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I've been putting some thought into Is spam in the "about me" field a reason to worry?, and particularly the statement at the top of the accepted answer:

The trick is finding these spam profile user accounts, really.

I agree, there doesn't seem to be any reliable metric unless you resort to regular expressions, sigh, which isn't ever going to work correctly.

My proposal is that all users that:

  • Have never voted
  • Have never posted
  • Haven't visited in a year
  • Have only ever visited on the day the created their account, and...
  • Have filled something in the "About Me" or "Website" fields.

should get automatically deleted in the same way that old, unanswered, unloved questions do.. This seems a little harsh I know but bear with me.

As of the last data.SE refresh there were 6,521 users on Stack Overflow who fulfil these criteria. Obviously, not all of these are there only to a place for spam to reside and a glance at the "About Me" field seems to indicate that the majority of them are normal people.

However, they're certainly not doing anything useful and scrolling through also throws up a fair amount of "people" who are just a URL pointing to a company and a few "people" whose "About Me" field is pure spam.

I would almost be tempted to remove the condition about visiting on a single day, which raises the number to 16,073 users, but I'm not certain about it.

Removing these users will not affect the headline count, which is obviously important to Stack Exchange; but it will help with a clean-up of these users. Those people who are registered aren't going to miss their account and as there's a relatively low barrier to entry it isn't going to be difficult for them to re-register.

I'm not even sure that re-registering would be required; this could easily be implemented by not displaying / soft deleting users that fulfil this criteria but still enabling them to log in thereby "reactivating" the account.

share|improve this question
It's 56,829 now instead of 16,073. – CRABOLO Apr 8 '15 at 5:03
up vote 16 down vote accepted

This was implemented three and a half years ago:

We delete cookie-based unregistered accounts when:

  1. The user has not visited Stack Overflow in six months
  2. The user has less than 50 reputation, and no visible (not-deleted) posts

We delete OpenID registered accounts when:

  1. The user has not visited Stack Overflow in six months
  2. The user has only 1 reputation, no visible posts, and no other accounts on the network

Note that due to the extreme number of qualifying accounts on Stack Overflow, only a fraction of these actually get deleted on each pass.

share|improve this answer
Maybe there should be a status-you-are-behind tag. – Mysticial Sep 9 '12 at 18:41
@Myst status-duh? – Pëkka Sep 9 '12 at 18:42
By "only a fraction of these actually get deleted on each pass." do you mean that there is a limit to the number of users who get deleted each time? – ben is uǝq backwards Sep 9 '12 at 18:44
Yes, @Ben. I forget the number, but it is capped. – Shog9 Sep 9 '12 at 19:13
So, if I were to change the title to "Delete old, unloved, users better" this would no longer be status-completed? – ben is uǝq backwards Sep 9 '12 at 19:32
You should probably post that separately, @Ben - it sounds more like a bug report. – Shog9 Sep 9 '12 at 19:51
I thought the user are never deleted based on inactivity or low rep if they have voted at least 1 time... Wasn't that the initial status? – Danubian Sailor Oct 29 '14 at 13:11
Unregistered users and users with 1 rep can't vote, @РСТȢѸФХѾЦЧШЩЪЫЬѢѤЮѦѪѨѬѠѺѮѰѲѴ – Shog9 Oct 29 '14 at 18:09

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