I have an answer on Ask Different that gets 2-3 spam edits a day. The other two answers also receive near daily spam edits when the posts are not locked.

The question has been protected however this just seems to stop new answers could the protection be changed to stop edit suggestions by those with <10 rep as well as new answers etc.

The issue is that for each suggested edit two reviewers have to clean up the mess. The original poster also gets their inbox spammed with edit review notifications.

The previous question did not answer this as steps were taken to stop this which this question showed were not enough

  • Why not ask this on their Meta?
    – Bart
    Dec 5 '13 at 13:55
  • 2
    @Bart I'm not sure how their meta could help with a feature request. A mod could lock that specific answer, but OP is asking to add additional behaviour to question protection.
    – Stijn
    Dec 5 '13 at 13:57
  • 1
    Ah, I misunderstood @Stijn. I assumed the locking that is already present on another answer would suffice here as well.
    – Bart
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:03
  • No, your vote is binding when you review suggested edit on your own post so you need only one. Anyway, I disagree with such feature. Dec 5 '13 at 14:08
  • 1
    Also, you can just ask a mod to lock your post and in case you'll have to edit it yourself, ask mod to unlock in the future. Dec 5 '13 at 14:11
  • I don't see any edits on that answer. Can you please clarify - is this about suggested edits? If so, it appears that none of them went through. So... what is the issue exactly?
    – Oded
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:13
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    @Oded the issue is the time and notifications spent maintaining that one answer
    – mmmmmm
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:18
  • @Bart - I need to raise that in AskDiffernt meta - my answer was locked then unlocked but that is separate
    – mmmmmm
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:19
  • @Oded 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and maybe more - looks like some stupid spam bot who doesn't learn. Dec 5 '13 at 14:37
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    @ShaWizDowArd and which has now been blocked. We do need a few of these before the system learns.
    – Oded
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:41
  • @Oded didn't know the system learns... +1 for that! :) Dec 5 '13 at 14:43
  • @Oded this has been happening for a few weeks - last week it was up to 3-4 a day - so I don't think you are seeing it all and it is not learning
    – mmmmmm
    Dec 5 '13 at 15:37
  • @Mark It is learning, it's just not learning at the rate they're coming in. This appears to be a bit of an exceptional case, but I have done a bit of manual intervention to teach it in a hurry ;) You should see some reprieve, and we're going to look at a couple of ideas to keep this from happening to this extent going forward.
    – Tim Post
    Dec 5 '13 at 16:31
  • What I can't quite understand is why this particular answer - what is it about your post that is attracting this? Such a mystery sometimes when it comes to motivations of these goofs.
    – Tim Post
    Dec 5 '13 at 16:50

I spent a bit of time chasing this down.

The spam system is keeping quite a bit of junk out of your inbox, that's for certain; the problem is that these edits are coming from all over the place, by various kinds of bots.

What I'm going to explore is adding a feature to the spam system that just disables anonymous edits on a per-post basis when a post has received X number of edits rejected as spam in Y time.

This would prevent humans from having to do much of anything, and naturally relax the block over time. This would work in conjunction with the system that blocks edits outright when certain things cross certain thresholds, in theory the lock would lift not long after they basically give up.

I have to do a little more research on this and basically replay some spam attacks again from logs against the same model I used to set the thresholds on the system that we're using now. I can't promise anything, but we're definitely going to see if we can tighten up the metaphorical fences around these oddly desirable targets.


The answer to this is probably to gather more useful signal from spammers, just as we do from the community and moderators now. If a suggested edit to a post that has a relatively recent history of edits rejected as spam is also rejected as spam, we can probably just amplify the severity of the event as we record it. That would have kept most of this out.

Part of the goal of the system is to not interfere with benign activity, while making sure this kind of crap rarely (ideally never) shows up in your inbox. I'm reasonably sure that this would be a trivial change.

To be clear, we'll never be completely free of it, but I think we can keep the bulk of it from ever getting in, even in these strangely severe cases.

Again, I've got to run this a few different ways, but I think I've got it. We're probably going to need to break 'spam' into a different reason to reject an edit altogether, but I think this will work. It was only after implementing this system that I realized the actual magnitude of the problem when it comes to anon edits.

Additional Update

This (remembering which posts have been targeted over time and awarding a harsher penalty in the system) will be rolling out in one of the upcoming builds. If an anonymous user edits a question that is known to be a spam target and that edit is rejected as spam, they'll be blocked from suggesting edits very quickly.

This was the 2 in the 1-2 punch that we needed to deal with more elaborate & distributed setups (bot nets, etc). We can't keep this out of your inbox completely, but we can further reduce the annoyance rather drastically in cases like this.

  • The volume seems to be increasing. I have just seen 5 in the last hour and 8 in the last 24 hours (including some time when the answer was locked)
    – mmmmmm
    Dec 6 '13 at 14:17
  • I'll unlock the post and see if we can let Tim's change get tuned. I really appreciate the time looking into this - this is by far the most consistent spam editor trying to foist ugg boots on the hordes of people looking to make Safari work like other browsers.
    – bmike
    Dec 7 '13 at 13:14
  • @bmike I'm hoping to get it out in the first few days of next week, still needs sanity checked
    – Tim Post
    Dec 7 '13 at 14:00
  • OK - we have a discussion in our mod room - we'll try to leave it unlocked and let you lock/unlock as needed during testing. We'd rather you have good data to test if it's not overly aggravating to Mark and the other people who the editors are targeting.
    – bmike
    Dec 7 '13 at 14:09
  • Thanks for all your work on this Tim! Dec 16 '13 at 16:40
  • Is this enabled everywhere?
    – Braiam
    Jun 30 '14 at 12:40

We actually have a system in place to handle this situation - bad/spam suggested edits and such.

The system does key off the review queue and other user actions (flagging stuff, rejecting suggested edits and so on).

It does work - the rejected edits caused it to latch on and it has prevented 10 additional such edits so far.

These are suggested edits that you did not see.

  • Definitely true. It is unfortunate that in this particular case, Mark is getting so many notifications of this sort of thing. But unless this were a larger issue, I'm not sure it would be worth it. If spammy suggested edits were a very prevalent issue, I think that would be worth considering, but... Dec 5 '13 at 14:34
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    I'm going to see if I can manage to manually tighten up around this particular group as well. I hate the thought of people finding notifications of this crap in their inbox.
    – Tim Post
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:37
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    @Tiny I thought you were now bloking suggested edit where the summary is email (e.g. dfgdfxzhgdfhg@gmail.com) or is it just planned? Dec 5 '13 at 14:39
  • @ShaWizDowArd It's status-review.
    – 3ventic
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:40
  • @3ventic cheers, only 2 weeks so it means 4-6 weeks more. :( Dec 5 '13 at 14:41
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    @ShaWizDowArd Planned, but this is definitely making me plan faster than I had planned to plan, but I was planning to do that anyway.
    – Tim Post
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:45
  • @Tiny so much planning, hope you will have time to actually do it! ;-) Dec 5 '13 at 14:46
  • @ShaWizDowArd - well then? Stop distracting him!
    – Oded
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:47
  • Good point Oded, I will stop distracting @Tiny Tim from now on! Seriously now, so you're rejecting this feature request? Dec 5 '13 at 14:49
  • @ShaWizDowArd - more like status-precompleted ;)
    – Oded
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:53
  • But that feature of auto blocking edits isn't related to protected question status.... or is it? Dec 5 '13 at 14:55
  • @ShaWizDowArd - Well, with the system we have, this feature is not really needed, in particular if we do implement the email heuristic. I am letting this live for a little longer though, see what the community has to say.
    – Oded
    Dec 5 '13 at 14:59
  • @Oded I have see 2-3 times more than the10 I have not seen ie 20-30 so I don't think the system is working
    – mmmmmm
    Dec 5 '13 at 15:36
  • @Mark - the system has only been in place for a few weeks, so unless these are very recent, we may have a hole, somewehre. cc @TinyTim
    – Oded
    Dec 5 '13 at 15:59
  • @Oded I think only got high in that last 3 weeks
    – mmmmmm
    Dec 5 '13 at 16:16

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