Today there was a spam post (copy for <10k users) to Science Fiction & Fantasy whose purpose appeared to be to induce people to click a malicious link. At least one user did:

First of all, the answer box is not the place for this sort of thing. Secondly, what images are you alleging are being infringed? I see no images on this page that would belong to you, and the linked document is coming up blank for me. – jwodder 2 hours ago

(Emphasis mine.)

At that point the post already had at least a couple of spam flags, but that's not obvious (other than the downvotes) to someone who is a lower-rep user and outside of review.

The system can already recognise text URLs in post content, and it rewrites them into proper anchor tags; my suggestion is that if the post has more than one spam flag that any links be disabled.

This could be accomplished simply by writing the anchor tag as <a href="#">[link text]</a>; bonus points would be to create a pop-up with a warning that permits click-through.

  • 19
    IIRC from previous discussions, this particular type of spam contains a link to a malicious payload, so stopping people from clicking on it is really important.
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 27, 2021 at 15:56
  • 1
    Related: Should spam posts be edited?. Wouldn’t this sometimes be problematic, particularly the points “Editing spam can result in the remainder of the spam post being considered ‘good’.” and “A very common tactic for spammers is to add spam links to content which is plagiarized from another post or elsewhere on the internet. That is done to make the post look more legitimate, which delays having the post dealt with as the spam which it is.”? Apr 27, 2021 at 16:00
  • 8
    Yes, this particular post is from a known troll, and is a known phishing scam affecting many different Internet sites, not just SE. When I see one, I always leave a comment asking that people not click on the link. Apr 27, 2021 at 16:20
  • 1
    @SebastianSimon: My 2¢: If the choice is between "the spam might survive for a little longer than usual" and "someone's computer might be infected with malware," IMHO we should prefer the former outcome over the latter.
    – Kevin
    Aug 4, 2021 at 18:53


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .