Recently there was a change causing the contents of any deleted post that received even one single spam/offensive flag to be hidden, along with all actions. Super-ubber-lock. Final death. We can't flag it and need to go to the revisions to find who posted it.

While it's good and welcome for actual spam, many times frustrated/angry/troll users will mark as spam virtually anything, including just bad answers. We don't want to give them such overwhelming power.

This is the post that made me post this request (10K only link) here is screenshot:

Link to its revisions, showing the actual post:

As you can see, it was just deleted by three 20K+ users, not due to spam flags. Probably someone really angry at the OP marked this as spam.

It is NOT SPAM, neither offensive. Just a bad answer since the OP took the code from existing answer and re-posted instead of marking the answer as accepted. It deserve to be downvoted, maybe deleted, but not vaporized.

Can we please apply that "final death" only for posts that received at least three spam/offensive flags?

Also, while investigating this our one and only Shog found a bug - turns out the mask is triggered even when the spam flag is declined.
Above bug is fixed.

Another false positive, here on Meta... poor new user was only trying to be funny and got barrage of downvotes and probably one or two spam flags before deleting his own post. (He posted link to a book)

  • 2
    This has frustrated me many times as well. +1
    – Doorknob
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 12:53
  • 1
    slight amendent: 3 flags or mod-deleted. Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 13:42
  • @JanDvorak nope, mod can also delete a bad answer while it has only one spam flag while it's NOT spam. Maybe when one of the spam flags was raised by a moderator. Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 13:43
  • Um. What you say is not entirely correct. This applies only to posts that have been deleted - not just those that have gotten a spam or offensive flag. An alternative is to re-add the action bar, while still keeping the contents hidden (so such posts can be undeleted if wanted).
    – Oded
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 13:53
  • 1
    @Oded nope, I don't want it to be undeleted, just be treated like ordinary deleted post. One or two spam flags might be a mistake or trolling. Correct about only deleted, will make it more clear. Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 13:55
  • @ShaWizDowArd - OK. Wasn't sure if the issue was that actions were hidden (which is an issue, now that I think of it), or that the contents was thrown behind the revisions wall.
    – Oded
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 13:57
  • @Doorknob - many times? The feature has been around for less than a month ;)
    – Oded
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 13:58
  • @Oded Yep, and I've definitely noticed it :P It's annoying because it takes extra clicks to see answers, some of which aren't even spam :(
    – Doorknob
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 13:59
  • @Doorknob - fair enough. Law of unintended consequences here. There were bound to be false positives and we can try to make the algo a bit smarter (as described in the OP and comments). I suspect we will still get some false positives.
    – Oded
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 14:01
  • 1
    Thanks @Oded three spam flags are rare to be false positive. Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 14:11
  • Is the post still hidden now?
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 16:50
  • @Shog9 no, it's undeleted but that's not what I asked for. Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 17:12
  • ok, how about now?
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 17:14
  • @Shog9 quick! Still hiddden. Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 17:16
  • @Oded can you please take a look again? Turns out there's also a bug involved... at least according to Shog whom I trust. :) Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 20:01

2 Answers 2


There's a serious problem with this request: sometimes, it's more expedient for a moderator to destroy the user than it is to go through each of their posts, individually flag-deleting them. This tends to be the case with the worst spammers or trolls, so not turning this feature on in these cases is probably a bad idea.

The issue with the example you posted isn't that it had an offensive flag at one time - it's that the flag was marked "helpful". Why? I don't know; it was a long time ago, and spam/offensive flags have had some problems in the past wherein they didn't integrate cleanly into the rest of the flagging system.

I've changed the status of that flag; if the post is still hidden, then I would consider that a bug - otherwise, I would say this is a case where, when you find an incorrectly-hidden post, you should just flag for moderator attention and ask that the flag be removed. Hopefully, moderators aren't validating too many incorrect spam or offensive flags.

To help in evaluating the actual feature proposed here, I've taken a random sampling of 100 spam- or offensive-flagged answers from the past 90 days on Stack Overflow, where the number of such flags was < 3 (and there was no moderator-cast binding flag involved). See what you think of making these more visible...

  • 2
    AFAIK all flags are automatically marked helpful if the flagged post is deleted. So the deletion by three 20K-ers will have caused it? Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 16:58
  • 1
    No, it was marked helpful well over a year ago, @Martin.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 17:14
  • Still hidden. Change to bug then? Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 17:16
  • Yes, if it is still hidden without a helpful flag, then I would consider this a bug, @sha.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 17:18
  • 1
    Thanks, TBH I didn't register the "a long time ago" until after posting. But I think I'm right that spam flags will be validated automatically on answer deletion without explicit moderator intervention? And if so does that also mask the post? Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 17:22
  • If this post is masked, then the answer is yes, @Martin.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 18:19
  • Yes @Shog all six in there are hidden. (and contain real gems! ;)) Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 18:22
  • Which, of course, is the problem with turning this off - it can actually be kinda useful... That said, it definitely should be possible to remove the cloak if necessary, so I'd still consider it a bug if it shows up when flags aren't helpful.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 18:23
  • Hmm... now I'm in a dilemma. The bug is that in the current state post should be hidden if there is at least one helpful spam/offensive flag and it's hidden even in case of a declined flag. My original request (which I still want) is at least three such flags. Advice? :) Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 18:25
  • 1
    Well, what's the real problem here, @Sha? The only folks who can see the cloak can still see the actual post if need-be. The danger is that a reasonable post will be deleted and then not restored because no one bothers to look at it - but how likely is this? I've added some data for sanity-checking.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 18:32
  • @Shog9 regarding your (very convincing) edit, can't a moderator cast a spam flag before deleting? Or better yet, have one spam flag by moderator be equal to 6 by ordinary users? As for the real problem, well, it just doesn't feel right that a single user can cause the cloak to appear. Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 18:40
  • Well, they can't (unless they're a moderator), @Sha: they'd still need other folks to delete the post.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 18:41
  • By the way, I really hope you did not copy&paste all those 100 links manually?! :D Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 20:10
  • Yes, after first memorizing the IDs of the posts involved. (of course not; concat('- http://stackoverflow.com/q/', PostId))
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 20:11
  • @ShaWizDowArd "at least 3" is probably too restrictive. I see (and also handle) a lot of cases where there's one flag + one flag from a moderator. So at the very least we'd have to do "at least 2" flags. IMHO, etc.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 21:09

Going forward, hiding contents will only take account of spam/offensive flags that have been resolved as helpful.

This fixes the reported/discovered bug, but doesn't deal with the feature request, which will have to wait for more data following the answer by Shog9.

Fixed in rev 2013.11.4.1113.


You must log in to answer this question.

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