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We in the Root Access chat room just noticed (ahem) that the rate limit on display name changes can be circumvented by changing the parent site. That is, a user can change names extremely quickly by doing something like this:

  1. Associate a new site account
  2. Modify the new per-site profile to have a different display name
  3. Change the chat parent user to the new site

There does not appear to be a rate limit on chat parent user changes. There are a lot of Stack Exchange sites now, so a user can spin through names for quite a while before running out of parent sites.

Is this behavior acceptable? Is it intended to be possible, and should anything be done about it?

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    I don't think it's acceptable, if user abuse it too much, he/she should be chat suspended. – ShaWiz Sep 4 '16 at 17:53
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    @ShadowWizard Several times an hour and "impersonating" mods and room owners is too much in my book. – DavidPostill Sep 4 '16 at 18:03
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    Well, this isn't just a matter of changing names. The user in question is purposely exploiting this process to impersonate moderators and room owners. That is clearly bad-faith conduct that justifies a suspension and might warrant another question on Meta Stack Exchange... – bwDraco Sep 4 '16 at 18:05
  • This is a variation of a known hack, which is by design. Impersonating others (especially mods) is a different issue and is against the rules. – Laurel Sep 4 '16 at 19:14
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    @Laurel: Per the ToS at stackexchange.com/legal: Under no circumstances will Subscriber use the Network or the Service to [...] (c) create a false identity or to impersonate another person – bwDraco Sep 4 '16 at 19:28
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Yes, it's possible to change your name a lot by creating and syncing accounts across the network. According to Name Change Limiting can be Broken, this is .


Impersonating others is a different issue. I think Brad Larson gives a great explanation:

Copying another Stack Exchange user's name and avatar is generally considered an attempt at impersonation, and will typically be rolled back by moderators. Filling out your profile to match the other person is certainly an attempt at impersonation, and will almost always trigger a profile rollback and stern warning.

Of course, this goes against the ToS:

Under no circumstances will Subscriber use the Network or the Service to (a) send unsolicited e-mails, bulk mail, spam or other materials to users of the Network or any other individual, (b) harass, threaten, stalk or abuse any person or party, including other users of the Network, (c) create a false identity or to impersonate another person, or (d) knowingly post any false, inaccurate or incomplete material.

The key part is (c):

Under no circumstances will [the] Subscriber... (c) create a false identity or... impersonate another person

If you see someone trying to impersonate another user, you should flag for a moderator and explain this. (You get bonus points if the user was trying to impersonate a mod and that mod handles the flag :))

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Just to follow up on this. Woke up to a massive drama fest related to this, and it really is a superuser/root access issue so...

The user in question has been told I reserve the right to switch their account back to the one on superuser. It's disruptive as hell and it's un-necessary drama. He's also been told it's unwelcome in the chat room to switch his nick that often. I'll probably take more serious action than a basic mod-message/verbal warning if this continues.

It's a pain when I don't know which one of a dozen nicks is the active one (even in regular conversation), and this user has had a history of skirting right on the border of the rules and it usually works when one tells them to knock it off.

Where there were attempts to circumvent rules, they've been handled appropriately.

I've also followed up with other involved users as needed.

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    Solution: give the user one year chat ban. This usually helps. (Not saying SE shouldn't block this breach though.) – ShaWiz Sep 24 '16 at 5:21
  • eh. I wish it was that simple. Another user keeps over reacting to this. The correct way to deal with this IMO, is not to give the user the attention they so clearly crave. If people stop talking to them cause no one has any idea who they are... On good days, this person is usually insightful, intelligent and interesting. Its simply not how I moderate root access. – Journeyman Geek Sep 24 '16 at 5:26

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