This question about Franc Ross' character on Firefly appears to have received an answer from Franc Ross himself. The problem is that they've offered no other evidence to support their contention, nor does their user account give any indication that they're the real Franc Ross.

The answer, in and of itself is very low quality and from any other user would merit downvoting and probably deletion. Obviously if it's from the actor, then it's actually a very good answer from a primary source.

Should we assume that someone who claims to be celebrity is accepted as such until proven otherwise? And if not, then what proof would be considered acceptable?

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    My real name is William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of me: I translated a number of plays from Klingon into English.
    – Molag Bal
    May 16, 2016 at 5:08

3 Answers 3


Should we assume every supposed celebrity user is who they say they are?

Not necessarily. It would be easy for anyone to set up an account under the name "George Lucas" or "Christopher Tolkien" and troll us all (although if they chose somebody that famous to impersonate, they'd probably be found out fairly quickly). In the words of Karl Marx, "de omnibus dubitandum": doubt everything.

What proof would be considered acceptable?

No personally identifying information about SE users is publicly visible. And beyond making off-site contact with the celebrity themselves (which is a possibility and has been done in the past), such information is the only way of proving a user is who they say they are. So, if you find someone who claims to be a specific actor, author, etc. and you're doubtful about their claim, feel free to flag the post for moderator attention. The mods are the only people who have a chance of verifying a user's identity.

Note that of course we can't reveal anything about the PII we have access to, so as with many things, you'll just have to trust us to make the right decision :-)

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    I was told (maybe by @AncientSwordRage) that contacting users to confirm their identity was not an appropriate use of moderator powers.
    – Adamant
    May 16, 2016 at 0:53
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    @Jonah Contacting users definitely wouldn't be appropriate, no (I think it was me who told you that?) I deliberately didn't mention any details here.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    May 16, 2016 at 0:58
  • Oh, you mentioned that the mods could verify a user's ID in your answer, so....
    – Adamant
    May 16, 2016 at 1:01

No, don't assume, never assume.

I recommend that you do as much digging as you can to determine whether it's them or not. Like I did recently with this answer from Elio Garcia.

However, if the community sees it as a useful answer, then by all means they should up-vote it; low-quality or no.

If you feel that you don't see it as a credible source, don't vote, or if you're so inclined, down-vote it or leave a comment mentioning your concerns.

As for what proof, well, that it entirely up to your opinion.

As for How long was Bill Murray's character (Phil Davis) supposed to be in a time loop in the film "Groundhog Day"?, Danny Rubin apparently posted an answer, and it was confirmed by @DVK, @Keen and @Phantom42 (and perhaps others); as well as that text having been placed on Rubin's own website.

You can also check out Have we had ANY professionals participate in SFF? in case someone has already done the sleuthing to ascertain whether or not some professional is who they say they are. (Quite frankly in not sure Thaddeus is who he says he is :p)

I know I certainly wouldn't +1 an answer just because someone claims to be a celebrity unless I'm confident that they are.

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    Context may have been unclear or lost, but my offering of evidence was intended as more of a "take it as you will" sort of comment. A similar story was posted on Rubin's site, but it's sort of a chicken or the egg sort of thing. Did a faker read Rubin's site and post an answer based off it, or did Rubin write both the post and the answer? We'll likely never know.
    – phantom42
    May 17, 2016 at 3:02

I'm inclined to say yes—at least for the purposes of deleting, and probably upvoting.

In my opinion, it is much more likely that an actor happened to see their name come up in a search than that some troll decided to play pretend for no benefit, perhaps even psychological.

If that is the case, we certainly would not want to delete an answer that many others looking at the question might see as highly authoritative.

As an aside, I gather that moderators are not permitted to contact users to verify their identity.

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    I'm sorely tempted to disagree. Surely it's far more likely that someone is playing a prank, than that it's a celebrity who happens to have joined the site to post a single answer?
    – Valorum
    May 15, 2016 at 23:13
  • You can disagree - just post your own answer.
    – Adamant
    May 15, 2016 at 23:14
  • I was planning to compose one in the morning, assuming no-one has done so by then.
    – Valorum
    May 15, 2016 at 23:15
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    "In my opinion, it is much more likely that an actor happened to see their name come up in a search than that some troll decided to play pretend for no benefit" Ahhh, I see you're new to the Internet. Welcome! May 16, 2016 at 15:35

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