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This question just got asked, then closed.

I saw it in the Close Votes review queue, took a look, and saw that it was indeed close-worthy (on the merits of the question, not the querent), so I slapped on a VTC. Then I took a look at the querent's profile, and saw that they were an unregistered user without the Informed badge, so I gave them a pretty bog-standard "Welcome to the site, take the tour, this question could be improved by..." comment, on the assumption that they were a newbie who had asked a bad-but-in-good-faith question.

Turns out, they're actually a known suspended user trying to dodge a ban by posting under a new account. SSD, who knows this, asks the rest of us to take action:

Everyone else: please flag James if he shows up so we can respond in a timely manner.

Is there any way for non-moderators to know to do this, other than happening to stumble across moderator actions as they're happening?

Like, I personally will now know to flag new accounts that have the username "James Marshall," but unless I'm missing something:

  • Nobody who doesn't happen to see SSD's comment on this one closed question will know to do so.
  • If James comes back and picks a different username, I won't know to do so.
  • I didn't know to do so on this question, because I wasn't aware of James' past suspension.

Is there anything we can do to improve this situation, or is this just one of those things that has to be left to the diamond mods in their exception-handling capacity?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What, are you unable to cast the second level spell detect thoughts over your internet connection? (j/k) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 2 '18 at 21:47
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There isn’t, for both better and worse. Mods have some ways to investigate whether two accounts are controlled by the same person, and Community Managers have more, but for good reasons none of the sensitive data involved is available to the community at large.

Unfortunately, that does make it hard to notice some of the rare bad actors abusing our easy account creation. (On the plus side, that keeps all your account info safe.)

James Marshall is a bit of a special case though. He’s easy to spot for anyone who knows his history because he always uses the same username. He’s been doing it for years, apparently oblivious to our rules and anything said to him, including suspensions. We’ve moved on to technical instead of social means to limit the damage he does to the site, but in the meantime flags on that username (just flag a post since users can’t be directly flagged) are nice since they’ll help us a spot him just that little bit faster.

No worries if he doesn’t get flagged though—some people, their behaviour makes it impossible to escape moderator notice for long. And no worries about flagging an account that’s actually innocent—we have ways to be sure before we do anything.

Mostly, the community doesn’t have to worry about finding people using multiple accounts. That’s diamond-level worries. In this case I figure that, since he’s persistent and clueless, I could save a few more people a bit of wasted effort to help his hopeless posts improve, by making that comment. But it’s not usually necessary to recruit the community to spot this sort of thing.

Of course, do send us a flag if someone is behaving in a concerning way or seem to be a secondary account of someone’s, but don’t worry too much about it otherwise. More important is that we as a community focus on spotting and addressing poor behaviour rather than focusing on the users themselves. If someone can behave perfectly and not break any rules while running multiple accounts, that’s almost fine by us. By all means, we encourage disruptive users and trolls to be so stealthy that they cause no disruption at all. ;)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, this is reassuring, and your comment makes more sense now that I know what a special case James is. I figured he was a regular old suspended user, didn't realize he was a fixture. \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Aug 2 '18 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure if this makes sense, but can't the question be deleted, or is that a "user only" toggle? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 2 '18 at 23:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, for spotting JM, keep an eye on Traveller questions (especially ones about Drinax) - he's historically been primarily active in that area. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Aug 2 '18 at 23:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman I think he’s been playing D&D 5e lately, so he’s branching out, but odd Traveller questions are a good bet still. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 2 '18 at 23:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Could, but I’m vainly hoping he comes and looks at it and sees the comment. I’m not sure what will get the message across, but I still hope. It’ll be auto-deleted at some point by the roomba scripts that clean up abandoned questions. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 2 '18 at 23:58

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