12

A massive spam attack happened and I am only allowed to flag 9 of them.

I didn't see any privileges that lifts this limit. If, at a certain point, this restriction is lifted, then delete this request. However, if the limit is sustained or at least until a user reaches a massive amount of reputation points, how about having another reputation milestone, say something like 100 reputation, that increases the number of times a day you can flag spam?

I figure that everyone flags immediately after a spam question is made. So everyone flags the first 9 spams and then the ones after go unflagged. Of course, this is not a solution to spam. I mean, the fact that these spammers are generating 4k views a post with 20 spam answers to their spam questions seems to indicate an automated process by which they spam.

I don't think the massive number of vigilant StackExchange users can simply combat that. I'm just making a single suggestion which needs to be coupled with a much larger anti-spam strategy.

  • 3
    +1 I ran out of spam flags, too. – Aaron Mar 17 '13 at 3:56
  • Ditto, although a captcha might be even a better idea, a simple 4 digit LEGIBLE captcha of coarse – Meer Borg Mar 17 '13 at 4:01
  • oh yeah, why don't we have captcha's? I mean, right now I think whoever is spamming the fudge out of the site is using some kind of script to post and repost the spam. Having to enter captcha's would make it so that the spammers have to manually do it. – Nil Mar 17 '13 at 4:04
  • 3
    There are all sorts of captchas and rate limiting systems on AU, this is an unusual attack, just keep flagging and I'm sure the StackExchange team will get back to us. – Jorge Castro Mar 17 '13 at 4:12
  • 1
    Unlimited spam flags can and will be abused, unfortunately, IMO. It's a good thing that we all don't have unlimited super powers. Captchas will only make it difficult for the 'normal' posters here. We 'survived' this because people care to do the right thing to keep the place clean. – Kevin Bowen Mar 17 '13 at 10:13
  • @maggotbrain Captchas are used widely these days so the difficulty question is debatable. Also as this is a Linux forum, not a gardening forum our users are a little more tech savvy. I don't see unlimted spam flags as an issue as if someone marks something that is spam repeatedly your revoke that priviledge – Meer Borg Mar 17 '13 at 12:47
  • 1
    Please no captchas! – guntbert Mar 17 '13 at 16:31
  • 3
    Actually, as you raise more and more helpful flags, you will be given more flags to use. So to get more you gotta use the ones you got! – Seth Mar 17 '13 at 19:45
  • 1
    Having attempted to post content to the site using an automated script, I can honestly say that I have no idea why anyone would possibly want to waste that much time and go through that much trouble. (Don't worry - I wasn't up to trouble - I was trying to enable logged-in users to post answers to the site from my mobile interface.) Perhaps they're using something like this. – Nathan Osman Mar 17 '13 at 21:25
  • 1
  • 1
    @GeorgeEdison That's funny... I had a very different experience when I tried. – Seth Mar 24 '13 at 3:08
  • Nil clearly underestimates how many flags all of us can manage >:D – Rinzwind Mar 25 '13 at 8:25
8

To address the feature request itself: This feature should not be implemented.

Unlimited spam flags would be bad, because spam flags are extremely powerful.

  • A spam flag carries an automatic downvote from the system. This doesn't decrease the author's reputation, but will alter other users' perceptions of the post, and these votes combine with actual downvotes to magnify the usual consequences of downvoting. For example, if a question is -2, and you spam flag it and downvote it, it is now at -4 and it does not appear on the main page (until it is upvoted or undownvoted, or the spam flag expires).
  • If a post is flagged as spam three times, it cannot appear on the main page. (This remains in effect until the flags expire.) So three people (or two people or one person, taking sockpuppetry or account-hacking as possibilities) can cause severe harm by spam flagging a large number of posts.

Instead, the number of spam flags you have should, and does, increase with the amount of helpful flagging you've done.

When people don't have enough spam flags to handle all the spam that is coming in, the solution is to contact moderators through other means. As has been said, chat is one way. Moderators are often there. You can ping them. You can even ping moderators who are not there--they will be notified if they've been in the room anytime during the last couple of days. (They may take considerable time to respond to the notification, though.) If you can't find a moderator, you can still likely use chat to find other users with remaining spam flags. Thus, with or without a moderator present, chat can be used to organize spam fighting efforts.

If you can raise neither a moderator nor any user with remaining spam flags in chat, you could use a custom moderator attention flag on one spam post to ask that a moderator come to chat to help with a new wave of spam, and/or give a list of URL's pointing to the profiles of user accounts created to post spam (and optionally, links to some of their spam posts).

One possible alternative spam flagging feature that could be implemented without nearly as much danger as the feature requested here, would be to make spam flags work more like comment flags in the way the number of flags you have at any given moment is determined. When a spam flag is marked as helpful by a moderator, either manually or by deleting the spam-flagged post (but not under any other circumstance, to avoid giving additional spam flags to people who are in the process of abusing them in ways detailed above), the spam flag could be returned to the user. That is, each spam flag marked helpful by a moderator could be used again that same day. Then, users would be able to flag more spam per day.

Of course, that relies on moderators being available at least some of the time. But it would help at least some of the time, even with spam that appears when no moderator is readily available.

15

UPDATE: This is way more than normal, seems like a coordinated attack, I've informed a mod who will likely inform the StackExchange folks, please keep flagging until you can't flag no more!

There's no need to worry, between you and the other amazing community contributors your personal limit doesn't really matter, there's enough people flagging to make spamming Ask Ubuntu a waste of time for most people.

Just do the right thing as often as you can, and when you hit your personal limit, trust that the rest of community has your back! Collectively we're way faster than any spammer. Right now each spam post has been on the site for less than a minute each, just keep rocking!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .