31

I just came across this post:

Self deleted spam

It's spam (It's a vague statement related to the question, but it's not an answer, and the link points to a commercial sales page). It was posted and instantly self-deleted. My initial thought was: it's a bit strange but it's deleted, so leave it. A few issues though...

  • Posts flagged as spam are hidden when deleted. In this case it isn't — so I, as a 10k user, can still see this; as can everyone else with the ability to see deleted posts.

  • Undeleting a post doesn't bump the question. This means there's nothing I can do about the post now, and the user can silently undelete the answer later without notifying anyone (apart from the "Recently Undeleted" tab in the 10k tools maybe? nope).

  • The user has accounts on a bunch of sites with no visible posts but has been around for ~5 months. It wouldn't surprise me if the user has done the same on other sites... Letting it pass as a one off on one site may not seem like much of an issue, but if the user is doing it on a bunch of sites then that's a bigger issue.

OK, so I just found Undeletion, Unbumping and the Potential For Abuse so this is a known issue, which is great, but...

What should I actually do?

  • 8
    This is a good question actually, it evades most spam detection on the network this way. – mag Apr 10 '17 at 8:49
  • Self (un)deleted posts don't appear in the 10k tools recently (un)deleted list. – Chenmunka Apr 10 '17 at 10:32
  • @Chenmunka ah thanks for that, I wasn't sure (hence the "?") – Cai Apr 10 '17 at 10:45
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    Great question. This tactic also causes some issues on the community-moderated front because if spammers are deleting their spam, we can't see what other spam they've posted in their activity page. Often when I see spam I check the profile and use that to find one or two other spam posts. This evades that in an evil way. – Jason C Apr 10 '17 at 17:48
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    Note that while posting and immediately deleting certainly looks like an attempt to avoid detection, it could be a case of posting and then realizing that the "plug" is inappropriate. A post that only high rep people can see is not a very effective spamming technique, especially on a site where the high-rep people probably have no need of such a service. – WGroleau Apr 11 '17 at 12:16
16

I would flag it for mod attention so the moderators can explicitly delete it as spam.

A spam flag has extra repercussions that regular deletion doesn't have, so that's the best way to let the system know there was a problem (automated spam tracking). Also, moderators should destroy spammers' accounts and potentially alert the mods on other sites.

I came across a case on SFF recently (I only hit 10k a couple weeks ago) where I found spam that had been manually deleted by a moderator. I raised a custom mod flag, explaining that 'This should have been deleted as spam'. It was soon later deleted as spam. (Another time, on a site where I can't see deleted posts, I simply pinged a mod.)

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    A spam flag has extra repercussions that regular deletion doesn't have, so they shouldn't decline it... – Mithical Apr 10 '17 at 13:30
3

As a mod this sounds like something we should know about - and certainly seems a bit fishy.

"Suspicious activity - seems like spam, and deleted/undeleted" sounds like a good, terse mod message here.

That said, something like this wouldn't be that noticeable unless one happens to come across it entirely by happenstance. Feels like something that the "system" should be helping us with - maybe autoflagging posts like this rather than bumping?

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  • Exactly. I'm pretty sure this would have gone unnoticed if I hadn't have brought it up. Autoflagging may be an idea... I'm not sure how common it is for posts to be instantly self-deleted then later self-undeleted though. – Cai Apr 11 '17 at 6:28
  • (The user in question still has a SU account by the way) – Cai Apr 11 '17 at 6:28
  • Not any more. And things like this are really where getting a pair of eyes on the problem to determine what needs doing is handy – Journeyman Geek Apr 11 '17 at 6:42
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Currently, there is nothing the system can do about such users and such activities.

However, adding to Mithrandir's answer, I have seen some such occurrences in the Startups site. And, such users tend to do this in more than one site with the same username.

So, I have raised a discussion regarding that in the Meta site of that site, and brought it to the mods' attention, who took care of the user on that site, as well as intimated fellow mods in the common mods' chat.

So, as we already have a very active community across all sites, the nuisance can be collectively tackled and can be done in a pretty short time too.

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