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If a post accumulates six spam flags, it will be automatically deleted, and its content hidden even from users with the “see deleted posts” privilege (10k+ on regular sites, 2k+ on beta sites). In addition, this will provide helpful data for the network’s spam-detection filters.

On the other hand, it can happen (mostly on the lower-traffic sites) that there are enough 20k users hanging around to delete a spam post, but not sufficient users to flag it to deletion. Thus, deleting the post could prevent it from staying around for (potentially) hours. This will, however, deprive the spam filter of useful data, and potentially leave irritating or offensive text or images around for 10k+ users.

What is the best course of action?

  • I'd simply Flag and Delete. :) – NVZ Aug 27 '16 at 20:06
  • @NVZ - Well, yeah. Even if one casts a delete vote, one should flag. I’m wondering whether we should be casting delete votes at all on such posts. – Adamant Aug 27 '16 at 20:07
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You should do two things: (1) flag it and (2) if it's really a low-traffic site, consider alerting a moderator or other users who are willing to help it go to 6 flags over spam.*

First, Flag It

Flagging is best. It makes posts "die harder" and also helps train the spam filter, create IP blocks, and so on.

Flags do sometimes take longer to take effect than simple delete votes, but they are worth it. Even on low-traffic sites, posts don't tend to linger too long if they are obvious spam, thanks to moderators reviewing the flag queue and other users raising flags on the post.

Also, as dorukayhan pointed out, simple deletions can get undone by 3 reopen votes from 10k users. Sockpuppets and other bogus accounts do sometimes reach 10k rep (I have actually seen this happen), and 10k accounts sometimes "go rogue" (I've seen this, too). But posts destroyed as spam can only be undeleted by ♦ moderators and staff, not 10k users.

Second, Consider Getting Help

You can always check to see if any of the site's moderators are in a chat room and ping them. We don't mind that if there's a problem that requires attention, and we'd rather get pinged in chat than let our sites get filled with spam.

Another great option: If you've never been there, you might want to check out the Charcoal HQ chat room. Among other things that go on in there, there's a very cool bot developed by some SE users called SmokeDetector (see the GitHub project) that catches a lot of the most obvious spam and posts in Tavern on the Meta, SOCVR, and Charcoal HQ (a dedicated room on chat.stackexchange) about it. Users tend to jump all over that; the (human) users who hang out in there are generally pretty cool people and also very dedicated to maintaining the quality of the sites. Once they know about spam, it's history.

If "Smokey" hasn't already caught a post, feel free to post a polite "please nuke this" message in there. Just be friendly and be sure to share a link to the offending post.

* Pun intended. For those unfamiliar, Six Flags is a chain of amusement parks in the U.S., with names like Six Flags Over [Place Name].

  • 4
    Oh Cool! Now I'm one of the pretty cool people! – rene Aug 28 '16 at 19:45
4

Unlike a post that is nuked as spam/rude/abusive (which gets locked after deletion) a post that is deleted by 3 10K users can be undeleted by 3 more 10K users. Since it's possible for 3 sockpuppets to reach 10K rep, you should flag (and preferably downvote) and move on.

it can happen (mostly on the lower-traffic sites) that there are enough 20k users hanging around to delete a spam post, but not sufficient users to flag it to deletion

Summon a moderator in this case. Mods have binding spam/rude/abusive flags, i.e all posts they flag as such are nuked instantly.

  • A good answer. Of course, it frequently happens that there are no moderators around.... – Adamant Aug 27 '16 at 22:45
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    Also, now you've made me curious. Have there really been dedicated spam accounts with 10k sockpuppets? – Adamant Aug 27 '16 at 22:47
  • @Obie2.0 As far as I know, no. But the point is it's possible and a determined spammer can create such sockpuppets just to prevent his/her posts from being nuked. – dorukayhan Aug 27 '16 at 23:04
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    Spammers almost never bother with any rep at all, so the idea that a site, any site, even SO, would have not one, not two, but three entirely malicious 10k spammer sockpuppets — all owned by the same person! — fills me with disbelief. That is entirely irrelevant to the real reasons for choosing spam flags, and it sounds so silly it detracts from the rest of the post. – Nathan Tuggy Aug 28 '16 at 0:10
  • Don't downvote spam - it makes it less likely to be visible to other users. Only flag it as spam. – curiousdannii Aug 28 '16 at 6:44
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    @curiousdannii The spam flags are designed to prevent spam from being seen at the first glance. Why not hasten that by downvoting and then reporting it in a chatroom (preferably dedicated to moderation such as Charcoal HQ) to make sure it's actually nuked? – dorukayhan Aug 28 '16 at 14:31
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    @curiousdannii Spam flags automatically add a downvote to a post anyway. – Rand al'Thor Sep 16 '16 at 23:19
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No, don't cast delete votes on clear spam (or rude/abusive) posts. Why? It takes 6* spam flags (or a single one by a ♦ moderator) for the full range of penalties to apply. When that happens, the user will get a -100 reputation penalty and it'll be made harder for them to post more crap.

If you and two other users manage to delete the post before the sufficient # of flags are being cast, nobody can cast spam/rude/abusive flags anymore. Any pending flags are marked helpful and removed from the moderator flag queue, so they won't deal with the post and the user either (if they did, they could opt to undelete the post and cast a binding spam flag including all penalties).

*: on The Workplace and English Language & Usage, 3 flags suffice.

  • Its worth pointing out that the fastest way to get to 6 spam flags on a small site is to manually report it to the Charcoal HQ room. – Charlie Brumbaugh Aug 3 '18 at 20:21
  • Sure, since that's mentioned in the accepted answer I didn't feel the need to repeat it. – Glorfindel Aug 3 '18 at 20:24

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