I agree that moderating trolls and limited return-trolls is important.

I cannot say I'm sure that this kind of defacing benefits the site more than it punishes the troll. I think it just looks weird to the irregular user, whom doesn't know that such a person is trolling.

Should we use the 'protected' status to lock-down a question and prevent trolls from downvoting people, etc.?

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    What was this "defacement"? How did it look weird? The question has since been deleted.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 8, 2013 at 4:09
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    The question and description were replace with the word "spam" repeated 20-40 times in a row. The old tags were removed and changed to "spam" Sep 8, 2013 at 17:10
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    Thanks, it's much clearer now.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 8, 2013 at 17:12

3 Answers 3


This particular user has asked some pretty intriguing questions, but the user seems to be more interested in luring other ELUers into spinning their wheels and wasting their time, as opposed to wanting to learn anything about language. The user has also been known to engage in some pretty egregious behavior, such as publishing phone numbers of other members.

The comment that you saw was simply meant to alert regular users that they shouldn't spend a lot of time answering that question, since it was probably going to be end up ultimately deleted anyway.

You bring up a good point, though: Relative newcomers might have trouble reconciling what looked like a harshly inappropriate message with what seemed like a good question. It's something that's just become part of the culture.


I indeed wanted to warn people from getting drawn into our troll’s webs, and my comments and close-votes were not doing the job.

As J.R. correctly surmised, the problem was that it had begun to draw flies, meaning that it was luring the unsuspecting into its devices, and we had neither a moderator nor enough high-rep users on hand to quickly take out the trash.

Yes, it was probably a bit extreme, and I do see why new users become confused. But after flouting the rules not just a five or ten or even a few dozens times, but thousands of times, and going far worse than that even, there seems unlikely to be reversal of judgement from the Powers That Be on this matter this side of hell freezing over.

After all the many-times-daily violations for more than a year running, and after all that we’ve all suffered here, if said Powers were to renege on their position that the ban is valid and it stays, then they would be rewarding bad behavior, not to mention direct violations of their own written policies — and just for once, it really would feel like the terrorists had won.

So let’s not do that.

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    So perhaps we need a different way to flag things that are clearly spam-troll-traps, without defacing - which must be really jarring to irregular users. Is there such an option in the SE toolset? If not I think we should petition. Sep 9, 2013 at 0:18
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    @NewAlexandria Perhaps so. One of my recent closevotes read “This question appears to be off-topic because it is by a banned spammer troll and repeat offender who flouts the ban daily. Please flag, downvote, closevote, and deletevote immediately.” Some of your other proposals are problematic; for example, “Protected” status only blocks answers from posters whose reputations are less than 10, so that doesn’t work. Also, this troll is not going around downvoting people—he never accrues enough rep for that. Instead, he flouts the rules, spams the site, and wastes people’s time.
    – tchrist Mod
    Sep 9, 2013 at 0:23
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    Agreed. I'm hearing that SE doesn't offer a sufficient tool for our situation. My sorry and thanks to the mods policing this crap Sep 9, 2013 at 0:31
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    I assume this is the same spammer discussed here and in my question here (you being the high rep user I mention). Could you post an answer there clarifying how you know that it is the troll in question so the rest of us can understand what's going on?
    – terdon
    Sep 11, 2013 at 10:29
  • @terdon It’s a collection of things; you just get used to his style after a while.
    – tchrist Mod
    Sep 11, 2013 at 23:28
  • @tchrist: in other words, you don't actually know, you just make an educated guess. How can you be certain you're correct? If you're not, it's not like the poor newbie can do anything about it, besides of course form a very bad opinion of our site.
    – Marthaª
    Sep 14, 2013 at 3:20
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    @Marthaª No Martha, it is more than that. But I cannot publically explain. I would think that would be obvious.
    – tchrist Mod
    Sep 14, 2013 at 11:34

I think the question is fine. And I think a question should be judged on its own merits, not on whoever asks it. I have flagged it to be undeleted. Only real spam should be marked as such: an OK question by a user with a history should never be marked as spam. As to real spam, yes, that should be defaced. But this is not it.

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    I agree: the least jarring way to deal with our resident troll's questions would be to quietly delete the user account each time he creates one, but judge the questions on their own merits.
    – Marthaª
    Sep 10, 2013 at 13:38
  • @Martha: I cannot but agree with you. The questions remain when the user is blocked, right? Sep 10, 2013 at 15:29

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