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Dutchess_III's avatar

Why is it a very bad idea to interact with spam questions, even harmlessly?

Asked by Dutchess_III (41910points) October 8th, 2017

I’ve noticed that some users note the time and date in some spam questions. I’ve wondered what purpose that serves. But does that count as “interacting” with the spammer?
Long ago a mod posted a commentary about the life of a mod, and people interacting with spammers was mentioned. I got the impression that it’s a big NO NO!!!
Why is it so wrong?

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15 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

[Mod Says] There’s no problem with harmlessly interacting with spam questions—just be sure it’s actually spam! We used to have a big problem with jellies jumping the gun and leveling accusations prematurely. In response, Lisa asked everyone to just stop interacting with people they suspected of being spammers. But that policy has been relaxed over the past couple of years.

I would like to emphasize, however, that “harmlessly” is the key word here. Making fun of spammers is one thing. But some jellies have gone so far as insult spammers in ways that are also disrespectful to whole groups of people, including those represented on the site. I’m talking about racial epithets, gendered slurs, and attacks on people’s ethnicity or nationality.

Ben and Andrew took hate speech very seriously, and so do we. So while there’s nothing wrong with having some fun with a spammer, it is important not to do so in a way that attacks other people just because they happen to share a few superficial characteristics with the spammer.

“I’ve noticed that some users note the time and date in some spam questions. I’ve wondered what purpose that serves.”

Usually what you see is jellies posting “Flagged at [date and time].” The date and time is perhaps superfluous, but the message is there to let other people know that they don’t need to go through the trouble of flagging the offending question or answer. As far as the moderators are concerned, there’s no problem with multiple flags. But a lot of jellies seem to appreciate the time it saves them.

janbb's avatar

Great explanation @SavoirFaire . We can make fun of Hyderabad still, can’t we? Or is that considered a municipal slur?

SavoirFaire's avatar

So long as Hyderabad is a punchline and not a punching bag, there shouldn’t be any trouble. For the most part, though, Jellies have a pretty good sense of the difference between “sorry, I only read spam from Hyderabad” and “everyone from Hyderabad is evil and should be murdered in their sleep.”

jca's avatar

I was told three years ago that posting time and date was not acceptable, although another Jelly did it at the same time I did and he was not told any such thing.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jca I don’t know the situation, so I can’t comment. But like I said, the current policy is more relaxed than the old policy.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Thanks for clearing it up @SavoirFaire .

Zaku's avatar

Ya, great answer @SavoirFaire .

I’d add that another reason not to is your funny replies get deleted along with the spam comment. Sometimes it’s irresistible though. But ya we should be careful we’re not abusing someone whose first question just happens to look like spam. I always think, “Could this possibly be an actual person just writing a question in a way that looks like spam?” before replying as if it is.

zenvelo's avatar

As one who flags spam and notes that it has been flagged and when, there was guidance three or four years back that multiple flaggings overwhelmed the mods, and that time stamping was so that someone ten minutes later didn’t flag it again.

But if it was flagged at 6 a.m. and it’s now 10 p.m., go ahead and reflag it.

I will now note that it was flagged, but leave the timestamp off.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I see. I missed that memo. Thanks.

SergeantQueen's avatar

Can’t you see when someone posted an answer, even without them posting a time? That’s what confused me at first, when I saw flagged XX:XX.
For example, @Dutchess_III posted her reply about an hour ago. All I did was hover over that permalink thing.
So it seems a bit redundant to post the timestamp (Which I will also stop doing). Although I have done it in the past when flagging spam. (Basically was just copying what I saw other users doing)

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@SergeantQueen When viewing the mobile site, the time stamp is not available. It’s nice to have the post with the flagged time written out.

Strauss's avatar

Thanks all. An informative discussion.

Dutchess_III's avatar

For me too.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

A while back, we were asked to post that we’d flagged the spam, and to note the date. Doing so prevents redundant flags and avoids overwhelming the moderators. I haven’t seen any notices to change that policy.

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