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Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Why would a question that is obviously spam be left in place by the moderators?

Asked by Earthbound_Misfit (13177points) September 19th, 2014

A mod posted on the site to flag spam but not to post otherwise because it takes them time to remove it but they didn’t remove the spam.

I don’t understand why the question wouldn’t be removed? Is this some new spam trap or something?

This is the question I mean.

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41 Answers

rojo's avatar

Well, see yes, it is. But it is a Flutherite trap. It attracts other spammers who might think they can pitch their own product to help solve the “problem”. As an added bonus, it helps the mods identify the a**holes on the site who make inappropriate comments. Which is why we all got modded but the trap is still baited.

although honestly, I think that putting up that comment that they did kind of negates the effectiveness of the trap; kind of like wiring open the cage door because it might hurt something

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Hmmm I hope you’re joking. That seems crazy.

jca's avatar

Good question. I flagged that question, then when it wasn’t brought down (yet had been modded) I “contacted the mods.” I couldn’t figure it out. Obviously the mods had seen it because a lot of the comments had been removed.

syz's avatar

it’s gone now, so I would guess that it was left up temporarily for purpose of allowing those who posted to see the mod’s message about not posting.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I don’t understand why the mods have to remove the answers to the deleted question. It’s my impression that they didn’t used to bother. Why make more work for themselves?

Dutchess_III's avatar

hearkat is here.

hearkat's avatar

I chose to do that, so that all the people who had posted inappropriate comments to that thread, or might be inclined to do so, would actually see our [Mod Says] request to neither comment on nor respond to inappropriate posts or comments. Even commenting that you’ve flagged the content is unhelpful.

We’ve made this request numerous times, yet people continue to do it. I don’t understand why.

This isn’t just about obvious spam – I only chose to use this post as an example because there had already been 6(!) comments, and I knew it would catch people’s attention. But it also happens on posts that users suspect is spam, but sometimes it isn’t. People also make comments that are unhelpful, sarcastic, accusatory, etc. on posts with typos, low quality, or trolling/flamebait, etc. It seems that some just can’t leave well enough alone.

Please, just flag whatever inappropriate content you encounter and move on. Thank you!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh. Didn’t know.

Anybody want some beans and beer now?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@hearkat But why remove the comments, if the question is going to be deleted anyway?

hearkat's avatar

The point in my third paragraph above, @dappled_leaves, is that not all of the questions are taken down. Also, questions are rarely ever deleted, so they can still be seen by those who know their way around such things.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@hearkat So… no real reason, then. I am only asking about comments being removed on deleted questions.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

That question was quite evidently spam. Unless we now leave spam up to boost our question quota, it was going to be removed. I’m absolutely certain moderators do not need to remove each answer before removing a question so it makes no sense to moderate a question posted by a spammer. And certainly not to moderate some responses and leave others.

It also makes no sense to me why people can’t playfully respond to such a question. It’s not encouraging the spammer. It’s not doing any harm to anyone or anything. It’s going to be removed. I think most members here are intelligent enough to spot spam. Certainly as able as the mods. I’m sure spam identification isn’t a mod training course. The question had been flagged three times at least. And I’m sorry but members of the community are not children. Putting in place and policing useless and draconian rules does nothing to enhance community spirit.

I asked not to cause trouble but because the behaviour made no sense to me and the response still makes no sense to me. I could have asked privately, but I think if there is a new policy we all need to understand it. And I don’t care how often people have been instructed not to behave in that way, I hadn’t seen either this demand or this action before. I hoped there was some logic behind the activity but obviously there is no sense to it. So that’s all I’ll say on the topic. Thank you for responding @hearkat.

Aethelwine's avatar

I had a feeling that’s why the question was left for everyone to see. It makes sense to me. The mods have repeatedly asked for users to flag spam then leave it alone. If no one knew this was their wish, they do now that the question was left standing for so long.

They deal with spam more than anything else here at Fluther. I trust that their reasons for not wanting users to respond on spam questions are good reasons. It’s not like they are getting paid.

jca's avatar

I would think the main goal would be to remove the entire spammy post asap so as not to encourage spammers to post things here.

hearkat's avatar

@dappled_leaves – In the time that I’ve been a moderator, absolutely ZERO questions have been DELETED.

• • •

Commenting that you suspect a post is spam or a troll is also unhelpful, and potentially a personal attack. Again, just flag and move on.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Mafia Don says, “No, don’t kill them. Just make them….disappear. Forever.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

@dappled_leaves Re your link to that question. Obviously it hasn’t been deleted because we can still look at it. It may SAY “deleted” at the top, but it isn’t.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Dutchess_III It makes no difference. The question is unsearchable. The only way you can find it is to link directly to it, as I did here. This is what “Deleted” means on Fluther.

thorninmud's avatar

Spammers pay virtually zero attention to what becomes of their posts. They traffic in volume, getting as many links as possible out there on the web to increase their client’s search engine profile. They really don’t concern themselves with how their question is faring on Fluther, nor do they look around to see whether there’s lots of spam already here; they just hit and run, on the chance that some of it will stick somewhere. They couldn’t care less what anyone else posts to their question. All the venom and wit we throw at them goes completely unnoticed.

Having links to spammy sites damages Fluther’s search engine profile, which is one reason we try to stay on top of spam removal (the link contained in the spammy Q discussed here was disabled). Another reason we clean up spam is, of course, that it trashes up the place.

There are times when a Q from a new user appears that we’re pretty sure is going to be a spam setup, but there’s room for doubt. If there’s no link (yet), and the user’s IP doesn’t have a history of spamming, we may let it stand rather than risk squashing an innocent user. Time will tell.

It’s specifically in situations like this that it’s unhelpful to have users speculating in the thread about the spamminess of the post. Really, what good could that possibly do? If the poster of the Q is a spammer, he isn’t reading your comments and doesn’t care anyway. If he’s not a spammer, then how’s he going to take that?

It’s a bit dismaying how hard it is to get this simple point across: if you see a post that you think is spam, flag it and leave it. Absolutely nothing is accomplished by posting to that Q. Granted that the post in question here was blatant spam, the kind we usually zap on sight. But we’d really appreciate members not taking it upon themselves to make that call. It just doesn’t do any good.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@thorninmud None of this is news – and it still doesn’t explain why mods “clean up” responses on spam threads. I really get that the mods think “nothing is accomplished” by joking around on spam threads that will end up being deleted. But no one does this because they’re hoping to “accomplish” something; they do it because it’s amusing.

I have asked this question many times in the past, and no mod has ever given an explanation for why comments on these threads must be removed. I seem to recall a former mod (might it have been @SF, before s/he returned to being a mod?) rather recently mentioning this was a new and unexplained policy, though I can’t find that reference. In the absence of any reasonable explanation, I have to conclude that it is an aesthetic response. What do mods care if we play with these questions? What does removing the comments “accomplish”?

thorninmud's avatar

Well no, it’s not news at all; that’s the point. Sure, if the Q is going to get zapped anyway then all of the snark is going to disappear with it. The problem is that members take it upon themselves to declare a post spam. Often they’re right, yes, but the mods have to adhere to a tighter standard than a hunch. We come to posts where member have gone with their hunch and already pissed all over the Q before we’re completely satisfied that it’s spam. If we want to wait a bit, we have to go through and mod away all those posts.

It really just doesn’t seem like that much to ask: Flag and ignore. It’s an adult thing.

jca's avatar

But in the question that this question is referring to, there was spam in the question, so there was no doubt. It had an internet address, but it wasn’t a link. So the question remains, there was no doubt this was spam. It really made no sense that the mods modded things off that question but not the question itself. “The ultimate solution for weight loss (obviously a spam question) and then the address at the bottom, no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was spam.

thorninmud's avatar

Then flag and ignore. Simple.

jca's avatar

I did flag and ignore, and hours later, the question was still up but had comments modded off.

“Flag and ignore” does not answer the question.

thorninmud's avatar

Actually, you didn’t flag and ignore. You flagged and posted.

jca's avatar

You’re right, @thorninmud. I flagged and then posted after wondering what was going on with the obvious spam being left up, while all else was modded off.

hearkat's avatar

@dappled_leaves – When I say “deleted”, I mean deleted off the servers, as opposed to “taken down” or “removed”. As the link in your comment clearly shows, those posts and their content are still visible; therefore, we moderate them. Joking, snide, and sarcastic comments are not allowed in the General section. They are unhelpful to the post and to the site. Joking around is allowed in Social (if it’s on-topic), in Meta, and in the chat rooms.

This particular instance was being used as an example to illustrate the much larger issue of people responding to or commenting on content that they think is inappropriate for Fluther, whether or not they’ve flagged it. We are asking Jellies to try to break themselves of that bad habit, and to simply flag and move on. When using the mobile version, one can easily switch to the desktop version in order to access the flag options, then switch back to mobile for easier navigation.

Flag and ignore. It’s an adult thing.” ~thorninmud

janbb's avatar

I guess we just like messing about with spam; it’s a shame that it seems to cause so many problems for the mods.

thorninmud's avatar

@janbb Yeah, I totally get that. I did it too, before I understood how this all works.

janbb's avatar

@thorninmud Since I’ve understood this, I’ve kept my dirty little flippers off spam (mostly) but it is tough. :-)

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I don’t appreciate people trying to baffle me with bullshit. As @thorninmud has acknowledged, spammers care not what happens to the posts they make, they’re working on volume. He also acknowledged that the best way to manage spam is for mods to remove posts. I would completely agree with him.

That didn’t happen in the case I queried. This question was most definitely spam. There’s no doubt about that. And I’d venture most Fluther members are able to discern spam as well as the mods. There isn’t some magic, special way spam detection method. However, with that question the link was not live. An accident on the part of the spammer I’d guess.

Community responses, bar one poorly written comment that should have been modded were the question real, were moderated. Hence, my puzzlement and question about the possibility of some new policy being in place. Why moderate a question that is obviously spam, tell the members off, but then not remove the question? It made no sense.

I suspect the mod who removed the posts and chastised the community had missed the inactive link and assumed people were incorrectly guessing the question was spam. If this was the case, I’d much prefer that’s what we were told. Mistakes happen. That scenario is much more plausible than the need for a rule that prohibits silly posts on spam threads, wherever they may appear.

As to posting causing work, it’s not that hard to remove a few posts prior to deleting a question. It takes longer to post a message telling the community off.

If the concern is that people might mock a genuine new member, it would be preferable that the mods explain this rather than chastising members. We should all avoid writing posts when exasperated by an individual or the community. However, this is especially true for moderators who have to demonstrate diplomacy and patience. I understand the frustrations, but I don’t come here to be chastised and especially not for breaking unwritten rules that are patently ridiculous in the first place.

The site needs rules to operate. That’s a given and something I support totally. But let’s not create rules that make no sense and let’s please be flexible enough to know when to just let things slide. A few posts on a spam thread, whether they are in general or social, cause nobody any harm. Not even the mod who removes them and that’s what should have happened in this case. Remove the posts, remove the question. Chastising the group and trying to enforce unwritten and draconian rules harms the community far more. Some balance and the application of common sense would be appreciated.

thorninmud's avatar

I’m not sure why there’s this perception that there’s a new set of rules being enforced here. There’s no rule, formal or informal, about posting to spam questions per se. There is a rule about answers to General questions having to be on topic and helpful; nothing new there. “Draconian” is an odd adjective to apply here, since the comments we’re talking about are destined to disappear one way or another anyway. We’re simply asking again that people not make comments that wouldn’t fly for any question posted in General. I guess it would be draconian if we were suddenly banning people who do that, but nothing of the sort is happening.

hearkat's avatar

As the mod who removed the posts and “chastised” the community, (in your opinion @Earthbound_Misfit); it was I who disabled the link because I was leaving the post up for a little while so the Mod comment would be visible. I knew that one specific question was spam, and I know that the majority of Jellies have good spam-spidey-senses. There are many who are top-notch spam-hunters, even.

Perhaps it’s not making sense to you because you are focusing on that one question, when in fact, the Mod comment was NOT about that one question. As stated above: ”This particular instance was being used as an example to illustrate the much larger issue of people responding to or commenting on content that they think is inappropriate for Fluther, whether or not they’ve flagged it.

No, it does not take longer to post a comment reminding people of our request that they use the flagging system and not react to inappropriate content (which is not always in response to obvious spam), than removing those reactions repeatedly over the course of days, weeks, months, and years. If we don’t say anything and just sigh as we go through the motions, nothing changes. Then one day we open a post and there isn’t just one inappropriate comment, but six of them, so we decided to use that as an example to reinforce our request.

What does take time is having to go back and forth with a tiny minority of the users who insist on challenging things we do, rather than respecting that we are volunteering our time to the upkeep of the site, and just shrugging their shoulders, honoring our requests, and moving on. Even though some of you have been moderators and others have just been on the site for a while under various names, things change — the internet has changed, Fluther has changed, the community has changed, etc. — and the Mod process has evolved to keep up with those changes. We are not going to rewrite the Mod Guidelines given to us by Ben and Auggie because a few you don’t like how the site is run. It’s a great big worldwide web, so those of you who imagine you can run a website better are welcome to go out there and do so.

canidmajor's avatar

I just counted 6 posts by mods that explained all this and still people are incensed.

Let me see if my first impression was correct. @hearkat left the Q up for a short while so everyone could understand that the commenting was inappropriate. A teaching moment.
Just flag, don’t comment, it piles on the work for the mods.

Not sure where the problem is.

Aethelwine's avatar

the kids really love their spam~

dappled_leaves's avatar

I still have no idea why the mods cannot simply delete the question without having to delete every single reply (snarky or otherwise) to the question. There is still no clear answer as to why we need to rein ourselves in on obviously spammy questions. It still appears to me that the mods are creating work by doing this. I agree with @hearkat that “the majority of Jellies have good spam-spidey-senses”.

@canidmajor “I just counted 6 posts by mods that explained all this and still people are incensed.”

No one is “incensed”. We’re just asking questions; trying to understand why things are done a certain way. It shouldn’t be surprising that a site like Fluther has several members who want to understand the process. It’s what we do here.

@hearkat “What does take time is having to go back and forth with a tiny minority of the users who insist on challenging things we do, rather than respecting that we are volunteering our time to the upkeep of the site, and just shrugging their shoulders, honoring our requests, and moving on.”

That’s disappointing to hear. I don’t know what is particularly challenging about asking for transparency in the moderation process. But if it is challenging, then perhaps that is when we need to ask questions most? I still don’t understand how this question remains unanswered after so many attempts.

canidmajor's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit was incensed.
Just the process of questioning everything like this, again and again indicates being incensed.
Why was this question even asked? A spam q was left up for a little bit to make a point. How many times do they have to explain this?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@canidmajor Huh, I didn’t read it that way.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’m not even remotely incensed. However, I don’t like being fed crap. I’ve explained my reason for asking the question. I didn’t (and don’t) understand why a question containing spam would be left in place. It made (makes) no sense to me. The best option with spam is to get rid of it as soon as possible. So I was querying if there was some new method being trialled.

People have been posting silly comments on spam threads for a long time and it hasn’t been an issue that demanded a lecture. Yes the question was in General but the question was going to be deleted. So why use a few ‘flagged’, and other silly comments, as an opportunity to wack those who posted with a lecture about the work it creates for mods and having been told not to do post on spam in the past? It’s unnecessary. It could also be argued that people typing ‘flagged’, shows others the mods have been alerted to the presence of the spam. Saves their email accounts being filled with repeated emails about the same question. They get a lot of mail. Flagging is something the mods have asked the community to do. Flag spam and the like so they can find it without having to hunt it down.

A few ‘flagged’ comments or even silly responses do not cause work for mods. I know. I’ve moderated spam myself. The mods will delete the question. It does allow community members to voice their frustration with the spammers and for some, they’re having a bit of fun. Big deal.

There are times when the community needs to be lectured. There are times to turn a blind eye. Had the question not been moderated and the lecture put in place, I wouldn’t have been bothered. I could see a mod had seen the question and had chosen to leave it there. It was an odd thing to do.

Obviously the answer to my question is there is no new policy in place, the question was just left there so the mod in question could post her lecture.

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