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Even though those screenshots show the style from before the days of the glorious StackExchange™ MultiCollider SuperDropdown™, those screenshots actually come from recent versions of the site: Yi Jiang is using a custom stylesheet.

Because this is the third time this has happened, I think I should post a question about it. Look at the screenshot above (click on it for the full size version).

Basically, O_o.

It occurs when I visit a question. It happens incredibly rarely, maybe once every, I dunno, thousand visits to the questions page?

The system apparently thinks that I'm the question's OP, and even displays the notifications correctly. If I navigate away to any other page, everything gets back to normal. Clicking on the notification envelop, for example, gives a 404, as expected.

Edit: Well, this happened again. Here, have a look:

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As you can see, votes are also exposed by this erm... bug? This is what I'm suppose to see (I didn't vote on either the comment nor the question)

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Edit: Mr. Atwood, this happened again. Now what did you say about this been fixed? -1 smiley for you :(

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So erm... what the hell is happening here?

  • 1
    Ha I see you visited my profile... :-) Commented Oct 1, 2010 at 4:32
  • Also of note- the user name at the top of the page is different - it looks like the system completely thinks you're a different user! Commented Oct 1, 2010 at 6:22
  • 8
    +1 for slipping up and exposing all of your sock puppets! We've got you now!
    – Pops
    Commented Oct 1, 2010 at 12:38

2 Answers 2


I'm going to post an answer, even though there really isn't a definitive answer, since the other party involved in this problem haven't been contacted over this (though I think I should). The problem seems to concern the user's ISP's overly aggressive caching behavior - displaying cached pages requested by other users to me, even though we aren't suppose to see the same page.

Anecdotal evidence seem to support this, since only Singapore users seems to be affected. I'm still not sure if this is happening at the ISP level, or it's some strange quirk that affects all Singapore users. For the record, my ISP is Singtel.

Through my own testing, and Jeff has confirmed this, that unless the session cookie the browser's holding has been replaced with one of the other users, there's no way you can actually be that user - you can't see their private /users/recent page, nor answer question or add comments as them. Refreshing the page with Ctrl + F5 will bust the cache and give you the correct page.

There is, however, a breach of privacy which may be important to some - first of all, the location of the affected users will immediately be exposed - unless there is another problem with SO that causes this same problem, you can be pretty sure that the other user is living in Singapore. Voting choices is the other important breach of privacy. Thankfully, this problem is pretty rare - both users must be looking at the same pages near the same time, but it has happened often enough to warrant attention.

Singtel has a "Contact Us" form here, for those inclined toward complaining about it: http://info.singtel.com/Contact-Us

PS: I wonder if the SO team is going to do anything about this

Related Chat Conversations:
SO Thinks BoltClock is Yi Jiang
Conversation with Jeff Atwood over account mixup

  • +1 I encountered the we-are-one problem when my iPhone, which is under SingTel, was tethered to my MacBook. Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 9:54
  • 2
    ah, fascinating, thanks for the followup! Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 9:51

There was an issue with http://stackexchange.com where it would actually cause this to happen through a rare, but completely stackexchange.com specific login bug.

This has since been fixed.

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