So I just had my first ever failure here in one of those tests set up by the system to check whether you're paying attention while reviewing posts.

For those who are unaware, the system sometimes sets up fake review tasks for you while you're reviewing posts in many ways, for example removing the score of a very high/low quality post, making a non-sense edit suggestion etc. If you okay a bad post or recommend a negative action for a good post, you fail.

The post in question is this: How can I uncompress a *.7z file? (a deleted answer, not the question, see the screenshot below).

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It seems to me that the answerer is suggesting a website which apparently offers the service of extracting various archives (including .7z) online and lets you download the files separately.

One issue I found with the answer (like in many other posts, especially by new users) it's sounds like a forum post instead of an answer which can be corrected easily.

Another potential issue could be that the answerer was promoting their website without disclosing their affiliation (and hence a spam), but I couldn't find any apparent reason to believe that was the case.

So I okayed the post in my review queue and then found out it was already deleted as

This post has severe quality issues. It is abusive nonsense, noise, spam, blatantly off-topic or otherwise irredeemable – readers will find it offensive or repulsive rather than helpful.

Is this deletion justified?

  • 4
    I'd have voted to delete because it's NAA (not an answer) because it's mainly link-only, but I think it wasn't a good review exam.
    – Byte Commander Mod
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 9:31
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    @ByteCommander But I think that applies for answers with only links to external site(s) which may have an answer. Here it's a link to a website which provides a specific service. OP said clearly it's "an online extraction option" and also added a caveat: "If your data is not very sensitive (though the webpage claims to delete the files immediately)...".
    – pomsky
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


The system automatically selected that answer for use as a review audit because it was deleted after being flagged as spam or rude or abusive. I know this because 10k users can view deleted posts, but posts that get one or more "red flags" before being deleted have their bodies hidden until one clicks through to the revision history:

Deleted post as shown to users with 10,000 or more reputation, showing the text "This answer was marked as spam or rude or abusive and is therefore not shown - you can see the revision history for details" and the phrase "the revision history" is a hyperlink.

In this case, the flag used was almost certainly spam. The post looked like spam because it recommended using a website to extract a .7z archive, which is something that can be done easily and far more conveniently by just installing the necessary software on Ubuntu. Using a website to do this is cumbersome because you have to upload the archive, then download the contents after they are extracted. Apparently this was helpful to the author, but it is not a reasonable approach for the vast majority of people, might not have been reasonable even in their case (they may simply have been unaware of other ways to do it), and the post didn't explain why one might choose to use that method.

In hindsight, this post was not very likely to have been spam. Examining the contributions here and on other Stack Exchange sites of the user who posted it reveals that they're unlikely to be a spammer, using websites to perform operations on files is not categorically unreasonable, and the answer did contain this useful caveat:

If your data is not very sensitive (though the webpage claims to delete the files immediately), then the above online option works great.

That doesn't prove the post wasn't spam. Spammers can write stuff that looks like they're thoughful and critical, too. But I don't think the author was affiliated with the website or that it was otherwise posted with spammy intent.

It is also not really a link-only answer. A link-only answer points to somewhere else where there is claimed to be an answer, rather than answering the question itself. An answer that says "use this program," and links to where the program can be downloaded is not a link-only answer, and this doesn't really seem too different from that. The fact that the service it recommended could go offline is one of several reasons to consider the answer low-quality, but it doesn't make it a link-only answer in the usual sense, at least as I understand that policy.

I don't recommend that this answer be undeleted. If I saw that answer, I would downvote it, comment to express the criticism of it that I've given here, and probably even vote to delete it, which 20k users can do. As written, I would consider the answer to fall under the second bullet-point for when it is acceptable for members of the community to vote to delete answers:

The answer is extremely low quality: There is little to no scope for improvement

However, if it turns out that there is substantial disagreement on this and the answer is undeleted based on a consensus that it is valuable, then I would definitely respect that and refrain from attempting to redelete it. (If it is undeleted just to clear the spam flag and prevent it from being used in audits, however, then I would comment and vote to delete as described above.)

Should you have failed that audit? I think really you should not have failed it--that is, that your actions there fell within acceptable reviewer behavior--and that it would have been better if that answer had not been used as an audit. However, anytime you see an answer that looks that much like it might be spam, I recommend that you click through to the question page where the answer appears and try to figure out if it is part of a pattern of spam. Doing that would also have revealed that it was an audit.

  • 1
    "I recommend that you click through to the page and try to figure out if it is part of a pattern of spam" ... not if you happen to be browsing SE at work.
    – muru
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 1:56
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    @muru Sorry, I now realize that what I said was ambiguous in a very bad way. I did not mean that one should ever click through to sketchy websites, but that one should click through to the actual question and answer page and look at the context there, as well as the author's user profile in cases that remain hard to decide. I definitely do not recommend following links that one thinks might be spammed, except under unusual circumstances, and even then only with special care. I'll edit to fix this. (Clicking the possible spam link also wouldn't achieve the goal of revealing if it's an audit.) Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 3:14

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