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Setup:

Cooler heads and wiser minds than mine, please consider.

I came across a Question that struck me as chatty and not suitable for StackExchange, much less Math.SE. The initial response was simply to vote-to-close, but I noticed that the Question seemed centered on a link to an external site that had materials that were relevant, and in fact made it difficult to see what Real Question might have been in the OP's thinking.

Subsequently I looked at other Questions posed by the same User, quickly finding a half-dozen that were a similar pattern: rather shallow, even vague problems that mention a page with related material at the same external site.

The dirty part of my mind thinks this could be a ploy to steer traffic to that ad-supported site. No relationship between the User (who is fairly recent here, and Unregistered) and the external site is specifically disclosed in the posts I saw. The User's account here indicates 13 years of age.

If it were a clearly commercial promotion, I'd have no qualms about flagging it as spam. Note the advice in this Meta.SE post suggests avoiding even the appearance of self-interested links.

Here's my Question:

Is there a way to search Math.SE for links to this external site by other "users"? I'm imagining Google Analytics or something similar allows for such a search. Searching for the site's domain name turns up three or four unrelated posts, which only suggests that it's a site that's been around awhile and has some legitimate fans. Searching for the embedded URL links would tell me whether Math.SE is being gamed with a series of accounts/posts to drive traffic from here to there.

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Use the url: parameter of site search. For example, this search finds all posts with links to ams.org domain.


You can also use Data Explorer to search raw sources of posts for hyperlinks of particular kind (or for any string of characters). Here's a query.

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    $\begingroup$ That worked, although at first I was doing it wrong, and then it turned out all the posts that I'd grown suspicious over were made after the last SE data dump on Nov. 2nd. Anyway, it appears that the posts are not part of a long-standing pattern. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Nov 7 '14 at 1:33
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    $\begingroup$ Turns out I was reinventing a square wheel: site search has url: parameter. Useful for locating spam of known type. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Nov 28 '14 at 0:06
  • $\begingroup$ Similar query for searching in comments. I guess it can be occasionally useful, too. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 10 '14 at 7:48

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