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I'm asking this because of this answer to How did Gordon Freeman survive the entire storyline without a helmet?. The author claims to be one of the creators of the game. He has no other answers or questions, or other SE accounts linked. I edited the ID out of the question until he can prove it's him. What should (or is) scifi.SE 's policy about this?

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    Here's a related one: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/6334/… – Izkata Nov 25 '13 at 19:21
  • Just to note: in that one he doesn't seem to have furnished any proof. – ike Nov 25 '13 at 19:28
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    If you look at the source you'll see poor grammar and spelling, which makes me suspicious. – ike Nov 25 '13 at 19:30
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    I don't know why poor grammar and spelling might preclude him from being Chuck Jones. Jones is credited as an illustrator and designer, not a writer. – phantom42 Nov 26 '13 at 18:37
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    I just added it as a comment on the Groundhog Day question, but Danny Rubin's blog discusses that question and answers with the same answer and much of the same text – phantom42 Nov 26 '13 at 18:45
  • I always thought there was no hard way to prove identity here, unless the user chooses to link back to their publicly known site (I.e., JKR posts something and links to Pottermore) and reference their posting. Haven't seen that yet. Personally, I tend to evaluate the posting and take them at their word unless word choice strongly suggests someone trying to fake it; rare, unless the counterfeiter is in his teens. In this case, a link to Wikia instead of Valve seems.... suspicious. – K-H-W Nov 26 '13 at 21:24
  • I'm strongly inclined to believe he is not the person he claims to be; a link to a wikia page (not the combine overwiki which is the official one), poor grammar, and lack of any other proof are pretty blaring flags this individual is an imposter. I have no doubt that Chuck Jones created Gordon Freeman; I have reasonable doubt that this individual is that same Chuck Jones. – Gigazelle Nov 26 '13 at 23:06
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    I remember reading on JKR's website once that she tried to join one of the HP forums (maybe Mugglenet?) under a pseudonym and offered some theories about the next book (which wasn't out yet) and no-one liked them. – ike Nov 27 '13 at 11:49
  • Another related: scifi.stackexchange.com/posts/46119/revisions – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 10 '13 at 22:08
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This is something that basically anyone can come along and claim.

I'd personally want to see some kind of independently verifiable reference; a blog that is known to be the individual in question referencing the same information or even linking to this question would be a good example. In the absence of such, a reasonable degree of skepticism (this is the internet, after all) seems in order.

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  • Can we make some of this into official policy? – ike Dec 3 '13 at 16:04
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    @ike What exactly is the official policy here? That anyone claiming to be a creator of a work must cross-post their answer on an official blog? What happens if they don't? Does the answer get deleted? Or do we just post a bunch of comments demanding that they provide said "proof"? – Beofett Dec 4 '13 at 14:03
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None.

No proof is necessary to prove someone's identity. Why? Because what proof could they offer?

Really, the only "proof" would be them posting a photo of them holding up a handwritten sign saying "I am user123294 on scifi.se!", and that only works if there are publicised photos of the person in question (which is hardly a safe assumption, particularly if they are part of a larger team that collaborated on a project like a video game).

Even that could easily be photo-shopped.

Finding an official blog or other publication that agrees with the answer isn't "proof", either. They could have just read the blog, and then posted their own answer while pretending to be the author of the blog.

A better question, though, is why would we need proof?

It is up for each user to judge an answer and determine if it is helpful. If you don't believe that William Shakespeare really logged into the site just to answer a question about the inspiration for Puck, don't upvote the answer.

If you believe that the explanation seems plausible, and that the person claiming to be Danny Rubin seems legit, upvote it if you want.

What we shouldn't be doing is demanding that everyone who claims to be involved in the creation of the work a question is about "prove" their identity, especially if those demands include thinly-veiled accusations that the person is a liar.

Let's say the guy who answered the Half-Life question really is exactly who he said he is (and I find the argument that typos and grammar mistakes mean that it is unlikely that a person really is a professional illustrator and game designer more than a little questionable... Especially given how easy it is to make typos, and how difficult it is to correct them, when using a cell phone). Here he found a community ostensibly devoted to discussing scifi and related topics. He's offering what to him is a good-faith contribution, and what's the response? Multiple comments criticising his writing, accusing him of lying, and demanding that he put in more time and effort to provide proof that would only be subject to further skepticism.

Assuming he really is who he says he is, why on earth would anyone expect him to come back?

If you see an answer from someone claiming to be in a position to provide "word of God" answers, yet you have reason to suspect they aren't telling the truth, the most you should do is put in some research to see if you can prove they aren't who they say they are. That should generally be easier than them proving their identity (which isn't to say it will actually be easy).

If you find some fairly strong evidence that they aren't who they say they are, you can post a comment explaining what you found, and why you believe it is cause for concern... politely.

And that's really the main point. Be polite.

Even if the person is lying through their teeth, and you know William Shakespeare personally, and this person posting is clearly no William Shakespeare, that is not justification for being rude to them.

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  • I don't think I was rude... I just removed the I.D claim and asked about it on meta. – ike Nov 26 '13 at 20:46
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    @ike I was referring to the comments, more than your edit, although I don't agree with your edit, to be honest. It assumes he is lying, because the only reason to edit stuff like that out is if you don't believe it. – Beofett Nov 26 '13 at 20:49
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    In my defence, he did include this sentence in his question "If you don't believe that I designed him." – ike Nov 26 '13 at 20:55
  • Yeah, that sentence triggers some flags for me, too, but it doesn't mean he isn't who he says he is, and I'd rather let each user on our site make that determination on their own, rather than make the decision to hide it via an edit. – Beofett Nov 26 '13 at 20:56
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    In theory, what would you say if someone joined politics.SE with the username George W. Bush and answered a bunch of questions? "If you don't beleive I was once president, see whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/georgehwbush" – ike Nov 27 '13 at 15:31
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    I would probably downvote, although it would largely depend on the actual answer, and its relevance to the original question. Even though Bush was one of my all-time least favorite presidents, I wouldn't post comments saying "you're clearly not Bush... you know how to spell!" (okay, given how I feel about Bush, maybe I would... but I'd feel vaguely guilty about it!). Still, if the answer was good (and I felt confident in my ability to accurately assess if it was a good answer), I wouldn't necessarily automatically downvote just because I didn't believe the claims of identity. – Beofett Nov 27 '13 at 15:41
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    This is not how facts work. Deeming if an answer is useful is an irrelevant guideline, because the answer is entirely dependent on the author's identity! I never intended to be rude, I just asked for the answer to be backed up with evidence: If the poster, regardless their actual identity, could produce evidence for Chuck Jones making that statement, it would be a great answer, but as it currently stands it is no better than idle speculation, which we usually tend to discourage (and the 10 upvotes are unwarranted). I do, however, agree on the spelling-related remarks being immaterial. – bitmask Nov 29 '13 at 0:58
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    My point had nothing to do with how facts work... it was about being polite. I don't remember who made what comment, but there were several that were saying, essentially, "you say you're Chuck Jones? Prove it." There's no polite way to say that. The other point of my post is: how, exactly, do you expect someone to prove that? What evidence would be satisfactory? And the whole thing about answers being useful being "an irrelevant guideline"? Hover over the upvote and downvote buttons. What does it say? "This answer is/is not useful." The whole SE system is built upon something "irrelevant". – Beofett Nov 29 '13 at 1:48
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    No, in this particular case, it is an irrelevant guideline, because we assume people know how the vote system works. My point was that the answer is only useful if the claims can be substantiated somehow, for instance by proving the poster's identity. On the other hand, if the individual is not the original artist, the post might still be helpful if it can be shown that the original artist made that statement somewhere else. – bitmask Nov 29 '13 at 8:28
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    Useful/Not Useful are subjective terms; not objective. You can't dictate to other people what is or is not useful. While I agree with your particular interpretation, clearly other people do not (since it has quite a few upvotes). You cannot create rules saying "you should only vote for answers if they meet these criteria". Such rules simply don't work. You're also still ignoring the problem of: how do you expect someone to prove they are who they say they are? – Beofett Nov 29 '13 at 14:05
  • As the other answer had more votes, (4 to your 1), I've accepted it. – ike Dec 3 '13 at 16:04
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    @ike Actually, it was 5 upvotes to 4 upvotes, but mine garnered more downvotes (3 dowvnotes vs. Jimmy Shelter's 1). I'm not disputing you accepting the other answer, but since you don't have enough rep to see downvotes, I thought I'd clarify that there was more support for my answer than you might have been aware of. – Beofett Dec 4 '13 at 14:05

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