Sorry if this question has already been asked, but I want to get deeper insight in why my spam-flagging was declined.

I flagged this post as spam: https://stackoverflow.com/a/18693774/1244610

In my opinion this post does not contain anything useful for the question. It is just a bad attempt of trolling.

While the post does not try to promote a certain product, it is an obvious and bad attempt at raning about Java and promoting COBOL.

So finally my question: If this is not spam, then in which way does it benefit the process of answering an already accepted answer? And where is the exact line on what is spam.

As a sidenote: I would not have asked this question if the comment on denying my flag was anything more helpful as "declined - a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it".

  • 1
    You can flag such questions as not an answer.
    – juergen d
    Sep 9, 2013 at 8:21
  • 2
    @juergend I was thinking about that, and I usually do if someone is adressing the question and offers another question, or is not answering. But this post does not even relate to the question, just ranting which in all forums / sites I was active until now was understood as being spam.
    – Matthias
    Sep 9, 2013 at 8:24

1 Answer 1


The description in the flag dialog for spam flags is:

This question is effectively an advertisement with no disclosure. It is not useful or relevant, but promotional.

If someone is trying to sell Rolex watches or Viagra in a post, that is spam. Someone trolling or posting rants is not spam.

The spam and offensive flags are more powerful and have more severe consequences than the other flags (6 flags auto-delete, -100 rep penalty when the flag is validated), so the moderators are more strict when declining those flags in cases where they should not be used.

As already mentioned, the correct flag is "not an answer" in this case.

  • OK, thanks for clarification. So even posting the same answer several times does not make it spam as long as nothing is being advertised.
    – Matthias
    Sep 9, 2013 at 8:28
  • @Matthias That might be worth a custom flag. Which I'm writing now. ;)
    – Bart
    Sep 9, 2013 at 8:30
  • @Matthias If a user posts the same answer more than once, you can flag it for moderation attention when the answers are written for the same question; when the user answers different questions with exactly the same answer, you should check verify the questions are duplicates, and flag/vote to close them if they are.
    – apaderno
    Sep 9, 2013 at 8:31
  • one mod opinion I've heard is "if it walks like an astroturfer and it quacks like an astroturfer it's a spam even if it doesn't manage to sell anything" Sep 9, 2013 at 8:31
  • @kiamlaluno note that there's already an automatic flag for exact duplicates Sep 9, 2013 at 8:32
  • @Bart That would be great to have. I flagged the first one of that user as not an answer as it was at least slightly related to the question. The second I perceived as spam. Now I understand that better, thanks again for clarfication.
    – Matthias
    Sep 9, 2013 at 8:32
  • @Matthias Not just great to have, but great to use (it already exists): Flag using the "other" option and explain what it is you're seeing.
    – Bart
    Sep 9, 2013 at 8:33
  • 1
    @JanDvorak I personally think that spam flags are the wrong way to deal with more complicated issues like excessive self-promotion. I would use a custom flag for this, as this is something that should be handled by a moderator. Sep 9, 2013 at 8:34
  • 1
    @JanDvorak The automatic flag doesn't say much to the moderators, who should still need to check if the questions are duplicates, and which questions are duplicates. A flag saying which question duplicates what helps moderators better.
    – apaderno
    Sep 9, 2013 at 8:34
  • @Bart Yeah, that would have been a better idea for sure. Did not think about that at this time.
    – Matthias
    Sep 9, 2013 at 8:34
  • @MadScientist what I have in mind is the XdoTool guy and stuff like "READ_BEFORE_DELETED_BY_MODS". What should these be flagged as? If I flag as "other", it won't get autodeleted. Sep 9, 2013 at 8:37
  • @JanDvorak In that particular case, just flag as spam.
    – Bart
    Sep 9, 2013 at 8:39
  • 3
    so, spam/offensive === "this post needs to be gone as soon as yesterday and the poster banished from the face of the Earth" ? Sep 9, 2013 at 8:42
  • @JanDvorak No that is not what spam/offensive flag means. In fact, an answer could be flagged as spam because overly promotional, but the poster is not necessarily banished. It all depends from the past contributions of that user, and if he tries to answer the questions, or post spam/no-sense.
    – apaderno
    Sep 9, 2013 at 9:25

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