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Earlier today, this question was asked and contained a delusional rant about the KKK and the FBI and looked a bit like an episode of the X-files...

My question is simple: Should we help this user (by calming him down as Andrew T. did) and concentrate on the technical side of the problem (as I did) or close these kind of questions?

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    Just an afterthought: “Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you” ― Joseph Heller, Catch-22 ;-) – Fabby Mar 27 '15 at 8:10
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    Altough if none of his network interfaces are connected to the network, they're probably not. Poor guy. – kos Mar 27 '15 at 15:09
  • Tell him to go offline for a few days/weeks/months to calm down his hysteria, and finally reinstall his computer from a known good image (an Ubuntu ISO downloaded on a clean computer, ie. friend's PC). – user249743 Mar 28 '15 at 17:09
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    @AndréDaniel: There is more at stake here then just technical stuff... I don't know if I did the right thing, but according to a professional caretaker, I did the best I could under the circumstances. – Fabby Mar 28 '15 at 23:05
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    I can't see how you could have possibly done better than you did. Paranoid delusions can be impossible to damp down without medication. I for one appreciate the editing job you did if only because I'd rather not be exposed to such an extreme level of illogic any more than absolutely necessary. – Elder Geek Mar 29 '15 at 16:50
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    @Fabby And for what is worth to me "You did the best you could under the circumstances" <-> "You did the right thing" – kos Mar 30 '15 at 3:58
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    Am I the only one contemplating the possibility of that post being an obvious and not entirely unsuccessful attempt at trolling? – Tobia Tesan Apr 3 '15 at 16:11
  • @TobiaTesan Meh, then it failed miserably as the post was edited within a few minutes... ;-) – Fabby Apr 3 '15 at 16:17
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    And yet here we are... :) – Tobia Tesan Apr 3 '15 at 16:17
  • @TobiaTesan I tought this as well, since I personally have never met a person with this particular kind of issue. I think that's because your brain is prone to in first place relate any perceived fact to experience, but thinking (rationally) about it for the second time I noticed one fact: (see next comment) – kos Apr 4 '15 at 4:29
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    @TobiaTesan The user has been a member for 24 days (as of now), and at the time of the question he had been a member for 17 days. Now honestly, would a troll really for the satisfaction of one minute (literally) plan this 17 days before by signing up and asking "regular" questions in the meantime? I think that his efforts, compared to the result, wouldn't just have been worth. – kos Apr 4 '15 at 4:29
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    @TobiaTesan Altough i agree that somehow "yet here we are" – kos Apr 4 '15 at 4:32
  • Did anyone see askubuntu.com/questions/595752/…? – Hitechcomputergeek May 18 '15 at 5:18
  • @Hitechcomputergeek: yes we did, that's why we acted the way we did... – Fabby May 18 '15 at 7:41
  • That's a different question from the one linked in the OP that the same user asked. It's another rant, but this one wasn't edited or anything. – Hitechcomputergeek May 18 '15 at 15:18
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I'm not sure it's possible here.

The original question is full of jargon but a few parts of it (particularly on sockets) show the OP has no understanding of what these things actually are. You put a paranoid person in any unfamiliar environment (physical or digital) and they're going to see bad things everywhere.

Sockets are a very benign and essential part of processes communicating with each other.
You could explain this and explain that TCP/IP sockets generate loopback traffic (which may explain the original question)... But I'm not sure it'll help.

The original question is not the result of a happy mind. I'll stop short of calling this a medical issue but the OP clearly needs somebody physical that they can talk to and trust. That's not a service we are qualified or equipped to provide. Just as it's probably not helpful to tell them this directly.

Ultimately, I think editing the rant down is the right thing to do but be prepared for a rollback, sprawling comment and accusations that you're one of the hackers. If that happens, flag it up and we can mute things down.

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You'd be surprised how bad these stories end.

Upon reading the edit history I think StackOverflow staff could try to reach out to this person.

I know, of course, SO has no legal obligation to look after its users, but I do think that it would be worthwhile pointing towards professional help in this specific case. It is not a legal obligation, but a moral one.

Douglas if you are reading this, please contact an experienced mod in chat, for instance, Oli. You can also ping me if wanted.

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    Most beginning users don't read meta. it takes a migrated question or hanging around the site to actually know what meta is. This has been forwarded to higher authorities here – Fabby Mar 30 '15 at 9:31
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    Fabby, Good job. Thanks for forwarding this. Also @Oli. – don.joey Mar 30 '15 at 14:09
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    Good job, Fabby! Most of us are not trained to deal with people requiring medical attention beyond immediate actions, Fabby did the right thing - he applied immediate aide, and called for backup! – rmustakos Mar 30 '15 at 19:04
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    Good job and I agree with don.joey, whether we can/we should take actions an how we can/we should take actions in these cases is something to examine in depth. – kos Mar 31 '15 at 17:03
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    Hey, I've been there myself. Thankfully, I am not insane and a few respectful, kind, and straightforward answers from the community explained all the not-so-strange things I didn't understand that were freaking me out. Sometimes that is all it takes. – Chev_603 Apr 4 '15 at 17:44
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Unfortunately this is not always possible (I mean point to such person that they need some sort of help). This is simply because the actual issue is the fact that for such person it is the other way around - he or she is absolutely normal (and/or just got clarity and perspective on things) and everybody else needs urgent assistance.

I witnessed (and as much as I could assisted) a total psychological breakdown of a person. In about 30 minutes time this person went from being completely sane to being completely opposite of sane. And the only thing we could do is by talking gently like to a child take that person by the hand, take to the some private and safe place and wait for an ambulance. And as it comes - this was the best decision we could do.

So why was I writing this - just to show that unfortunately without direct contact with person and close to him/her people it will be very hard to point out need of assistance. This all of course applies only to the case of person having real psychological issues. Some people may have vivid imagination which combined with lack of deep understanding and very expressive personality may create visibility of insanity, whilst they themselves still perfectly fit into the range of normality.

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    Don't see why anyone would downvote this well-written and honest answer, so here have an upvote. – don.joey Apr 2 '15 at 16:23
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    @AlexKey, What do you mean by a " total psychological breakdown of a person"? – Pacerier Apr 3 '15 at 14:08
  • @Pacerier By "total psychological breakdown" I meant - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_breakdown Probably should've used appropriate term, but as no medical professional I wouldn't know it. In our situation it looked like a person who has been adequate a few minutes prior happening, completely lost touch with reality and started talking some nonsense and delusional ideas. – Alexey Kamenskiy Apr 7 '15 at 4:39
  • @AlexKey, Oh, so it's just the things that he talks about is weird, but not his exterior actions. – Pacerier Apr 7 '15 at 12:57
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    @Pacerier actually in the situation I've been it was both. But my absolutely wild guess it is unique for every case. Anyhow that is best leave it to professionals to judge what is and what is not a mental breakdown. – Alexey Kamenskiy Apr 7 '15 at 13:00
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I think your actions in this case were commendable and I don't see how you could have responded better.

As someone who has unfortunately been exposed to paranoid delusions, I wouldn't be too quick to assume that this was some elaborate hoax, although I won't rule out the possibility. The rambling and ever escalating nature of the original post leads me towards belief in the delusion.

I don't believe a sane person would waste the time writing so many lines of complete rubbish just for fun. Note this rant as well: https://askubuntu.com/posts/601744/revisions as this one: I Had a Backdoor Mal Ware on W7. Will it Pass on to Ubuntu? by the same author. Sadly, it seems medication is required.

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I think your response was informative. Regardless of the users many paranoias, he may just have something as simple as spyware on his win7 partition.

I think perhaps he should do a clean install of windows, and not move anything from the old install to the new one... When windows gets sick, it's like the black-plague, and any other windows system breathing on the same network is reasonably assured a similar fate.

I think my answer is probably better served as a comment, however, since it's a direct answer to the O.P.'s '?', i hope it will slide. :)

  • These are difficult things not easy to resolve... Sometimes it takes more then just technical prowess to "solve" things! In this case, I got the only gold reversal badge ever on this site for my work. – Fabby Oct 9 '15 at 18:41
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    Borat voice, "very nice" :) – knope Oct 14 '15 at 14:53

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