though that's not even going on here at all) when that's just your personal preference, and in response to someone asking why they were suspended no less, implying that's related. – Servy Jul 12 '16 at 14:02
  • I will remove the CW part since I wrongfully thought it was someone else's answer OP wanted to repost. And with "revive another person's question" I read he wants to get them undeleted. If not, why should you repost under another user if you already have an answer there? – Patrick Hofman Jul 12 '16 at 14:04
  • I was "reviving" the old question because I had not found an answer to it on the entire internet, and I'm assuming neither had that OP. Because of the "no duplicates" rule, I didn't want to start a new question, so I chose to bring attention to the old one. – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 14:10
  • I read it as simply posting on a question that's been inactive for a while. As for why he wanted to use a new account, he explained as much right in the quesiton; he felt it was a controversial topic. And even if you don't understand why he'd want to, it doesn't change the fact that it's perfectly acceptable behavior. Your assertion that it would merit suspension is completely false. – Servy Jul 12 '16 at 14:17
  • Okay, that was a lot different that I thought it would mean. I altered my answer @Servy – Patrick Hofman Jul 12 '16 at 14:22
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    For any future haters (not suggesting that is Patrick Hofman or Servy) in some countries and businesses, almost any remotely "controversial" subject can be problematic for employers these days, because the HR staff that does recruiting don't really understand anything and they don't care about nothing. Your name is "connected" by Google to something on a "controversial subjects" list they purchased, you might not get that interview, no reason given. In this particular case (68k reversing) it seems highly unlikely, but you never know. Rather safe than fired. – user6576405 Jul 12 '16 at 14:35

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