What can be done about false answers that suggest the asker to run malicious code?

I mean, like an answer that says something along these lines:

If you have administrative privileges, the offending application can be removed by first changing the parent folder's permissions. Run this command in the Terminal to gain root access to the folder that the application is in:

> sudo chmod 777 /

Don't worry about the password prompt. Just type in your password. It's just verifying that you really want to change the folder's permissions. Now you can delete the malicious application that you unintentionally installed using this command:

> sudo rm -rf / --no-preserve-root

I hope that helps!

The answer is obviously a troll (the second command probably wouldn't even run once the first command is executed), but what if a newbie user unknowingly runs the commands, thinking that it actually does what the answerer claims it does?

The community would eventually "moderate it out," but it might be too late for the asker.

It's not just that specific answer causing problems. Answers to more complicated questions with more complicated command-line code can be quite hard for inexperienced computer users to decipher. What can be done about this?

  • 1
    Are you suggesting blocking words? I don't see much that can be done, besides our current process - flagging and editing it out Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 23:27
  • 2
    I'm curious, has this actually happened here? I can't recall any such thing, but it might have been cleaned up before I saw.
    – Ben N
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 23:30
  • 1
    What can be done about questions that promote running malicious code?
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Commented Jun 17, 2016 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


Downvote and comment. Starting the comment with the word Danger! in bold ought to be fairly obvious, especially if the answer is sitting at a score of -1.

That said, I've never seen an answer be intentionally malicious. If a user has a pattern of doing that, a custom moderator flag would be in order. Otherwise, a flag on a clearly malicious answer may or may not be marked helpful.

  • 1
    Better answer than mine! yoink Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 23:28

I'd actually flag as very low quality here.

Such answers have no salvageable content and should be removed. I would also leave a comment explaining why the answer is unusable and dangerous and should be deleted:

Warning: The steps in this answer will delete all data on your system and may brick it altogether. As this answer contains no salvageable content, I've flagged it as very low quality.

An actual attempt to answer the question, even if incorrect, does not merit a flag. However, this is not a genuine attempt to answer the question; instead, it's an attempt to mislead the question author and other readers.

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