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I just took a look at the list of flags and saw a bunch of spam flags against some user. As it turns out, looking at his profile, pretty much all of his 111 answers that I have peeked at propose using a library that he/she is a part of. However, looking at the questions, they seem on topic to me at least so I don't feel that this is a totally valid flagging. (I may be wrong though)

But I find this disturbing. Ever since I broke the 10k barrier, I'm glad having earned this being able to help keep the site in line. Part of that is regularly checking out the flagged posts and lately, I'm seeing a lot of spam flags, especially for a lot of the older posts.

Now there's a good amount of valid (IMHO) flags on new users who only come in to post some junk and I flag those off and they eventually get taken care of. But I'm also seeing a lot of flags for what appear to be on-topic posts and people are still flagging them just because they can. They're doomed to being flagged off because there are a lot of people being irresponsible not researching these questions before flagging.

Are there any safeguards in place to protect these posts? Pre-10k, I had always thought that the moderators take care of these and as far as I can tell, all of this bypasses them completely. Now I can see why this might be desirable as it means less work for the mods but I find this excessive. Isn't the whole point of flag weight be an indicator of how helpful your flags are to the mods?

Every one of these flags will eventually be free flag weight for the flaggers unless a mod is around to step in since it's pretty much guaranteed to get 5 other flaggers. And there's still ~100 answers from this person alone to potentially be flagged. There is absolutely no moderator intervention whatsoever. The sensible thing to do here would have been to flag for mod attention stating that all his/her posts are potential spam but so far no one seems to have done so yet. So instead, I post here. Is this getting out of hand?

I've earned my flag weight being as helpful as I can. Is this flagging really helping anyone?

wow...

I hope I've made my point clear.

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I'm not sure I agree that it's "pretty much guaranteed to get 5 other flaggers". I see lots of things stay in the spam queue for a long time and only accumulate 1 or 2 votes. They're there plenty long enough for a moderator to remove them at his/her leisure. –  Cody Gray May 20 '11 at 7:19
    
@Cody: Maybe I'm just noticing it more then since there has been a lot of em recently. So far nearly all I've seen lately, disagreed with and kept my eye on eventually got the 6. And this was all within an hour. And from what I can tell, a mod was not involved. I hope that this just isn't a trend. –  Jeff Mercado May 20 '11 at 7:55
    
Wow, I just checked the queue again and noticed there are 53 flags... That's the most I've ever seen. I guess someone went through and flagged everyone one of MoDJ's answers. That's just ridiculous. Bobby's right about flagging for mod attention.... –  Cody Gray May 20 '11 at 7:57
    
Ah yes... another wave of flags on him alone. See the flags page yet? 68 and still rising –  Jeff Mercado May 20 '11 at 7:59
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With 114 flagged posts in the queue now, I imagine my initial comment makes me look awfully stupid. :-( But I still think this is a bit of an aberration, most likely spurred on by this very question. –  Cody Gray May 20 '11 at 8:21
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182 flags now, quite a large bunch of the at 5 flags each. That user is getting slaughtered. –  Mat May 20 '11 at 8:43
    
I might also add that Mass-Downvoting is most likely reverted by the Vote-Fraud-Script. @Mat: Yeah, he should be taken down the easy way. –  Time Traveling Bobby May 20 '11 at 8:47
    
Doesn't much matter anymore... He only had a few hundred rep to start with, and each answer deleted as a result of spam flags costs -100 points. Poor guy was finished a long time ago. Got a long road of catch up ahead of him. –  Cody Gray May 20 '11 at 8:48
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Ah I feel somewhat relieved. I looked at the queue with the 188 flags and saw a seriously offensive post up on top. Flagged that one! –  Jeff Mercado May 20 '11 at 8:52
    
@Cody Gray: I agree that this butchering is only fueled by this very question. The issue at hand stays, though. The flag queue has been spammed and the system is, in my opinion, not used in the intended way. –  Time Traveling Bobby May 20 '11 at 8:53
    
@Bobby: Why is this 'abuse' or 'spamming the flag queue'? If the answers are spam, then why shouldn't they be flagged? If a moderator is around he can then clear it out, but otherwise it can be cleared out by 10k users flagging, so that the moderators don't have to do it. As I said in my answer, if I'm doing it wrong, then I'm happy to change, but I still can't see what the problem is? What is the intended way of the system? –  ho1 May 20 '11 at 9:15
    
Btw, the whole "abuse to gain flag weight" is a bit silly since this would be a stupid way of gaining flag weight since only one invalid flag would mean that it would be a loss anyway. At least if you've already got a high flag weight. And there are other much easier things to flag which you can be much more certain that the mods will agree with. –  ho1 May 20 '11 at 9:16
    
@ho1: Because the queue get's unnecessaty filled up with Spam-Flags, when it should be one Moderator Attention flag. –  Time Traveling Bobby May 20 '11 at 9:18
    
@Bobby: But what's the problem with there being more flags in the queue temporarily? They'll go down to a smaller amount soon enough, it's already gone down a lot, and if it's done by 10k users, it'll be less work for the mods. If it was an account which spammed handbags or something, I can see that the mods could easily just delete the account, but this one did seem to have some valid answers, so someone has to go through and make the distinction between spam/non-spam. –  ho1 May 20 '11 at 9:25
    
@ho1: More flags wouldn't be the problem, but I can imagine that ~180 flags are quite annoying if you want to go through the list. –  Time Traveling Bobby May 20 '11 at 12:45

4 Answers 4

To answer the question about the user, yes, he is a spammer. But the problem is that he has had 200+ rep assembled from these spam answers. Spammers which have acquired reputation are always hard to judge and a mod should be informed (what most likely happened with this question). There are corner-cases in which spammers survived because they wrote good spam.

To answer your question about the Spam-Flags, yes I agree that these users should be flagged for Moderator Attention instead together with the suggestion to incinerate the account. Additionally mass-downvotes will most likely be reverted by the almighty Vote-Fraud-Script. Flagging for Moderator Attention is the right way to go here.

There should be a limit of Spam-Flags per flagged and flagging user put into place. Something like:

You've flagged three answers of this user as Spam. If there are more Spam-Answers please flag the user for moderation attention.

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I think I would rather that the 3rd spam flag auto triggered a moderator attention flag, rather than relying on the individual, along with stopping future spam flags against that user for say 24 hours. –  forsvarir May 20 '11 at 7:32
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I think the moment a user gets a spam flag on 3 or so different posts, all future spam flags will be turned into one big mod attention flag (per user) until a mod gets a chance to really assess the situation. –  Jeff Mercado May 20 '11 at 8:10
    
You know that posts are automatically downvoted by the Community user when flagged as spam, right? It's unlikely that the scripts are going to reverse downvotes cast by Community, that's almost all it ever does. –  Cody Gray May 20 '11 at 9:40
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@Cody Gray: Wait, raising one flag is enough for an automatic downvote? –  Time Traveling Bobby May 20 '11 at 9:45
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Yes. Each spam flag causes the post to be automatically downvoted. However, they are removed/canceled if the post doesn't end up getting all 6 spam flags required to be deleted as spam. –  Cody Gray May 20 '11 at 9:47
    
@Cody Gray: Oh, good to know. Thanks. –  Time Traveling Bobby May 20 '11 at 11:11

It's worth noting that nowhere in any of the recent posts that I looked at has he noted that he's behind the library. The only possible hint is that his name roughly resembles the domain name hosting the library. Given that the majority of answers that he's made exist purely to plug his library, entirely ignoring the answered state and age of each question, there is no doubt that he is a spammer and the posts should be removed.

A possible alternative to moderator action for this particular user would be editing out the link and spammy content from his otherwise moderately useful posts. I dunno about you, but I'm not in the mood to do that, and I'm also not well-versed enough in the realm of iOS animation to judge his answers for good content. That and there are simply too many posts to correct.

I flagged one of his posts for moderator attention about an hour ago, when he first started showing up in the queue.

There was a similar occurrence the other day, only in that case I ended up flagging about two to thee dozen posts as spam, manually. I came back later to find none of the flags approved and both the user and posts nuked. It's very likely that there was a moderator action here, though the nuke was not attributed to anybody. I'm going to assume that there's a Nuke From Orbit button that the moderators have that can simultaneously clean up messes and prevent flag weight abuse. If this superweapon exists, I somehow expect it's going to get triggered here. Duck and cover...

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I admit, as I analyzed the posts, I wasn't really looking if there was any disclosure and that may be a big part of it. Now I agree, this is spam based on that alone. However you gotta admit, flagging all his individual answers is stepping over the line. p.s., if you still have a link to the original post, you could always see who caused the post to be deleted. It's either the community or a specific moderator. –  Jeff Mercado May 20 '11 at 8:16
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Yes, moderators can destroy an account (and all posts emanating from it) with a single click. Be afraid, be very afraid. –  Cody Gray May 20 '11 at 8:33
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@Cody - That's simply not true at all, it's 3 clicks. –  Nick Craver May 20 '11 at 13:53
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@Nick: Ah, so that explains all the "feature-requests" from Will, complaining that the UI is somehow unintuitive or hard to use. ;-) –  Cody Gray May 20 '11 at 13:58
    
@Jeff, in the case of the user that was nuked, all of the posts are simply marked as deleted with zero attribution -- neither a moderator nor attribution. Here's an example. –  Charles May 20 '11 at 15:41

Presumably, you've noticed people flagging spam because you're a 10K plus user and you've got access to mod tools.

Haven't you flagged the user? If so, doesn't that mean the systems working?

Generally if I come across a spam answer, I'll flag it as spam, then have a look at the user. View a few of their other answers (flagging as spam if appropriate), then if it looks like there's a pattern flag one of them for moderator attention, along with a note as to why.

Flag weight is essentially valueless, other than to the user it applies to. I haven't noticed a significant difference between the time for Mods to respond to posts when I had a flag weight of 100 to the time it takes now with a flag weight of around 690. They're generally pretty quick on the easy ones and the edge cases / harder ones to resolve take longer.

It's easy to get a flag weight of 500 (which is the only reward point for flagging). All flag weight represents is how right you are about noticing a post has something wrong with it. So if users are trying to game it, it seems to me that they're just gaming themselves...

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Misread that as "Haven't you flogged the user?"! –  Andrew Grimm May 20 '11 at 7:39

It's worth noting that, if you see a user with many spammy answers, it's better (and less work for the moderators) to flag one of the answers with "This user has many spammy answers", rather than flagging every individual answer.

Flag weight notwithstanding.

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Completely agreed. When 1 flag would do the job of 180, use 1. On the other hand, if you have a list of 180 separate spamming users, by all means, flag them! I'm not against having a lot of work to do, but I am against doing more work than is required. –  Kevin Vermeer Sep 28 '11 at 15:15

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