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There have been several posts complaining about increased visibility of spam posts.1 At least part of the reason was the fact that the Charcoal team participated in the strike and SmokeDetector wasn't running during the strike.

Now the strike has led to some results. (Thanks once again to the people who participated in the negotiations!)

I suppose many people will be curious whether there are plans to resume the activity of SD. I have checked the Charcoal HQ chatroom, but I did not notice some announcement there so far.

Do the volunteers from the Charcoal team plan to run SD again? If yes, when is this likely to happen?


1On this site: How can we handle spam faster?, Why can't we blacklist questions with a description containing a mobile number and the string "loans"? and Recent proliferation of spam on Server Fault.
ServerFault Meta: Massive Spam Attacks since couple of days and Why can't we black list questions with description contain mobile number and string loans?.
SuperUser Meta: Do the anti spam measures need to be increased? and Combatting Spam: Enhancing Keyword Approval and Filtering
Academia Meta: Spam attack on Academia Stack Exchange?
AskUbuntu Meta: can we do anything about the front page being literally filled with spam.

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    Note that I'm speaking on behalf of me as an individual, not on behalf of Charcoal. When SD will be running again is still being discussed and a decision hasn't been made yet.
    – cocomac
    Aug 3, 2023 at 5:27
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    The strike just ended. I think giving them a bit of time to take a breather and work things out seems fair. Aug 3, 2023 at 7:51
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    The strike just ended Not quite. Aug 3, 2023 at 15:04
  • Well more so then for them to decide if the strike ended for them, and to work out if things are alright Aug 3, 2023 at 16:53
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    It's so satisfying seeing that loan shark spam get nuked out of existence in seconds instead of the minutes or hours it takes during the strike. Aug 5, 2023 at 18:58

2 Answers 2

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Unlike Makoto or others who have commented here, I am a member of Charcoal, and though I'm not an admin in the Charcoal org, I run the bulk of the infrastructure that is necessary for SmokeDetector to work.

For the purposes of this post, this is an official statement made on behalf of Charcoal (and myself in certain spaces such as about metasmoke).


First, let's recap the past couple months and the Charcoal decisions to shut down SmokeDetector with regards to the strike.

The Charcoal team chose to shut SmokeDetector down in order to stand in solidarity with moderators on the issues that needed attention (which we're not going to discuss here; there are other threads about this). This decision was to shut down only SmokeDetector, and to leave metasmoke available for historical data, etc. We did not intend for SmokeDetector to be shut permanently; we were waiting for the strike to resolve.

However, for reasons beyond our control, metasmoke did go offline for most of the strike. This is because a critical piece of infrastructure required to keep it online (specifically, the media converter gateway for the ISP link) died. That happened about a month ago, but it took until yesterday for my ISP to deliver me a replacement to get things back online. Charcoal never intended for metasmoke to go out for so long, but this was beyond our control unfortunately, as I was at the mercy of my ISP sending me replacement equipment.


What about now, since a "resolution" of issues has been made/posted?

(Last Updated: Aug. 5, 2023, ~18:00 UTC)

The Charcoal team has decided to reactivate SmokeDetector once again. This was effective within a few minutes of this update to this post, and SmokeDetector should be online once again.

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    What does metasmoke do? Aug 5, 2023 at 11:54
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    @George Metasmoke is the Web dashboard for Smokey. From meta.stackexchange.com/q/291301 "Users have provided feedback to inform the bot on whether the detection was correct or not [...] This feedback is stored in our web dashboard, metasmoke". It lives here: metasmoke.erwaysoftware.com
    – PM 2Ring
    Aug 5, 2023 at 13:58
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    Thank you for the update. And, in case it is not said enough, thank all y'all for the work that you do on Smokey. Aug 5, 2023 at 18:12
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    Coffee tastes different, but still the same Smokey. Thanks! ;) Aug 5, 2023 at 18:21
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    well the Coffee has some extra bitterness in it 'cause i over-roasted the beans this time but it's back online and functioning so yay! Aug 5, 2023 at 18:22
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I'm not a member of Charcoal, and I'm not anyone that speaks on any authority. I'm simply voicing my opinion here both as a participant in the strike and as a high-rep user who has a lot of access to moderation tooling.

Please understand that volunteer efforts are just that - volunteer efforts. There is and should not be any set schedule on when they resume. They can resume when they choose to, and only if they're comfortable with the resolutions presented before them.

Just be patient. If they choose to start up again, they'll do so on their own cadence.

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