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Sometimes spam can not easily be spotted. At present the only spam we are getting here regularly are advertisements for a paid online teaching service (which I will not name here to not give the spammers another voice, ask us in chat if you need to know).

What should we do in these cases, and what if we have any doubts?

  • Related: What are the spam and offensive flags, and how do they work? When you flag a post as spam it automatically receives a (free - if an answer) down vote and it also goes straight to the mod box, who should take action asap. 3 Spam flags hide it from any question list, 6 lock-delete it. I don't understand the don't flag policy you advertise it. The mods have the tools (and the responsibility) to check these posts and only if you confirm the flag, it is used for the site wide spam protection. – Martin - マーチン Jul 30 '15 at 10:05
  • In doubt one could always custom flag the post, so that there is a record of it and mods can take appropriate action. Talking about suspected spam in a chat room is in my opinion not a very good idea. In cases where it is spam, you kind of advertise it, in cases where it is not, you point fingers publicly to a user, which I believe is just bad manners. – Martin - マーチン Jul 30 '15 at 10:08
  • @Martin-マーチン: there is not a "don't flag policy" here, on the contrary. Obvious spam needs flags, first bold bullet point here. It is those not so obvious cases when a user may have a doubt. In this case it is IMO better to ask than to upvote (which happened yesterday). Announcing such a post in chat does not only help to clarify but it will also help to collect flags from other users (provided the chat room is not empty). There are sites where spam is auto-feeded to chat for this very reason. – Takkat Jul 30 '15 at 11:23
  • Yeah sorry for the confusion in my first comment. I just wanted to say that it is always a good idea to flag a post when you suspect spam, even when you are unsure - after all that's one of the main reasons for mods' existence. – Martin - マーチン Jul 30 '15 at 11:31
  • @Martin-マーチン true, but sometimes the community here does overreact, approves what others had said without re-thinking, and in the past we also had a lot of spam flags on posts that were no spam at all. I think we should take care that we do not erroneously spam-ban an innocent user because of the deleterious effects this may have on their account. Edited the post to focus a bit more on flagging. – Takkat Jul 30 '15 at 11:43
  • I remember a question some days ago where one wanted to know good online resources to learn German (which I believe to be a good question), and there was an answer that linked to an online teaching service. I thought this was a good answer to the question (because it was exactly what the OP asked for) and so (as far as I remember) I voted it up. Is this what you define as spam? – Hubert Schölnast Aug 1 '15 at 10:25
  • @HubertSchölnast: like sadly often with spam it looked as a valid answer only on first sight. We get a considerable amount of network wide posts for this very teaching service. As this is a rather expensive paid service, and the quality of this service is extremely poor we consider all these posts as spam. – Takkat Aug 1 '15 at 10:34
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Spam is dealt with system-wide

For our system-wide spam protection system to work properly it is needed that:

  • Spam needs to be flagged as such
  • Posts of spammers are not upvoted to prevent them to gain reputation:

    • reputation makes it much harder for us to fight them network-wide.
    • reputation will eventually allow them to cross-upvote their spam through sock-puppets. This will make it even hard to fight them.
  • Please do not edit spam posts

Please also do not downvote spam because that will remove it from the front page and makes it harder to spot for other users to cast their additional spam flags needed for quick post deletion.

I have doubts on a post

In case you have doubts whether a post is spam or meant in good intention it is always a good idea to ask your fellow users in chat. You may also flag in case you think it is spam to let others approve this flag but please don't vote until the situation was cleared.

These are common indicators of spam:

  • Spammers will praise a service beyond common sense.
  • Spammers only advertise a single service.
  • They will always drop a link in their post.
  • Spam posts are usually only marginally related to a question, and will in the very most cases not attempt to answer it.
  • Be careful: visiting a known spammer's rotten site is not a good idea, as this will cause traffic to their site, and you may risk to get exposed to malware.

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