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I know someone on this site (who I'm going to keep anonymous) who has 2 accounts. We've had a bit of an argument about whether this is allowed and I wanted to ask here.

He says that it's fine because he never upvotes, downvotes or gets involved in his questions or answers. I don't agree with this and think that I've seen posts "condemning" multiple accounts.

Can anyone settle this argument?

EDIT

As pointed out by mbomb007, bounties are also an abuse of this. I have asked him and he says he has never given himself a bounty.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The issue with having "sock" accounts is when they are being abused to upvote the owner of the sock, and thus resulting in tons of reputation. \$\endgroup\$ – user41805 Apr 5 '17 at 18:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or giving bounties. Giving a bounty to yourself would definitely not be allowed. \$\endgroup\$ – mbomb007 Apr 5 '17 at 18:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are people who have other account(s) used for a chat bot, but that is all they use them for. I don't think that answering, voting, or asking questions with more than one account would be acceptable, but as long as that doesn't happen, I'd say it's fine. \$\endgroup\$ – mbomb007 Apr 5 '17 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mbomb007 All of these are fine as long as you don't vote on your own posts, accept an answer from an alt account, or vote twice on the same post. In particular, chat accounts require 20 rep to be allowed to post in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis Apr 6 '17 at 0:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can't articulate this well enough to be an answer so will leave it as a comment. I can't see any justifiable reason why anyone would legitimately need more then one account other than high rep users who may have good reasons which I don't know because I am not a high enough rep user. The only 2 reasons I can see for two accounts are 1. Jekel & Hyde (sorry if miss spelt) or 2. Upvote/downvote abuse. Either way, I can't see any way it can be stopped. I could set up ordePlE as a new account tomorrow if I wanted to (and I can't think of a good reason why I would). \$\endgroup\$ – ElPedro Apr 9 '17 at 21:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ 3 edits before I could correctly spell my name backwards. That's not cool... \$\endgroup\$ – ElPedro Apr 9 '17 at 21:07
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There is no hard and fast answer about whether or not this user is doing anything wrong. It mostly comes down to why they have this second account, and what they do with it.

This is known as having a sock-puppet, and it is addressed on Meta Stack Exchange by an SE employee. To quote the most important parts:

When should sockpuppets be considered a problem?

There are a handful of legitimate reasons to maintain multiple accounts. A good rule of thumb for identifying abusive socks is: if the second account allows you to do something on the site that your normal account would be prevented from doing, it is abuse. Examples of this include (but are not limited to):

  • Voting on your own posts
  • Answering your own questions with the other account(s)
  • Casting multiple votes on others' posts
  • Supporting your own arguments ("+1: shog is right, don't know why the rest of you don't realize this")
  • Using bounties to circumvent the rep cap
  • Circumventing suspensions, quality bans, or the rate limits on posting questions / answers / comments / etc.

If this user is doing any of these things, this is a serious problem. He should delete his account immediately. If he doesn't, you should flag one of his posts with in need of moderator intervention, and explain the situation with links to both accounts.

Since I'm not a moderator, I can't say for sure what would happen in this scenario, but it's very likely that his second account will be deleted, and his first account temporarily suspended.

Now for what it's worth, there are many users with sock-puppets that don't cause issues, and he might have a sock-puppet for perfectly valid reasons. To quote Shog9 again:

I've probably had a half dozen or so alternate accounts over the course of the site. They're useful sometimes: testing bugs that only show up at low rep levels, reminding yourself what the site "feels like" for someone with only the basic abilities, maintaining a highly unnatural q/a ratio... That said, I always treat these as disposable accounts, and some of them have been removed (either automatically or via mod intervention) when I crossed a line somewhere - you should never assume that a sockpuppet is "protected" if you're actively using multiple accounts on one site; it's entirely too hard to be certain you're not interacting in some inappropriate fashion.

I know that lots of users here have created sock-puppets so that they can create a chatbot, or chat relay service. That's another legitimate use.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1: DJMcMayhem is right, don't know why anyone would disagree with this \$\endgroup\$ – ETHproductions Apr 5 '17 at 19:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ETHproductions If the joke is that you're secretly my sock-puppet, than I'm a really crappy puppet-master. You have more rep than me. :P \$\endgroup\$ – James Apr 5 '17 at 19:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I subscribe to the theory that ETH is DJ's sockpuppet. \$\endgroup\$ – ATaco Apr 7 '17 at 4:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Alternatively, DJ could be ETH's sock-puppet. \$\endgroup\$ – Gryphon Aug 4 '17 at 12:08

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