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I have recently come across quite a number of questions that have been closed by one of our higher rep users as SPAM. This is the latest one which is undergoing an edit war as I write.

The posts in question all start with an annoying ASCII "art" sequence:

.-=,,.=-.,-=.-=,-=,.-=,

Quite a few of these have been closed by the same high-rep user and seeing as I have quite a bit of respect for this HRU and his contributions to this site, I imagine he knows something I don't and this is in fact a troll.

However, the question itself does not seem trollish. It looks like a perfectly valid (if not really very interesting) question asked by a new user and the ensuing edit wars looks like a personal vendetta.

Once again I'd like to stress that I fully believe that the HRU who is closing them has a valid reason, I am just asking what that reason is. Why are these being flagged as spam when they are not spam? And does this site operate under a "once a troll, forever a troll" policy? Are these from spambots just trying to get enough rep to be able to be really annoying?


EDIT: The post I linked to has been deleted adding further weight to my assumption that the HRU is acting correctly, or at least in accordance with the community's wishes. Still, what is going on here?

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    This has been a long-time issue, and the current policy is to destroy on sight. Which we do, several times a day. – Kit Z. Fox Aug 27 '13 at 17:47
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    @KitFox yeah, I guessed as much. So, what are the signs? How do you and the other old hands know to come down on this user like a ton of bricks? Is s/he really that stupid that s/he always puts that silly -==- line at the beginning? How can the rest of us know? Do you think you could sketch out a quick answer that could serve as a guideline for the community? Having read the question you linked to it seems like a very active troll and the more of us that can catch their questions the better. – terdon Aug 28 '13 at 12:54
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    If, as supposed in the linked post, the spammer simply seeks attention, that would seem an adequate reason to habitually include the silly -==- sequence. – Pieter Geerkens Sep 2 '13 at 23:45
  • Why shoot first and ask questions later? Isn't language supposed to be about communication? – skullpatrol Sep 6 '13 at 9:27
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    @cyberskull: Yes. The communication has been done already by the spammer. The pragmatics of his messages to ELU are that we should delete on sight. – Mitch Sep 20 '13 at 18:22
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I believe that it is not spam as it is just one guy reporting.

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    The person who is being mentioned is someone who has been banned from ELU. Apparently this person's history describes him as a troll, so yes, you're correct to surmise the poster is not a spammer as we normally define one. But nowadays "spammer" is often used to describe any anonymous anti-social behaviour on the net and hence his/her questions are closed as SPAM. – Mari-Lou A Nov 20 '13 at 11:09

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