I suggest a networked moderator review queue, only accessible by moderators.
(Bear with me..it has good potential)
Have a new review queue accessible by moderators only, which would be shown to all moderators across all sites.
When a user is marked as spammy, the system would raise a flag, add a new review in the moderator-only review queue, and then all moderators on all sites could see it and vote on what action to take (or add to a current review if user is already being reviewed).
Spam is not really site specific, so is ok for mods to vote on spam related things from other sites, imo.
Responses to your criteria (Tim)
Are programmers willing to trust car mechanics and physicists to help
keep Stack Overflow clean? (Along with the reverse)
I don't think "spam" is site specific, however a review queue helps with this by requiring more than one vote to action something.
if an account has more than X profiles destroyed for spam, and all
profiles are eligible (less than 50 rep on any profile), automatically
destroy them all.
This can easily be worked into a moderator review queue, and an auto action taken once vote thresholds are reached.
While I am certain it would never come to pass, this sets up a system
that if abused, could have some kind of awful consequences. We trust
every single one of our moderators completely and extensively. It's
just a possibility, however remote, that needs to be mentioned. What
other guard rails could we put around it?
A review queue with multiple votes caters for this too.
And moderator decisions can be seen by all other mods, so anyone can nudge another mod and advise on their not-so-perfect decisions - "Hey, FYI, that was obvious spam because XYZ".
The basic setup
Again, this is all only accessible by moderators, and not even readable by non-mods.
Every Stack site would have a new "moderator review queue".
When a user is moderated for spammy actions by a mod on one site, the system raises a flag, and details of the actions would go into the moderator review queue on all sites.
If a flag has already been raised for that user, then there would already be a review in the queue, in that case this new flag would just be added to the current review of that user as additional data.
This would allow all mods on all sites to see current spam actions being made on other sites, by other mods. Moderators can then check the user account on their site and perform an action in that same (global) review.
It allows mods from any/all sites to cast votes as to how best to deal with this user, and not just based on their own site and own findings.
This makes it a fast process, and more than a single person making a decision.
When there's a review needing attention (i.e. without an outcome) there would be a notification on the top-bar (like the "suggested edits notification").
This would cater for the fast action requirement, especially as any mod on any site can cast a review vote, so an outcome would come quickly.
The review queue should be updated from various places where a mod deals with a spammy user.
e.g. A mod flags a user as spammy in an question or answer, the system adds it to the review (or a new review opened if none exists).
This stops mods having to manually raise or update a review - it's all just auto fed in based on their actions, and other mods from all sites can then review it.
Various useful data of the user would be in the review, such as:
- Links to all spam posts flagged by all mods/sites for the user
- Other "potential/suspected" accounts that user might have
- Previous moderation actions against the user
- A link in the review to the user's profile - but the link would be
different for each mod, and link to the site they are a mod for.
Allowing mods to quickly check if that user is spamming on their
site (instead of having to search for that user etc).
This allows a single place for all data to be studied about that user - instead of having to check other sites, chat to other mods, write stuff down, etc.
Stack would set this up, and it's going to require more in-depth functions and consideration than I care to delve into here.
But for an example to illustrate how my idea would pan out:
- Mod on SiteA flags spam from a user
- System places data in the moderator review queue, all mods
on all sites can see it and are notified on the top-bar
- Mods on SiteB see the user has also spammed on their site
(SiteB), they flag it and so it gets added to the review for that
user (same review). This updates the review to show the user has also
spammed on SiteB for all other mods on all other sites to see. A
picture is building up
- Other actions can be performed, such as any mods voting to ban user,
suspend user, block account on one, some, or all sites, etc.
Or, point 3 might be non-existent, and user is only spamming on one site, so mods decide to vote to ban/suspend the user on that one site only.
The outcome will be determined by usual review queue criteria:
X votes by mods for Z reason
For example 5 mods vote "ban user site wide" and so the action is completed.
For it to be useful, the moderator review won't be exactly like our current normal user review queues, where simply one action per user only, and when threshold met review is completed.
A moderator review should show various data about a flagged user, so a more concise and accurate decision can be made.
Such as the posts and sites the user has spammed on, and any suspected other accounts the user has.
So, while data is being gathered, new things come to light, so votes could change.
(These are moderators, so I expect that they won't just stupidly change votes for no good reason... or at least shouldn't.)
For example, changing one's vote:
- UserA has a review up against them for spamming on one site
- Mods start to vote "ban user on that one site"
- A mod from another site flags spam on their site, which is fed into
the review. Now it shows the user is spamming on two sites
- Mods can then change their vote from "ban on one site" to "ban on
two sites..or network wide" because more data is found
If votes are cast and review complete, and more data comes to light, mods want to change the outcome (re-vote).
There are two ways to tackle this. When a mod flags the newly found spam (from the same user but not previously flagged) the new data will either:
- Resurrect the old review and reset the votes, so mods can vote
including with the new data
- Or a new review can be made, with a link to the previous review so
previous data can be seen
There are pros and cons to both. I'm sure Stack would resolve this easily, perhaps with an option to re-open an old review if a user is seen to be "up to old tricks" etc.
I also suggest that different data within the review can be voted on separately.
This is because it's not going to be black and white "user has X spam posts - what should we do".
There will be other info and data to take into consideration.
- Mods suspect the user of having multiple accounts, so the review
shows "potential/suspected other accounts for this user" (and a list
of the accounts)
- Mods can investigate and gather data to confirm if the user has
- A mod finds one of those accounts is the same user, so marks the
"potential other account" as "confirmed" in the review queue
- Other mods can see this, and vote accordingly, or change their
previous vote cast
This too will change voting, because a user with multiple bad accounts should perhaps be banned completely, whereas a user with one account and spammed on one site, might be simply "not knowing the rules" (etc).
The review will be done and moved out of the queue when all tasks are completed.
For example, if the voting is complete for banning, and the user is banned, but there are still some unconfirmed "potential/suspect other accounts", the review would stay in the queue until dealt with.
This is because those other accounts might not be yet banned, and it could be that same spammy user who is banned on one account. The entire task needs to be completed.
- Fast outcomes - Any active mods from any site can jump in and
action the user
- No one mod can invoke a network wide ban, takes multiple "opinions"
- No one mod can ban a user from a site they are not a mod on, takes
multiple mods from various sites
- While it would be new code, it will allow certain code re-use, and
hooks into the current systems and setup (rather than entire new system)
- Staff and Stack devs have great knowledge of review queues now, with
tried and tested things, so you could fairly quickly set this up to
what works best (rather than entire new system)
- A users previous moderation will be stored for future reference.
The system can pull out data to put in new reviews for the same
- No need for "clunky" chat to tell each other about stuff, make
discuss, and a unanimous decision is made easily and without
- There is a historical record of spam moderation, which means new
moderators, or those not so confident (small sites) can study the
previous decisions and learn good practices. Without having to chat
to or ask other mods
- An outcome being from multiple moderators is more likely to make a
More than just spam
This will take a fair bit of work, even re-using some current review code and knowledge of how reviewing works best (etc).
However, once this is up and running, tweaked, and bugs ironed out, other moderation things could be fed into here.
Not being a mod, I cannot suggest anything which would be useful, but there must surely be other things would would benefit a moderator-only review queue?