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Given the recent spate of spam by a, let us say "disgruntled" user, why is it that the account is deleted but the deleted questions/answers still remain visible on the site (to those with the necessary rep of course)?

While Qs/As deleted for other reasons can be retained I guess, is there a good reason not to get rid of those marked as offensive or spam completely from the database? I really wouldn't consider it a great loss if I never had to see such trash while browsing the site.

If a complete deletion is not warranted for some reason (what?), then my next suggestion would be to allow only mods to see such posts (don't envy them but part of the job description I guess).

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    Probably to allow community review of moderating actions. Soft-deletes are also easy to revert and harder to abuse. – Daniel Beck Apr 23 '13 at 14:19
  • You could use a user-script to at least get those spam posts that are locked and deleted by Community. – Daniel Beck Apr 23 '13 at 14:21
  • @DanielBeck: Well I'm not so sure spam and offensive flags would be abused by multiple members of the community. Also, do you mean a user script that would automatically identify and hide such posts from view? I'll have to see if that's possible, especially on mobile browsers that I tend to use a lot. – Karan Apr 23 '13 at 14:36
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A good reason to keep these posts around—and I'm not talking about Viagra or Gucci spam, but excessive promotion for file recovery tools et cetera—is to keep the evidence. Note that I'm using the word "spam" synonymously here: In essence, undisclosed and excessive advertisement.

We've had cases where certain companies or individuals spammed… well, the hell out of the site, to put it bluntly. Since moderators can search for deleted content, it often helps to check for certain keywords or URLs to see:

  • How many posts do already exist? This helps in bringing a case forward for having URLs blocked by the team. There's a certain duplicate file remover tool for example which we don't allow to be linked to anymore.
  • Who created these posts? This is useful in cases where multiple accounts are being used to spam so we can keep track of them.

Finally, some kinds of spam excessive promotion are very subtle. I guess some 10k users could become more aware of the "typical" keywords or the users associated with these posts if they still remain visible and aren't permanently destroyed, which makes it easier for them to help us discover spam.

For example, if a 10k user knows that the product Foo reeks of spam they could alert us of new posts that seem innocent to others when they haven't seen the whole picture.

  • Hmm, while reading the first part of your answer I was thinking that keeping the evidence can still be achieved by making the posts visible to mods only, but the last bit of your answer does explain why it might make sense for 10K+ users to also have access to such posts. – Karan Apr 23 '13 at 14:51
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    In essence, it does no harm to save the information, and it sometimes is beneficial to retain it, so there's no benefit to completely removing it. Also, it would take more coding (and thus more levels of places to introduce bugs) to have a "regular" and a "permanent" delete. – nhinkle Apr 23 '13 at 15:48

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