I had a long discussion with a fairly anonymous user, Alice, in the comments on Bob's answer. Within seconds of Alice's latest comment, I migrated the comments to chat as it was getting to be too much. Almost immediately, I saw that Bob appeared in the chatroom and then left almost instantly. Alice never appeared in chat but commented again right after Bob's departure to complain about chatroom migration.

Alice's comments were generally supporting Bob and getting upvotes that could be trying to create the impression the position is more supported, so the behavior was also consistent with sockpuppeting.

While it's not conclusive, if any site mods could see IPs I'm about 75% certain that the Alice account is Bob's sockpuppet. I don't know if that's okay here or how one might report such activity. It's far from certain enough for me to publically out anyone, but I do think it bears looking into.

How should I proceed? I'm fine dropping it if that's the desired outcome too.

  • Please, do not even entertain publicly outing anyone; the risk of being wrong is way too high. Just flag it. – anongoodnurse Jul 11 at 2:02
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The user you discussed with is not my sockpuppet account. Whenever a comment is posted to a question or answer, the poster gets notified. in this case, that was me. I sometimes did follow the link in my recent inbox message, which is probably why you found me popping up in that chatroom for a short moment.

To add an answer to your question:
For sure, mods can do this. You can flag a post by one of the users as in need of moderator intervention and describe the situation. Then mods can investigate it, or ask community mods to do so and, in the end, even the team behind SE may investigate it.

  • I recognized it could totally just be coincidence too and had no particular reason to suspect you beyond the unlikely timing. I certainly don't mean any offense and wanted to avoid dragging your name into anything until real evidence could be gathered. – William Grobman Jul 10 at 18:19
  • I would remove the "write a meta post like this"; that's not a recommended solution (see for example Jon Clement's comment here ). – Joe Jul 10 at 18:22

The correct way to handle a suspicion of a sockpuppet account is to flag a post is made by one of the suspected sockpuppets, and enter a custom flag reason explaining your concern. The site moderators can fairly easily tell if an account is a sockpuppet, and will take the appropriate action.

I don't recommend posting in Meta, particularly posting such a detailed explanation in the question, because it might cause an issue - whether or not the person is as suspected using a sockpuppet. Stick with flags, or if it's more complicated you can flag a post and ask us to contact you separately through a private chat.

If you don't get a satisfactory answer in the flag/chat, you can also hit the "contact" link in the footer, and a CM can look into it (but don't start with that, as you'll get a much faster answer from the moderation team).

  • I didn't realize that flagging had those kinds of custom options. Thanks for the info. – William Grobman Jul 10 at 18:22
  • 2
    Yep - you can always flag a post and put a custom answer (as Anne notes, "needs moderator intervention"). In fact, if you don't have a logical thing to flag (say, it was deleted), you can always flag one of your own posts. That's basically the generic answer for "how do I get a moderator's attention" on SE. – Joe Jul 10 at 18:23
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    And FYI, all three of us are at least semi-active in Parenting Chat, during US/UK hours, so you can always ask there (though I again recommend something like this stay in a private forum where possible, but you can always ping us to start a private chat). – Joe Jul 10 at 18:24

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