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StackOverflow probably needs a function to flag users, not only questions and answers.

Case in point: SO tools: new posts by recent users.

Looking at the few first pages, it appears that almost all new users are spam bots. It might be possible to counter this wave quite quickly but the general problem persists and marking their messages as spam rather than the user is a very indirect way to fight this massive amount of spam.

I don’t know whether the answer given to question 1323 applies here, since the situation is different: until now, the question was how to deal with disruptive people, which are relatively few in number. Against bots, this clearly isn’t enough.

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  • 100% agree. I've just reached my maximum number of "spam flags" but the spam keeps coming. There's now nothing further that I can do about it today :( .
    – CB Bailey
    Nov 8, 2009 at 13:40
  • (Jeff is looking into this, by the way …) Nov 8, 2009 at 14:00
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    how would flagging users help? This spammer created hundreds of "users" Nov 8, 2009 at 14:41
  • @Jeff: I hadn’t quite realized the extent then. No idea how to keep something like this at bay. Nov 8, 2009 at 15:55

3 Answers 3

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I already banned all 73 IP addresses used by this spammer.

Don't think it's a bot, since the timings are 10-30 seconds per user creation through new answer posts.

The weakness here is that we don't adequately protect user profiles from having spam entered in them by new users with 1 rep. We nofollow, but we allow images, as many links as you want, etcetera.

EDIT: I made a few enhancements to the user profile page to make it more consistent with how we handle post submissions, and harder to bot/game. Notably, the "newbie users" (aka <= 10 rep) restrictions are in effect.

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  • i pity those who are genuine SO-peeps sharing the same IP as this spammer
    – mauris
    Nov 8, 2009 at 15:59
  • there isn't that much overlap in IP addresses. Nov 9, 2009 at 4:41
  • Still getting plenty... Nov 9, 2009 at 6:12
  • Let’s see how that turns out, but newbie restrictions on profiles should hopefully have some effect. Nov 10, 2009 at 11:11
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Don't use your spam flags, use mod attention and list the names. Or good old email.

The team/moderators have to look at each account before removing them. If they got flags or emails to be informed, shouldn't make such a difference. If the team gets enough (too much) emails, they will take care about this problem with a new tool, I guess. Till then, use the tools you have. Don't let the spammers win!

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They seem to be new. I haven't noticed them yet.

But their pattern is quite clear, they create a new user profile with spam in the description field. Far down in the field are some keywords for search engines. They seem to post pseudo-technical answers to not be detected that fast.

Some of those users:

I've already run out of spam votes, we need some new tools to fix this.

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  • All four answer flagged as spam and then again as requiring moderator attention to say that they are spam users
    – ChrisF Mod
    Nov 8, 2009 at 13:50
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    The problem is that they only create one single answer, therefore deleting them doesn't remove many posts at once. Of course it helps against google indexing those user pages. Nov 8, 2009 at 14:00

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