From a single account, one is rate-limited in how many votes can be cast per day (depending on privilege level for some vote types). Similarly, there is a rate-limit on how many reviews can be performed in the review queues. An active curator may have the time, energy, and inclination to review enough posts that they run into these rate-limits somewhat regularly.

While creating a sock puppet account for the purposes of voting on one's own content is strictly prohibited, it's not clear to me whether it's prohibited to create a sock puppet to get around these rate-limits on voting for the purposes of curation.

I understand that the sock puppet can't vote on the same posts as the primary account, but this could be ensured manually, or with a userscript. Also, the sock puppet would need to reach around 3k, without any help from the primary account, in order to cast close/reopen votes, but this could reasonably be achieved in 6 to 8 weeks.

It seems ok to me, but it is technically doing something that is not possible from a single account (and is the point, in fact), so I'm not sure if there's something that I'm missing here that makes this a problem. Reading through How should sockpuppets be handled on Stack Exchange? this case is neither mentioned in the list of things that are allowed, nor in the list of things that are disallowed. Of course, neither of those lists are meant to be exhaustive.

So, is it acceptable to create a sock puppet for the purposes of increasing the amount of curation one can do?

  • 6
    I believe there is a catch-all clause about sock puppets (and other "unorthodox" uses of the system) which is broadly "be reasonable". It is not quantified because it cannot be quantified. Mods/staff should monitor for responsible usage.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 6:53
  • 1
    6 to 8 weeks. Never knew I'd be that fast reaching this much rep. Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 6:54
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    From our fearless co-founder here: We really want vote diversity here, so that's the point of the limits -- if the same 2 folks are vetting all the edits, that's not a sufficient set of eyeballs on those edits. I believe that reasoning applies to all review types. Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 6:55
  • @VLAZ Right, I'm mostly worried that I might be missing something obvious (or subtle) that makes this a strict no-no. I understand if it just comes under the "be reasonable" clause. Also, I understand that slipping up at all would cause the accounts to be merged/deleted.
    – cigien
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 6:57
  • @FrédéricHamidi That's a good point, I hadn't really considered that. Given the number of curators on some sites (such as Stack Overflow), I don't think that's too much of a problem.
    – cigien
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 7:00
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    @cigien I fear this is a question only mods/staff can answer. And making a public answer might not be the greatest idea. This seems like it should be a case-by-case basis. Perhaps it's acceptable for one user to use double the limits for curation but only because they can only devote one day per week for that. Saying "yes, using sock puppets is acceptable" doesn't apply to the general case and might mislead others. Or there might be other factors that go into a "yes" or a "no" that don't need to be public.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 7:02
  • What's the difference between this and having the limit doubled or removed altogether? I'm curious about your rationale behind this? The way I see it is that we either have a certain limit or we don't.
    – 41686d6564
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 12:32
  • @41686d6564 This wouldn't remove the limit entirely. The difference between simply doubling the limit is that it's not automatic; it would require a user to earn additional rep to gain the necessary privileges. Combined with the fact that one would need to be careful not to let the accounts interact while curating, there are probably not a lot of users who would care to exercise this option, even if available. While I'm in favor of rules being applied consistently, it seems possible that this might be a gray area where there's no real harm done by doing this (and potentially some good).
    – cigien
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 13:47
  • Does this answer your question? I am a sockpuppet; may I exist if I have a real purpose? meta.stackexchange.com/a/13539/282094
    – Rob
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 9:41
  • To give more close votes: no. To make more edits: imho yes. To create more pending edit suggestions as concurrently allowed for a single user: no. To voting down more than 40 times in a day: NO NO NO. However, if you can edit without creating pending edit suggestions ( -> at least 1 of your accounts has more than 2k (1k on betas)), then you do not need a sock. So the answer is generally no. Maybe there are some edge cases where using a sock (rule-conformantly) could be useful, but they do not get now into my mind. Maybe if you are a mod and want to cast non-decisive votes.
    – peterh
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


The rule of thumb is, as former Community Manager Shog9 says it:

if the second account allows you to do something on the site that your normal account would be prevented from doing, it is abuse

Casting more votes or performing more reviews than you otherwise would be able to do is not allowed. It's not included in the list with problematic behaviours, but it's worth having a look at valid reasons for sockpuppets further down; it does not even remotely look like the listed use cases.

is the behavior I'm asking about actually abusive?

Perhaps not. I may trust you to carefully consider what you vote for or what review actions you take; the point is that it's hard to audit. Even if you clearly state in both profiles that it's your primary/secondary account.

My solution to this problem: find more sites in the network with topics that you're interested in. Voting/reviewing limits only apply to a single site. Or (as you already did) join a chatroom/organization dedicated to moderation. You can do a lot more with coordinated effort than on your own, even with two accounts. Plus, it's more fun that way.

  • 1
    Well, I linked to that post in my question, and the text you quoted actually says "A good rule of thumb for identifying abusive socks is: if the second account ...". (emphasis mine). That's my question really: is the behavior I'm asking about in fact abusive?
    – cigien
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 7:02
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    Think of it another way: the limits exist for a reason. If we thought that it was ok for you to continue reviewing just with a different account, why have the limits in the first place? Perhaps research why the limits exist and you'll understand why it would be seen as abusive?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 7:11
  • @animuson Yes, I'm quite aware of why the limits exist, and there are very good reasons for that. I'm also aware that these limits must be chosen in a way that works for the largest number of users. There are many users for which these rates are way higher than necessary, and some for which it's a bit low. Also, I'm not sure that many users would go to the effort of building up a bunch of rep just to be able to cast more close/reopen votes.
    – cigien
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 7:14
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    This is an interesting answer: I understand that it would be hard to audit whether anything problematic is going on (voting on the same posts, etc), but that doesn't seem to be a reason to outright prohibit it. Of course, it would make sense to ban it if this were a common practice, but I think that would be unlikely.
    – cigien
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 7:20
  • @cigien It doesn't get simpler than "it the second account would allow you to do something your normal account would be prevented from doing, it's abuse". Bypassing voting limits or review limits or flag limits (etc) would mean the second account would do things the first account was preventing from doing. It's abuse, plain and simple.
    – yivi
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 7:29
  • 1
    @yivi I understand completely if this would count as abuse, but it's obviously not as plain and simple as "if the second account allows you to do something on the site that your normal account would be prevented from doing, it is abuse." If that were the case, then there wouldn't be a list of valid uses. Note that all those valid uses are things that can't be done from the normal account. The distinction (the reason they're allowed) is that they're not abusive.
    – cigien
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 7:34
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    I think it's obviously that plain and simple for the use-case you propose, @cigien. Put it another way, what you propose sits clearly in the "bypassing system limitations" category, which none of the suggested valid use-cases is an example of.
    – yivi
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 7:38
  • @yivi Yes, looking at it as "bypassing system limitations" certainly makes it much clearer that this is unlikely to be allowed.
    – cigien
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 7:41
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    @cigien You don’t think it is abusive because you feel you have a noble cause. That doesn’t mean that we agree however. The limits exist in part because by the time you hit those limits people tend to loose perspective. Using a sock to continue reviewing anyway is, in my view, abuse. No matter how much you think it would be helpful. Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 8:13
  • @MartijnPieters Yes, I'm definitely biased by my thinking it would be beneficial, and that my intentions are good. I see your point that it should be counted as abuse, thanks. I'll wait a bit to see if anyone else wants to write an answer stating that clearly, and I'll accept that one. (minor point: I wasn't sure it's not abusive, hence the Meta post before doing it).
    – cigien
    Commented Feb 19, 2021 at 8:18

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