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I recently posted a detailed question on superuser about an issue I was trying to help someone with.

However, before posting it, while I was helping the person, I attempted to help her to ask the question herself. She created an account, and I typed up the text (since I was the one helping her and had all the details).

I was surprised to find that the question was blocked as spam. I tried omitting the external link (to tomshardware dot com) and it was still blocked as spam.

The post is emphatically not spam. It is exactly the sort of researched, detailed question that I would wish to encourage as a stack exchange user. It shows all the necessary details. And yet it was blocked as spam.

I even tried omitting the model of the printer and the "C:\Windows\Explorer.exe" string, just because I didn't know what else to try. Finally I gave up and asked her to email me the question text, and I would post it instead of her (since I am not a brand new user).

The question as now posted was only slightly modified from the version that tripped the spam filter when posted from a new user account.

Isn't this the sort of question that we want to allow? How could I have helped her post it without tripping the spam filter (since it is NOT spam, regardless of what the filter says)? Is this a bug?


UPDATE: I have posted the original text on pastebin. Interestingly, it tripped the spam filters there as well, and I had to solve a captcha before I could post it. (When I tripped the spam filter on superuser, I had a captcha as well, but even after that was accepted the post was blocked as spam.)

  • "The question as now posted was only slightly modified from the version that tripped the spam filter when posted from a new user account." - What was modified and what was the exact warning/error popup? – Andy Sep 22 '16 at 4:20
  • @Andy, the exact warning was, I believe, "This looks like spam." I have the original text but don't have a place to put it where you can see it easily; most of what was changed was the grammatical "person" of the text, as the original was written from her viewpoint and the current post is written from my viewpoint. – Wildcard Sep 22 '16 at 4:32
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    "I have the original text but don't have a place to put it where you can see it easily" could try pastebin – Memor-X Sep 22 '16 at 4:53
  • @Memor-X, it's up on pastebin and I've edited the question above. – Wildcard Sep 22 '16 at 6:18
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    IIRC there was a spat of printer related spam. Perhaps the model number of the printer was what triggered it. – Won't Sep 22 '16 at 13:47
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Most of the time it's just a matter of a long text having a lot of "trigger" words that amount to the automatic filter blocking it.

In this case, the magic word is "printer". You can thank "CALL THIS NUMBER FOR CANON PRINTER SUPPORT" spammers.

I tweaked the filter on Super User (temporarily, assuming I remember to go back and undo it later) so this question can be posted. In general, the best way to resolve cases like this is to contact us via the "contact us" link with the text of the post. We can reasonably quickly analyze what's tripping the filter and either adjust it or recommend some edits to the post.

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    In general, the best way to resolve cases like this is to contact us via the "contact us" link with the text of the post. Yeah, but that's no good for new users. And I'd guess you don't want to give the hint to spammers in the first "This looks like spam." message, but if, like Wildcard mentions, it is being trapped as spam after a captcha, perhaps that message could add something about "forwarding the text to the email address at the bottom of the website", or somesuch. (Guessing you don't want the email address itself on any "This looks like spam." message.) – Mark Hurd Sep 23 '16 at 1:53
  • @MarkHurd, I agree. Actually, though, the captcha seemed to be entirely disrelated; I think that was triggered from leaving the tab open for quite some time before clicking "Submit." (I've encountered that before.) Then after the Captcha passed, "This looks like spam" popped up. I saved to notepad, canceled the question, and tried from a new tab and I got the spam warning but no captcha. So I think those are not integrated filter checks (spam vs. captcha). – Wildcard Sep 23 '16 at 2:26
  • The captcha message (not content) was: "Sorry, but we can't quite tell if you're a bot or not," or words to that effect. – Wildcard Sep 23 '16 at 2:27
  • @Wildcard Yeah, the two are separate. – Adam Lear Sep 23 '16 at 16:08
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    @MarkHurd Yeah, that's not a bad idea. We do get emails about this periodically from new users, so it's not entirely obscure as a workflow, but there's definitely no way to know how many give up altogether. – Adam Lear Sep 23 '16 at 16:08

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