My spam flag for the answer below to a question Is the phrase 'request you to send the copy' correct? was marked as helpful. It seems that the post was deleted by spam votes, not by a moderator or any other delete votes.

jijijijijnizhiwokodsa dengni ma? haha - It was the answer posted.

enter image description here

The linked question change active into passive voice was posted 16 hours ago, closed 8 hours ago and just been deleted by voting.

When you see a question like this,

is it OK to flag it by clicking on "flag > spam"?

3 flags could have removed it from the front page and 6 flag votes could have deleted this post.

enter image description here

Another question that (I think) should have been flagged. Where is queen elizabeth 2 now .. and which country's queen is she originally?

enter image description here

Related Meta question: What are the spam and offensive flags, and how do they work?.

  • 2
    I flagged the first question as VLQ, as I'm still a bit cautious about spam flags. But we learn best through example, so your post is helpful! Jul 10, 2016 at 12:03
  • 5
    The former should be flagged as "abusive", in accordance with SE guidelines. The latter is neither spam nor abusive, but is low quality and should be closed and downvoted.
    – ArtOfCode
    Jul 10, 2016 at 15:24
  • 9
    Please don't flag things as spam if they're not actually spam. That will confuse the automatic spam prevention systems. Neither of your examples is actually spam, they're not advertising anything. Those should be flagged as "not an answer" or "mod attention -> nonsense".
    – terdon
    Jul 10, 2016 at 15:27
  • 2
    THe "Related Meta question" that you have linked states that you must not use the spam flag for such posts. So you defeat your own argument.
    – Chenmunka
    Jul 10, 2016 at 15:29
  • @ArtOfCode Does "offensive" in the linked Meta SE question mean "abusive"? I can't find "offensive" flag option.
    – user140086
    Jul 10, 2016 at 16:04
  • 3
    This question, and the comments, answers and links that it has provided a platform for, are useful. It appears Rathony has edited his question to improve it, as SE encourages users to do. Yet the question still has 11 downvotes - perhaps reflecting an SE deficiency that editing a post doesn't trigger some prompt to downvoters to review their assessment. Jul 11, 2016 at 9:21
  • I had prepared such a question myself 2 weeks ago, but then discarded it because I was sure I would piss off most users here, and I was sure that I'll get answers like "spam, according to SE, is not what you think...". I wish I had a "useless crap" flag option.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jul 11, 2016 at 19:09
  • 2
    @NVZ Don't be afraid of getting downvotes or pissing off others. Getting downvotes is an honor that no conformist can get. We need to challenge if there is something wrong with this site. We are the moderators. We are the one who should make our policy. We are the one who should change the strategy. Come on. Cheer up. Let's move the mountains.
    – user140086
    Jul 11, 2016 at 19:13
  • @Chappo such feature request exists in Meta Stack Exchange without any official response. You might call it a deficiency, but a portion of people call it "not being spammed by notifications to take another look at what I downvoted". That being said, I do not think many people would've retracted their downvotes on this no matter how many times it had been edited. The premise they're disagreeing with would remain.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 1, 2016 at 19:51
  • 1: Why did you suicide? 2: Why do the upvote buttons looks strange in the screenshots? Feb 10, 2020 at 18:37

3 Answers 3



On Stack Exchange, "spam" has a specific meaning, unlike the way the term is often used on the internet as a whole:

Exists only to promote a product or service, does not disclose the author's affiliation.

The questions you've linked to are very low quality, worthy of being closed and deleted, but they aren't spam. Flagging them as spam would be not only technically incorrect, but also potentially detrimental as it would confuse the automatic spam detection filter.

There's an argument for flagging the first one as "rude or abusive", since shouting the same phrase over and over could certainly come under

A reasonable person would find this content inappropriate for respectful discourse.

... but the second one is neither spam nor abusive, but should simply be closed as blatantly off-topic and then probably deleted.

  • What are your first and second links for?
    – user140086
    Jul 10, 2016 at 15:39
  • 1
    @Rathony They're the links that appear on the actual flag popup, to explain what those flags mean and how they should be used. (I put a full stop in the wrong place on the first one, sorry - fixed now.) Jul 10, 2016 at 15:41
  • Does "offensive" in the linked Meta SE question mean "abusive"? I can't find "offensive" flag option.
    – user140086
    Jul 10, 2016 at 16:05
  • @Rathony Yes; edited again. Jul 10, 2016 at 16:13
  • 4
    I think the argument in favour of flagging the first post as "spam" is that you only need 6 downvotes and the post is automatically deleted. It's not your bog standard very low quality, off topic question, it's pure "junk", and to me junk = spam, the sooner it's dealt with, i.e. eliminated, the better.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 10, 2016 at 16:18
  • You see where my confusion comes from? Another point of concern is "also potentially detrimental as it would confuse the automatic spam detection filter." I know some kind of filter is monitoring and I sometimes see "smoke-detector" posting a link in a chat room, but that seems to monitor only harmful links or offensive words like fuck. How about those posts that have no links at all? If there is such mechanism, why would my flag be marked as helpful? Just because the first question was deleted? Hmm... Does it mean the system works?
    – user140086
    Jul 10, 2016 at 16:19
  • 3
    The second question is your bog standard very low quality question, it doesn't really matter if it stays "up" six hours, as long as it is deleted.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 10, 2016 at 16:20
  • @Mari-LouA You mean 6 flags instead of 6 downvotes in your first comment, right?
    – user140086
    Jul 10, 2016 at 16:23
  • A spam flag will automatically award a downvote, you don't even have to DV, so that's what I meant, 6 spam flags means a post gets -6, which means the system deletes it. That isn't a post where you leave a comment to the OP asking them to clarify, or if they have looked up a word in a dictionary. It's just junk.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 10, 2016 at 16:28
  • @Mari-LouA Oh, I didn't know that as I always downvoted first before flagging. Nice to know it.
    – user140086
    Jul 10, 2016 at 16:29
  • I changed the question. Please take a look.
    – user140086
    Jul 11, 2016 at 6:31


I think the argument in favour of flagging the “zombie wall of text” question as "spam" is that only 6 flags are needed for the post to be automatically deleted.

That question is not your bog standard, very-low-quality, off-topic question. It's "junk", and to me junk = spam, the sooner it's dealt with, i.e. eliminated, the better.

And someone must have flagged it as spam, (I did) because it looks spammy, and it is spammy because it is worthless.

If flagging that single post as spam is going to tilt the automatic spam prevention system, (aka automatic spam detection filter) then the system is at fault, or needs fixing.

Next time?

I don't know. I would like to hear a mod's view on this. Was closing change active into passive voice as being unclear the correct procedure? Or should it have been flagged as abusive?

  • How about this one? Do you flag it as spam? english.stackexchange.com/review/first-posts/189428
    – user140086
    Jul 11, 2016 at 5:21
  • @Rathony No, because I have earned "privileges" I downvote, and then cast my vote to delete. Which is exactly what I have done.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 11, 2016 at 5:42
  • 2
    Junk is not necessarily spam. And yes, flagging as spam does train the anti-spam system. That's how you train the system.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jul 11, 2016 at 9:58
  • 1
    @AndrewLeach I'm not disputing that, but the anti-spam system (so many different names for one thing) should be able to handle a human error or two. I dispute the claim that the system will perform less efficiently because I flagged that question as being spam. Mistakes happen, and I don't think this is a particularly harmful one.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 11, 2016 at 10:06
  • Let's all agree on one thing, that the second question posted by the OP is not spam.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 11, 2016 at 10:09
  • @AndrewLeach which approach would have been best for a post which had accumulated 10 DV? Flagging, or closing? OK I had a delete vote, but I won't always be around :) The case for flagging it as "abusive or rude" is weaker in my mind.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 11, 2016 at 10:20
  • Nothing wrong with DV and VTC. It only takes a couple of closed questions with a few downvotes for a user to be question-banned.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jul 11, 2016 at 11:54
  • @AndrewLeach you think the OP of that wall of text will ever come back? I don't. If the mods are happy that a huge wall of meaningless text hangs around for eight hours on the site who am I to complain?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 11, 2016 at 12:28
  • @AndrewLeach The question was around undeleted for 16 hours and it would have been stayed longer if I hadn't asked Mari-LouA to vote to delete it. I edited the post to include the evidence that spam votes worked in deleting an answer. Why not a question? Would it harm the system?
    – user140086
    Jul 11, 2016 at 13:58
  • 1
    Once a question reaches -4 it's removed from the front page. I maintain my view that flags and votes should be used for their primary purpose and the system should not be subverted. Spam is spam, and the question in question was not.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jul 11, 2016 at 14:45

I feel rather strange and sorry that we are debating the definition of "spam". The more important thing is discussing what we are going to do about it in the future, not whether it is SE policy or not. Is there a clear-cut polity at all on Stack Exchange regarding this issue?

Where is "offensive" flag? The below image reads "This question was marked as spam or offensive".

enter image description here

The linked answer (image below) to the question As my friend already introduced was posted an hour ago and it took only 49 minutes for three members to delete it.

enter image description here

Do this answer and the first question (change active voice into passive voice) read abusive? Nah. What does it abuse?

Do this answer and the first question read offensive? No. I am not offended.

Do this answer and the first question read spammy? Yes. It reads like completely useless crap.

I think we need to find solutions such as

  1. The "spam" option should be changed to "spam and junk"

  2. Another flag option could be created such as "gibberish" or "trollish"

  3. Enable users with more than 20,000 reputation points to vote to delete it when it has a negative score in the same way the above answer was deleted by three votes as shown below.

enter image description here

  • 7
    "Spam" and "Completely useless crap" are not synonymous.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jul 11, 2016 at 9:57
  • @AndrewLeach For the record, I didn't say it is synonymous with "completely useless crap".
    – user140086
    Jul 11, 2016 at 10:05
  • The solution is that the "rude or abusive" flag should have some more explanation of what it means. These kind of posts certainly qualify.
    – herisson
    Jul 11, 2016 at 17:59
  • 3
    I believe that I cast my delete vote on the "vvvsvsvsvsvsdsada..." answer on the grounds of "very low quality," not "spam" or "rude and abusive." And yet my vote still contributed to a three-strikes-you're-out treatment of the question. I don't object to expanding the "rude or abusive" delete reason to "rude, abusive, or nonsensical," as long as there aren't reasons I'm unaware of to to keep "rude or abusive" as a narrow category. But tracking the incidence of genuine spam (advertising or malware) on Stack Exchange sites seems wise—and in any case, we should call things by their right name.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jul 11, 2016 at 20:24
  • @Sven on a bunch of larger SE sites, junk is flagged as "rude and abusive", since it's "inappropriate for respectful discourse". Most mods agree with this, and some don't or are not aware of it. There aren't any big issues regarding flagging, so an official decision hasn't yet been stated. To OP, when a post is deleted as spam, it triggers multiple alarms in the system, most of which should only be raised when the post is spam, i.e. advertising a product.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 1, 2016 at 20:05

You must log in to answer this question.