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! – αλεχολυτ Jul 19 '18 at 9:51
  • @alexolut no... It is fine to elaborate certain terms which have big impact. I will vote to Leave Open though. – Shadow9 Jul 19 '18 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 '18 at 10:37
  • 1
    @klutt hard to explain, edited it myself now. – Shadow9 Jul 19 '18 at 12:27
  • @ShadowWizard Thanks. – klutt Jul 19 '18 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.

  • As an anecdotal example, I have 2 Stack Exchange accounts: A more professional one tied with my Uni email (wont last forever), & a more personal one tied with my permanent main email. At any time I may be logged in (through device/browser cookies) with either one. I may not wish to hassle switching accounts to interact with a post I already entered with the other account. For ex, I might prefer to create an edit with the current account & approve it at a later time on the original account. Is this allowed? Am I also not allowed to upvote my most important contribution (so it stands out)? – abmays Jan 24 at 4:02

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