I flagged this question as spam. The flag was declined. This was surprising to me, hence the following question.

What is the definition of spam being used on MSE?


1 Answer 1


The definition of spam as should be adhered to in the flags is:

A post should be marked as spam ONLY when it contains an unsolicited advertisement.

Jeff Atwood also spoke rather directly about this:

And by "spam" I mean it in the strict traditional internet definition not as shorthand for "I don't like this post."

Linking to several previous questions is not an unsolicited advertisement. Also, because the effects of "helpful" spam and offensive flags are more serious than those for regular flags, the moderators are perhaps more meticulous about deeming them helpful.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I really don't see how the question at hand isn't unsolicited advertisement. $\endgroup$
    – Git Gud
    Dec 22, 2013 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ To emphasize the seriousness of spam flags, they feed into a system that can automatically block users from posting anything on the whole SE network. Validating spam flags for issues that are not true spam can cause innocent users to be blocked this way. $\endgroup$
    – user9733
    Dec 22, 2013 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ @GitGud: See these examples of spam that we've dealt with rather recently (10K+ only, I think): Barracuda Spam & Virus Firewall (I deleted about 12 of these in one day), AceYourCollegeClasses, In Science We Trust. $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Dec 23, 2013 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer If someone justs posts 'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA', is it spam? If it isn't, then I consider this matter settled, if it is, I still don't get why the question I mentioned isn't so. $\endgroup$
    – Git Gud
    Dec 23, 2013 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ @GitGud: Something like that is the very definition of "very low quality" (it has unsalvageable formatting/content issues, and the Community user would automatically raise such a flag). Let me be clear: the question you flagged was certainly not appropriate (since it wasn't even a question); it just wasn't spam. Closing and downvoting it are perfect first steps, and it would almost certainly be automatically deleted after 30 days. Flagging for moderator attention ("This non-question should be deleted") a possible second step. My real advice: Don't stress about this too much. $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Dec 23, 2013 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer I'm sorry to be a pain, but I realise now I lied in my last comment. The way I see it, that person was (purposely or not) publicizing his answers. I think this should be considered spam. I will probably accept your answer, but I still disagree with evaluating it as not being spam. $\endgroup$
    – Git Gud
    Dec 23, 2013 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ @GitGud: As I said, the question was horrible, but it was not commercial/external spam, which is the intended target of these flags. Math.SE (thankfully) doesn't see too much real spam (the Barracuda example linked to above was the first persistent case I encountered as a mod). OTOH StackOverflow gets hit by real spam almost constantly (or so I have gathered from interacting with the mods from that site), and is the reason that systems have been set up to block/limit IP addresses which constantly produce larger quantities of it. Adding false positives to this list will not be helpful. $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Dec 23, 2013 at 15:40

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