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How this started

A few things to clarify:

  • I didn't make any changes to the Stack Exchange network or my browser. 

  • I will occasionally leave this computer without visiting Stack Exchange for a week or so, and no problems will occur. 

  • Today, my ISP throttled my connection. However, today's Stack Exchange web pages loaded quickly for the most part. This isn't the cause of the misery things happening to me because I leave the computer shut down for a while and then log back in, unless some occurred in the timeouts of my connection.

The scary second encounter

  • My connection is back to normal speed.
  • The question I was on: Ubuntu 21.10 - Thunderbird 91.x.x drops (movemail) mbox support!, this time when I was there; I noticed the Log in and the Sign in buttons.
  • I assumed this was limited to Ask Ubuntu, so I checked the Parenting Stack Exchange tab I had opened before the Ask Ubuntu question. I got the Join this community option there (auto updated), which means I'm logged in to the Stack Exchange network somewhere.
  • Then I checked a Stack Overflow question - I was logged out.
  • But I was logged in in Meta Stack Exchange site.

Third episode of this misery

Happened on Tex.SE.

This is unmistakably a bug.

Long, long time after...

This happened about three times after that, but not in the last 20 days. I was told to flag the question and add the status-review tag, which I did. I was also instructed to include any new incident information.

In December and late-November I contributed/visited SE about 20-15% of how I do normally.

debug, debug & my concerns

Support, You are awesome, however if you did respond just at the time when this started happening and promptly arranged a developer for me who may tell me what specific aspect of the website/network I need to keep an eye on, record, etc. (an insight why I request this; see the last sentence of the comment linked) then that would have been fantastic. (But I know that was a holiday season.)

User Wolgwang has also experienced this bug on the site(s) and in chat - his comments, however I don't know it is the same cause (quoted ↓) .

I had sent a message just 3 minutes ago. I was automatically signed out. I was on android device so no chance of interference by any extension. This had happened to me a few times before also when opening the SE after being offline for some time but never while sending a message.

What is the most plausible explanation for this?

My OS: Windows 7

Browser: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/96.0.4664.110 Safari/537.36

Extensions: Nothing.

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  • 6
    Happens rather frequently to me, every one or two weeks maybe. Nov 26 '21 at 13:09
  • 1
    The worst part of this is there's no way to troubleshoot. I have no idea what's going on or even where to look at. Nov 26 '21 at 13:12
  • 3
    Aren't everybody logged out when there is scheduled maintenance (not a rhetorical question)? Nov 26 '21 at 14:59
  • 6
    @P.Mort.-forgotClayShirky_q No, there are long lived cookies (aka not per session) left in your browser that enables the browser to re-authenticate once a page is up again. This does rely on a non-volatile server-side-storage. Background: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/309727/…
    – rene
    Nov 26 '21 at 15:13
  • 5
    Every once in a while I'm also logged out, those cookies do tend to expire at some point
    – Luuklag
    Nov 26 '21 at 19:08
  • 3
    Well, it's something on your side. Either something that clears the cookie used by SE to automatically log you in. or you're being logged out from your provider (e.g. Google) which in turn nullifies the token (?) used to log you in here. Anyhow, best SE or other users can do is help you find what on your side is causing it, I really don't think SE can "fix" anything on their side. :/ Nov 30 '21 at 8:55
  • 3
    @VScode_fanboy sorry but in this case, I disagree. If you find any proof it's a bug on SE side it would be awesome, but I don't think that's the case. Anyway, hope you'll have it sorted out. Also, for some odd reason you didn't even mark this question as bug report, so there's no chance at all a developer will take a look. Nov 30 '21 at 8:58
  • 1
    VScode_fanboy - this never happens to me unless, as @ShadowWizardIsVaccinatedV3 says, I have done something on my machine, or with my Google account that requires my reauthentication to them. It's not going to be an SE issue, it will be an issue at your end. (Or cacheing ;-P )
    – Rory Alsop
    Nov 30 '21 at 9:40
  • 1
    It also happens to me every once in a while, the login cookie expires for some reason, I have not been able to figure out what triggers it. However, whether it is something on my end or the more unlikely scenario that SE invalidates the cookie from their side, I am not very bothered by it - I just login again and the problem is solved. It happens rather infrequently so I don't think it is worth spending time to find the root cause. Related xkcd: xkcd.com/1205.
    – Marijn
    Nov 30 '21 at 10:16
  • 2
    @VScode_fanboy think Marjn point here is, is it really worth all this trouble, from your side? As you can easily just login again. It's not like you're blocked from logging in. Nov 30 '21 at 14:42
  • 1
    This happens to me several times a day some days, but only on iOS Chrome. (Still waiting to see if it will happen to me on the site I moderate to see if I can diagnose further.) What's your setup?
    – Laurel
    Nov 30 '21 at 14:58
  • 1
    I don't think that much else of what we moderators have access to would be useful in diagnosing this. I can't even see a record of when I remember needing to log in twice in one day, but I'm not sure why. I only see a record of me logging in 5 times in 5 months, about once per month. (And before that, I logged in three years ago when I created that site account.) But the problem in your update with SO/AU may be just 3rd party cookies, since the base URL is different.
    – Laurel
    Dec 16 '21 at 17:03
  • 3
    It seems like at a minimum you'd want to report your OS, browser, any extensions or other tools that could plausibly or implausibly impact anything with the data coming into or saved by your browser (anything for security or privacy or convenience or backup). Most of the more confusing aspects of your report seem easily explained by caching, so I'd focus just on the bit where you are no longer logged in/credentials have expired/etc. Jan 7 at 17:50
  • 6
    As a heads up - [status-norepro] here doesn't mean "won't fix." Instead it just means, "we do not have enough information yet to successfully reproduce the bug." Please keep documenting: if a pattern emerges, the status may change.
    – Slate StaffMod
    Jan 11 at 15:11
  • 3
    @Slate I don't know how much this will help, but here are the days I had to login again recently: Jan 13, Jan 12, Jan 11, Jan 4, Jan 3, Dec 31 '21, Dec 28 '21. (For convenience, I've been recently only logging in on Writing SE if you want to check the details.)
    – Laurel
    Jan 13 at 21:48

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