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A certain user has been repeatedly evading site quality controls by creating many new accounts to avoid question bans and suspensions. For more background, see the following Meta posts that have been made about this user: What's going on with the Russian etymology questions?, Regarding the Russian etymology questions (Linguistics and Latin SE)

It's a bit hard for me to check because of all the alternative accounts, but I believe the user has asked enough low-scoring and deleted questions to trigger an automatic question ban on at least some of the sites where they are active. (The user also has been suspended on Latin SE.) I was confused about why an IP ban hasn't kicked in yet. It looks like IP bans might be rarer than I thought, but regardless, I've never seen this much continued activity from a single identifiably disruptive user before, so I thought that moderators had some kind of ability to proactively prevent users from just making new accounts and continuing to post questions.

Obviously, this user's posts have been flagged to draw the attention of site moderators. I was wondering whether any Stack Exchange employees are aware of the situation, and whether there is anything more that could be done to reduce the problem of this user posting copious amounts of mostly unwelcome questions about etymology on sites across the network.

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    This is a good question; a similar issue was discussed on meta site for matheducators.se two years ago. Username "guest" with the identical identicon used for each and every new account they create, still actively creates and abandons accounts rather frequently, treating SE accounts like tissues. – Namaste May 11 at 11:37
  • @Namaste: Interesting; thanks for the link. The person I was talking about seems to be creating new registered accounts, for some reason. There are similarities in the way these users ignore some of the feedback that they receive. – sumelic May 11 at 11:42
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    Yes, sumelic. We ran into the same phenomenon on math.se. Multiple accounts were created regularly by one user who was "hell-bent" on destructive behavior, who probably is among the top ten in terms of number of deleted accounts. But they kept creating new accounts to replace appropriately deleted accounts. – Namaste May 11 at 11:50
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    If only users would put so much effort into their questions, instead of evading the quality ban. If they did, they'd never have hit the ban in the first place. – fbueckert May 11 at 14:16
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    A suggestion of how to that wasn't implemented. If Mods could view a hashed/encrypted IP address (so they could compare one account to another without actually knowing the address) and if they could see the "city name" without knowing state/district and country it would add a bit of information when trying to decide if the accounts are the same. There are tools in the office but I'm not going to comment on them and they aren't for Moderators. – Rob May 11 at 15:14
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I talk a bit about the process in this feature request and this answer, but moderators have the ability to delete accounts such that they start building a network-wide IP block. This kicks in rapidly on specific IPs, and also intelligently starts blocking accounts across subnets for "snowshoe" spammers, trolls, and question-ban-evaders.

This person may have gotten away with it for the duration you saw simply because no moderator was aware of their multiple accounts. The system itself has some protections around this, but the more significant blocks require active moderator intervention.

As I noted in the above-linked posts, these IP blocks are generally very effective at stopping question-ban-evaders, and they apply across sites. In my experience, once someone has been identified as doing this, we can clean up all the accounts quickly and the IP bans make it difficult enough that most people give up and move on.

My recommendation is to flag this user's posts, tell us what's going on, and if possible give us links to posts or the profiles of their other accounts so that it makes it easier to tie them together. It's pretty easy for us to then look into these accounts, verify the connections between them, and start applying blocks as needed.

  • Thanks, I will continue to flag then if I see new questions being posted by this user on sites where they have a currently banned account. – sumelic May 14 at 5:23

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