Related: Recent Mass Football Spam

Web Applications's newest questions page is currently football-SPAM ridden to a surprising degree.

Anything ordinary community members can/should do when something like this happens (apart from draining their SPAM flag quota)? Any way to notify someone/thing to accelerate the purge?

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Update: The network is fighting back apparently. Network-wide, year-long suspensions have been handed out to some of the spam accounts.

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  • I'm going to drain my flag spam quota for now – John Dvorak Aug 17 '13 at 10:10
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    Yay, that was fun. Out of spam flags now. – Bart Aug 17 '13 at 10:14
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    wow... the call to arms seems effective – John Dvorak Aug 17 '13 at 10:14
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    P.s. could you next time clearly indicate in your screenshot what you are referring to? It was rather unclear to me which posts were spam. It was only at second glance that I noticed the subtle indications you put in. – Bart Aug 17 '13 at 10:24
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    stackexchange.com/questions?tab=realtime for those who want to join in – Bart Aug 17 '13 at 10:48
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    Bwhaha, this starts to sound like a war movie. "I'M OUT OF WEBAPP AMMO! BACK ME UP!!" – Bart Aug 17 '13 at 11:19
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    I'm out of webapp ammo! back me up!! – John Dvorak Aug 17 '13 at 11:26
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    spam flags should return when they're handled successfully – John Dvorak Aug 17 '13 at 11:37
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    damn it! I'm out of battery! that will be several minutes of downtime. Totally unacceptable! – John Dvorak Aug 17 '13 at 11:55
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    @Marc-Andre flag away! 11 helpful flags yet I'm not given more. Webapps needs yoou – John Dvorak Aug 17 '13 at 11:59
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    This is the exact situation why I think moderators should be able to handle spam network-wide. – mpdonadio Aug 17 '13 at 12:40
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    Let's do a campaign to outlaw all sports except test match cricket. At worse, one spam campaign every five days. Should help. Who's with me? – Mat Aug 17 '13 at 13:00
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    Sounds like a feature request for goat.SE – Bart Aug 17 '13 at 15:14
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    Also related: Livestream sports spam – ale Aug 17 '13 at 15:29
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aug 19 - tex.se is under attack. Yes, this is a call to arms. Keep flagging the spam posts while you can, anywhere they go. As this seems much heavier than the initial attack, I will try to notify the tex mods as well.

I have written a userscript for the network-wide real-time feed - just copy/paste into the javascript console or install as a userscript.

What it does:

  • collapse posts that are bumped more than once, assuming they have already been reviewed and that spam normally doesn't get answered or edited. The set of bumped posts is persisted across sessions.
  • attempt to highlight likely spam. Currently the test is very specific (few false negatives) as far as sports-related spam is concerned and very selective (none to almost none false positives).
  • allow to hide questions per-site until the end of UTC day - the "cure" for "I'm out of ammo". This cannot be automated due to the same-origin policy.
  • display a notification if a suspicious post appears. Clicking the notification opens the suspicious tab in a new window.

What it does not (yet):

  • feature an on/off toggle. Requested by @Gilles
  • collapse and/or colorise old posts properly. The data used to do this is grabbed from the web socket.
  • it does not always add no-flag icon immediately. There is a race condition between the two instances of the web socket. The problem is self-repairing.
  • display the no-flag icon on initial load. This should be easy to fix.
  • feature a scroll lock. If the scroll lock is enabled, the scroll-locked position should be kept at one place at the screen. The lock should have a visual indicator. The lock should never be hoisted to the top.

Here it is: https://github.com/honnza/se-spam-helper/blob/master/se-spam-helper.user.js

  • I don't see any visible effects. Edits still come through. Chrome 27. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Aug 17 '13 at 20:46
  • It would be nice to have a toggle between spam hunting mode and normal mode. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Aug 17 '13 at 20:47
  • I was assuming the copy&paste/non-copy&paste action or the userscript manager action would be sufficient as a toggle. I will add a toggle, though. As for nothing being visible, there is not enough data in the websocket stream to determine if a question is edited or a new one (barring the assumption of per-site increasing IDs). Instead, I assume questions I've never seen are new ones – John Dvorak Aug 17 '13 at 20:57
  • currently I'm debugging a per-site-per-day "i'm out of flags" hider. Then I'll sync to github and update the answer. – John Dvorak Aug 17 '13 at 20:57
  • Can you expand on what "call to arms" means? I think from the comments in this thread I was able to infer that, yes, we could use ordinary members to cast spam flags for the time being, but that's hard to tell from this post alone. – djechlin Aug 19 '13 at 0:35
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    Note, I've made several sweeps through TeX to clean it out, and roasted about half a dozen network wide spammers subsequently. – Tim Post Aug 19 '13 at 6:32
  • @TimPost wow! it seems much more calm now. Thanks! – John Dvorak Aug 19 '13 at 6:45
  • @TimPost: half a dozen is really short change compared to what we've seen this week-end. That's "tip of the iceberg"-like. – Mat Aug 19 '13 at 7:23
  • @Mat spammers, not posts. The RTQF seems very clean now. The "30 minutes without an accident" kind of clean. – John Dvorak Aug 19 '13 at 7:26
  • @Jan: There's at least 12 different spammer accounts in my Web Apps flag page alone. I suspect yours looks similar. (Not counting the 4 accounts that are still live.) Some of the spam accounts registered profiles on several sites, but the majority did not (from what I saw). I'm glad six more got nuked, but that's not a cleansing. – Mat Aug 19 '13 at 7:31
  • @Mat I know, I looked at what happened over the weekend, this is getting super, super annoying. They (were) on almost every site in the network, I'm circling back to you shortly to get the ones that you probably haven't seen yet. – Tim Post Aug 19 '13 at 7:44
  • @Mat related: Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:2-4 – John Dvorak Aug 19 '13 at 7:44
  • @Tim: stackexchange.com/users/3142932/user185129?tab=accounts - cross-country spammer, 2-days old account. – Mat Aug 19 '13 at 8:31
  • @Jan: inspiring. Interestingly enough, I don't think I spotted any spam on the various religiously-themed sites. – Mat Aug 19 '13 at 8:32
  • @Mat I'll add some statistical code to the spam helper – John Dvorak Aug 19 '13 at 8:35

NOTICE: salesforce.SE is under attack! I'm almost of flag ammo! Please come help! aug 22

Doorknob's SpamHelper v2.3

Now with spam detection and sound effects!

I like Jan's spam helper a lot, but I personally think the question boxes are too big, so I can't see lots of posts at once. I made a little script to rectify this (just run it in the console at https://stackexchange.com/questions?tab=realtime):

s=document.createElement('style');s.innerHTML='.metaInfo,.siteLink,.realtime-body-summary{display:none}.question-container{padding:2px!important}#mainArea a:visited{color:#F44!important}';document.head.appendChild(s)

// Spam detection (only works in Chrome, Firefox, latest Safari,
// and latest Opera) (added in v2)
t=document.getElementsByTagName('title')[0],l=t.innerHTML;(new(window.MutationObserver||window.WebKitMutationObserver)(function(m){m.forEach(function(l){for(var i=0;i<l.addedNodes.length;i++){n=l.addedNodes[i],h=n.innerHTML;if(/<h2>[\s\S]*?\b(live|watch|vs)\W*\b[\s\S]*?<\/h2>/i.test(h)){t.innerHTML='### SPAM FOUND ###';n.style.backgroundColor='#FAA'}}})})).observe(document.getElementById('mainArea'),{childList:true});window.onfocus=function(){t.innerHTML=l}

I doubt it works with Jan's script (:() but I find it very helpful as I can get an overview.

Here's what it looks like (click image to enlarge):


Red link means you have visited it. This is so you don't revisit a post you already flagged.

Spam highlighting coming soon! Version 2: spam highlighting added! Version 2.3: Sound effect from chat (the ding!) plays when spam appears - allowing me to consistently handle spam within seven seconds! (click to enlarge)


I had to post fake spam to test my script because no spam was coming up :P Don't worry, I deleted it instantly after I saw that it was working.

Here's how I test for spam (h is the text of the question):


Spam also changes the title of the page to ### SPAM FOUND ###. It changes back to the old title when you look at the spam. I might make desktop notifications like Jan's script in a later version.

Here's what a wave of spam looks like:



  • v2.3: sound effect added, slight optimizations
  • v2.2: fixed bug where sometimes spam wasn't detected
  • v2.1: only search title for spam detection
  • v2: spam detection, fixed bug with red link bleeding.
  • v1: original version.
  • Related: meta.salesforce.stackexchange.com/questions/426/… (Only 2 flag cookies left there for me too :-/) – Mat Aug 22 '13 at 21:33
  • @Mat Yep, I saw that post too. I have 2 bullets left too :( Spam highlighting is being worked on – Doorknob Aug 22 '13 at 21:38
  • The desktop notification think in Jan's script is what makes it great IMO, you can just leave the page in the background somewhere. I like the more quiet presentation with your script though. (There's some red bleeding onto the header and sidebar though.) – Mat Aug 22 '13 at 21:42
  • @Mat I've noticed the red bleeding. Fixed in the next update. Desktop notifications sound nice, I might do that later. – Doorknob Aug 22 '13 at 21:44
  • @Mat Updated :D – Doorknob Aug 22 '13 at 22:17
  • Hey! It highlighted this question in red! I'm no spammer!?!!?!? :) – Mat Aug 22 '13 at 22:21
  • @Mat Haha, err... that doesn't seem right... must test more :P – Doorknob Aug 22 '13 at 22:24
  • @Mat Updated again :) this time it didn't highlight it – Doorknob Aug 22 '13 at 22:28
  • Hum, might have been a glitch I took the new version, there's no way that would have matched this question's text. And it reappeared just now with not highlighting. Confirmed ok with new update. – Mat Aug 22 '13 at 22:28
  • @Mat I know, edits make questions reappear in the list. – Doorknob Aug 22 '13 at 22:30
  • You'll get yourself Q-banned there if you're not careful :-) – Mat Aug 22 '13 at 22:46
  • let us continue this discussion in chat – Doorknob Aug 22 '13 at 22:47
  • New wave of spam; the filter's working very nicely :D – Doorknob Aug 22 '13 at 23:27
  • With the new sound effects I can flag within 7 seconds consistently :D – Doorknob Aug 22 '13 at 23:52
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    Wow... trying to find real-time spam, yet a moderator gets thrashed and threatened on multiple sites by some idiot. Your script doesn't detect that one yet. ;) – Bart Aug 23 '13 at 0:10

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