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A few weeks ago I posted a simple answer to a question. Ever since that day, that one specific answer receives dozens of "suggested edits" per day. And every single one of them is where the "edit" deletes my entire post, and replaces it with hundreds of product names, each of which is a link to some dodgy-looking website.

Why in the hell is this happening? And why only this one particular answer? (I've been a user for several years, and only this one specific answer is being hit.)

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    Flagging it and drawing attention to it here is the best way to go... that sounds like a persistent idiot-spammer – user246806 Mar 7 '14 at 8:50
  • Could you flag the post, and I'll go and lock it from edits and see if they go away after waiting a while before unlocking. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 7 '14 at 9:16
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    answers to a question that has got about 20K views in 16 days are naturally attractive for all sorts of spammers who try to sneak in and "publish" their ads. This is a known issue (1, 2) and there is even a feature request on how to deal with it – gnat Mar 7 '14 at 10:05
  • @gnat it can happen to questions with much less views than that see this meta – mmmmmm Mar 7 '14 at 13:31
  • @Mark question you refer displays "viewed 18276 times" - that's less, but not really much (18K vs 20K isn't a big difference) – gnat Mar 7 '14 at 13:45
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    @gnat Really? I didn't think that many people would be interested in this question... Oh well, I guess that explains why it's being spammed then! (Put that as an answer and I'll accept...) – MathematicalOrchid Mar 7 '14 at 14:11
  • @MathematicalOrchid there you go: meta.stackexchange.com/a/224546/165773 – gnat Mar 7 '14 at 14:17
  • @gnat but the question I mention is that number of views in 2 years the OPs is that number in 2 weeks – mmmmmm Mar 7 '14 at 15:23
  • @Mark if I was a spammer (not that I want to be:) I wouldn't care if post is old or new, I would just blindly attack anything having high amount of views. From this perspective, both posts we discuss are about equally attractive – gnat Mar 7 '14 at 15:28
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Your answer has been posted to a question that has got about 20K views in 16 days.

due to their high visibility, such answers are naturally attractive for all sorts of spammers who try to sneak in and replace content with their stinkin' ads.

This is a known issue (1, 2, 3) and there is even a feature request on how to deal with it.

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We stop the majority of this in its tracks with honeypots. We do a couple of things here:

  • If someone tries to spam a post that has a recent substantial number of rejected spam edits over the last month or so, they're dealt a blocking penalty score in our system
  • Anon edits that try to change too much are also closely monitored.

The problem is snow shoe spammers, that come from 10 or 15 different /22 or /20 sized networks (typically walking up class C blocks in countries where there's very little teeth to laws about this sort of thing) - some manual intervention is needed on our part, or it takes about 100 spam messages to show up in your inbox before the system is finally trained on all of the abusive origins.

This particular bot appears to be an explorer type, which I've observed will attempt to see what kinds of markup will be rendered as links.

I'm going to run a query and manually break these networks down, which should quiet things down quite a bit.

I learned something from this - these innocuous posts that are targeted seemingly randomly by spam cartels do in fact have one thing in common - all of them tend to be quite short. Not sure what to do with that, but .. fascinating.

Update

31 networks (approximately 7200 unique hosts) now eat this when trying to post anything on any of our sites. Sorry about the noise and inconvenience.

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  • did you consider limiting reviews of "slippery" suggestions (those from anonymous users at questions having over, say, 5K views) to "trusted" reviewers? So that queue would simply skip displaying these unless reviewer has at least 100 rejections or Steward badge (or both)? – gnat Mar 7 '14 at 14:36
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    @gnat No, the main problem here is the notifications the author gets when there's edits to their question, that wouldn't really solve this. I'd actually much rather get these seen by more reviewers as soon as possible because that means blocking them sooner - even though the occasional clueless / sleeping reviewer rubber stamps them. – Tim Post Mar 7 '14 at 14:47
  • I see, that makes good sense – gnat Mar 7 '14 at 14:51

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