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I'm not the kind of guy who plays moderator; I think the worst action I've ever taken against anyone on SO is a downvote. I prefer to ignore instead of flag, but I'd rather flood the moderators with a ton of spam flags than see my favorite tech resource devolve into Y!Answers.

Moderators have a tough enough life as it is without excessive flagging, but after searching for meta, I couldn't find any guidelines on what should or should not be flagged. Are there any? Are there repercussions to incorrectly flagging? I'm sure this is in the ToS, but I couldn't find that either. :P

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I dispute that you are a loser. Now you have to change your name. –  squillman Jan 27 '10 at 18:32
    
But it has such a nice effect when playing games online. –  Jeremy S Feb 4 '10 at 21:01
    
amelvin killed by Undisputed Loser - that's pure evil. –  amelvin Mar 21 '10 at 21:28

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Brennan: [looking at the screen] What exactly am I supposed to be squinting at?

Booth: It’s like pornography; you'll know it when you see it.

-Bones:Pilot

See also: I know it when I see it

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What's that mean? –  John Saunders Jan 27 '10 at 18:46
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It's an English colloquial expression: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it –  Adam Davis Jan 27 '10 at 19:54
    
@Pollyanna Thanks, I was looking for the supreme court quote! –  C. Ross Jan 27 '10 at 22:03

Spam is any advertisement of any kind in any question, comment, or answer.

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That would match all the 254,320,587.5 answers saying "use jQuery" as spam, wouldn't it? No matter that it may be a on-topic, actionable and good answer; it promotes a product, therefore advertisement, therefore spam? I must have misunderstood you. –  Piskvor Sep 3 '10 at 12:01

From what I've seen here on meta I think the mods are very eager to do their work. They very often suggest to flag questions for their attention, if there is something wrong with them.

So I say if you're undecided, flag it in all cases.

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there are different options for flagging a post; i'd agree with you if we were discussing the "requires moderator attention" option, but i think we're specifically talking about the "spam" option. in which case no -- if you're undecided, flag it as requiring mod attention, and jot them a note as to why. –  quack quixote Jan 27 '10 at 21:51

I consider anything that is not either a well defined question (according to my criteria) or a well defined answer (again, according to my criteria) to be spam. I then flag it accordingly.

For example, I flag as spam non-answers posted as answers (along with a comment explaining the reason for the flag).

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Your definition of spam is wrong. "Spam is the abuse of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately." Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spam_%28electronic%29 –  Andreas Bonini Jan 27 '10 at 21:31
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@Koper That definition is not authoritative for SO. Flagging non-answer and non-questions messages as spam on SO serves to protect the Q&A nature of the site. –  Sinan Ünür Jan 27 '10 at 21:58
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Just flag it as "Requires moderation attention" then. –  Andreas Bonini Jan 27 '10 at 22:16

For me, the is-it-spam bar is set pretty high. Like C. Ross points out, I know spam when I see it. It's egregious, offtopic, and reads like it was written by a marketroid or a bot. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

But I don't think I've ever actually flagged anything as spam.

I've been tempted. Recently I came across a user on SU who left a .signature on his posts -- an ad-copy-ish sentence and link to some application or website. In this situation, his posts were useful and ontopic (excepting the .sig), and he had made a grand total of maybe 4 posts over 2-3 months.

The ad-copy-.sig was irksome, and I considered flagging the posts as spam, but decided against it. Instead, I edited out the ad-copy and link from each of his posts, flagged one post for the mods, and suggested the user be added to any watch list that might exist (for users who aren't worthy of banning, but might be soon).

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