I learned after posting this question that our help page is incorrect.

It currently states the following:

The spam and abusive flags are designed to automatically eliminate truly disruptive posts through the collaboration of the community.

  • 3 flags -- post is banished from the front page.
  • 6 flags -- post is locked, deleted, and the owner loses 100 reputation.

However, it was confirmed that, in reality, it only takes 3 such flags to delete a post on our site.

Our help page should be updated to reflect the actual situation here. (I'm assuming that we go straight to deletion without front-page banishment at first.)

  • 1
    This is a "privileges" page and can't be edited "in-house" by moderators: any request needs to go to SE staff. [Comment not intended to judge the request or influence responses; just to manage expectations to the customary six to eight weeks...]
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 6:34
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    Because of how the Help Center articles work, if we adjust this for y'all, none of the future changes we might make to this page will be carried over; we have to remember to update your page as a one-off. So, we have to choose between it being perfectly correct and potentially totally outdated. We've overridden your spam flags required, that's true, but it's pretty much just this site. Considering how the help center articles work right now, I'm not really sure what the correct solution is. Open to ideas.
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 16:46
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    @Catija One idea would be to parameterise the page so that a single value controlled the behaviour and what is published about it. (But I suppose that's a thing for "not right now"; however it certainly should be "how the help center articles work")
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 17:27
  • 2
    The 3 flag nuke was intended as a temporary measure (for Workplace.SE and this site), but the amount of spam doesn't seem to warrant this anymore. Just check SmokeDetectors stats: Ask Ubuntu sees 10x the amount of spam of EL&U. There's something wrong with the other bullet point, though ...
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 9:51
  • 1
    @Glorfindel Hmm. Putting it back to normal would work too—negating the need to touch the documentation in the first place. Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 10:46
  • @Catija I suppose it would be useful to know just how many sites have something in particular about them that's different from other sites when it comes to the documentation. Taken as something in general, I don't know if a single site warrants doing something unusual to accommodate it, particularly if it would take a great deal of effort. However, one change could be something like The number of flags required is normally as follows, although individual sites may have different requirements, which can be checked at the site's meta). Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 10:54
  • Not sure if this is a genuine quote, but Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program. (Milton Friedman)
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 10:55
  • @Catija I second Jason's suggestion to reset the thresholds in line with the other SE communities. Spam isn't currently a major problem, and our moderators are pretty quick to react to such things.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jun 29, 2019 at 11:23

1 Answer 1


I've looked at your recently deleted posts and there's very few that were deleted as spam or abusive - in general, you average about 1-2 per day from what I can tell, which isn't a lot, and far fewer than other sites on the network get.

After thinking it over a bit and talking with people about it... based on the recommendations here and those I got from other discussions and the data, we're raising the flags needed to delete spam and rude posts back to the six flag default to make the help center page correct without changing it. Yes, this is a backwards way of completing this request but... eh.

I don't expect y'all to see any real changes for a couple of reasons. The ability we have to find and flag spam and abusive content is much better than it was when this was changed back in December of 2016, thanks in large part to the work of some great users who are part of the Charcoal project.

If, for some reason, you see content - particularly abusive content - sticking around longer than it used to, please let me know so we can review.

Thanks for starting this discussion!

  • 5
    FYI, all: I've bumped Charcoal autoflagging back up to the default 4 flags on this site, as opposed to the 1 it was set to while you only needed 3 flags to delete a post.
    – ArtOfCode
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 21:22
  • I don't want to post a Meta question, but I have a question indirectly related to this. When a User is deleted and one's loses points (which is OK with me and not my question), why can't we see which question the deletion was related to? It's more frustrating not to know that than to lose points due to it.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 14:02
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    @Lambie We are really cautious about revealing to others what you voted for.... while it's not always known, it's not uncommon for y'all to know who had their account removed. If we tell you which posts the votes were on, you know what they voted for. I explain it in a bit more detail here: math.meta.stackexchange.com/a/30033/245649
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 14:18
  • @Lambie I'm not quite sure what you're asking... can you give an example? The only time we forcibly delete accounts is when they have done nothing but post spam or be abusive to others. What value is there in seeing the spam/abusive content?
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 14:35
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    But my question is different from "it's possible that users may know which user had votes invalidated or an account removed, revealing which posts were voted on reveals their voting history, which is a big problem." I do not want to know who the user is whose profile was deleted. I just want to know the ELU question under which a post by the user caused his/her removal. Just the question it relates to, not the user. The message: user profile was deleted.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 14:35

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