When I saw a post on this site which can be considered spam, I usually flagged as spam and also downvoted it. I thought that this was the right thing to do - IIRC the downvotes decrease the visibility of a post in some views of the site.

Today I saw the following comment:

Tangential but important: spam posts should be neither downvoted nor closed. They should be flagged as spam. Each flag carries an automatic downvote, and six flags delete the post and deal a penalty to the author (-100 rep, and speedy progress toward IP-based ban). The guidance from SE is that nothing else should be done to spam posts, so that the signal that goes to automatic spam fighting system is as clear as possible. [Other kinds of activity raise suspicion that it's some unpopular post on which spam flags were used improperly.]

Could someone confirm what is the official policy for dealing with spam? (Ideally with a link to meta.SE, if the official policy is formulated somewhere on that site.)

I suppose that I am not the only user not knowing that spam posts should not be downvoted, so I think that making a post about this on meta could make more users aware of this.


There is only one reason not to downvote spam, and that is that questions with a low score are not shown on the frontpage anymore. This might mean that it takes a bit longer to remove the spam, but on the other hand it also hides it from casual visitors on the frontpage. There is no clear consensus on this as far as I know.

Closing a spam post is simply a waste of time, you only need six spam flags and the post is removed. This almost always happens much quicker than getting five close votes, as most users don't vote to close spam posts.

From what I understand about the network-wide spam prevention system (SpamRam), neither downvotes nor close votes play any role there.

This is based on what SE told us moderators about the system, but even moderators don't know the exact details of it.

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    $\begingroup$ As a moderator, it is sometimes nice if spam/offensive posts don't get flagged to death by regular users. This is because until the post is flagged away, the flags appear in the moderator flag queue, where we can deal not only with the post, but also the underlying user (which also feeds into the SpamRam). When a post is flagged away by regular users, spam/offensive flags are removed from the queue, and the underlying user won't be dealt with. (There is a feature request to raise an automatic flag for mods to handle, but so far no word from SE.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Sep 21 '14 at 11:26

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