A clarification on the IP Lookup feature

Hey, I see that the latest topic about this function is from 2021 and not exactly what I’m going to ask about.

Since the start of our adoption of Discourse, I’m slowly discovering all the tools at the staff disposal.

This afternoon I was checking the IP Lookup for a user that felt “weird” just to be sure it wasn’t some of our old user being funny and pretending to be someone else just to have a laugh.

To my surprise the IP lookup showed me other 15 accounts that had that IP even if those accounts are, for sure, not shared whatsoever.

What made me think is that as we started using discourse only a couple days ago, this data must be fresh and cannot be reference very old entries in which coincidentally some IPs may have been reused.

Is there some explanation someone here can provide as to why this happens? It makes the feature basically useless as it give false positives.

There’s a lot of reasons why multiple accounts might share an IP address- the usual reason is that they’re all using the same VPN and this VPN only has one IP address. Some routers also let you set it up so that all computers on the network show the same public IP address- my personal computer and my work computer both have the same IP address with any kind of lookup, Discourse, command line, wherever

I realized the VPN option literally ten seconds after closing the tab for this post.

Silly me, sorry for the stupid question :roll_eyes:

This is the default for home routers — it’s hard to do otherwise.

The same[1] might be true for company networks, mobile providers, and maybe even broadband providers.

  1. or, technically, "similar and conceptually the same even if different in important technical ways ↩︎

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Another case is hotels. We had a problem once with several employees staying at the same hotel, which isn’t at all unlikely, but our setup at the time didn’t expect several users on one IP address.

Any kind of conference, gathering, or meetup will probably do the same.

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Actually almost every customer level router do that. And every ISP in the world — actually static non-changing IP is very rear and practically impossibe on mobile connections.

I appreciate all the use cases reported but in our specific case the only explanation is people using commercial VPNs which I wasn’t aware were so many. The users are definitely not sharing household, hotel or company.

I’ll keep monitoring this in the coming weeks to see if I can determine a pattern. in any case it’s a result coming back from a third party service so I guess it’s not really a discourse’s issue even if there was a bug somewhere.

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Clarification: the result coming from the third party service (the Maxmind DB (which is local, the IP is not sent out for lookup)) is geolocation data.

(and technically the hostname since the DNS result comes from a third party)

The “other accounts” is internal.

looks at the dialog

I can see how that’s confusing:


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