Say the developers of the open source project Foo create a Stack Overflow account "Foo Community". They use this account to post on Stack Overflow questions they often get from the community as "Foo Community" and then post answers to those questions with their own personal account. Assuming the questions follow all the Stack Overflow rules, is this considered to be an accepted use of Stack Overflow?

  • +1 -- it's been a while since we had a question explained so clear and to the point. – juan Sep 28 '10 at 21:16
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    It would feel a little dirty if you use the Foo account to vote up the personal account. – jjnguy Sep 28 '10 at 21:27
  • @jjnguy, I agree, using one account you own to vote up another account you own would certainly be dishonest, and this is not what I am suggesting, or thinking about doing. – Alessandro Vernet Sep 28 '10 at 21:31
  • then I'd say "Go for it!" – jjnguy Sep 28 '10 at 21:32
  • The exactly same use case is covered by the question Can we get the ability to ask questions as a Community User? - the answers include better options than shadow accounts. – oberlies Aug 21 '12 at 13:53
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    @oberlies Not really. That link is about asking questions only, but here, the "community" account could also provide official or canonical answers to ("real") questions relating to its project/product/community, though that isn't explicitlty mentioned in this question. The scopes are also different: an entire SE site, versus a particular product / project on topic for some SE site(s). Finally, that question suggests the new account should be functionally similar to the community wiki account, but this question states simply that it would be a standard SO user. – Esoteric Screen Name Aug 21 '12 at 16:04
  • I proposed a different approach for asking questions from the community on stackoverflow: Can we get a new question type for “forwarded questions”? – oberlies Aug 26 '12 at 12:38

As long as the questions remain in good faith (and aren't an overt marketing effort), I'm certainly in favor of it.

However, the answers shall also come from the organizational account and not your personal account. This makes everything more transparent.

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    I don't like this solution: only the questions are from the communtiy; the answers are my own and so I want to earn reputation for them if they are good. – oberlies Aug 22 '12 at 8:04

An alternative would be to direct the originators of the question to post them on Stack Overflow and then answer using your personal accounts but make it clear you are answering on behalf of "Foo Community".

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    I have thinking about this way of doing it. The drawback with asking people who posted a question elsewhere to "please report this on Stack Overflow" is the burden you put on them, and the additional time it will take before they can get an answer. So I am thinking that for questions that fit well on Stack Overflow, if the question is short and can be easily paraphrased, I repost it on Stack Overflow as "Foo Community", and if it is too long, ask authors to please repost it themselves. – Alessandro Vernet Sep 29 '10 at 2:05

(Updated:) From what I could find elsewhere (blog, meta question 1, meta question 2), it is okay to ask questions on stackoverflow just to provide good answers to them. So but how to get the question you want to answer into the system?

Generally, I agree that having an account for a community is a promising solution. However this account should be limited to what you are entitled to do on behalf of the community. IMHO the "community account" must not be used to vote or accept answers. As long as such a policy cannot be technically enforced on an account, "community accounts" have the potential for abuse and should therefore not be encouraged on stackoverflow.

Instead, you should use anonymous accounts for asking community questions. These do feature the limitations mentioned above and hence are not prone to misuse.

In summary: Don't create an account that allows you to do things you are not entitled to do

  • As far as I understood this, there would only be questioned asked which have definitive answers. Much like a "featured questions from the Foo community" feature-stuffy-thingy. And if they use a dedicated account...who cares about badges or reputation they get for that? – Time Traveling Bobby Aug 21 '12 at 13:29
  • @Waffelized Bobby: The problem is that the secondary account might be misused to generate reputation on your primary account, which is why I believe that secondary accounts should be discouraged. – oberlies Aug 21 '12 at 14:43
  • That's true...and would not survive long, too. – Time Traveling Bobby Aug 21 '12 at 16:37

I think as long as the answers "disclose your affiliation with the product" as stated in the SO FAQ I think it's fine and ultimately serves the goal of the site.

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