(Please read carefully. This isn't about sock puppets.)

I just noticed that this user has two Stack Overflow accounts. Their other account is listed as having the same network account as the former account.

Even more strangely, if you go to their network profile, you'll see two listings for Stack Overflow, but they both link to the same account, and both are listed as having the same reputation.

By the way, this isn't unique to that user; there are a total of 39 pairs of duplicate accounts tied to the same network account on Stack Overflow alone. (There were only six at the time I asked this question, but it increased to 15 in early December 2018, 26 in December 2019, and as of December 2020, has ballooned to the current total of 39.) This also isn't unique to Stack Overflow; there are seven pairs of duplicate accounts on Super User, eight on Server Fault, five on Meta Stack Exchange, and possibly more pairs on other sites as well.

There was a past case of a user having three MSE accounts tied to the same network account, but that seems to have been due to a user-specific issue, and has since been resolved. Same goes for this case from 5 years ago, and a case of a former staff member who held moderator and association bonus rights on one account but not the other, seen in earlier revisions of this post.

How was it possible for all of those users to create multiple accounts on the same site, and tie them to the same network account? Also, how can they switch between their two accounts? Can they even use the other one?

  • 3
    Keeping multiple accounts separate has never been particularly well supported. Having said that, this sure does sound like an obscure bug (or just a case of one-off unrelated bugs all coming together in a coincidence kinda thing), especially given the low number of users affected. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Gonna have to dig through the logs on these to see what actually happened.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    May 9 '18 at 4:38
  • @AdamLear Please see edit. It may have a hint as to what to look for. May 9 '18 at 5:01
  • 19
    I told them not to use the gravity drive. They wouldn't listen.
    – Tim Post
    May 9 '18 at 14:45
  • 2
    I'm sure that my instance was user error related to testing sign up/sign in. It's hard keeping track of all these sock puppets.
    – Joe Friend
    May 11 '18 at 21:43
  • 1
    @Adam did you have a chance to dig through the logs, in the 8 months that passed since the bug was reported? Jan 30 '19 at 9:46
  • @ShadowWizard Nope. Given the rarity of this, I gotta be honest - it's fairly low priority. I'm curious about what's going on here, but I have more pressing things to work on.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jan 30 '19 at 21:13
  • @AdamLear Considering the sharp rise in this issue occurring, maybe the priority of this issue should be bumped up a little? Jan 30 '19 at 21:14
  • @SonictheIntrovertedHedgehog What sharp rise?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jan 30 '19 at 21:15
  • @AdamLear From six pairs at the time I asked this question, to 15 last December, and then two more as of today (on SO). As well as one new pair each on SU and here on MSE. Could be a bug with the discontinuation of OpenID. Jan 30 '19 at 21:16
  • @SonictheIntrovertedHedgehog Eh. That still seems very minor in the grand scheme of things. The original cases predate OpenID work and while that doesn't mean there isn't a bug there somewhere, this honestly doesn't sound super dire to me. (Plus individual cases can be resolved by merging the profiles.)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jan 30 '19 at 21:20
  • I'm personally rather interested in an answer to this question (being one of the people with a duplicate account on SuperUser: data.stackexchange.com/superuser/query/985659/…) One thing I noticed is that while my network profile links to the same account twice, the question/answer counts are different between the two entries: stackexchange.com/users/7438488/laverya?tab=accounts I have no idea (yet) how to use account #927945, only #901341.
    – laverya
    Feb 15 '19 at 19:49
  • 1
    @laverya I merged your profiles, and I'll push a quick update to clarify the error message and provide another resolution path there.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Feb 15 '19 at 20:13
  • 2
    @SonictheIntrovertedHedgehog "These profiles appear to be already linked. Please select 'Other' from the topic list and describe your situation to our support team."
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Feb 15 '19 at 21:02
  • 1
    Here is a SEDE query to list all the currently problematic cases.
    – peterh
    Jun 9 '19 at 13:18
  • 1
    @SonictheBracketedHedgehog Wow! Some of the users seem using their multiple accounts regularly, simultaneously, since years! And, a lot of rep1 users have NULL in the AccountId column, some of them are many years old! The a25bedc5-3d09-41b8-82fb-ea6c353d75ae DisplayName is very popular in their circles, too!
    – peterh
    Jun 9 '19 at 13:56

Revisiting this. I've confirmed this is still an issue with the SEDE query provided in comments, but this isn't particularly high priority given the number of people impacted - it's a strange case. I've put this into our backlog so we can address in the future and will have the team update here once we have more. Adding for now.

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