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Here (link only visible to moderators), the following thing happened:

  1. An answer received three spam flags.
  2. The answer was deleted by three “regular” delete votes from 20 k users.
  3. Due to this, the spam flags were marked as helpful by the community user.

However, the answer was not spam-locked and I presume that it did not receive the further treatment that spam posts usually receive, i.e., the reputation penalty, user blocking, hiding of the post, and use for heuristics. Also, the same presumably applies to posts flagged rude/abusive.

As this is a comparably rare event, I expect that it does no harm if these flags persist deletion to be handled by moderators.

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  • I'm just trying to understand the sequence of events; when has the "three 'regular' votes" thing? I see it being undeleted today, and some binding moderator deletions... was the 3 "regular" delete votes today? – Marc Gravell May 26 '16 at 15:32
  • @MarcGravell: No, the three regular votes happened in 2014, like everything else relevant to this question. What happened today was removing the edit of the spam post and having it properly flagged and deleted as spam. – Wrzlprmft May 26 '16 at 16:10
  • @Wrzlprmft in that case, it sounds like Brad has the key points here; we don't necessarily bring the full weight of the hammer down if we aren't very sure that it is being deleted "as spam" – Marc Gravell May 26 '16 at 16:34
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    @MarcGravell: I did not suggest that. Rather I would suggest to let the flag survive and have a mod take a look at it who can then nuke it in case it was blatantly spammy or offensive (like in this case). For the classical one-time spammer, this may not make much of a difference, but voting-ring spammers or trolls could escape relevant repercussions this way. – Wrzlprmft May 26 '16 at 16:41
  • feature covering similar case was requested and implemented: Don't automatically dismiss spam / offensive flags when a post is deleted by the owner – gnat May 26 '16 at 20:00
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To my knowledge, this is always how deletion of spam-flagged posts has worked. If a post is flagged as spam or offensive and is deleted by a moderator or by community votes (10k, 20k, or review), the harsher penalties are not applied. The post content should still be obscured when seen by 10k+ users later, but the IP-level blocks and 100-point penalties are not applied as a result of this.

The harsher penalties are only activated when the post has been destroyed as a result of 6 community spam / offensive flags or one moderator-applied flag.

I think there are good reasons for this. I've frequently seen misapplied spam and offensive flags on Stack Overflow on content that was later deleted by 10k+ users or in review. These flags are validated on deletion, but were the penalties to be applied automatically a lot of damage could be done by mistaken flaggers.

I'll often use deletion on something that's spam-flagged when the content is somewhat spammy (I don't want to dispute or decline the flag), but I can see that the user behind it might be reasoned with. Applying a 100-point penalty and IP limits would generally prevent any chance of them being able to come back from this.

I can see an argument to be made for spam / offensive flags hanging on after a post has been deleted, for moderators to look into things and maybe clean up after a spammer. I just wanted to point out that automatically applying the spam penalties on a normal deletion would lead to problems.

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    I agree, and your last paragraph is very much in line with mine. – Wrzlprmft May 26 '16 at 16:15

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