Today I was reminded of this again by a discussion on Meta Stack Overflow. The situation is following:
There is nowhere that a destroyed spam-flagged post will show up in the moderators' queue; it'll only show up in the lists of locked/deleted posts, etc.
Since we know this to be the case, that means that a post that gets destroyed by 6 spam or offensive flags in the vast majority of cases receives no further scrutiny, no further review and is left as deleted/locked.
But what happens if an innocent user is targeted by another malicious user who creates 6 accounts, and gains 15 rep on each so that they can flag?
Users that have multiple of their posts destroyed as abusive / spam face automatic IP blocks, and very quick question/answer bans. They also face -100 reputation every time it happens. That opens the floor to a terrifying (and near undetectable unless the victim contacts SE directly) abuse scenario:
- Normal user draws the ire of one determined user or a group of friends
- They decide to nuke a few of his new posts using spam flags
- The victim is now IP banned from posting on their SE site
- They also lost all of their reputation, so they can no longer post on meta (5 reputation privilege)
In this scenario, the only thing the victim can do is to notice that a few of his posts suddenly vanished (the reputation history does not show that deduction and the deleted posts are not listed anywhere) and use the "contact us" button and file a ticket. This requires the victim to have:
- Working knowledge of how deletions work on here
- Working knowledge of the -100 rep penalty and working knowledge that it doesn't show up in the reputation history
- Awareness of the "contact us" option
In order to even know just what the hell happened to them that they're now suddenly banned and lost all of their reputation.
In the volume of (legitimately spam/abusive) posts that are destroyed daily on Stack, the victim would be the only person who could ever realistically find this out.
This is not just limited to intentionally malicious abuse. It could easily happen if someone misclassifies something as spam and others pile on. Hell, it could have happened already somewhere sometime and we never found out about it. Again, it would be on the victim to have working knowledge of the intricacies of the site and how to correct their situation.
Do we have any tools to prevent this form of abuse effectively? Should we?