# A single user using different *registered* user names

Firstly is it possible that a single user uses different registered user names. Secondly is it possible that he votes to close a thread with his different user names? I hope not.

• The answer is: yes and no. – user26857 Aug 16 '13 at 21:21
• For someone to vote to close a thread with two different accounts, both would have to have above 3000 points. I doubt anyone would go through the trouble of gaining 3000 points on a sockpuppet account just to get an extra close vote. – Ataraxia Aug 16 '13 at 22:57
• What do the downvotes mean? – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 23:00
• I downvoted because I feel that this is a thinly veiled accusation towards people which simply disagree with you. – Asaf Karagila Aug 16 '13 at 23:05
• I downvoted because it doesn't show research effort (there is a whole tag dedicated to this on meta SO). And the fact that you didn't make said research effort does seem to corroborate Asaf Karagila's sentiment... – Ataraxia Aug 16 '13 at 23:07
• There's also the multiple-accounts tag. Or you could have just done a strategic search on meta SO. If you did make research efforts then I apologize. If you edit your question to demonstrate that you have indeed made an effort to find the answer on your own, I'll rescind my downvote. As for your second question, it is answered by any answer to your first question. It seems akin to asking "Is it possible for someone to steal a TV? And is it possible for someone to watch the discovery channel on a stolen TV?" – Ataraxia Aug 16 '13 at 23:33
• @Makoto: YES. – Asaf Karagila Aug 17 '13 at 0:02
• I'm really sorry, this may not be the most "constructive" comment, but I just have to say it: are we being epically trolled right now? This is bizarre, to say the least... – Ataraxia Aug 17 '13 at 0:04
• @Makoto: Because if you expect that people will take you seriously (and not, for example, immediately downvote all your posts; close them; and vote for their deletion), and if you expect them to put in the effort in writing an answer, then you should at least show them respect and put in some basic effort from your own side. If not because you care, then as a sign of good faith. – Asaf Karagila Aug 17 '13 at 0:13
• I downvote to show my disapproval of a user with multiple accounts each voting to close the same question. – Douglas S. Stones Aug 17 '13 at 1:07
• @DouglasS.Stones That does not seem to make sense. I'm not advocating such behavior. In fact, I said "I hope not". – Makoto Kato Aug 17 '13 at 1:16
• @AsafKaragila [I downvoted because I feel that this is a thinly veiled accusation towards people which simply disagree with you.] You are mistaken. I have no intention to accuse them by opening this thread. – Makoto Kato Aug 17 '13 at 15:20
• @Ataraxia [I downvoted because it doesn't show research effort (there is a whole tag dedicated to this on meta SO). And the fact that you didn't make said research effort does seem to corroborate Asaf Karagila's sentiment...] Could you show me where the link is which explains that it is not possible for a single user to vote to close even if he uses different computers and different IP addresses and different accounts? – Makoto Kato Aug 17 '13 at 22:39
• @Ataraxia [I downvoted because it doesn't show research effort (there is a whole tag dedicated to this on meta SO). And the fact that you didn't make said research effort does seem to corroborate Asaf Karagila's sentiment...] Your question(math.stackexchange.com/questions/443696/… ) shows no research effort. I have no problem with that. However, you accused me in this thread for the same reason. Could you explain the incoherence? – Makoto Kato Aug 18 '13 at 21:11
• @Ataraxia [I'm really sorry, this may not be the most "constructive" comment, but I just have to say it: are we being epically trolled right now? This is bizarre, to say the least...] If the questions were so many times asked before as you implied, why it's bizarre to ask them once again? Please notice that I didn't know they were asked so many times before if that is the case. – Makoto Kato Aug 18 '13 at 21:48

Yes. It's possible.

People can open more than one account, and some people do. If both accounts have reached 3,000 points then both can vote to close.

The SE software does its best to disallow a user to abuse the system in the form of two accounts acting simultaneously towards the same goal. If a user has voted twice to close a question, or voted twice for, or against, a post -- that's an abuse of the privilege given to the user (that is, using the site in the first place), and if caught such user is usually subjected to suspension, and/or account deletion.

Note, however, despite the fact that SE guards its methods of finding such abuse secretly, there are probably people who managed to infiltrate through it and have gamed the system in one way or another. Keep in mind, though that reaching 3,000 points is a long-term work; and the more you abuse the system there is a greater chance that you'll get caught.

I doubt that anyone have worked through all that trouble just so they can gain an extra close vote.

Yes, it is possible to have different registered accounts. There are perhaps a variety of reasons why you might do such a thing; the one that comes to my mind might be to have a throwaway account to ask lower level questions as an effort to save face (a smurf account). I don't encourage or practice this behavior, but I've seen it before.

In short, it is not prohibited for a single user to have multiple registered accounts.

However, users must not use multiple accounts to game the system, or to any benefit other than the extra anonymity. In particular, the user's accounts should not upvote/downvote any question/answer provided by each other, nor should any two upvote/downvote the same question/answer given by another user. You may also not use a sockpuppet to avoid main account suspension. A general bit of guidance would be for subaccounts to never interact with eachother, and only one should ever vote on anything else ever. And if you think something might not be legit, just don't do it.

There are SE scripts running to search and identify users who bend/break these rules. There are also scripts that automatically identify suspicious voting patterns that can, depending on the severity of suspicion, immediately and automagically invalidate the votes. Mods are also on the lookout, and we have periodically dealt with people attempting to use sockpuppets to their advantage.

• Thanks. However, I guess if a user uses different IP addresses, the software cannot detect they belong to a single user. – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 22:37
• @Makoto: the software uses more than just IP to identify irregularity and fraud. This is partly because this is the first thing someone might try. It is also partly because in many cases, like universities, many people might have the same IP. – davidlowryduda Aug 16 '13 at 22:39
• I guess the software checks patterns of a user's posts. Do you think it's reliable? – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 22:57
• @Makoto: You should research into "browser fingerprint". – Asaf Karagila Aug 16 '13 at 23:11
• @AsafKaragila That is a method of identifying a browser, right? Could you tell me what it has to do with identifying a user? – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 23:27
• @Makoto: If a user uses the same browser (with or without a proxy server) then the system is, theoretically, able to identify this. Moreover, some parts of the fingerprint come from the system, and not from the browser -- meaning that even replacing the browser (on the same computer) is still traceable. – Asaf Karagila Aug 16 '13 at 23:31
• @AsafKaragila What if a user uses different PCs or laptops, iPhones, iPads? – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 23:35
• @Makoto: There are always ways to outsmart the system, and I think that even using two different PCs you can still be trackable through common features (users develop a habitual workstation: certain plugins are installed, certain software is used) and statistical analysis. I doubt that someone rented a second apartment, got a second internet deal, and worked all this time just so they can vote twice to close the same question. – Asaf Karagila Aug 16 '13 at 23:37
• @AsafKaragila What if a user has a PC, a laptop, a smart phone(not necessarily iPhone) and iPad? – Makoto Kato Aug 16 '13 at 23:51
• @Makoto: Then they can close your questions on their own. Like a moderator... – Asaf Karagila Aug 16 '13 at 23:52
• @AsafKaragila [@Makoto: Then they can close your questions on their own. Like a moderator...] Are you sure? – Makoto Kato Aug 17 '13 at 3:09