This question here on this site was deleted ten years ago, as it was a non-useful joke question. (It was posted during an era when joke questions were not necessarily considered bad or harmful questions for the site, but merely controversial. To be clear, I think such questions that were deleted should remain deleted.) Here's a screenshot of the question:


(This is the link in the question. Back in SO's early days, users would have the same user ID issued on SO and Meta.SE - then Meta.SO - which is why that link still links to the same user on the current Meta.SO, a "standard" per-site meta.)

When it was deleted, there was an active flag on the post as spam or (then known as) offensive, and so it shows with a spam/rude mask every time I browse to it (as a 10k+ user without any user scripts). As I don't think the post is spam or abusive, I've flagged the question asking that the helpful spam or rude flags be cleared so it won't show with a spam mask. However, both times I requested that, the flags were declined:

Declined flags

(As to why I flagged twice: I ended up coming across the same question much later and thinking the same thing, and flagged it again not realizing I'd already flagged it nearly three years prior.)

To be clear, I still think the question is a bad fit for the site, and prefer that it remain deleted. I even mentioned it in my second flag, but it was still declined. I'm aware that clearing spam or abuse flags has the side effect of undeleting the post, but I made it clear in that flag that the moderator should reverse that side effect afterwards.

Can a moderator please explain why the question is considered undisclosed promotion under the guidelines for spam posts (the only link is - or was at the time - to a local user profile), or is a violation of the Code of Conduct, and if so, what clause is violated? In other words, why does the post still deserve to be flagged as a spam or abusive post and have its content hidden from 10k+ users?

  • 1
    Exactly my thoughts when I came across this post a while back, was too lazy to flag then.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 7:45
  • «When it was deleted, someone flagged the post as spam or (then known as) offensive» - do you think it’s possible? As far as I know, only mod intervention flag can be deployed after deletion. It might be just Jeff who could do it for whatever reason (maybe the process was different that time and community user wouldn’t lock after red flags)
    – nicael
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 8:28
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    Maybe a mod declined your flags because doing anything on this old post changes nothing today. I doubt that OP is so much worried about these old flags now, and if there were any annoying limitations for the OP or any other reason to remove these flags, then it would happen 🤷
    – nicael
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 8:36
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    @nicael Having a post marked as spam or abusive can result in harsh penalties for the author, which are definitely undeserved in this case. Also, having a spam mask makes it difficult for 10k+ users to view the post for historical context without the user script I'm using. That extra difficulty is needless since the post is not spam or abusive. Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 8:39
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    @Sonic only with 6 red flags, or one binding red flag from a mod, there is the -100 rep penalty. Otherwise, as far as I know, no penalty whatsoever. The spam mask is just being too "greedy", and I've already posted feature request about it a while ago. Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 8:47
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    It dosen't seem a productive use of our time to deal with 10 year old questions. The user is not suspended, nor facing any ill effects - So, literally, what exactly does the flag intend to do other than, well neatness? Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 11:46

2 Answers 2


It doesn't seem a productive use of our time to deal with 10 year old questions.

so it shows with a spam/rude mask every time I browse to it

Uh, it's a deleted post with admittedly no value, so uh, why are you even browsing to it?

Let's consider a few things — is there any "ill effects" to the user who posted it? He's got 44k, isn't suspended or under any sort of restrictions. If he was active, it should be up to him to ask to clear his record, but I've not recalled seeing him around here... well the entire time I've been a moderator

There's some additional context via flags which we can't follow up on, which might indicate the flag was appropriate at the time. It involves the user's username at the time, which I don't think I can look up, nor well, is it a great use of time. Basically short of someone who had mod powers a decade ago, and remembers what happened, no one might ever know for sure.

So, practically, no one's going to find this unless they literally either posted on this post years ago or looked it up. The flags have no lasting effect. To check the validity of the flags, we need to find someone who remembers what happened over a decade ago. It could have been valid at the time, but it's not a great use of our time to find out. It's plausible the flags were valid at the time of flagging, and probable, and tbh, clearing flags on a post that was deleted for valid reasons a decade ago a waste of time.

In short, there's no change that this isn't something that needs moderator intervention is true. I'd rather be dealing with actual issues now than some decade old potential misfiling of what the status of a post should be with absolutely no impact on the community. That's to say, there's no point in us clearing the flags and undeleting, then redeleting the post.


Your flags were declined because:

  • It's not something that requires moderator intervention.
  • We investigated, and decided there was no evidence the flags were in error.
  1. Consistency. Flagging the same post without new arguments isn't likely to get a different verdict.

Really, there isn't much more to say. If you can take the effort to hunt down the link for something that was deleted a decade ago, you can just as easily click through the spam mask. The question was flagged as rude/abusive and spam. And at this time, there is no way to know if those flags were 'part of the joke' or not, and there is no way to just clear the spam flag without also clearing the r/a flag. They were never declined by anyone before deleting the post, so that's in the favour of the 'not a joke' argument. It's not something that's putting other people in trouble, like pointed out in the comments already, so you're just making mountains out of molehills here.

As for your insistence upon needing a rule from the CoC before accepting this doesn't need moderator intervention: "focus on the content, not the user", see also this post.

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    No, I did not take the effort to hunt for the link to this post; in both instances, I was linked there from this answer. I came across the post in my natural course of browsing the site, not by explicitly hunting for links to deleted posts. The answer is highly-voted, so the chance of another 10k+ user coming across the same link is high. Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 11:05
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    Secondly, spam and abuse flags are automatically marked helpful on post deletion, even if the deletion was performed by normal users. They were never declined by anyone before deleting the post doesn't necessarily mean they were deemed valid by a moderator - one could have simply never come around to processing the flag by the time the community voted to delete it. Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 11:07
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    Thirdly, just responding to others that they can easily click through the spam mask on a question with helpful red flags that's generated tons of activity isn't a good response, since they'd have to constantly flip back and forth to see the comments and answers in context. Sure, a user script exists that unmasks deleted red-flagged posts which I use, but not everyone can or will install user scripts, and for a deleted post that's highly visibly linked like the example here, it's a different matter from a post which isn't as visibly linked. Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 11:15
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    Finally, this answer completely misses addressing the final question I asked at the end. It implies that the abuse part was correct, so what part of the Code of Conduct was violated and why? Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 11:17
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    Deleted posts are hidden unless you posted. So.. what kinda normal behavior would result in one looking at really old posts that were deleted even before MSE existed? Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 12:02
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    @SonictheSaveUkraine-hog you are, I presume, aware of meta.stackexchange.com/a/289913/369802: focus on the behavior, not the user. That part is also codified in the CoC under "focus on the content, not the user"
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 12:25
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    I’m sorry, but what have I missed when fixing the list? Does it make sense to have two bullets and then “3.”? I must have misunderstood the message
    – nicael
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 12:59
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    I mean, you have rolled back that edit and I’m wondering why
    – nicael
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 13:07
  • @Justin You ruined the joke! Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 16:42
  • @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz: Sorry! That was a late realization... I rolled it back :)
    – Justin
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 16:45
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    @SonictheSaveUkraine-hog The last delete voter on that question is Jeff Atwood. At the time of deletion, Jeff had moderator powers on MSE. Jeff was fully capable of seeing the flags and making a decision as to how to act on the flags. Jeff chose to just delete the question, which marked the flags as helpful (my assumption, as I can't see who handled the flags, nor exactly when they were marked "helpful"). So, a choice was made by a moderator as to handle those flags and that question at that time by someone who had access to all information.
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 16:47
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    @Justin much better :) Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 16:47
  • @Makyen Ah, I didn't notice Jeff had deleted it. I just noticed three delete voters with no mod diamond, so I thought it was deleted by the community. Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 17:16
  • @Sonic It seems that Jeff Atwood deleted the post when Welbog posted this answer in the "competition". It's kind of rude, and I have no idea if it's a neologism or if it has meaning in American slang. Perhaps JA got peeved and decided he had enough of the antics. Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 17:53
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    You seem to forget that the "user" who deleted the question as "rude" or "abusive", was one of the owners and founders of SE himself. The vulgar answer proposed by Welbog, which seemed to have earned him a suspension, was edited out by J.A. and replaced with a "silly" alternative. I can understand why the post was deleted, and why the owners would want to put a stop to that prankish behaviour. Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 19:21

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