Having a second active account, known as a sock puppet, is generally discouraged outside of specific circumstances. MetaFilter allows users the use of sock puppets as a courtesy and only under specific circumstances. We expect you to have one main identity on the entire site; maintaining additional accounts with unique not-clearly-sock-puppet identities is not okay. Using a sock puppet account to harass other members or otherwise be an asshole on the site is not okay. Having more than one secondary active account (except for one-off joke accounts) is not okay. Here is a recent MetaTalk thread that discusses some specifics.
Some reasons people have sock puppet accounts:
- They want to "start over" with a Brand New Day - this is only okay if the new account is not causing the same problems as the old account. Please contact the mods if you are unclear on this.
- They want to ask an occasional question or give an answer in Ask MetaFilter that is not linked to their primary account
- They have a second account for making jokey comments (see usernames like baby jesus or Official Mefi Head Complainer)
It is against the rules to use a sock puppet to get around the time limitations for AskMe, MeFi and MeTa posts. People who do this will risk losing the sock puppet account, getting a time out on their main account and/or having their extra question or post removed. While moderators generally know which accounts are sock puppets, they will not reveal that information to users. That said, it is the responsibility of the user to maintain the privacy of that account if they want it to remain private. If your behavior with a second account is problematic, the mods will close that account if you do not curtail the problem behavior promptly yourself. Ask a moderator if you have questions about when it's okay to have a second account. (tags: userssockpuppetaccountsprivacyanonymous ) April 20, 2006 - permalink - back to questions
What should I know about privacy at Metafilter?
Moderators have access to your sign-up information and other information, such as your IP address. That information may be used for site purposes (such as checking out potential spammers), but it is kept strictly private from other members and the wider internet. This means that if you choose not to display your real name, email address or location to other members, moderators will not reveal it. Mods also will not reveal the identity of second (sockpuppet) accounts as linked to your main account if you do not reveal this.
Members are also expected to respect each other's privacy in certain basic ways. Members' profile page information is not visible to search engines and should not be brought over to the rest of MetaFilter. Similarly, copying and pasting MefiMail to any other part of the site without the writer's permission is a bannable offense.
In emergencies--cases where someone has threatened to harm themselves, or if we are contacted by law enforcement--we cannot guarantee user privacy. Likewise, the Anonymous question function in Ask Metafilter is only intended to keep your details anonymous from the MeFi community, not to provide absolute anonymity--see here for details.
Metafilter occasionally allows use of site data for academic study and there is an Infodump available for number crunchers. Users can download a copy of their site activity as a text file (see links at the bottom of your Preferences page).
How do I post an anonymous question in AskMe? Is there a function for anonymous follow-ups?
The anonymous posting form can be reached from the "New Question" page of AskMetafilter. When you use this form, your question goes into a queue that is only read by the admins. It will have to be approved, so it won't be posted immediately. Generally questions are approved (or not) within 48 hours. Not all anon questions will be posted, but most will. If you are wondering about a question you submitted a few days ago, it is fine to ask an admin about it.
Your posting is not linked to your username in any way in the MetaFilter database; anonymous questions are posted through the Anonymous user account. However, the admins can ascertain who posted the question if they need to. Anonymous questions are for basic privacy, not for hiding from Interpol. You can read more about how the AnonyMe mechanism works in this thread.
Questions about illegal activities are unlikely to be approved. Questions whose only answers are "see a doctor" or "see a lawyer" are unlikely to be approved. Questions about ordinary subject matter that doesn't seem to fit the needs of being anonymous may not be approved. Please do not ask questions about suicide or revenge. (If you are feeling suicidal, please seek in-person help. The ThereIsHelp page has a list of resources/hotlines.) We can not promise to keep your information confidential if we think you might harm yourself or others.
There is no mechanism for following up anonymously, but the admins will post a follow-up comment to an anonymous question for you -- use the contact form linked at the bottom right of each page to reach the admins. Other MeFi users are often willing to do this too. Sometimes people set up disposable email accounts so they can be contacted about an anonymous posting. This feature is not intended to provide absolute anonymity, please do not use it if that is what you require.
If you need to ask a question that's not associated with your main account, and you want to be able to follow-up by yourself, you are permitted to buy an extra "sockpuppet" account. Here are the guidelines about second accounts. We ask that people use the anonymous feature sparingly, not more than once or twice a year. If you feel you want to ask a number of questions separately from your main account, getting a second account may be a better solution. (tags: anonymousaskmeanonymeaskmetafilterprivacy ) March 6, 2006 - permalink - back to questions
How long does it usually take for an anonymous question to be posted to Ask Metafilter?
Usually anonymous questions are posted within a few days. Some types of questions may not be approved such as illegal, repetitive, trollish, ranty, unanswerable or obvious questions, or ones that don't appear to require anonymity. If you have a question about the status of your anonymous question, you can contact cortex or get in touch with the mod team via the contact form. (tags: anonymousaskmeanonymeaskmetafilter ) April 20, 2006 - permalink - back to questions
Is there a way to turn a non-anonymous old question into an anonymous one?
We do have a way to anonymize old posts. Doing this does somewhat decrease the value of the questions to the community -- since people answered it with a user in mind and some answers may not make sense -- so it is not something we do lightly. However, we will anonymize old questions rarely, if it's important. Contact a mod if you want this done. Please do not ask questions under your real name that you plan to anonymize later. (tags: askmeanonymousanonymeaskmetafilterprivacy ) March 28, 2008 - permalink - back to questions
How do I comment anonymously?
There is no anonymous comment function. If you want to add something to a thread but want it to remain unconnected to your account, you can use the contact form (bottom right of every page) to reach the moderators, and one of them can add it for you. (tags: anonymouscommentsmodsprivacy ) December 11, 2012 - permalink - back to questions