Conversation started Jun 5, 2019 at 4:25.
Jun 5, 2019 4:25 AM
I just flagged a post which was a clear case of spam and now I'm curious: are there repercussions for the user who posted it? In this case it was a brand-new account which apparently was made exclusively for spam purposes, and I'd be happy to see the account deleted. Is that what happens, or does the account live on as a zombie?
Jun 5, 2019 4:39 AM
Basic info on spam posts can be found in the corresponding tag-info.
The section What effects do these flags have on a post? from the FAQ post What are the “spam” and “rude or abusive” (offensive) flags, and how do they work? seems somewhat relevant to your question.
> 6 red flags: post is locked and deleted, and the author loses 100 reputation. (Locking means that users with the moderator tools privilege (“10k users”) cannot edit or undelete it.)
> Currently, a post deleted by community through a validated spam/offensive flag or by 6 user flags incurs a -100 reputation penalty for the user, as well as kicks off several automatic rate-limiting and automated ban algorithms.
I would assume that with several downvoted and deleted post, as spammer quickly gets question banned on MathOverflow.
I also found this: Implement cross-site posting rate limits to slow down spammers. But it seems that this is behavior for all users, regardless of the spam flags: Implement cross-site posting rate limits to slow down spammers.
@TimCampion As far as I know, the account is not deleted without some intervention of diamond users (moderators or Stack Exchange staff).
You can check for yourself that several accounts which posted spam on MO still do exist.
I'd guess they are probably mostly harmless - at worst they contain some links, but not many people will see them and the links should contain nofollow directive.
Anyway there were some discussions on MathOverflow Meta about users with spam links in their profiles: Companies accounts allowed? and Flagging spam user.
Here is an answer posted by MO moderator to one of those questions:
A: Flagging spam user

Todd TrimbleI'm happy to hear what the community thinks, but my instinctual reaction would be to destroy it. The account has no business here and the page is meanwhile free billboard space: not something I think should be condoned.

BTW regarding the specific post you've mentioned, I have reported it in Charcoal HQ, (a room related to SmokeDetector).
I saw your comment on the post:
> If you happen across this post, you can do more than downvoting -- if you have at least 15 reputation you can click the "flag" button just underneath the tags on the question (next to the "share" "cite" "edit" and "close" buttons). Apparently 6 flags are needed in order for the post to be automatically deleted.
I have seen some users reacting to the spam posts in various ways. For example, interacting with them as if they were genuine posts. (Although maybe some of those comments might be sarcasm directed towards the spammer.)
Or the tag was created a few times in the past.
Possibly it might be useful to have or post explaining what to do when people see spam post also on Meta MathOverflow - in addition to the information in the help-center you have linked and the posts on Meta Stack Exchange which are linked in the tag-info.
Jun 5, 2019 5:21 AM
@MartinSleziak Thanks! I guess that's about what I expected. I wasn't aware of this Charcoal / SmokeDetector business. It seems pretty cool!
Well, you can find out more about SD in the SmokeDetector wiki. Here is a brief exchange with Todd Trimble - which contains some other related links and comments.
Jun 5, 2019 5:45 AM
Sorry, I wrote about a brief discussion with Todd Trimble in chat concerning SD, but I have forgotten to include the link:…
179 hours later…
Jun 12, 2019 4:28 PM
Q: What should I do when I see a spam post on MO?

Martin SleziakWhat is the correct way to handle spam on MathOverflow? Can regular users do something when they see a spam post?

@TimCampion The above post is partly a reaction to our recent conversation here in chat.
Jun 5 at 5:04, by Martin Sleziak
Possibly it might be useful to have or post explaining what to do when people see spam post also on Meta MathOverflow - in addition to the information in the help-center you have linked and the posts on Meta Stack Exchange which are linked in the tag-info.
@Glorfindel As you can see above I have recently created some kind of "FAQ" post about spam on MathOverflow Meta.
I think that it might be suitable to add also an answer explaining some basics about SD and Charcoal.
I do not user Charcoal that much beyond occasionally reporting a post which was not caught.
So I can't say much beyond that about the project. (If this suffices, I will add one more paragraph about SD and possibility of reporting into my answer.)
But since you have much more experience with SmokeDetector and Charcoal, I wanted to ask whether you would be willing to post an answer explaining some basic information about SD.
I will add that both the question and the answers posted there are CW - so if you consider including information about SD into the existing answer a better solution than a separate answr, feel free to do so.
If there is a separate answer, possibly a link to the other answer should be added to the existing one - in the last paragraph which already mentions SD. (Something along the lines: For more details about SmokeDetector, see [another answer to this question](
I have created this post partially because sometimes I have seen users reacting to spam in an unusual way (or at least differently from the recommendations in the FAQ). To name just one example, a tag called (spam) was created a few times in the past. See also recent conversation in chat related to spam. — Martin Sleziak 10 mins ago
For these reasons I thought that it might be useful to have some basic info also on meta, not just in the help center (where they are mentioned very briefly) and in the network-wide FAQ. — Martin Sleziak 10 mins ago
At least in theory, if the information about spam flags is mentioned on meta and more users become aware of this, it might help to get spam removed faster. Although my impression is that it is usually removed relatively quickly. (Of course, since I report every spam post I see to SD, that might contribute to quick removal of those post. So I am not really an unbiased observer.)
In any case, I don't think this complain from a few years ago is still valid: deleting junk spam more quickly. (But that was also part of the motivation for creating the above post on meta.)
In the linked post the OP said this:
> Is it technically possible that one of the moderators just deletes such posts as soon as a "flag as spam" comes in, without putting it on the revision list and waiting for 5 persons to waste their time with that garbage?
I think that it's better if some basic moderation task and site maintenance is done by the community - and only the staff that really needs some help from moderators is left from them. (And I'd count removing spam into those task that can be done by the community - and the community can handle spam more efficiently than moderators would be able to.)
Jun 12, 2019 5:06 PM
@MartinSleziak that's a good idea. Perhaps you should add something about when a post is considered spam on Stack Exchange? E.g. repeatedly posting nonsense is called 'spamming' on a few other sites I frequent(ed).
I haven't got time right now to write a detailed answer about Charcoal/SmokeDetector, but I will post a Q&A on our Team to create one together, since this might come up for more sites than MathOverflow.
@Glorfindel I have added to the first bullet point: "A post is considered spam only if it advertises a product, service, or similar and is unsolicited or lacks disclosure. This is elaborated in more detail in the linked network-wide FAQ."
It's basically copy-past from the FAQ post.
> you can even mention the post in chat to attract attention of other users - I will mention Charcoal which is a chat room related to and SmokeDetector which is a project with a specific goal to help with detecting spam in the Stack Exchange network.
> (In particular, one way to help the project is to report the posts which were not detected by this software. You can find out more about this in the SmokeDetector wiki and in the Charcoal HQ chatroom.)
@Glorfindel I have edited the answer so that currently it contains the text quoted above. With the intention that when some Q&A about this is created, we can replace some of this text with the link.
I have also linked to Get Involved - that page gives some basic overview for the interested users.
Thank you, I gotta run now ...
See you later! And thanks!
I see that Makyen has edited the answer. Any information from him on these issues can certainly be considered reliable.
Jun 12, 2019 5:55 PM
Hi @Makyen. I see that you have omitted: "(A post is considered spam only if it advertises a product, service, or similar and is unsolicited or lacks disclosure. This is elaborated in more detail in the linked network-wide FAQ.)"
Since I was not sure whether that was intentional or whether both you and me edited revision 2 and it lead to conflict which ended with this outcome.
I have added the sentence in parenthesis after Glorfindel's remark: "Perhaps you should add something about when a post is considered spam on Stack Exchange? E.g. repeatedly posting nonsense is called 'spamming' on a few other sites I frequent(ed)."
@MartinSleziak That would be an edit conflict. I did not intentionally remove it. I'll add them back in (I'm currently fixing some grammar I messed up, so I'll do it at the same time).
Thanks! And thanks also for contributing to the posts.
Interestingly, I did not get any notice of the edit conflict.
Neither did I.
@MartinSleziak np. I'm happy to do so.
Jun 12, 2019 6:01 PM
One of the things I thought about was mentioning that spam flags and rude/abusive flags "add together" towards the six flags limit, but I did not find a concise formulation. So I am glad to see that you managed to formulate that in a reasonable way.
I wonder if the lack of notice is affected by the post being community wiki. Normally, I'd expect the banner across the top of the page with notice of another edit.
Yeah, that one is always a bit tricky. I'm not that happy with how I ended up wording it, but I think it communicates.
Originally I suggested to Glorfindel that there might be a separate answer about SD/Charcoal.
But the way the post is written now looks find - the paragraph about SD explains it clearly explains some basic info and provides further links
So probably a separate answer is not needed - the way it is now looks fine to me.
I had not read the chat you had with Glorfindel prior to you pointing to it from here. I'd be fine with having a separate answer, but as you've said, it's probably not needed at this point. In addition, at least on some other sites, Q&A in the FAQ are kept as fairly strictly to a single answer. I haven't checked to see if that's the case on MO.
I'd guess not. At least this post is tagged and it is split into several answers: Frequently asked questions about tagging on MathOverflow.
But, as you said, a separate answer is probably not needed - so that's not really important here.
Jun 12, 2019 7:02 PM
Almost time for my daily commute. See you later!
15 hours later…
Jun 13, 2019 9:34 AM
"Editing the spam content out is counterproductive": you seem to be considering edits made so as to improve it. An edit can be used also: to vandalize/erase a potentially dangerous link (which I find useful – I'd just replaced the link with [erased link]), to remove a tag (which I find unnecessary), to partly hide an offensive statement if it includes names, or any action found to be useful before the spam is deleted. — YCor 3 hours ago
@YCor I cannot really respond to specific case you mention - since I did not see the post (and I do not see any today's post among SD reports either.) You made a valid point - important thing here is that even after the edit other users should be able to clearly recognize that it is a spam post. — Martin Sleziak 36 secs ago
In the first revision I used a weaker formulation: "Editing the spam content away might be contraproductive."
2 hours later…
Jun 13, 2019 11:06 AM
> The Community user will protect a question in the following cases:
> 1. The number of deleted answers from low-rep users, plus the number of answers with helpful spam flags, is at least 3. (Note that spam answers from new users are counted twice.)
> Generally, this means that three deleted answers from new users will cause auto-protection, but if at least one of those answers is spam, only two answers will trigger it.
> 2. Five answers from low-rep users were posted in the last 24 hours. Three answers on Software Engineering, English Language Learners, and Workplace, and 20 answers on Code Golf.
I did not know the exact conditions when spam flags lead to question being protected - this is perhaps useful to know too. (From the quote above I see that if there are two spam answers on the same question, it will be automatically protected.)
3 hours later…
Jun 13, 2019 2:08 PM
I have edited "is counterproductive" to "can be coounterproductive" to reflect YCor's comment.
Conversation ended Jun 13, 2019 at 14:08.