I've recently had to extirpate two separate groups (one large, one rather small) of sock puppet users posting plagiarized questions and/or answers. The plagiarism was from Salesforce Stack Exchange, Stack Overflow, and the Developer Forums and involved a total of roughly 20 user accounts across both groups. There appear to be two actual persons behind these groups.

I'm disappointed by the need to do this. In part I'm not surprised - all metrics will be gamed, after all, including Stack Exchange reputation! - but in part I'm simply confused, not having a particularly clear picture of what some of these users were aiming to accomplish by... copying and pasting questions that were in many cases poor in quality in their original location.

I wanted to mention this for two reasons:

  • Some of you incredibly generous contributors may have seen a small number of your answers and perhaps even a few reputation points evaporate as I removed all plagiarized content and destroyed the associated users. I apologize. Your efforts deserve to be rewarded and not wasted by these jokers.
  • To invite the community to flag any activity that appears to be plagiarism or more generally non-authentic posting.

    A couple of community members noticed a user reposting a question asked by someone else over the last couple of days. Flag that stuff. We moderators can see more activity than you have access to and we can determine whether there's some kind of shenanigans going on.

It's a shame. But we have a great community and dealing with these problems is what keeps our standards and reputation as an incredible resource and technical community high.

  • Out of curiosity, was the "how to tell if these two strings with semicolons contain the same things just in a different order" question among the questions removed? An answer to that would help me (and maybe others who remember it) determine when to flag vs when to just vote to close. If it was those two questions, I just had it pegged as someone trying to pass an interview for a position they obviously didn't have the requisite skill for.
    – Derek F
    Jan 19, 2021 at 13:45
  • Yes, it was. The situation behind the scenes was actually different than it appeared. The reposter of that question owned four other accounts, three of which were also plagiarizing content.
    – David Reed
    Jan 19, 2021 at 15:53
  • 2
    To be clear, the first poster of that question is not involved.
    – David Reed
    Jan 19, 2021 at 15:53
  • 1
    However, if that had been an instance (and it wasn't!) where a single individual had reposted the same question twice under two different accounts in an attempt to artificially raise its visibility or to evade closure/downvotes, that is also a flaggable action.
    – David Reed
    Jan 19, 2021 at 17:25


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