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I've been thinking about suggesting my wife makes a Stack Exchange account. I think she would benefit from and be a good contributor to at least a few different sites.

I know multiple accounts used by a single user aren't prohibited, but are likely to be merged if they interact with each other... So my question is, how is this interaction monitored/detected? And how can I prevent me and my wife's accounts being wrongly detected as a single user’s multiple accounts (since we'll—for the most part—be using the same IP addresses, devices etc.)?

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This usage will be fine - just make sure that you're not voting on each other's stuff just because it's your spouse.

Accounts are automatically merged only in very specific circumstances - IIRC, only if the email address and IP address match. Since you should be using different email addresses, that shouldn't happen.

The only thing you need to watch out for is moderators becoming suspicious that there are two accounts from one location. This can often be indicative of voting fraud going on - obviously, it's not in this case, but it's a flag for many moderators. Be open about what's going on with moderators (and the rest of the community, for that matter), and you won't run into any trouble.

Source: I have a sister who also uses SE, and haven't run into any issues with it. Also, am a moderator, which is where the mod viewpoint comes from.

  • Wikipedia has a policy, that if one is not sure if multiple accounts are one user with sock puppets or multiple users doing similar things, they will be treated as one user with sock puppets. – Sonic the Reinstate Monica-hog Dec 18 '17 at 17:25
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    Needless to say - this isn't Wikipedia :) – Jon Clements Dec 18 '17 at 17:29
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The system looks for a disproportionate amount of interaction between accounts as a means of finding and exposing sock puppet voting between users. You would be especially vulnerable to this check because you're already known to be at the same location. But the way to avoid any problems is to make sure you don't vote on a partner or colleague's stuff simply because you know them.

Folks might argue that you're more likely to notice a partner/colleague's posts and therefore more likely to vote for it… but voting/content ranking is a vital part of how Stack Exchange works — so we have to enforce the premise: vote for content, not users.

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