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How does the spam flag work?

The title says it all, really; there's a "spam" criterion for flagging both questions and answers. What is it that makes something "spam"? Is it irrelevance, or is it asking a question (or providing an answer) that serves as little more than an advertisement for the respondent's product / service / whatever of choice? Or something in between? Or something completely different?


3 Answers 3


SOME criteria for spam:

  • Duplicates from people who should know better

    This occurs when someone posts a question, and then it gets closed, so they post it again. Willfully clogging up the site is spam.

  • Blatant advertising or hate-mongering

    This occurs when someone writes:

    Has anyone else had an incredible experience with product X? Because I TOTALLY have! It's only 9.99 from website XYZ(.com)

    Alternately, users write:

    Product Y is the worst thing ever!

    Those would usually be closed as subjective and argumentative, but if a user has done it more than once, it is also spam.

  • Not at all related to the site

    I really like ponies. Discuss

    I'm looking at YOU TheTXI. (I'm just kidding, he's never done that. TheTXI: I was asking "As a programmer, what is your favorite type of pony").

    Anything that is unrelated to the site should be closed as such. However, if it is BLATANTLY unrelated to the site, then it can be flagged as spam.

  • Gibberish/Garbage

    HKALKJF akjdslfkjasd laksjd flakf lkjadsl jlkasd lfdkj ajlksj lduejaf laoifwjoe alsdj alfiwejl sdjlakfj jfiajds eje afjldk foiuf lksj elwkjelr djlfiajfkr r.


  • As a matter of fact I have done something incredibly similar to that.
    – TheTXI
    Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 17:26
  • 3
    Hmm, I usually edit the gibberish/garbage into LOGO questions... how odd.
    Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 17:28
  • 2
    Little known fact: Spam is 92% ponies. They just grind them up, spice 'em, throw in some preservatives, and plop it into cans. Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 17:28
  • 2
    Rich B: And that's why we can't have nice things around here.
    – TheTXI
    Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 17:28
  • @TheTXI: I know. How evil am I?
    Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 17:32
  • Warning, The THETXI/DEVINB Answer content appears to meet the criteria of spam!
    – Sampson
    Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 17:33
  • Mine were the criteria for spam on SO, or SF. MetaSO has rules which are different in certain ways. I'm not going to tell you how. I'm just going to label you SPAM.
    – devinb
    Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 18:10
  • @Rich: I was slightly disappointed. I really thought your translation would have had something to do with Canadian.
    – Feckmore
    Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 18:51

...asking a question (or providing an answer) that serves as little more than an advertisement for the respondent's product / service / whatever of choice?

That's definitely spam, and you should almost always flag it. The only time I would say not to flag a blatant advertisement as spam is if the product/service directly answers the question (spam should never be in the form of a question). If it's a borderline case, go ahead and flag it and let a moderator decide. Sometimes we see patterns of advertising that we like to keep track of.

If a question or answer just seems off-topic or irrelevant to the forum, I don't think it necessarily needs moderator intervention. People can vote to close those in the normal fashion. If it's a blatant "How is babby formed?" type of question, you can go ahead and flag it, but those normally get closed in minutes by the community anyway.

  • Excellent; thank you very much for the information. Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 18:05

Spam tends to be a catch-all term for anything that reeks of garbage and does not belong on this site in any way, shape, or form.

Much like the US Supreme Court handles defining obscenitiy: You'll know it when you see it

  • Yeah, I kinda get the "know it when you see it" thing, but it still would be nice to have a few guiding criteria. Even the supreme court has a few guiding criteria as to what obscenity is... Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 17:32
  • Why do we need hard and fast rules for what spam is? Who in this world doesn't understand the concept of spam?
    Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 17:35
  • 3
    @Richard B: Monty Python
    – devinb
    Commented Jul 8, 2009 at 18:12

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