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There has been lots of discussion here about the sports-related spam.

On high volume sites, and sites with OCD^H^H^Hactive moderators, spam vanishes quickly. Either the users flag it to oblivion, or the moderators see it or the flags, and take care of it. In other words, the system works as intended.

On low volume sites, especially ones where moderators aren't as obsessive, spam can sit on the front page, even when it is flagged as such. In these cases, a moderator isn't around to handle the flag and the post hasn't hit the 3 flag or 6 flag threshold. While this isn't totally bad, Google and other spiders will occasionally crawl the site when spam is on the home page (this happened to Drupal Answers).

Proposal

Allow moderators to handle spam flags, network wide. I would also suggest a different flag indicator/counter in the header for all spam (ie, keep the yellow one for normal flag, but also put the red one in the header just for spam).

Rationale

Most spam is very identifiable. There is very little judgment that needs to go into deciding whether a post about live streaming, fake handbags, or discount watches is an unsolicited advertisement. All of the mods have been using the internet long enough to know what the deal is.

Not Proposing

I am not suggesting giving cross-network ability to moderators to delete/destroy accounts, just the ability to get spam deleted quicker, especially on lower volume sites. Handling the users themselves is best address by other means.

But what about revenge flags or improper spam flags?

I think we have enough trust in our moderators to know whether to decline these types of flags, or to ignore them for another moderator.

Won't this increase the workload for moderators?

Yes, for some. If there is a different indicator for spam, then I think that it won't affect us much. With hundreds of moderators, I also think that there will always be someone around, and this queue will remain relatively empty. Personally, I would be happy to help out during the particularly nasty spam attacks.

  • Serial spammers usually don't do multiple spams from single accout, they register a horde of them. – Web Devie Aug 12 '13 at 14:05
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    I am not in favour of any form of cross moderation. I would rather go with automating network wide bans based on certain criteria as Tim Post mentions. – asheeshr Aug 12 '13 at 14:09
  • @WebDevie I am not sure how that would affect things here. I am just talking about handling the flags, not the users (I am going to edit to clarify this). Also, in my experience handling hundreds of these, there will be multiple posts from a single account until the daily max. There will also be multiple accounts during heavier attacks. – mpdonadio Aug 12 '13 at 14:10
  • @AsheeshR - Care to elaborate on why you are not in favour? – Martin Smith Aug 13 '13 at 6:57
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    I'm a bit uneasy with the idea that a moderator from site A would be called on to handle a flag on site B where he doesn't even have an account, even if it's a spam flag. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Aug 15 '13 at 12:22
  • Spam can be varying and subtle. Moreover, different sites have different thresholds for a post qualifying as spam. It isnt always selling handbags or posting random blog posts. – asheeshr Aug 15 '13 at 15:09
  • @AsheeshR I think we can trust our moderators to pass on those when they see them on another site. The motivation for this request is to handle blatant spam, like live streaming, in a very timely manner. I had had situations where the live streaming spam has sat on the front page b/c it came at odd hours, and it didn't get enough flags to demote it. I have also had spam attacks where it came in faster than I could delete it (I am not exaggerating about this). There have been instances where Google has crawled the site during a spam attack. Drupal Answers got briefly flagged as a result. – mpdonadio Aug 15 '13 at 15:50
  • Moderators are humans. Humans make mistakes. Seeing a post flagged as spam which may actually be perfectly good for the site and rather, only needs a few edits, can be a big issue. Once something is wrongly spam-flag deleted and say, it leads to a new and/or improving user's account into a question block, it creates a problem not just for the site moderators but even for the Community Team. While this is just one case, there can be many more edge cases. – asheeshr Aug 15 '13 at 16:37
  • Moreover, moderators on new sites rarely need to handle spam (creating the possibility of inaccurate judgements). You are looking at the overall issue by assuming, moderators always act correctly and that spam is mostly blatant. I dont agree with either of these assumptions. – asheeshr Aug 15 '13 at 16:39
  • @AsheeshR Has RE been the target of the sports spam yet? – mpdonadio Aug 15 '13 at 17:13
  • No. Not yet. We have had very few spammers (<5) so far, 1 of which was localised to our site. – asheeshr Aug 16 '13 at 0:31
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    @Gilles - I can see that borderline spam might require a bit of knowledge of the domain or site culture to evaluate but it would allow this type of situation to be dealt with much more efficiently. – Martin Smith Aug 17 '13 at 11:28
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I'd rather require a couple of keys to be turned before a network wide destruction kicks in. When a spammer has linked accounts on a half dozen or so sites, destruction for spam on more than one site since we now log the reason could trigger an automatic roasting.

I'd like to automate this to some extent, as currently the only way to easily get rid of a spammer on all sites is to involve the community team.

If the following conditions were met, I'd be in favor of it:

  • User has more than 2 linked accounts (possibly created within a certain amount of days)
  • User has no positive contributions on any site
  • User has been destroyed by a moderator for spamming on two or more sites

.. then we have a pretty clear picture. It's not that I don't trust the judgement of any individual moderator, I just want more sanity where network wide destruction of an account is the result.

This would not require a special flag indicator, if two moderators roast a user connected to the same root account, the deed would be done, there's no 'cross moderation' to consider.

Finally, I'm not 100% sure this is possible, or if the cost of implementation would outweigh the potential benefit. This is just my thoughts on the proposal - off the top of my head. For discussion.

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    I am actually not proposing allowing account deletion, destruction, or cross network activity on account. I think just allowing any mod to mark a spam flag as helpful so that the question/answer gets deleted and locked would be a big benefit to lower volume sites. – mpdonadio Aug 12 '13 at 13:32
  • @MPD Sorry, I probably read too much into your proposal as handling spam flag basically always entails destroying the spammer. Still, even considering that, we may not have a bad idea between us. – Tim Post Aug 12 '13 at 13:46
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    I wonder how often accounts are linked? Like a quite minor incident of recent spam by the same user showed two seemingly unrelated unregistered accounts: superuser.com/users/242855/jimmy and stackoverflow.com/users/2641272/jack (spam removed, accounts still there). – Arjan Aug 12 '13 at 13:50
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    @Arjan I probably roast about 10 or so network wide each week that have at least 3 - 4 network linked accounts. On some of the more desirable sites to spam, you have to register to ask, which many spammers do – Tim Post Aug 12 '13 at 14:54
  • @TimPost here's another multi-site account for you to kill... just spammed 14 sites. All the questions are gone, but the accounts are still there – psubsee2003 Aug 13 '13 at 8:50
  • @psubsee2003 Your timing is impeccable, and thanks for the heads up. Fresh roasted meat like substance coming up! – Tim Post Aug 13 '13 at 9:15
  • @TimPost would a check for exact duplicate cross site posting help automatically deal with multi-site spam? Specifically a linked account that just copy and pastes the exact same question on 3 or more sites is more often than not going to be a spammer working their way through the sites. – psubsee2003 Aug 13 '13 at 9:21

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