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I have heard that the policy of SE is that you can operate several accounts on a given site as long as they are not used to circumvent limits. So is it OK to

  • if one account comments on a post of another account (no voting, only post a comment)?
  • if one account answers a question of another account (no accepting or voting, only post an answer)?
  • if one account posts a bounty on the question of another account (the 3 bounties rule is not circumvented, it is not used to award rep to another account so no rep transfer)? It seems that it is OK judging from the past question.
  • Prediction: @gnat probably finds a duplicate for that :-D – πάντα ῥεῖ Aug 10 at 11:18
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So is it OK to

  • if one account comments on a post of another account (no voting, only post a comment)?

I think that's OK, yes. I've done so recently, but strictly distinguish (and also explain) that I own a private and a workplace account.

  • if one account answers a question of another account (no accepting or voting, only post an answer)?

I believe that would be also OK, when no rep affecting actions are involved.

  • if one account posts a bounty on the question of another account (the 3 bounties rule is not circumvented, it is not used to award rep to another account so no rep transfer)?

Since there's no rep transfer involved it also should be fine.

Though I refrained doing so, because I want to have my questions stand for themselves alone and not get being accused of suspicious actions.

  • so a comment "What an amazing question!" is not allowed if you do not explain that you own two accounts? – hello Aug 10 at 11:11
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    What an amazing question! isn't appreciated as comment, no matter who posts it. We can do without the noise. – rene Aug 10 at 11:14
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    @hello That would look at least fishy, because of self glorification. I would refrain from doing so. Not to mention that it's useless noise. – πάντα ῥεῖ Aug 10 at 11:14
  • @rene You forgot the ping :P – πάντα ῥεῖ Aug 10 at 11:15
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Generally, while having multiple accounts is acceptable, any interaction between them is forbidden. This includes especially anything that allows you to do things which would not be possible with just one single account, but not only related to direct reputation inflation.

Even answering questions of your alt or commenting on their post can be seen as abuse of the system, as it e.g. allows you to accept your own answers and get points for it, or to express opinions on your post without making visible you're the author.

Quoting Shog9 (SE Community Manager) on How should sockpuppets be handled on Stack Exchange?:

When should sockpuppets be considered a problem?

There are a handful of legitimate reasons to maintain multiple accounts. A good rule of thumb for identifying abusive socks is: if the second account allows you to do something on the site that your normal account would be prevented from doing, it is abuse. Examples of this include (but are not limited to):

  • Voting on your own posts or comments
  • Answering your own questions with the other account(s)
  • Casting multiple votes on others' posts or comments
  • Supporting your own arguments ("+1: shog is right, don't know why the rest of you don't realize this")
  • Using bounties to circumvent the rep cap
  • Circumventing suspensions, quality bans, or the rate limits on posting questions / answers / comments / etc.

Also note that your alt accounts are in danger of getting merged with your main or even deleted if they cross certain lines and trigger automatic systems or moderator attention. So it's best not to step too close to that border anyway.

  • I think Shog9 sort of contradicts herself in the comments: "It's certainly possible to do so without actually causing any harm." Note that the question explicitly says that the answer posted by another account is not accepted. – hello Aug 10 at 14:58
  • Also note that you can answer your own questions so "normal account" is not prevented from doing that (replying to the quote rather than to the actual answer). – hello Aug 10 at 14:59
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    No, posting an answer to your own question with different accounts is not harmful in itself. But that constellation then could easily be abused in various ways, and not all of them can clearly be verified or denied with the tools moderators have (e.g. we don't see individual votes, but only statistical summaries). Repeated occurrences of answering your alt's questions will raise suspicion and may possibly lead to action then anyway, even if you did not actually vote yourself. It should be fine if you use common sense of what might be right or fishy. – Byte Commander Aug 10 at 15:14

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