15

Mysteriously getting signed out of my accounts (never happened even in a week of inactivity)


How this started

I was reading this (the day I posted this): How do you output a multi-line string that includes slashes and other special characters?, and when trying to bookmark it, an error appeared, "You have to be log on to vote".

  • What? Also, I did not accidentally press the vote button. When I pressed the bookmark button, it highlighted it in light blue.

Then I looked at the site's top bar, and my avatar and everything were there, but there were no Log in or Sign up buttons. That means I logged out somewhere but it wasn't reflected or updated on the website.

Then I went to the Meta Stack Exchange site. I was also logged out there.

Then I refreshed the Unix Stack Exchange site. I had been logged out. Top bar was same as when I visited Meta Stack Exchange site.

  • So, all this happened without me knowing, without my orders.

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.)

I was casually reading Ubuntu 21.10 - Thunderbird 91.x.x drops (movemail) mbox support!, I noticed the Log in and the Sign in buttons appearing.

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.

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 what I do normally.

The end

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.)


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.

38
  • 7
    Happens rather frequently to me, every one or two weeks maybe. Nov 26, 2021 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, 2021 at 13:12
  • 3
    Aren't everybody logged out when there is scheduled maintenance (not a rhetorical question)? Nov 26, 2021 at 14:59
  • 7
    @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, 2021 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, 2021 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, 2021 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, 2021 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, 2021 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, 2021 at 10:16
  • 1
    @Rory How are you saying that it can't be SE? Nov 30, 2021 at 14:22
  • 1
    @Marjn I need a plausible explanation, and instructions by the staff on what. To keep an eye an so on. I just don't pestering here o find and find and find. Nov 30, 2021 at 14:23
  • 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, 2021 at 14:42
  • 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
  • 7
    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

3 Answers 3

6

Here's my updated, comprehensive list of recent dates when I had to log in again (newest first):

Jan 30, Jan 30, Jan 30, Jan 29, Jan 29, Jan 27, Jan 27, Jan 27, Jan 27, Jan 26, Jan 26, Jan 26, Jan 26, Jan 25, Jan 25, Jan 25, Jan 25, Jan 24, Jan 13, Jan 12, Jan 11, Jan 4, Jan 3, Dec 31 '21, Dec 28 '21.

Yes, I've been signed out eight times in a ~24 hour period. It's never been quite this bad before.

But I know how to reproduce it! Go to the site switcher, select a site, and tap a question. Repeat. In experimenting, I've been going down the list alphabetically, skipping Area51 (it's always jank) and sites like Ask Ubuntu (url is different, causing a different problem). I was once able to get logged out after visiting only 5 sites. Other times it takes a few more. But the browsing pattern that reproduces this isn't even unreasonable, and in fact I often browse like that when I'm bored.

It's been on my phone that this is happening, on both wifi and data (I'll have to check if desktop does this too).

And again, because I've been exclusively signing into a single site (Writing) it is easy to get some additional details if needed. I can live with this but it really is annoying so I'll do what I can to help.

If anyone else has details about this problem, feel free to share.

3
  • Is this bug data a an answer to my question? (ahem then add something like [bug data] or [bug report] to the top of your answer because the real answer should be the the most plausible explanation for this or a support response, both haven't arrived yet! :D Jan 26 at 3:31
  • 3
    @VScode_fanboy On meta, answers can help elaborate on the original bug report, especially when it's too much for a comment. Anyway, the most appropriate tag for this answer is clearly [rant] :p
    – Laurel
    Jan 26 at 3:35
  • I got it. By the way, I made a mistake by adding the discussion tag (result: people start blabbering about almost anything, not on actual reproduction or facts) and the support tag (Result: locating a population in Antarctica is preferable rather than getting a response from support) alongside. Should've used the tag bug. Please do not use such tags if someone from the future is reading; instead, use the bug tag. Jan 26 at 7:20
3

My bug report data:

I was trying to post a message on 11 December 2021 around 3:15 PM UTC in Mathematics room but I got the following error after clicking the 'send' button.

enter image description here

But I had just sent a message around 3 minutes before that error.

I had also been signed out like @Laurel a few times.

OS: Android 11
Browser: Chrome 96 (96.0.4664.92)

1

Because the following is produced on a mobile, it is a stand-alone report.


I am currently experiencing this bug, which means I am reporting live.

Anyone who wishes to reproduce:

  1. open the browser on your mobile phone
  2. Remove all cookies from askubuntu.com, stackoverflow.com, stackexchange.com, and superuser.com.
  3. Now go to stackexchange.com and sign in. (Step 4 may be done after some time, not right after step 3)
  4. Go to www.askubuntu.com. You are not logged in.

Bonus bug: after typing all of this in chat, I typed meta.stackexchange.com into the address bar and was immediately logged out. Then I went to the Shadow's den (a chat room) and logged out.

What mobile?

Samsung J series.

Mobile site or full-site?

Mobile site.

What OS?

Android 8.

What browser?

Of course Chrome.

11
  • 1
    What mobile? Mobile site or full-site? What OS? What Browser? Which IPS?
    – rene
    Jan 30 at 7:47
  • 2
    @rene Intrusion prevention system? In-plane switching? Instructions per second? Indoor positioning system? Interpersonal skills? Jan 30 at 10:52
  • @EmilJeřábek hmm, pre-coffee comments never go down well. I meant ISP: internet service provider. But I would have loved for it to mean Interpersonal Skills. My mobile is unfriendly to me. How do I cope with that ;)
    – rene
    Jan 30 at 11:49
  • 2
  • @Emil I doubt you visited abbreviations.com, I was thinking along the same lines as well. Seems that rene forgot his coffee! Jan 30 at 12:58
  • @rene that sounds like some information I won't share, well it is an ISP and they get a underwater connection rrom India and several places. Jan 30 at 13:00
  • @samcarter that is terrifically similar. But I am on a mobile so... Jan 30 at 13:02
  • 1
    @VScode_fanboy What has mobile to do with that? Jan 30 at 13:06
  • @samcarter Let's wait till that question get a answer or let alone a response and then perhaps move this? Jan 30 at 14:49
  • 2
    Why do you expect to be logged in on step 4? If your browser blocks third party cookies either because you asked it to or by default, cookies from stackexchange.com are considered 3rd party on askubuntu. That's not a bug, that's just how third party cookie blocking works. If you allow third party cookies, then that might be different - do you allow them?
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jan 30 at 16:48
  • 1
    @Catija I haveallowed them! I only block them in incognito mode, for no reason actually. Jan 31 at 2:27

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