In general, SmashWiki expects that each user have exactly one account. If a user has one or more alternate accounts - known as sockpuppets - then said alternate accounts should generally be given infinite blocks or simply merged into the main account. That said, there are some valid uses for sockpuppets, which are outlined below.
Unacceptable uses of sockpuppets
These sockpuppet usages are the primary reasons why having multiple accounts is banned in general.
- Evading a block on one's primary account. This is by far the most common purpose of sockpuppeting, and often results in an infinite block for the puppet and a block extension for the primary account.
- Evading edit-counting policies such as Only revert once or Probation.
- Voting for something multiple times, such as a new policy proposal or a discussion about a piece of article content. This extends to discussions of any kind; whether one user has multiple accounts with the same opinion or with different opinions, it makes it harder to accurately judge community sentiment.
- Acting as a "foil" with the intention of making the primary account look better. For example, a user creates a sock and vandalizes an article. Later, the same user's main account reverts it and supplies a talk page warning. Repeated multiple times, this can inflate the perception of the user's main account and act as artificial clout in requests for rollback and the like.
Legitimate uses of sockpuppets
There are legitimate reasons for a user to have multiple accounts. In all cases, it should be made obvious on the users' pages and/or talk pages that the accounts are related.
- Operating a bot. Note that this is subject to its own rules.
- Forgotten password on original account. Generally, Special:PasswordReset is far more recommended, but if it is somehow not possible to have the new password emailed to you then this is a valid option. Note that this is a case where account merging may be applied.
- Once a user has an account, it is expected they only use that account to edit instead of editing logged out. Occasional editing while logged out won't be held against users, but pretending to be someone else through an IP or committing any other misconduct through an IP will be the treated the same as any malicious sockpuppeting case and handled accordingly. If a user makes any post to any talk page while logged out for whatever reason, it is expected of them to clarify that the post was made by them, whether during making the post or after posting, otherwise it may be construed as using an IP sock.
In many cases, sockpuppets are not too difficult to spot. The main way to detect a sockpuppet is simply noticing that two users are suspiciously alike. Maybe their usernames follow the same pattern, or they always post one after the other agreeing with each other, or they tend to edit the same articles with similarly-styled edits, or otherwise have the same mannerisms in their communication. Wikipedia refers to this as duck testing.
Once a suspicion has been formed, users should report the possible sockpuppet and master on the administrators' noticeboard. An admin can then use the Check User function to investigate the accounts' IP addresses, which is generally taken as the final word of whether the accounts are related. An exact IP match between two accounts is always a smoking gun confirmation of a sockpuppet, though two accounts with different IPs from the same IP range or that trace back to the same or very close geographic location will also typically be considered confirmation of a user being behind a sock. In the case that a user uses proxies or a VPN to hide behind completely different IPs, it can muddle determining if two accounts are related, however admins can still act against them without IP evidence if other evidence is strong enough to ascertain the accounts are related beyond a reasonable doubt.