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Today I got a -190 rep change due to a "user was removed" occurence. While sad, it doesn't bother me that much. However, I observed strange circumstances.

  1. It wasn't one user that was removed but several - how likely can it be that so many users decided to remove their accounts or were removed by moderators?
  2. Two of those users were askers of quite recent questions I answered: this and this. Again I find it unlikely that they both decided to remove their accounts - the questions were rather well received and I didn't notice anything bad going on. One of them, maybe, but two at once?
  3. There was also at least one suspension due to "voting irregularities". I can see the vote counts on questions and answers and can somehow see a connection with the removals - I haven't tracked the other removed users though.

Overall, I'm curious about what's going on: has something changed regarding to the site policy recently, is this some error that's just been coped with, or what? I don't expect a full explanation like "yes, those were sock-puppet accounts related to user XXX" as that would clearly violate the privacy policy here (although I wouldn't mind such a clear explanation ;)

I would appreciate any remarks (I guess I'm mostly interested in what moderators have to say about it) on the situation in order to better understand what's going on and to learn more about the subtleties of this site's functioning.

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    A number of "sock-puppets" had to be deleted tonight. We (the moderator team) hoped to avoid it but it became unavoidable. – Mr.Wizard Jan 5 '17 at 13:03
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    @Mr.Wizard Thank you. I guess it's easy for sock-puppets to hide from other users, but it's diffucult to deceive the software and moderators. – corey979 Jan 5 '17 at 13:12
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    @Mr.Wizard This is understandable, I am just curious about their seemingly philanthropic behaviour - using clones to (among other needs?) upvote others' stuff, I find this unusual :D – მამუკა ჯიბლაძე Jan 6 '17 at 18:19
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    @მამუკაჯიბლაძე I conjecture that any "philanthropic" voting was merely to try to disguise the puppets. :-/ – Mr.Wizard Jan 7 '17 at 12:16
  • @Mr.Wizard excuse my complete ignorance, What is a "sock-puppet"? I can (obviously) Google it but sought your meaning or a relevant link. Happy New Year BTW :) – ubpdqn Jan 14 '17 at 9:59
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  • @Mr.Wizard I had an additional account called JacobFavorites, which I used to keep track of a sort of top 20 Q&As on this site. It seems that account has been deleted as well. I don't think I ever voted from that account. From your link we have: "Note that having more than one account for a legitimate purpose is permitted." I suppose it is suspicious I bring this up during the moderator election :P (I just tried to log in to add mathematica.stackexchange.com/q/55622 to favorites). It could be that I messed something up myself, can you confirm that it was deleted (as a sock puppet)? – Jacob Akkerboom Feb 8 '17 at 15:02
  • @Jacob I did not take any action, and I do not see any action of that kind by the other moderators. Do you recall the user ID of your other account? – Mr.Wizard Feb 8 '17 at 19:22
  • @Mr.Wizard unfortunately not. Strangely, Chrome seemed to still remember my email + password combination (my gmail), but it prompted me to create a new account instead of logging in. I just created the new account, but of course I got a new account number. – Jacob Akkerboom Feb 8 '17 at 20:27

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