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I've noticed a phenomenon recently. An old old interesting question pops to the top of the activity queue. I look at the question and can find no activity on it...except for a couple hours ago a spam answer appeared, but was thankfully deleted right away.

For example:

{wend, went, went} changed into {go, went, gone}

This is only one example; it may have been happening all along, but I only recently noticed a few.

The question is this...should this behavior (of SE, not the people) be modified to not bump it to the top?

My first inclination is 'Yes! Modify SE to Suit My Tastes!'. But that's extra work for the developers; also, the random bumping isn't so terrible, just somehow intellectually disconcerting. Also, I think we'll survive without doing anything.

So, change or leave alone?

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It is necessary to ensure that spam/offensive flags are used appropriately. If the question would vanish again after such flags are declared valid, it would be far harder to detect any misuse.

Leaving the posts on the frontpage ensures that some other users will see them and would notice if someone abuses spam flags on posts that are not spam.

  • I agree. Normally, spam flags are correctly used, but having the question bumped in the front page allows other users to check the spam flags were correctly used. – kiamlaluno Apr 11 '13 at 8:17
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It is generally counterproductive to bring old questions to the top of the list. Many users cannot see deleted answers and won't know why the question is there; and they will post an answer or a comment simply because they can. Those answers seem to be of lower quality than the existing answers, or do not add anything useful.

So: a new answer does need to bring the question to the top in order that the new answer can be examined easily (as Mad Scientist has said). But perhaps there might be a wrinkle: if an answer has been flagged as spam or offensive, remove all its effects when it's deleted. If it's not spam, those flags will either be declared invalid or the answer will not be deleted and can remain on the front page.

Here's a case in point. [Once the offensive answer is deleted it will only be available to 10k users, but it contained no useful content, was dismissive and offensive.]

  • This is not the case, but there are posts flagged as spam that are not spam. It is like with closed questions: It is always possible to re-open a question that should not have been closed. In this case, there is the possibility to correct the wrong action took from some users, and bumping the question on the front page allows 10K users to verify the taken action was correct. – kiamlaluno Apr 10 '13 at 23:37
  • @kiamlaluno I think that's what I said -- my point was that if a recent answer is removed, its effects should be removed as well and the question should be de-bumped. – Andrew Leach Apr 11 '13 at 5:32
  • That is what I am saying it should not be done. The fact the answer has been deleted should not de-demp the question. This is also what is done when an answer is edited, and then reversed to the previous revision. If you de-bump the question, nobody would see an answer has been deleted, and eventually take the necessary action. – kiamlaluno Apr 11 '13 at 5:45
  • But an answer is deleted by community action, isn't it? There is nothing else to be done. – Andrew Leach Apr 11 '13 at 8:01
  • Also questions are closed by community action, and yet the community can vote to re-open it. I don't think that flags for spam are different: Somebody thinks it is spam; somebody else checks it is really spam, and not a real answer containing a link and that some users took as spam. – kiamlaluno Apr 11 '13 at 8:14
  • So what are the moderator tools for? They allow 10k users to see recent closures and deletions. Use the tools: don't encourage further bad behaviour by keeping the question in easy view. – Andrew Leach Apr 11 '13 at 8:16
  • Moderation tools don't show flags for a post that has been already deleted, since they are dismissed once the post is deleted. Once a post is flagged as spam from enough users, and before any moderator handled the spam flags, it gets deleted, and none of the moderators will see any flag for that post. What bad behavior is encouraged? Since the post is only visible to 10K users, which bad behavior is going to be encouraged from showing the question on the front page? – kiamlaluno Apr 11 '13 at 8:24
  • The issue is that these answers tend to be on easy-to-answer questions -- usually which have been well answered already -- and having them on the front page encourages new users to post answers because the question is straightforward. These late answers (also in the mod tools) are often of low quality. That behaviour is a direct result of the spam answer and needs to be made more difficult. – Andrew Leach Apr 11 '13 at 8:30
  • That could be said about editing an answer too. I could edit an accepted answer of mine to make a sentence clearer, to incorporate a comment I wrote, or add a link; somebody else could see the question on the front page, and answer it. Is there any difference between the two cases? I think there isn't any difference: In both the cases, somebody could add an answer to an already answered question. – kiamlaluno Apr 11 '13 at 8:37
  • Yes, but editing an answer is a legitimate operation. It's undoing a subsequent illegitimate operation which should undo all the actions of that illegitimate operation. – Andrew Leach Apr 11 '13 at 8:41
  • The system cannot distinguish between legitimate operations and not legitimate operations. Let's leave out for a moment the fact there are wrong edits, such as the case of a user who changes his answer to "Nothing to see here." because he got a down-vote, and keep rolling back any edit done to restore the answer. If a legitimate operation like editing, or reverting a revision, leave the answer on the front page, why would another legitimate operation like the automatic deletion of a flagged answer remove the question from the front page? – kiamlaluno Apr 11 '13 at 9:00
  • Because adding that answer which was flagged was illegitimate. Correcting that illegitimate operation includes removing the bump. – Andrew Leach Apr 11 '13 at 9:40
  • No, it doesn't. To correct an illegitimate operation is needed a legitimate operation that (as it is legitimate) needs to keep the question on the front page. If you think the question should be de-bumped from the front page after the post is deleted, propose that as feature requests on Meta Stack Overflow. – kiamlaluno Apr 11 '13 at 9:46

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