I know you're doing a lot of work on heuristic spam prevention across the network but I wonder if you've got some time to quickly improve the manual side of things. Below is what I see when I arrive at Ask Ubuntu in the morning:
10Kers have a similar lozenge for flags further along the bar.
For both roles, there's no indication that anything needs doing super-urgently. More often that not, those 26 flags are very boring and completely non-urgent... Besides, I try to spend more time answering questions than moderating (isn't that what we're here to do?) so that can mean even though I'm on the site most of the day, spam takes a little while to be noticed and dealt with.
This has all sorts of side-effects. People are frustrated that it can take more than a minute to remove spam and processes evolve to deal with it. They post in the chat room and making the fact we're getting so much spam so public can have a really attritive effect on the core community. This is something we can see happening.
Simply, moderators need to be told when their site is under attack. Spam (and offensive) flags should either be shown separately in their own blinking (joke!) lozenge, or to save space, perhaps just a quick indicator that somebody really aught to check the flag queue right now. An exclamation mark seems apt, as demoed here:
If I see the mark, I know I need to jump into the review queue right away. And do the same for 10Kers with their flag lozenge. We'll all be jumping on the spam much, much faster with much less drama.
That's the simple part. Regardless of the following, can we have that implemented?
Note: When I first wrote this, I really thought that 10Kers saw Spam/Offensive flags in their flag review queue. It seems that is currently not the case. I think this is something that 10K user should be exposed to (as I explained, users are already forging their own methods for spam management through chat, etc).
The other problem is that there's no follow-up if the Community user does autonomously deal with the flag.
Especially regarding 10Kers being able to see spam flags, there's a fair amount of talk about "pile on". As I've explained, this isn't something you just get from making it available. We have this phenomenon happening on Ask Ubuntu because we have awesome reviewers who talk to each other. If they see spam, they tell other users and the spam gets nuked. This is the very definition of "pile on" but it works.
Pile-on isn't the issue, the lack of oversight is. Unless a moderator has dealt with the flag directly, there's no oversight if something does get flagged. Moderators should be told about what's being autonomously deleted and if there's a mistake (or pile-on abuse) we should be able to do something about it.
The lack of oversight also means that nobody is doing anything about he user. It matters a lot less for spammers (who are usually blocked quicker) but for offensive posters, it's often simple to fix through just having a word with the user. If the system is nuking their post before a moderator has seen it, that chance for contact has evaporated.
The way I'd attempt to handle this is if the system deletes something as spam or offensive, it should then add a new flag to the post or user and explain who flagged it. If it's right, we no-action-needed it, if it's wrong, we can talk to the users and (importantly) revoke the flag against the user. Obviously this would be a flag that only a moderator could see and clear.