I refreshed the SO home page and saw I was signed in as "Daniel Carvalho". I suspected an out-dated cache page, so I refreshed the page, but it persisted. I was able to view Daniel's user profile and his user openid information (email, website, consecutive days visited).

After a few more refreshes, I was signed in as FreshCode again.

  • You're both from South Africa, but I'm not a mod on SO so I can't see whether you share IP addresses (especially if you are co-workers or share the same hosting company), but it could be related to that.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Apr 5 '11 at 13:12
  • 17
    This sounds suspiciously like the times when SO mistook me for Yi Jiang and it mistook Yi Jiang for someone else, only other difference being we're in Singapore. Our theory was that our ISP was dealing us their server-side caches, because they're known to cache a wee bit too aggressively. Don't know about yours, though. Apr 5 '11 at 13:13
  • 2
    That's Interesting....
    – YOU
    Apr 5 '11 at 13:14
  • Indeed, the symptoms sound exactly like what happened here. I see that the two of you are also likely to be in the same geographical area, and thus likely to share an ISP
    – Yi Jiang
    Apr 5 '11 at 13:18
  • 10
    I paid my shrink a fortune over all these years and now you tell me it's a cache problem. And it's not even MY cache. Apr 5 '11 at 13:27
  • 2
    The two of you are indeed sharing an ISP, so chances are high that this is a (huge!) screw-up on their side. We're looking at it, though.
    – balpha
    Apr 5 '11 at 13:31
  • 2
    If it's an ISP screw-up: next time you see this, what does another browser show? (Assuming that other browser then does have the SE cookies.) (And some governments think it's safe to have ISPs implement data retention...)
    – Arjan
    Apr 5 '11 at 13:46
  • I've had some 'interesting' issues with my ISP's squid proxy, but never anything like that. Woah!
    – Tim Post
    Apr 5 '11 at 13:50
  • Are you using a proxy server in your network settings? And, now quite sure it's an ISP screw-up: next time, going to a random old question should then show you your own user name (assuming no one else has visited that old post recently) or yet another user name (assuming not all pages were cached from an earlier visit of the very same user). If all show the same name: alarm! And until the ISP fixes things: clicking through Daniel's activity page should get you his name in the top bar for some of the questions?
    – Arjan
    Apr 6 '11 at 10:29
  • @Arjan, Not using a proxy server, no. I'm on residential ADSL. Apr 6 '11 at 10:38
  • Then we can only assume your ISP is silently proxying anyhow. If not, then more investigation is needed...
    – Arjan
    Apr 6 '11 at 10:41
  • Still curious: does clicking items from Daniel's activity get you your own user name in the top bar, or his? (Of course, especially questions you've not visited earlier.)
    – Arjan
    Apr 6 '11 at 10:44
  • 1
    @Arjan: No, the problem solved itself. I can only assume it was an IP / caching cock-up. Internet access in South Africa isn't exactly a "golden standard". Apr 6 '11 at 15:35
  • 1
    Hope that you've changed ISP by now? I wouldn't stick with such ISP if I were you. Jun 22 '11 at 11:34

We've checked the request logs. Before you posted this very question, Daniel's profile was not accessed at all today (UTC time). Not counting two search engine bots, the last time that profile page was requested was about 26 hours ago, indeed from an IP address that matches the ISP the both of you share.

So (unless you posted this question more than a day after this happened, which I don't assume), your ISP illegaly responded to your request(s) with content it had previously requested on behalf of a different user.

You might want to call them up...

  • 13
    So, the ISP is wrong twice? It used a cache that was only supposed to live for 2 hours (max-age=120), and even then should not have used it without first asking the server if the content was valid for the current user. Wow!
    – Arjan
    Apr 5 '11 at 14:20

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