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This question is meant to ask for general guidance - although I will mention a specific example. (It is not my intention to call out a specific user - simply the issue is better explained on an example.)

I have noticed a domain which has several links on Stack Exchange (28 posts on Stack Overflow and 34 links networkwide.) When trying some of those links I got the warning:

Threat found This web page may contain dangerous content that can provide remote access to an infected device, leak sensitive data from the device or harm the targeted device. Threat: JS/Redirector.PSC

Google diagnostic tool run on this domain says: "Some pages on this site are unsafe The site contains harmful content, including pages that: Try to trick visitors into sharing personal info or downloading software."

It seems likely that the domain worked in the past. (I managed to find Wayback Machine links for some of those posts. In fact, in some cases those links have already been edited. And some of them have been replaced by a link to a new domain.) But after the domain expired, somebody else used the same domain and placed some harmful content there

What should be done in situations like this?

  • Should I try to replace the links by the Wayback Machine links, if they are available? (Or a link to some new domain, if it is possible to find whether the original content was moved elsewhere.)
  • What should be done if there isn't some suitable replacement for the link?
  • If some site has many such links, should I notify the mods? Should I mention this on the per-site-meta?
  • In the cases of locked posts, the only reasonable option I was able to think of was flagging for moderators' attention.
  • I am not really sure what (if anything) should be done with the links in comments. (In this instance I found 8 comments on SO. I had to do this in one, two, three separate queries - since searching over all comments on SO times out.)

In this case I have option to notify the owner of the domain - the user seems to be still active on Stack Overflow. But in other similar cases, there might be no such possibility.

I found a related discussion on Meta Stack Overflow: How should questions that contain links to an infected/virus page be flagged? But that one seems to be mainly the discussion of a specific flag on one particular post.

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    In that specific case, the old Blogspot address still works. billthelizard.blogspot.com My bad for not updating links on here years ago when I let the domain expire. Thanks for pointing this out. Jan 6, 2023 at 13:49
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    @BilltheLizard Thanks for the response (and for the recent edits)! I will just point out that the old link is still listed in one place in your network profile. ("I blog about programming, math, learning, and technology at .... ")
    – Martin
    Jan 6, 2023 at 14:01
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    Thank you! I just synched that one up with Stack Overflow. Now I have to go fix a bunch of broken links on my blog itself... :( Jan 6, 2023 at 14:09

1 Answer 1

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The best way to deal with those links is to treat them as broken links.

When you encounter broken links in a post, you can

  • replace them with a non-broken link to the same content, either a wayback link or a link to the new site where the content is hosted.
  • Edit the link out of the post
  • If you have enough rep and the post is not really salvageable, flag or vote for deletion.

If there are a significant number of posts, or if you need assistance from (other) high-rep users to complete the cleanup, you can ask for help in your efforts on the per-site meta.

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