I have seen the terms socking, sock puppet, sock puppeting, sock puppetry flying around in different questions here, but what do they actually mean? I know what a sock puppet is in the real world is a child's toy made from a sock, but what does it mean in this world?

Note: even though it's mentioned in Stack Exchange Glossary - Dictionary of Commonly-Used Terms, I would like to have a more detailed answer here, since this term has big impact.

  • @Shadow use you dupe-hammer! – älёxölüt Jul 19 at 9:51
  • @alexolut no... It is fine to elaborate certain terms which have big impact. I will vote to Leave Open though. – Shadow Wizard Jul 19 at 10:04
  • @ShadowWizard Any tips of how I should edit the question to motivate that it's not a dup in that case? – klutt Jul 19 at 10:37
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    @klutt hard to explain, edited it myself now. – Shadow Wizard Jul 19 at 12:27
  • @ShadowWizard Thanks. – klutt Jul 19 at 13:25

The on-site description currently available is the tag-wiki for the tag sock-puppet:

A sock puppet is an extra account created in addition to the user's normal account and used for abusive purposes.

A sock puppet is an extra account created in addition to the user's normal account.

On Stack Exchange, one abusive reason for sock puppetry is serial voting, especially upvoting own answers.

Users found to be abusing sock puppets will have such accounts deleted and their main account will be suspended or deleted.

Note that having more than one account for a legitimate purpose is permitted.

Here at Stack Exchange, it often means someone who creates multiple accounts and uses these extra account to increase his or hers reputation. These sock puppets can be used to upvote the questions and answers for the puppeteer, or to post questions where they accept the puppeteers answer.

But do note that multiple accounts does not necessarily imply sock puppetry. As long as you are not using the extra account for evil deeds, such as vote fraud, you are fine. One commenter to this post have one account that he/she uses on untrusted connections.

From Wikipedia:

A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term, a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock, originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an Internet community who spoke to, or about, themselves while pretending to be another person.

The term now includes other misleading uses of online identities, such as those created to praise, defend or support a person or organization, to manipulate public opinion, or to circumvent a suspension or ban from a website. A significant difference between the use of a pseudonym and the creation of a sockpuppet is that the sockpuppet poses as an independent third-party unaffiliated with the puppeteer. Sockpuppets are unwelcome in many online communities and may be blocked.

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    I'd note if there's no voting fraud or other malfeance, having a secondary account is fine. There's a user in good, actually legendary standing who's gotten 100k on two accounts on the same site, and I maintain a alt account for various purposes which I use on untrusted systems – Journeyman Geek Jul 19 at 8:14
  • @JourneymanGeek done – klutt Jul 19 at 8:20

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