An established user had edited a blatant spam post, replacing it with the following content (the content is now deleted and is visible to 10k users and moderators only):

UTTER SPAM

Please delete me.

I feel that this is superfluous and masks the actual spam content, which a user can readily identify and flag as spam. My experience with spam posts is that users typically respond quickly to the post with flags if it is clearly spam (which the linked post clearly was before it was edited). Editing the post in this manner covers up the actual spam, which may confuse users and cause them to not flag it as spam. Should we replace spam content in this manner?

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Spam posts now don't show directly to 10k users; they now need to access the revision history manually in order to see it. –  damryfbfnetsi Aug 1 at 6:12

4 Answers 4

up vote 29 down vote accepted

I would tend to say no, leave spam as-is. Flag it as spam and it will be gone very quickly - very obvious spam (such as the case here) disappears almost instantly because it only takes 6 spam flags from the community to delete a post. Any spam not handled by the community will be gone as soon as a moderator sees it.

It's important to leave the context of the spam, for the sake of further moderation followup. When looking at a repeat spammer's profile, we like to be able to see what other sorts of spam they've posted, if there's a trend we can add to the site's spam filters, and to determine correlations between different spammers who might be the same person. If you edit out the context, that makes it much harder to see that information. As soon as the question is deleted, you - and more importantly, search engines and random visitors - won't see it if you aren't a mod or 10k+, so having it there for a few minutes until the spam gets removed is OK.

Even removing the links isn't really necessary, unless they link to something truly profane, obscene, or dangerous (phishing, pornography, etc.). Again, seeing the links gives us context when looking back at the posts later.

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Leaving it as-is also allows for a search to be done on deleted posts (which mods can do via the regular site search) to see how often a term was spammed. –  Rebecca Chernoff Oct 12 '11 at 4:19
    
Indeed, another good reason to leave spam as it is. –  nhinkle Oct 12 '11 at 4:43
    
I'm think obfuscating/breaking the link is a reasonable edit to make. Some spam sites can have a nasty payload to deposit on unprotected computers. –  Nifle Oct 12 '11 at 7:24
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If anything, as a moderator, I dislike it when I find a post that has been edited with spam removed. It gives the answer unneccessary attention and makes it extremely hard to track down if it's an isolated incident, real spam, or actually in one or two cases an legitimate answer to a question. One man's spam is another man's answer. –  Diago Oct 12 '11 at 10:06

We shouldn't replace it, but I think that if you are really sure that it is SPAM you could add a header:

Spam

This post contains an advertisement or a link to malicious content, we suggest you to ignore it.

It will soon be deleted by the community and/or moderators; you can help us by flagging the post...

Of course, leave this to extreme cases where moderators are busy or unavailable, as in that they are not available on the chat nor do they respond in a timely manner to the flags. If you get attention from the moderator or other community members you should try that road first...

For example; I only see DMA on the chat right and he is away, no mods seem active on the site. My best bet is to ping DMA and leave a flag, if it remains I could add it so the community deletes it over the night.

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+1: Great idea, a superb compromise between the two. –  DragonLord Oct 13 '11 at 2:50
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Only do this for blatant, obvious spam. Responses that could be legitimate answers (e.g. what I asked about here) should be left as is and dealt with by the diamonds responding to flags. –  Daniel Beck Oct 13 '11 at 17:28

If someone needed to see it, there's always revision history. General practice has tended to be, at minimum, to edit links and sitenames to some random placeholder, and this is really an extention to that. If its obviously spam, what would it matter?

As long as a single user flagged it, it would come up, and be taken care of.

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There's a general rule that covers this case: If there's a perfect solution to a problem but you don't have permission to use it, then don't try to find some way to fake the perfect solution. This will almost always mess something up, and there's a reason permissions are granted the way they are.

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