I've been trying to help out on Who wants to go spam hunting?. I came across this user on Stack overflow:

http://stackoverflow.com/users/589836/g1smd

I've read Jeff's Answer on Self-Promotion. The user in question has six answers all dealing with the same library from http://code.google.com.

Conundrum: I feel like this user has made some contributions. One was two years later, one was a year later. But I'm not certain it's reasonable or necessary to delete / flag as spam?

Question: For this user, and many others like it, should we:

  1. Add a comment to answers and hope the user returns (they haven't checked in for six months)?
  2. Suggest edits to note the user's involvement in the project?
  3. Flag for moderator attention?
  4. Flag as spam?

I'd prefer not to create more noise for the moderators in the flag queue. But I'm uncertain.

Ps. The other thing that makes me pause is that this is definitely an open source project, not a for profit project.

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4 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

After gathering information, I have come up with the following data, which indicate these answers are spam.

  • The user was only active on one day, six months ago, in a period of less than half an hour.
  • During that period, he answered 6 questions, and all 6 answers contained links to the project.
  • The project's People page lists him as a contributor.

However, the answers are useful, and the user did put some thought into them.

  • It isn't the exact same answer every time.
  • The answers all answer the question, with some containing information related specifically to that question.
  • Some of the answer's have been upvoted, and one was accepted.

My conclusion: The answers are useful enough to stay, but disclaimers should be added to each indicating that the author contributed to the project.

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Agreed. Definitely add the disclaimer. There's absolutely no harm in that. And since the answers do look helpful, let them stick around. –  Cody Gray Jul 28 '11 at 5:53
    
@Cody, I suggested edits to a few of these posts. My edits were rejected. And now I can't edit. Can something be done about this? (note: my reasoning is that I'd like to make tag wikis tomorrow). –  M. Tibbits Aug 4 '11 at 5:48
    
@M.Tibbits: Well, I can't do anything about it... There weren't any SO moderators that took sympathy on you around in the chat room? It's weird that the edits got rejected in the first place. For whatever reason, I don't see your edits appearing in the suggested edits dashboard. Maybe I just don't know how to use the tools. –  Cody Gray Aug 4 '11 at 8:52
    
I really don't know how these things work, but I think you can see my edits by looking here? –  M. Tibbits Aug 4 '11 at 11:11
    
@M.Tibbits, `@Cody I think the edits were automatically rejected by the system. The account in question has been deleted, along with all of the answers. If so, then you may want to request that a different action be taken than rejecting the edits, because of the results. –  ughoavgfhw Aug 5 '11 at 5:31
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I don't see a problem here. He's addressing things directly, and isn't flooding the site. He's just has an answer for a very specific problem. I have plenty of repeat coding answers out there, same thing.

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For accounts with multiple spammy answers, flag one of the answers and briefly describe the problem in the flag note. If they really are spam, I generally just destroy the account; as you pointed out, they haven't checked in for six months, so a moderator message is not likely to help.

The answers on this particular account seem genuinely helpful. The library he refers to looks like it's useful for the questions he has posted on, and some of them have been upvoted. If a user makes even a small effort to contribute, I generally give them a pass. That still leaves plenty of room for killing many spammer accounts.

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If I have asked one of these questions, I would have been very grateful for his answer, likewise if I goggled for the problem and hit the StackOverflow question that way.

As we are about creating useful answers to programming questions, they answers should stay and maybe get more up votes then they have had.

I think well targeted span that is in the contact of a questions, is no different from any other helpful answer. Let’s spend our time on the answers/questions that don’t help anyone

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