What is causing formatting to break? has 6 spam answers which have been deleted from our friend the Community user when the spammer account was destroyed.

Should not the question be automatically protected in such cases?

Since in this case the answers are very similar, maybe that could be used to decide when the question should be protected. At least, that would help with people who keep creating different accounts just to post the same answer (which, in most of the cases, is spam).


The screenshot doesn't show this, but there is another answer (written today) that starts with "This is very much interesting. Thanks for sharing this useful information."

I still think that a generic algorithm that would automatically protect question with X answers written from deleted accounts would be a better idea, especially now that the reason for destroying the account is recorded. (Moderators are asked to choose between two given reasons or enter a custom one.)

  • 4
    This actually appears to be a bug, the third deletion should have auto protected the question according to Nick answer here. Probably the spam auto delete is not triggering the same "jobs" as the ordinary delete. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 12:53
  • 2
    @ShadowWizard: Indeed. It seems that the auto-protect algorithm doesn't count deleted users. I've seen plenty of questions not auto-protected when a third answer was deleted if previously deleted answers are attached to deleted accounts. I call this a bug.
    – ale
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:32
  • 2
    Yeah, this sounds like it's not accounting for answers deleted by Community when an account is destroyed, only counting answers deleted individually by users or moderators. I think I saw this recently somewhere else and wondered why the question hadn't been protected. Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 16:22
  • I think @BradLarson is right on this. Unless I am on mobile, I just skip the spam question/answer and just destroy the user.
    – mpdonadio
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 16:43

3 Answers 3


This has been seen in the past:

For this particular case it appears the owners from the deleted questions were all destroyed - no OwnerUserId = no way to check reputation thresholds.

On Stack Overflow, there have been 665 questions with three or more spam answers. On Drupal Answers, there have been 41. One solution might be to add a new threshold based on X or more spam answers. Blocking non-answers and spam is, afterall, the intention of the original request.

But the simpler solution is to assume for the purposes of this test (and it's a good assumption in general) that deleted authors of posts that have been marked as spam had 1 reputation. That way spam answers are automatically counted toward auto-protection of a question.


I think this idea has some merit, however I think the algorithm might need to pretty sharp to identify spammers and protect questions correctly.

The main flaw I see in this though is this Auto Protect system could end up protecting questions that don't have any valid answers to the question, thus rendering the question useless for the poster and any future visitors to this site.

Now unfortunately the only common spam was the beginning of the phrase, but how could the SE system identify the post as spam and protect it from spam again with that sort of phrase. To do this would require manual intervention from multiple parties anyway.

Although I did +1 your question as it would be very useful if this could be possible, I don't see how this can easily be achieved.

Just my two cents.. Great idea though!

  • 9
    Protecting a question only prevents low-rep (<10) users from posting new answers. This is a far cry from rendering the question useless.
    – user642796
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 12:03

As a non-diamond-moderator but merely 10k user, I see it pretty differently:

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I think that X answers deleted as spam or offensive would be a better measure for cases like this one. After all, genuine answers from users that just decided to go away should not count for auto-protection. Why would they?

  • 3
    X answers deleted is the trigger for auto-protecting a question. However, it doesn't appear to count deleted questions from deleted accounts. It should.
    – ale
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:21
  • @AlE. Oh, that calls for clarification edit on the question, then :)
    – Mołot
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 13:23

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