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I've been doing a fair bit of reviewing of late and have come across a few "joke" questions. People posing things as though they were real programming problems. Some of these are light-hearted and some are malicious.

My question concerns the light-hearted ones. The malicious ones I can flag as not welcome because they're offensive/dangerous.

Here's an example: http://stackoverflow.com/q/16558011/2126955

I flagged this as "Doesn't belong here"->"Not a real question". The descriptive text for this category seems like the best fit, but it could easily fall into most of the other categories.

What would be the best flag to put on this type of thing so it has the least impact on the community?

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This is a sad example. The user is somewhat famously mentally ill, and has posted hundreds of awful questions over the last month or so. Most are much worse than this. –  Michael Petrotta May 15 '13 at 6:51

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I saw this and another question from the same user in the flag queue just now. For various reasons I think they're the work of a long term troll.

Any sensible flag is helpful, but for cases like this I'd suggest a custom flag reason so it doesn't get cleared as helpful on close. Usually things like this benefit from a moderator looking over them, but if you have a hunch or catch a whiff of troll be sure to let us know so it doesn't get overlooked.

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Custom flags (unfortunately) get cleared as helpful on close. The relevant request to change that is [status-planned], so hopefully this won't be the case soon. –  Yannis May 15 '13 at 7:01
    
I thought they currentl only got dismissed on deleted for some reason. But NARQ gets dismissed by a single close vote doesn't it? –  Flexo May 15 '13 at 7:03
    
Yes, NARQ/NC/OT would get dismissed on the next close vote, so a custom flag would still be the better flag for this situation (but it will be auto-dismissed when the question is closed, see the link in my previous comment). –  Yannis May 15 '13 at 7:06
    
@Flexo So, if I understand you (and Yannis) correctly, I should use a custom flag so that (when the feature request above is implemented) the flag will persist beyond any other event which might have cleared the flag? This seems counter-productive to me: I'm working on the assumption that the moderators have more than enough to do already and was hoping that specifying a flag that would be cleared by another action would be the right thing to do. I guess I worry that the site could be subjected to an analog of a DDOS attack - but with "jokes". I bow to your opinion though :) –  GHC May 15 '13 at 10:51
    
@Yannis I'd value your opinion also... –  GHC May 15 '13 at 10:52
    
@GHC there was more to this than just that one question. Trolls rarely strike just once and moderators have tools available to investigate and look at the history/background. Custom flags are very useful when they articulate the problem and reduce the investigation needed to find the whole picture. –  Flexo May 15 '13 at 17:17
    
@Flexo thanks for that. I will do as you suggest in future! –  GHC May 15 '13 at 17:20

Community is very active on Stack Overflow. Since you still have quite less reputation, you are able only to flag such questions but users with higher reputations can also cast close and delete votes on questions.

For the link in your question, the question has already been deleted from Stack Overflow. You can use custom flag with text like "Troll detected" ;-)

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A "Troll detected" flag wouldn't be very helpful. Personally, I'd decline it. SO moderators have a ton of work to do, let's not make their work harder with custom flags that aren't extremely clear. A better phrasing would be: "This is a joke question that I think should be closed. The OP has posted a number of these, please take a closer look.". –  Yannis May 15 '13 at 6:56

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