So, a Wild User Appears. He posts several answers of dubious quality, all of which include a wildly unrelated commercial link. In other words, SPAM.


Now, in each of these cases, well intentioned community members edited those posts, removing the spam link. Problem solved right? The answers, which 'provide useful content' (as per voting, I make no claims about the quality of these answers) stay, and the bad links go bye bye.

NO. Problem not solved. Y'see, when those edited answers stick around, our spammer friend is able to accrue reputation. And eventually, with rep, come a variety of privileges that will allow him to place his spam in ever more harmful places. Places that are supposed to be protected from unhelpful and untrustworthy users who do things like post dubious links to bad places. The only way to prevent spammers from earning reputation, is to ensure that their posts are swiftly flagged and deleted, and, since we're talking about spam flags here, their account rapidly shut down and prevented from further vandalism of our little corner of the internet. By editing these posts, the spam is hidden, and the flags don't get cast, and the spammer gains rep.

So please, in the future, when you see spam buried in an 'otherwise good' answer, JUST FLAG IT. Trying to salvage the content only risks creating more problems down the road. If the answer was so brilliant that you feel it truly makes the internet a better place and belongs on the site, repost it yourself. If you feel guilty about taking a spammers rep, I have two things to say to you:

1) Never feel guilty about taking reputation away from the sort of soulless monsters that are defacing this community.
2) If you still feel guilty anyway, switch to a private browsing mode in the browser of your choice, and post it anonymously.

I actually removed the links and left the answers (only because they're ok answers), he's annotated and his actions recorded... if he keeps at it we can destroy the user and he goes poof. –  Juan Manuel Formoso Oct 20 '12 at 1:26
@JQAn I saw that, but I still strongly disagree with that course of action. Spam is spam is spam, and I see no reason to give him the benefit of the doubt. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Oct 20 '12 at 1:27
ok... you're right. poof –  Juan Manuel Formoso Oct 20 '12 at 1:30
Not in this case, but usually the content the spammers use to hide their links is also plagiarized. I personally just always hit the destroy user button when I see a spammer, the fewest clicks for the largest effect. –  Mad Scientist Oct 20 '12 at 7:38
You didn't say please. <Edits out a spam link> –  Ender Oct 20 '12 at 11:50
I clicked on the user page and was greeted with a 404. Can 10k users still see that page? –  MBraedley Oct 20 '12 at 11:51
@MBraedley Nope. User pages for nuked users are not visible to 10k's either. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Oct 20 '12 at 12:24
Deleted user pages aren't visible for moderators either. Deleted users are really deleted –  Ben Brocka Oct 20 '12 at 19:32
Related –  Wipqozn Oct 21 '12 at 15:31
ObXKCD: 810 - Constructive –  Kevin Reid Oct 29 '12 at 15:23
So what you are saying is not to edit out the can of spam picture but just flag it? Done! –  Menno Gouw Jan 13 '14 at 12:19

2 Answers 2

It really annoys me when this happens on Super User: Should we replace the content of spam posts so that they say they are spam?

I feel that this is superfluous and masks the actual spam content, which a user can readily identify and flag as spam. My experience with spam posts is that users typically respond quickly to the post with flags if it is clearly spam (which the linked post clearly was before it was edited). Editing the post in this manner covers up the actual spam, which may confuse users and cause them to not flag it as spam.

When a spam link is removed from a post, it makes it more difficult for a moderator or 10K user to find them when they are deleted, because they won't show up in searches. Keeping the link makes it easier to monitor spam activity.

Would it be at all possible to disable links on posts that have been flagged as spam at all? Then if the flag is rejected the link becomes active again. Or even a confirmation dialog that says, "This post has been flagged as spam, but if you really want to go to it, we'll let you.". –  zero298 Apr 6 at 18:35

I remove spam links all the time. Sometimes the turnaround time for a spam answer to be deleted (after a flag) is up to 12 hours. That is a lot of visibility on their link, and encourages them to just create a new account and do it again.

Spam answers should be edited out, and the post flagged, then a moderator can come by and delete the answer after looking at the edit history. If a user is doing nothing but injecting spam links they should be banned (thus removing any worries about reputation).

If you're worried about the reputation gained in those 12 hours (which would happen regardless), a large bold note should be added regarding the editors course of action until it can be deleted.

I'd give your argument more credence if some of the link removed spam answers I mentioned above hadn't stayed up for an entire month. The beauty of the spam flag, as opposed to other mod attention flags is that if enough people cast them, no moderator action is required. But you won't get that critical mass if spam flags from the community if you hide the offending content from them. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Oct 20 '12 at 23:35
@LessPop_MoreFizz Perhaps instead of merely removing them, replace them with [A SPAM LINK WAS HERE, PLEASE REPORT ME AS SPAM - $USERNAME] to get that critical mass instead? –  Rilgon Arcsinh Oct 21 '12 at 6:06
Let heresy fester, let it come to the surface like a boil. We know how to wield the lance. –  lunboks Oct 22 '12 at 19:18

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