Sure, ideally we flag it as spam and then it goes away, but what should we do between the flagging and the "it goes away"?

The Meta.SE post on this says that in theory is better not to touch them, but some here feel differently, and they edit the post away, while mentioning the reason.

I see the reason, it often takes a long time here to delete spam and often is deleted through the low quality queue, meaning that is not flagged appropriately (and the system does not treat it as spam).

Should we agree one way or the other? Or should we leave everything as it is? with some users flagging and others also editing away?

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    $\begingroup$ Why should we be any different to other SE sites? $\endgroup$ – Notts90 supports Monica Apr 10 '17 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Notts90 because some users started doing differently, so I thought it would be good to have an open discussion, rather than a war in the comments to spam posts $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 18 '17 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico I agree on discussing but I don't think we should be any different. $\endgroup$ – Notts90 supports Monica Apr 18 '17 at 7:55

Personally I would not touch the posts as said in the Meta.SE post, and I would encourage everyone to flag spammy posts, even if they are already in the low quality queue.

Flagging automatically deletes the post, does not require much reputation, and helps the system to automatically recognize spam.


Charcoal, our friendly neighbours that actively hunt for spam across the network, suggest to follow the main SE guidelines:


  • Flag spam posts using the "spam" flag;
  • Flag rude, offensive, or otherwise abusive (of users, or of the system) posts using the "rude or abusive" flag.


Flagging these posts gets them removed in the quickest way possible; it puts the tools for doing it in the hands of a majority of the community rather than just those with the vote-to-delete privilege; and as an added benefit it feeds the user to SpamRam, Stack Exchange's native spam-blocking mechanism. Editing, voting to delete, or downvoting the posts all reduce the visibility of the spam/abuse, which means it takes longer for the post to accumulate the required flags (6) to get rid of it.

I suggest that, as a community, we follow that policy as closely as is practicable.

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    $\begingroup$ Also, if a post is deleted as spam the system hides the post contents anyway. $\endgroup$ – fooot Apr 10 '17 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ +1 - Flag and move on (worst-case the post will sit in the flagged queue util one of the mods comes on and does a patrol). Flagging also clues the mods in to the fact that we may have a spammer account, and we can blast the whole thing if necessary. Tagging won't really solve the problem: We'll wind up with a spam tag that keeps appearing and disappearing in the system when it falls to zero posts. Editing the post is really only appropriate if it can be salvaged (it's spam, but it has valuable parts that are still relevant if you cut out the spammy bit). $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Apr 11 '17 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ @voretaq7 the spam tag was suggested for this post, not for the questions containing spam/spammy answers. $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 11 '17 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico you fail t define "spam". Do you mean repeated answers (moderators consider it spamming if you answer different posts with the answers worded identically, even if they are 100% germane to all questions they answer), automated publishing, product promotion? You apply a generic remedy to different species of the same genus. that is the wrong way to fix things. $\endgroup$ – tony gil Jul 28 '17 at 11:12
  • $\begingroup$ @tonygil spam is well defined on the SE network: meta.stackexchange.com/a/58035 $\endgroup$ – Federico Jul 28 '17 at 11:14

I second Federico in that we should not edit spam -- flag it and move on. This puts the post in the autodelete department, requires very little rep to do (compared to any other action), and helps train the Stack's own spamfilters to recognize the spam in the future. It also puts the Stack system on notice that the user is acting spammy (so that the Stack can revoke their account, slap them with CAPTCHAs, etal).

There is also the SmokeDetector working on our site (long story short: it's a spam-IDing bot that supplements the internal Stack spamfiltering)

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I flag the spam so that the spammer can be registered, warned and banned if required.

Then, I remove any link that would allow the spammer to get a visit and add something like "see history for more details". I'd also remove any brand name or coordinate if included, for instance:

enter image description here

The original version is still in the history and the spammer is defeated.

I think this is a good way too.


@Federico kindly initiated a discussion on Meta.SE:

That clarified what is the current process to remove spam, and provided opinions too, e.g.:

  1. [F]uture viewers of the post may not understand that it is spam and therefore not add their spam flags to it (moderator).

  2. The system doesn't take revisions into consideration for this - flags are raised against the post, not its revisions (moderator).

  3. A spam post with the links removed is as disruptive as one with them – it may be even worse since it takes me longer to identify it as spam. Replacing the entire post by some notice like “spam removed” does not help either, as it takes me as long to read that notice as to identify most spam (and of course as somebody with flagging capabilities, I have to load the revision history)

From this I understand it not a problem to remove links while indicating the links were spam links so that other users can continue to flag and the flags reach the critical number for deletion.

I also understand that it adds some work to the person manually deleting spams, a point I had not initially seen. I don't want that. So in the end, I think the best action is to not edit.

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  • $\begingroup$ the problem I see (from what I understand from the main meta site) is that the [presence of the] contact information is used by the system to identify spam, removing it hides it from the system. $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 18 '17 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico: Well, this seems not to be a problem, as the spam posts have been removed each time (the flags were also recognized as "helpful"). I believe the original version is also used by the system. $\endgroup$ – mins Apr 18 '17 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ I might ask again on the main meta, but the flags are marked as helpful when the post is removed, even if the post is not treated as spam. and, again for what I understand, the post is treated as spam only if enough spam flags are raised. plus I am not sure if the original version is considered by the system (given what's written in that meta post) $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 18 '17 at 8:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico: Yes, I'm interested in the conclusion. Examples: this one was edited, this one wasn't, seen from my side the result is the same (deleted, identified as spam, helpful flag) $\endgroup$ – mins Apr 18 '17 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico: Ok, but seen from my side --> in my profile, it's the same (you flagged this as spam, it was useful). BTW, this is a good question. $\endgroup$ – mins Apr 18 '17 at 8:53
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    $\begingroup$ to settle this, I asked on meta: 1 and 2 $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 18 '17 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ the comments on meta are now gone, but that non edited post was not recognized as spam due to a bug, it is going to be fixed at next release. $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 18 '17 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico: From the two posts I understand that the only problem with an edited spam is the next users wouldn't identify it as such, wouldn't flag it, and the spam wouldn't gather enough flags to be deleted. This is based on the assumption that the edit actually hides the nature of the post (spam). As my edits actually emphasize this nature, I think I can safely continue to flag and edit as I explained in my answer. $\endgroup$ – mins Apr 18 '17 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ yes, you're right. $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 18 '17 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ @mins Would you mind editing that into your answer here (perhaps with relevant quotes from the meta.se posts?) $\endgroup$ – reirab Apr 18 '17 at 21:18
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    $\begingroup$ @reirab. Done! And by the way, I changed my mind, as it appears editing spam makes it more difficult to the persons removing spam manually. $\endgroup$ – mins Apr 18 '17 at 23:49

I disagree with flagging first. I understand that the polite, constructive, ethical, academic and honourable procedure is to message author first, requesting whatever improvements/changes one believes should be applied to post.

Only after giving the author sufficient time to state her case and/or change her post, should one consider any odious move, like flagging, downvoting, setting on hold or closing.

The motivation behind these should never be to earn badges (which, unfortunately, SE stimultes). IMO, all flagging, downvoting, putting on hold and closing (by anyone below moderator level) should cost the one who flags 50 points, downvoting should cost 100 and closing should cost 500. One should also get negative badges "Pesterer", "Gravedigger", "Bully" and "Whiner" for repeatedly engaging in these.

And no odious action should be allowed without a mandatory comment, constructive in its essence.

Who would you rather be: a bully like Trump or a generous, caring human being, like the Dalai Lama?

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    $\begingroup$ your suggestion is a change to the SE system (for the point detraction), not a community-wide policy. you should bring your suggestion on meta.SE, not here. $\endgroup$ – Federico Jul 28 '17 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ your procedure is not applicable on spam post, because it would only help spammers. $\endgroup$ – Federico Jul 28 '17 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ @federico as usual, you fail to support your conclusion with proper arguments. Anyhow, my followup is: HOW SO? $\endgroup$ – tony gil Jul 28 '17 at 11:50
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    $\begingroup$ spamming is the act of posting advertisement links. the longer the links are available, the higher the chance is that someone will click on them and play in the hands of the spammer. $\endgroup$ – Federico Jul 28 '17 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico CORRECTION Spamming is the act of sending canned, boilerplate messages (spam is canned meat) to multiple recipients simultaneously. YOUR USE OF THE WORD was restricted to commercial messages with links. But, please read up on META about how SE considers repeated answers to different questions as also being spam. $\endgroup$ – tony gil Jul 28 '17 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ meta does not agree with you, as the post I linked you above shows. > "A post should be marked as spam ONLY when it contains an unsolicited message." $\endgroup$ – Federico Jul 28 '17 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ I understand that the polite, constructive, ethical, academic and honourable procedure is to message author first, requesting whatever improvements/changes one believes should be applied to post." The vast majority of spammers on the SE network do not come back and read their messages. They are paid after they post their crap and present a screenshot or whatever as proof to whoever hired them. The sooner we delete the spam the less the chance they will get paid. The sooner we delete their accounts the sooner spamram blocks the IP addresses preventing further spam. $\endgroup$ – DavidPostill Jul 28 '17 at 14:40

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