From time to time, we see a new question from a new user like this one, passive vs active treatment.

When asked to include more context or clarify some points, (s)he posts an answer using a different user name instead of editing the question like this, https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/338689/passive-vs-active-treatment/338724#338724.

What would be the best course of action that we should take?

  1. Advise the OP to visit Help Center > My Account and follow the guideline to (1) merge the two accounts, (2) delete the answer which is not an answer, (3) edit the question.

  2. Flag it for moderator's attention as @ColleenV commented when it seems obvious that they're the same user.

  3. Edit the question myself and flag the answer as "not an answer" for deletion.

  • 1
    I usually flag it for moderator help in situations like your example where it seems obvious that they're the same person. A moderator has the tools to correct the question, even if the accounts aren't merged, so I think it would get cleaned up more quickly. I would be interested to hear from the moderators if they would prefer the poster to be guided to the self-service route though.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 16:41
  • @ColleenV Thanks. That's what I believe I did before. I edited the question. The problem is I don't think the OP will come back to ELU.
    – user140086
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 16:48
  • I'm usually using the mobile app, so it's easier for me to flag it for mod's attn.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 17:32
  • 1
    Two hours ago (and two hours before noticing this question on Meta), I came across the "passive/active" question in the Review queue and saw that viti the questioner and Viti the answerer must be the same person. So I restated the gist of viti/Viti's clarification from the followup "answer" as a new paragraph addition to the original question, and then flagged the mods requesting deletion of the "answer" post as "Not an answer." I didn't think to ask the mods to merge the viti/Viti accounts into a single account—but if both are unregistered, I'm not sure doing so would be worth their while.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


In the example quoted, I don't believe there's any harm in editing the additional information into the question. You can then flag the "answer" (see below) as well as vote to delete it — the vote gets the answer into the review queue, and the moderators can deal with the account anomaly. And delete the "answer" if that hasn't happened by then. But the example of an edit-as-answer-and-never-return is more of a special case: usually, duplicate accounts post on different questions.

While moderators can't actually merge accounts or reassign ownership of posts, they can engage staff [who do have that power] and they can contact the user to advise them of the difficulty and how to help themselves.

Thus the general rule is to flag, especially where the posts are on different questions. Flag one of the posts, and include the URL of the "other" user's profile page with a note to say that you believe the users are the same.

The reason that it's not advisable for users to point potential duplicates to the Help pages is that the two accounts may not actually be the same user, and moderators have tools which can help identify whether they are. We can also keep any embarrassment out of the public eye by using private messaging rather than comments. Lastly, it's possible (although unlikely) that the two accounts are interacting in ways which are against the rules, and that should be dealt with by moderators rather than have attention drawn to the possibility by pointing out the duplicate account publicly.

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