Here's a comment that I think indicates a basic shibboleth failure:

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I have long suspected that the account named "user2501323" is too influenced by the Russian propaganda to be taken seriously, but I don't have any evidence that it is a state actor. Even if it is a Russian Federation resident who is simply too influenced by the Russian state-owned media, I am not sure how we should treat it.

But first, why is this a shibboleth failure? The word "spellings" seems completely out of place here. Even if it's a foreigner living in the US, they would be more likely to know what the word "spell" means (because they would often have to spell words out) -- not less. If the word is back-translated to Russian and then back to English in Google translate, it comes back as "writings". Which points to someone who translated a foreign word for "writing" into English using some automation tools without realizing the significant different between meanings of "write" and "spell" in English. The language in which this was written originally does not have a difference between the sentences "how do you write XYZ" and "how do you spell XYZ".

Of course, this original foreign language could in theory be anything, but given how this account does nothing but advocate for the position taken by the Russian Federation, I think it is a reasonable guess to think that the original language of the comment was Russian.

The 2nd piece of evidence in this comment (and it's not as much a shibboleth as it is a profound misunderstanding of the US system of government) is that he called fmr General Mattis a "fired defence minister". Mattis was a Defense Secretary. There are no "ministers" in the US. In fact, I saw a question either on politics.SE or english.SE about the distinction. This is a marker of someone who is not familiar enough with how the US government positions are commonly described, but who is familiar with how they are described in some parliamentary system (which usually does have "ministers").

marked as duplicate by Philipp Jan 11 at 9:00

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    If we're both thinking of the same user, doesn't his profile outright state that he's from Russia? – F1Krazy Jan 11 at 7:00
  • @F1Krazy, that's a good point. It currently does say that. I don't know if it always did. I never saw this mentioned directly in any of the content authored by this user which I did read. But it is entirely possible that they were always open about it. – grovkin Jan 11 at 9:34
  • @MartinTournoij, I am ok with having a link to the comment for convenience, but as everyone is so quick to point out, comments are can be erased at any point for no reason whatsoever. So I would rather have a screen capture of the comment in the body of the question. – grovkin Jan 11 at 9:37
  • Yup, the link was merely intended as an addition to the screenshot; not a replacement. – Martin Tournoij Jan 11 at 10:55

We have no reason to speculate about a person's nationality or political interests. If their content is poor quality, flag it for the mods or vote it down as normal.

  • No, we don't have any reason to speculate about anyone's nationality. But if there are paid trolls poisoning content, according to this answer by SamIam, the content would be removed. – grovkin Jan 11 at 9:29
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    @grovkin The very beginning of that answer says "if we knew for certain". What you've laid out here is not close to that level of proof. – Chris Hayes Jan 14 at 9:35

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