Unregistered (operative word #1) users with only one post (operative word #2) that got deleted by Community (operative word #3) after spam or offensive flags should be deleted/destroyed automatically.

These posts are typically made by:

  • hit and run trolls
  • who'll never come back, and
  • just waste bytes in our database.

While bytes are a dime a million, unregistered users are worth even less than that. In the worst case scenario of a legitimate user getting this treatment will simply have to fill in their details again.

This is even more important now that the SmokeDetector project casts automatic flags on certain spam posts halfway to deletion, and there exists a proposal to change it from three to five autoflags. This means that a lower and lower proportion of accounts that exclusively post spam get destroyed. It's important that the accounts get destroyed too.

  • 2
    I'm not 100% au fait with how the unregistered users system works but I'm guessing it's based on cookie's etc. If so, isn't it wise to know who the bad ones are so you can block them, if desired? (obviously easy to get around if it is cookie based but it's an additional block on crap) Jun 30 '12 at 22:29
  • 1
    @Ben: In practice, we summarily destroy such accounts; the user will never return anyway.
    – user102937
    Jun 30 '12 at 22:36
  • 6
    Why would you take away the joy of manually destroying those accounts? Jun 30 '12 at 22:48
  • I can think of at least one example of someone whose first post was spam-destroyed but who later went on to become a valuable member of the community.
    – Shog9
    Jun 30 '12 at 22:50
  • @MichaelMrozek because destroying them directly likely dismisses red flags as unhelpful (the only way to mark red flags as helpful is to red flag yourself, afaik; just the delete button won't do)
    – badp
    Jun 30 '12 at 23:00

Though there is no guarantee that the user will continue to use that particular account I'd to hang on to the chance that they would: that way the account has a record of the scrubbed post which might feed into later moderation decisions.


Two problems:

  1. The number of these kinds of flags relative to other flags (like "Not an Answer") is relatively small, and

  2. Mods usually get around to these flags before the community casts enough flags to delete the post.

So, although I believe the idea is sound, it would have little effect on the moderation process.

  • It changes "cast red flag, destroy user" to "cast red flag."
    – badp
    Jul 1 '12 at 10:19
  • 1
    This does not apply anymore. Most spam is deleted without moderator intervention nowadays.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jul 29 '17 at 8:44

There can be reasons for moderators to hang onto the accounts. Sometimes any one user is part of a larger picture that we want to understand, and deletion impedes those investigations.

What would help, though, would be a way to see a list of all users (whether registered or not) whose only activity was red-flag-deleted, sort of like the other lists moderators can see, with expedited deleting. I'm imagining "destroy" and "ok" controls next to each user and then a big "destroy all" button that destroys all the ones that aren't "ok".

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .