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This user has had an account on a number of Stack Exchange sites for many years, and wrote a small number of questions and answers in that time. In the last few days, they've started posting dozens of answers per day across many SE sites, and they're joining more sites every day.

I think these answers are AI-generated because

  • Many show telltale signs of it (others are ambiguous).

  • Until recently their bio said "At the moment I am studying C# to implement some ideas in AI and internet communication." After I mentioned that in a couple of comments on answers of theirs, they rewrote it; now it says they're an "amateur provocateur", and the tone in general is mocking.

  • They recently commented "I am just trying to help people to see the damage new policies led to. We wouldn't have this if not for moderator's strike!" and "It's all for greater good. Of course it'll be banned, but that's the price to make them address the problem sooner" (both on this answer which is now deleted). I should add that I don't really believe they have altruistic motives, since they also write mocking comments in a style similar to their current bio, and things like "you should also spend time on your development instead of this pointless gpt witch-hunt. Time is precious, my friend". It seems more like 4chan-style trolling.

My question is not "what should be done about this", but what I should do, as someone who wants this to stop but has no special powers.

In normal times I would flag the most egregious answer on each site and let moderators deal with it, but these aren't normal times.

I can downvote each offending answer once on some sites they've joined, and zero times on others, but I feel like it does little good. There's an endless stream of new answers, I don't have much reputation to spend on some of the sites, and if I'm not careful I might get dinged for serial downvoting.

I could write comments or site-meta posts or chat messages on as many sites as possible to encourage others to join in the downvoting, but I'd rather not, partly because it would be a lot of work, but also because I'd feel somewhat unsafe being their most active enemy – though perhaps that's irrational.

I have been hoping for the last couple of days that someone else would do something about it, but that doesn't seem to be happening. There aren't any downvotes at all on many of the answers.

Obviously writing this question on Meta counts as doing something, but I don't think problems like this should be handled by writing one Meta question per problem user.

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    Welcome to Meta SE. FYI, the Math meta User spamming chatbot answers post is about this user's spamming type activities, but just specifically on the Mathematics SE site. Jul 24, 2023 at 22:51
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    That user has been suspended network-wide for a month.
    – Ghoster
    Jul 25, 2023 at 2:37
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    It's worth pointing out that the moderators on strike specifically requested that users supporting the strike do not engage in deliberate acts of vandalism or disruption on SE/SO. If you want to support the strike, vote, comment or post constructively on Meta when the issue is discussed and/or withdraw from some activities on the site. Jul 25, 2023 at 9:45
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    The user was suspended and yet has added new answers only 10 hours ago stackexchange.com/users/6123746/serg-z?tab=activity. How is that possible? Jul 28, 2023 at 16:58
  • @S.Catterall Apparently a user suspended at the network level can be unsuspended on individual sites by moderators.
    – benrg
    Jul 28, 2023 at 22:57
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    @benrg Thanks, I didn't realise that was possible. It could also be that the answers were submitted by the user via alternative accounts, which were then subsequently merged. Jul 29, 2023 at 10:06

3 Answers 3

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Someone who is purposefully causing disruption and controversy, and/or isn't engaging in use of the site in good faith, is in violation of the Stack Exchange Code of Conduct (specifically see 'Inauthentic Usage') regardless of whether or not they used GPT.

We do not allow any use of the system that violates our Acceptable Use policy or directly causes unnecessary and unwanted disruption and/or harm to users and/or the network.

Please report these activites per usual channels (flags, primarily), and if the problem is serious enough, the Contact Us form is a backstop that will put you in contact with the Community Management team. In this case, however, no need to report further -- I've got it from here.

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    @Slate "Routing all conduct issues through the CM team is also just not practical nor will it lead to beneficial outcomes." Not to put too fine a point on it, but that is, you know, kind of the point. If moderation continues without having any impact on the CM team or the company at large, then the strike really isn't doing its job, is it? I don't have anything against you or the rest of the CM and T&S teams, but the whole point of not moderating is to force you guys to do the work, thus pointing out how important we volunteer moderators are to the well-functioning of the site. Jul 25, 2023 at 1:50
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    And well - being able to moderate AI content the way it should is the heart of the strike. It is unfortunate the individual mentioned chose to make their protest that way but this is literally the sort of thing that we want to discourage people from doing , just less ironically. Jul 25, 2023 at 3:57
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    @Slate I did not claim that it is reasonable. A strike action is a response to an unreasonable request from management. Unreasonableness is met with unreasonableness. I understand that you sit between the volunteer moderators and the administrative structure which is the "real problem". That is a hard position to be in, and I don't feel good about dumping work on you. But the point of the protest action is to demonstrate, in a meaningful and concrete way, the work that is done by the moderators. If it is effective, it is going to hurt someone, somewhere. Jul 25, 2023 at 14:08
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    @Slate "The volume of work you are asking us to do will not be done..." Yes. I know that is likely. What is the current flag count on SO right now? On Math SE, it is almost 800. This also represents a volume of work which isn't being done. And please ask your managers how to prioritize the work. Maybe that will help get the message across that there is work which isn't being done, but which needs to be done. Jul 25, 2023 at 14:15
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    @Slate I think that its more that a pile up flags in general, and things that were previously done by striking mods, and unfortunately crappy things like spammers and trolls not being handled effectively - is a concequence of flags. And frankly, I suspect when there's a successful resolution of the strike, the mod teams will be making a very loud sigh, and the ones not burnt out by all the preceding drama will be quite enthusiastically dealing with what's piled up. Burning out CMs isn't a goal here. I don't think there's an expectation for CMs to handle all the flags Jul 25, 2023 at 14:52
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    @Slate "Are you saying you expect Community Managers to handle every single work item to make a point, or do you actually believe that and believe we'll have failed your expectations if we don't do all of it?" No, and no. I think that the company has failed to meet the expectations of the community. As a moderator, I am powerless to speak directly to power. The most I can do is choose not to do my job. You are the next in line to deal with the crap that we moderators are not dealing with. Jul 25, 2023 at 15:29
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    I am not asking you to do the work that we aren't---if you do all that extra work, then the company may decide that volunteer moderators aren't necessary for the site to function, and may permanently dump all that work on you. No one wants that outcome (probably). Rather, the moderation workload is piling up. Presumably, management would like someone to deal with that backlog, eventually. If it is currently piling up on your todo list, than, perhaps, you could make the point to management that it is not sustainable in this manner... Jul 25, 2023 at 15:31
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    Basically, what I am saying is that moderators are currently passing the buck to the CM team. My expectation is that the CM team will pass the buck to their managers, and maybe, eventually, the higher ups will get the message. Jul 25, 2023 at 15:32
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    On the other hand, we've literally brought up things like 'we don't have enough CMs' - and other issues that we feel would make your life easier with... apparently less success than we'd like? I was happy to see a growing team, and progress before the recent set of dramas. If you're working longer hours, and can't keep up, and this has been going on for years, how can we better convince the people who can give you the resources to meet our needs? And on our end, there's a lot of unhappiness over how the company seems to see us. How do we fix these things? Jul 25, 2023 at 15:39
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    @Slate I don't think Xander's comment was meant in the spirit you're taking it. We know your team is being forced to handle the brunt of this, and that's not really fair to you. What is fair, though, is that in the absence of volunteer moderation, the work falls to the company. The impossible tasks you describe are indeed impossible without volunteers or a substantial investment from the company. Since the latter seems extremely unlikely, especially with recent CM layoffs, the company's only other option is to keep the volunteers happy. Jul 25, 2023 at 16:04
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    @Slate If the company chooses to make CMs miserable with overwork instead of solving the disconnect with volunteers, that's fault of your bosses at whatever level of the hierarchy is making these decisions. Jul 25, 2023 at 16:06
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    @Slate - I'm only speaking for myself, but I expect you to look after yourself, and not engage in any deathmarch-style heroics to make up for the company's failures. And I asume that users will continue to expect actions that maintain a high-quality web-site and community to be done, and there won't be enough people to do them, and the quality of StackExchange sites will degrade.
    – JonathanZ
    Jul 25, 2023 at 18:14
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    The alternative here @Xander is that CMs report to their managers that the volume is too great for them to make up the difference, their managers pass this (or a sensible translation) up the chain, and eventually TPTB get the message that they aren't Elons, that refusing to communicate on-site while dissing mods in the press is creating problems for their own staff and driving people away from the sites, and the company gets serious about resolving this stupid, stupid, completely unnecessary situation and we can all move on.
    – Shog9
    Jul 25, 2023 at 18:48
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    Yeah, figured we were on the same page @Xander, but wanna underline that the important outcome here is not that CMs burn out in some heroic effort to reify some exec's BS delusions. That's not gonna happen. It's laughable that anyone would think that, much less send it to a reporter. But here we are, the cracks are showing, and what good folks like Slate here need more'n anything else is encouragement to work their 9-5 and not one minute more, lest any of the cost of this idiocy fails to land upon the heads of those who wrought it.
    – Shog9
    Jul 25, 2023 at 19:07
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    @Slate just one more voice chiming in to clarify that the last thing we want is for you guys (CMs) to burn out. We want you to do the jobs you are paid for and work the hours you are paid for and not one second more. Since the strike is creating much more work for y'all, our hope is that you will not do that work since, as you correctly point out, that would not be healthy for you to say the least! We then hope this will trickle up the chain of command until someone who can actually take decisions finally realizes that volunteer work is essential for the network.
    – terdon
    Jul 26, 2023 at 13:32
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As a normal user, there is nothing you can do except for the things you have mentioned in your question. Flag their posts for moderator attention, and once the strike ends, the problematic user will be dealt with.

I would recommend not engaging with the user directly. At best it would be a waste of your time; at worst they could start attacking you with serial downvotes or any other means at their disposal.

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My question is not "what should be done about this", but what I should do, as someone who wants this to stop but has no special powers.

Probably the best way to resolve the issue is to join the strike. The demands of the strikers resolve this precise issue by resuming bans of users posting GPT answers which are harming the community knowledge base.

If you choose not to join the strike, you can raise flags, but bear in mind this is a workaround, not a fundamental solution. Without a full team of moderators with the ability to enforce site policies, spam of various types can't be dealt with holistically over the long term.

They recently commented "I am just trying to help people to see the damage new policies led to. We wouldn't have this if not for moderator's strike!" and "It's all for greater good. Of course it'll be banned, but that's the price to make them address the problem sooner"

I don't trust the comments by the GPT spammer--they're almost certainly not acting in good faith. If they are genuinely trying to support the strike, their actions are unhelpful and misguided. Actively sabotaging the site discredits the strike's cause by muddling actual rates of GPT spam.

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    Yep. Disagreement doesn't justify vandalism.
    – Dan Mašek
    Jul 24, 2023 at 22:50
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    There's always a strong possibility that "comments by [a] GPT spammer" are themselves ChatGPT generated. Jul 25, 2023 at 0:48

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