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AI StackExchange is still a beta site, still has growing to do, and appears to still be relatively small/niche. I have gotten the impression that it is more vulnerable than huge sites (like Stackoverflow) to people trying to game the system (for example by running multiple accounts themselves). This increased vulnerability appears to be due to:

  1. More difficult to detect. Due to the small nature of the site, it's quite natural that you see the same accounts interacting in multiple questions if they just happen to be very active users. On a huge site like Stackoverflow, it would be a much larger coincidence if the same two accounts kept repeatedly interacting with each other.

  2. More negative impact. If two accounts (operated by the same person or by close friends for example) are consistently upvoting each other and double-downvoting "competing" answers, that has a huge impact on a small site like AI StackExchange where there generally are only a handful of votes to begin with. On a larger site like StackOverflow, such votes would more easily get drowned out by "real" votes.


My question: do others agree that AI StackExchange may indeed be extra vulnerable, and if so, should additional actions be taken?


There is indeed a concrete case of two rather active accounts on the AI StackExchange from which I've seen so much suspicious stuff happening that I can't believe it's a coincidence anymore as described in my first point above (and googling for their names actually lead to additional off-site evidence that they're both the same person as well). Because there is really only a rather small number of new questions on the site every day, this has lead to a tangible negative impact on the site in my opinion.

I have already reported this case to StackExchange using the Contact Us link, as should be done in general on StackExchange. Therefore, I'm not reproducing the evidence here / calling the accounts out by name, but I can of course still do that in an edit if that would be deemed useful. Nevertheless, I have no idea how long it's going to take for action to be taken in response to my report, and am curious if anything else should be done to speed things up on a small site like AI StackExchange since this behaviour appears to have a disproportionally large negative impact on the site in my experience?

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I do agree that the impact of shenanigans on a small site is greater because of the smaller size of our rep economy and the lower beta privilege thresholds. This is partially balanced out by there being fewer users to keep track of, but as you said, that can also make it difficult to tell organic interaction apart from problematic behavior.

The "contact us" link goes to Stack Exchange the company; moderators never see those requests. I imagine the Stack Exchange community management team is pretty busy (they oversee all 174 SE sites), so it might take a while for them to get to your request. In many cases, though, site moderators can do the job. In a sense, this site can respond with more agility than larger ones because the mod workload is far lighter.

To reach a moderator about suspicious patterns, cast a custom flag on any post. If you need more space than the flag box affords, I can create a private chatroom for you to share your findings with the mods. Thank you for your vigilance.

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