Some incoming links have been followed by many users posting hateful content that moderators have to clean up. Would it be better to redirect requests with the Referrer header set to such a link to somewhere specific?

If so, where? For example, it could be a page hosted by Stack Exchange and designed by deradicalization experts?

Edit: Of course this won't keep determined trolls from attacking, but it will increase friction and discourage drive-bys.

  • 6
    That seems like a lot of effort for little gain since they can get around this by just typing www.stackoverflow.com into their browser. And it would require SE to spend effort maintaining and justifying a list of banned sites.
    – divibisan
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:01
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    "Several prominent hate sites have been targeting SE lately," That post does not even mention a single "hate" site (whatever a hate site is) and now you say it is several? Can you cite at least one source for this claim?
    – Mark Kirby
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:01
  • It is too easy to work around that. Oct 22, 2019 at 17:07
  • 1
    @MarkKirby: My answer gives a search that will bring up two. That's as direct a link as I'm comfortable posting. Oct 22, 2019 at 17:08
  • @jknappen: Of course it can be worked around, but it discourages drive-bys. Oct 22, 2019 at 17:09
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    @rockwalrus you might wanna update your answer to show what your google results look like. We don't all have the same rank
    – rlemon
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:13
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    "resulting in hateful content that moderators have to clean up" Is that really the case? Has there been a significant uptick in comment clean up efforts?
    – yannis
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:18
  • @yannis I guess yes, because there has been a significant decline in people handling them.
    – rlemon
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:18
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    The only site that I found in your search that might be considered a hate site is that Angry Gamer one, and I think we can all just agree that he's a dick and move on.
    – user102937
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:22
  • @MarkKirby: It was my understanding that linking directly to such sites was a good way to get something deleted, but I've decided to post the one that still comes up for me in that answer. Oct 22, 2019 at 19:28
  • OK i'm unconfused now, you added it to the other answer, I should pay more attention. I don't think that qualifys as a hate site, it's not hating anything and you take the fact the first word is "Degeneracy" and misrepresent it entirely before ranting about transphobia, something the link never touches on. Disagreeing with the CoC does not make someone a transphobe or a hater, if that is all you can provide, I have to say what you are doing is fanning the flames and trying to paint people you disagree with as haters. I'm sorry but based on that your post deserve the downvotes they received.
    – Mark Kirby
    Oct 22, 2019 at 20:12
  • I think the question is good as is, +1. (Yet I also think the answer is No). But remember it's asked at a time when people are afraid they may be unfairly accused of bigotry or homophobia. At the same time there have been plenty of posts that can be interpreted as unfairly accusing the entire community of bigotry and homophobia. I'll repeat, I think the question is good as is, but if you can distance it a bit from these perceived unfair accusations you may be able to dodge some of the downvotes. A clear definition of hate site might be able to achieve that.
    – Peter
    Oct 22, 2019 at 20:52
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    @Peter: Inspired by your comment and Piro's answer, I've enlarged the question to encompass more than just hate sites, which sidesteps the issue of whether the incoming link is bad or not. Oct 22, 2019 at 22:44
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    Do we really need to provide these links & help drive traffic to these sites? Do we need to improve their pagerank? A number of people have said they've found these sites referencing the mess on meta.SE. Saying you won't believe until there's definitive proof is not reasoned skepticism. Monica has said she's getting comments from these people on her blog. Do people believe her? Oct 23, 2019 at 1:12

3 Answers 3



Assuming the worst case scenarios where SE is attacked by both trolls & 'legitimate extremists', this would cause more harm then good:

Why isn't X website blacklisted? It's way worse than Y site!

Just one example of a headache caused by keeping a blacklist.

This is especially true when hate groups are involved. If you block an 'I-hate-yellow-people' website, you need to block an 'I-hate-green-people' website.

It might cause headache for legitimate users

For example, the linked post (in OP) has comments asking for evidence of hate groups. If one were provided & was blacklisted, it might cause issues for legitimate users.

Or users who visit hate groups for legitimate reasons (line of work)

It will encourage trolls

Trolls look for responses. If they are suddenly 'black-listed' (and in such trivial way), that will only encourage them.

It will encourage 'legitimate extremists'

Extremists could play the victim. Suddenly SE becomes a 'left leaning website attempting to censor the right'.


This would have negative effects on site.

First of all we would have to define what is hate site. What do they have to hate and how to identify this hate. Then list of sites would have to be periodically updated. This would probably be bigger controversy than new CoC. Just look at sites where they try to identify hate organizations, individuals and symbols and how OK sign is now symbol of fascism.

Now, lets assume we would do that. By doing that:

  • you give them ammunition by indiscriminatelly assuming bad intent
  • you only make them more annoyed and annoying to everyone of us
  • you solved nothing. I am sure any measures would be easy to work around
  • bring more attention from this sites
  • 2
    Sites wouldn't need to be identified proactively. Analyzing the referrers that resulted in deleted content can be automated, and then when there is a burst in deleteable content a human moderator could decide whether to add the offending site to the list. Oct 22, 2019 at 19:14
  • @rockwalrus This would not help. For example just today we had a bunch of negative experiences from twitter . I guess you do not intend to mark twitter as hate site.
    – Piro
    Oct 22, 2019 at 19:30
  • In the case of Twitter you'd probably want to divert referrers from a particular tweet or user, which just requires that you match on more of the URL than just the host. Oct 22, 2019 at 19:34
  • @rockwalrus But tweet was from SE itself. It was tweeted to bring attention to question in the first place
    – Piro
    Oct 22, 2019 at 19:37
  • @rockwalrus to be fair. Given tweet was probably retweeted by some atheist group. But anyway, would not the URL be "twitter.com/home" or something in form of "t.co/1RF7MREcPv?amp=1"? Does not seem to help.
    – Piro
    Oct 22, 2019 at 19:57
  • According to Firefox, the header sent when I clicked on the link in the tweet in question is Referer: https://t.co/sb9MDXeAgR. A quick search didn't tell me if t.co links are unique per tweet or if all the tweets with that exact URL get shortened to the same thing. Oct 22, 2019 at 20:42

SE is now being used to radicalize people, another front in the culture war. Your idea of having a de-radicalizing landing page is a good one but might backfire, as often the far right works overt attempts to de-radicalize into their "you are being lied to, take the red pill" narrative.

Also if you try this then the far right will just start using link redirection services (e.g. URL shorteners). It becomes a game of whack-a-mole.

Unfortunately you can't usually de-radicalize by winning the argument, it is a much more involved and difficult process that I don't think SE is equipped to handle.

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