So, I'm writing a response to a question. I want to mention some of the bad old days of Programmers.SE and Stack Overflow.

text of body

Why can't I include "73382/" + two one three nine six three in my post?
Do I need to blame gnat for this?

  • Note that in this particular case, simply dropping the "/213963" would have done. It's your UID on meta for the Announcer group of badges, but AFAIK internal links aren't included.
    – Mark Hurd
    Jun 12, 2015 at 6:27

2 Answers 2


There was a bit* of spam on MSE earlier, which sources report was hastily stymied by check for toll-free-like telephone numbers, of which 82/2 could be a variant.

I had a similar issue trying to link to a tweet earlier** where the ID contained a sequence starting with 866. I ended up using a URL shortener (ugh) as a workaround.

I imagine this isn't necessarily a permanent restriction, or if so not one that will be implemented in such a heavy-handed way, but that's the reason for the inconvenience currently.

*For definitions of "bit" that mean multiple posts every few minutes
**I actually had to modify this URL too, sigh…

  • 1
    I "only" got three helpful flags from that. Just surprised when it looked like it was blocking a link to a classic post.
    – user213963
    Jun 9, 2015 at 2:04
  • 2
    Looks like I got 15, and I missed more than half of 'em. Silly spammers.
    – Tim Stone
    Jun 9, 2015 at 2:17
  • 1
    @Won't Dude, you're getting a Dell!
    – Tim Stone
    Jun 9, 2015 at 16:07
  • 3
    @Won't Notice how none of those posts are about Macs? Should have gotten a Mac.
    – user259867
    Jun 9, 2015 at 16:19
    – user1228
    Jun 9, 2015 at 16:21
  • 2
    @Won't: This, right here, is why commenting will never be enabled for new users. After all, they're more likely to get a Dell printer.
    – Jamal
    Jun 9, 2015 at 19:07
  • @Jamal the big danger there is that comments don't bump posts and get related eyeballs. If done on posts of inactive users, these could sit quite some time before someone notices the spam.
    – user213963
    Jun 10, 2015 at 21:07

As Tim guessed, I tried to put up a black list to stop the flood of toll-free-like phone numbers.

It succeeded in that, but unfortunately, I had to cast the net quite wide given how ingenious spammers are when faced with such blocks (changing separators, adding whitespace, using I for 1 and S for 5 etc...).

It was unintended to catch out others with this - sorry.

I've removed the block for now, as it hasn't been as effective as I had hoped, and has had a bad consequence of blocking valid posts - sorry.

  • That spam was getting ridiculous, so I think it was a pretty good stopgap solution–just bad luck that other stuff happened to have matching patterns.
    – Tim Stone
    Jun 9, 2015 at 13:52
  • @TimStone - I was getting fed up with it, so started widening and widening the regex :/
    – Oded
    Jun 9, 2015 at 13:56
  • 12
    @Oded /.*/ -- you know you want to.
    – user213963
    Jun 9, 2015 at 18:32
  • 20
    @MichaelT - no kidding. Turns out that blocking all posts will also block spammers. Success!
    – Oded
    Jun 9, 2015 at 18:35

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