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Recently, when going through the Low Quality Posts review queue, I failed an audit. Of course, audits have notoriously been inaccurate at times and I have failed other review audits before, but those times I could at least see why I might have made a decision contrary to what others would have made. Maybe an answer was wrong and I didn't catch the mistake, or maybe the answer simply restated what another answer already addressed and I did not realise, for example.

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This is the first time I am completely puzzled by the logic of the audit. The question asks for book recommendations on algebraic geometry, and as far as I can tell that's what the answer in the audit provided. I definitely cannot see how the answer is supposedly "spam or offensive". I don't know about the contents of the book, nor do I have sufficient background to understand any of it, but from the Amazon preview it seems to be a perfectly serious, perfectly legitimate textbook. At worst, it might be a horribly written, completely inaccessible text, but that does not make it spam or worthy of deletion, as far as I can tell.

Can anyone explain what the logic might be behind deleting this particular answer?

(To be clear, I am not that upset about failing an audit per se, nor is the purpose of this post about improving the audit system. I really just do not understand the logic behind the deletion of the answer and hope I can get an explanation here.)

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    $\begingroup$ As far as I understand, spam deletions can be automatic if there are enough flags. $\endgroup$ – Matt Samuel May 29 at 0:39
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    $\begingroup$ It seems plausible that this was a case of self-promotion by the author, given that the answer appeared a mere 11 days after the publication of the book. $\endgroup$ – Eric Wofsey May 29 at 1:19
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    $\begingroup$ @EricWofsey That was my first thought too, but there's no way to verify if that were the case (none that I am aware of, anyway). In either case, even if it were an instance of self-promotion, IMHO that does not justify deletion if the book answers the question. $\endgroup$ – YiFan May 29 at 1:35
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    $\begingroup$ @MattSamuel I see, I didn't know that. Is there any way for us to verify whether that was what actually happened? $\endgroup$ – YiFan May 29 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ I've seen this user posting a ton of answers (at least 10) promoting the same book. Doubtlessly, it is spam. His account is deleted, possibly due to too many promotional contents. $\endgroup$ – YuiTo Cheng May 29 at 3:40
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    $\begingroup$ Same thing happened to me with the same post. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Shelby May 29 at 4:08
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    $\begingroup$ In addition to the shameless self-promotion, the link seems to contain a referral, which means that the person posting it (potentially) makes some small amount of money if the book is purchased after someone follows the link. It is a subtle kind of spam, but it is spam, nevertheless. $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson May 29 at 4:37
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    $\begingroup$ Here's another example not from an audit, but also deleted and locked by the Community user. It's quite possible the user searched for questions asking for AG references and spammed links to the book everywhere. Even the wording of the two answers is identical. That said, it's hard to tell its spam in the review queue, since it does appear to answer the question. I would have had no idea that the "ref =stuff" part of the url was a referral. I recently failed a very similar review as well. Luckily one review failure doesn't matter too much. $\endgroup$ – jgon May 29 at 5:18
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    $\begingroup$ I see, thanks all for the responses. Would any of you like to make this an answer (just so this question could be marked as answered)? $\endgroup$ – YiFan May 29 at 6:01
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    $\begingroup$ Interestingly, I have gotten this exact audit twice! $\endgroup$ – Mohammad Zuhair Khan May 29 at 9:28
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    $\begingroup$ I passed it both times since it was very evident that it is an audit. $\endgroup$ – Mohammad Zuhair Khan May 29 at 9:30
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    $\begingroup$ This same thing has happened to me. Silly nonsense. $\endgroup$ – The Count May 29 at 14:37
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    $\begingroup$ It doesn't seem like there is much consensus on what should be done when a post has links. At any rate, I tend to side with the OP in this case. $\endgroup$ – Clayton Jun 1 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Mohammad: Upon digging into the history of audits, the two audits you mention were on different answers to different questions. Which is also different from the one in this OP. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 2 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I don't think it is a fair audit. I would never have known that and since it was on a resource request question, I might even have let it pass. Is there anyway to remove questions from the audit list? Also, why are so many questions being deleted all of a sudden? I have dropped down 200 rep and that is very surprising to me. $\endgroup$ – Mohammad Zuhair Khan Jun 2 at 15:15
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Just to get this question off the unasnwered list, here's the explanation (thanks to YuiTo Cheng, Xander Henderson, jgon and other commenters for the help). It turns out that the poster of the answers had been posting a large number of word-for-word identical answers on similar reference-request questions. The link contains a referral, making it seem quite likely that the poster earns a small amount of profit each time the link is clicked. It is also plausible that he is (or is related to) the author of the book which is linked to, considering the short timespan between the publication of the book and the posting of the answers (merely $11$ days). All of this shows that the answer is likely spam, even though it seems perfectly legitimate on the surface.

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