Alt Accounts / changing usernames

Hey all,

This is a spin off from the Prince Harry Independence thread:

I’ve got a fairly full on afternoon so will be dipping in and out, but thought this warranted pulling out of the thread. I won’t be talking specifics to do with the user that raised this whole topic right now beyond saying us mods became aware that a user is very likely an alt of a banned user late last night and we’re keeping all options open.

What I’ve posted below is a summary of where we are now and why. As always as a group of mods, we aim to reflect back the Community’s values and wishes as best we can with the set of tools we have rather than mandate a set of rules to you, so this is all open for discussion.

Alt Accounts:

There’s nothing technical to stop anyone from signing up with/using multiple accounts. Anything we set up would be easy to evade, so we don’t have a general ban on alt accounts. Most alts are short lived for one off jokes, for people to engage with SSPs without liking to their main account or users who have reason to leave their old account behind (more on this below) and they’re fine.

Where a user has been banned in the past and opens an alt specifically for the purpose of ban evasion, we will often, but not always, ban the alt account when we become aware. There are nuances to this, depending on how persistent their behaviour leading to the ban was, the incident, length of ban, how many times we’ve had to deal with them and whether their behaviour appears to have improved between their return and us becoming aware of the alt. This all takes time for us to look into and discuss - as well as forming an opinion of how likely it is that the possible alt is actually the banned user and it’s not a coincidence - so unless it’s a case such as the return of old favourites OBT or CG (if you don’t know who they are, you’re lucky), then there’s a lag involved.

Similarly if there’s an alt account that’s doing something malicious, us mods will step in. I don’t recall this happening on new-DiS, but it theoretically could.

As I said in the Prince Harry/Meghan thread, while we try and keep across as much of the boards as possible, we don’t read every thread/post and we certainly miss context and nuances that you guys see, so if you think someone is an alt-account for a banned user, please let us know by sending a message to @moderators or one of @whiterussian, @wewerewerewolvesonce, @Parsefone, @tilty, @kermitwormit and myself and we’ll look into it. Please don’t keep it to yourselves or assume we know unless we’ve said we’re aware.

Some users have opened new or alt accounts for reasons of privacy or things going on in their personal lives. While I understand this can be difficult for others - suddenly someone you know as @JoeBloggs disappears and @DaveMorraine appears at the same time with no history but an intimate knowledge of the boards and our history - that difficulty isn’t a good enough reason for us to try and block alts.

Name changes

Personally speaking, not a huge fan of these on the whole, but they’re a useful alternative given that it’s possible for people to just set up alts.

Again, people have many reasons for wanting to change names - something happens to cancel an artist their name is referencing, it’s too close to IRL information they don’t want to give away and so on. Given that those users can just set up an alt and start posting under the new account anyway, the name change is in my mind helpful - those users can update their name to something better for them while maintaining their history.

I (personally - this is not a mod view) think the barrier to entry of having to ask the mods to do it is sufficient to stop people doing this too frivolously, but again, I understand why people find it difficult to keep track, and it’s doesn’t necessarily make for the easiest environment for certain people with certain neurotypes or those of us who are just forgetful/lose track easily.

Because people who change names or leave may have done it for reasons in their personal lives and not want to be traceable, we ask that you do your best not to refer to people by their old usernames in public threads unless they’ve okayed it.

Will dip into this thread to answer more questions during the afternoon.

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That makes it look like I’m the bad apple a bit :smiley:

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Sorry mate - not intentional… I don’t even remember who raised the question about that particular user being an alt, but I know a few people were asking and I want to keep this on the generalities of how we act with alts rather than the specifics of this one user, WHO IS NOT @Richie_Ronco! :slight_smile:

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Why isn’t ban evasion an instant ban as in other forums? I think taking a nuanced approach has led in the past to people being able to return and annoy everyone all over again.

Got nothing for love for the mod team, this is just a genuine question :slightly_smiling_face:

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Haha its cool. I can barely operate my own account let alone an alt one!

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If anyone is just changing their name for “bants” could they drop me a quick DM as I’m easily confused and scared

Thanks

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Something that came up recently after I naively posted some old usernames of people that are still posting - there was a desire for some not be linked with previous usernames for a number of reasons (including those you mentioned), so I’m wondering if is it worth a mention that some users may not want to be identified or linked with previous usernames, and that should be respected? Obviously with a caveat for banned users etc

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Personally I can think of times in the past when bans have been, imo, overzealous and based on issues between a mod and a user rather than the user actually being bad (not talking about our current mods here). There are also times when someone might be acting up because they’re going through a rough patch and they may deserve a second chance. So i don’t think we should blanket ban anyone who’s been banned before, personally.

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I do no such thing, thankyouverymuch.

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You obviously don’t read your own posts before submitting them :wink:

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Nine times out of ten I really don’t tbf. Just sort of chuck them out there, willy vanilly

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Glad to say I’ve never once read a post in the cycling thread.

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Some sort of stripper tribute act that mimes yeah?

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Couple of things here.

  • We effectively gave pretty much everyone a clean slate on the new boards. People can change and the tools for tracking/tracing what’s gone on are much better with Discourse, so it seems to have been useful on the whole. Most of the most malicious users outed themselves pretty quickly anyway and a few almost certainly wouldn’t be welcomed back.

  • In some cases users can post for months or years before mods realise. If someone was banned for a single incident and they’ve proven themselves to be a good community member over a long period of time since then as mods we might take the view that actually this user deserves the opportunity to stay around and continue to demonstrate their value. We tend to keep a close eye on them and they will often get less leeway if they do misbehave than others. I can certainly think of one case where said person has been around for several years since returning, it’s helped their mental health and while they’ve misstepped once or twice in that time they’ve always fessed/apologised up immediately and never seem to have done it maliciously. IMO, if we believe we’re a caring community and someone’s demonstrating they can (mostly) live up to our shared values then we can also sometimes forgive their past.

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:+1:

Thanks for the response, I appreciate it :slightly_smiling_face:

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I just assume everyone here is @ma0sm until they prove otherwise.

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I think:

  • people should be allowed to generate alt accounts for comedy or SSP purposes but it should be frowned upon and monitored if people are using alt accounts to be purposefully confusing or winding people up.

  • users should avoid name changing unless they have a strong desire. ‘fancying a change’ isn’t really sufficient but if they want to change from a real name to an anonymous pseudonym then that’s fine. This should be up to the moderators discretion. There isn’t anything stopping someone from just generating a new log in.

  • discussion about banned or former posters or users should be limited. if someone is suspected of being a banned user with a new account then that should be raised with the mods.

  • discussion about the old boards should be limited unless there’s an important reason to bring it up - e.g. calling out shitty behaviour or blind spots that this board has. I appreciate this is subjective, but there’s a balance to be had between this being a long-established forum with posters who’ve been here for almost 20 years, and all the injokes and collective memory that we share, versus wanting to ensure it’s welcoming for new users.

  • new users should be treated with respect and welcomed, and not assumed or judged to be either a banned user or a troll. If they display shitty behaviour they should be corrected and a mod made aware, but we should avoid pile-ons.

  • be careful about adding likes on top of likes, especially when either directly or indirectly critical of someone.

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People changing their icons baffles me enough, name changes really confuse me.
I get why they might need to and that’s cool.

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I get this - my first reaction to seeing a changed username is ‘who are you? I absolutely must know’ but then think there is often a good reason for the change and it’s not really my business (despite the post that I referenced upthread :upside_down_face:)