I just got banned from chat whilst I was trying to solve a problem that I needed help from the community from. However, the spam that I was kicked for wasn't even something I did!

This is my "spam":

I had posted a link to this spam post, but, as many users (@Braiam, @Seth, @RoliandXor, @Pacificfilis, @syb0rg) can testify, I DON'T spam.

chat transcript showing the removed message

This question was obviously a heads-up-guys-more-spam post, if read in context. Someone who's consistently active on this site/chat would have seen that we all have been battling those spam and I was simply helping get attention to it to get it removed.

Could someone explain why I got kicked for this and possibly remove that ban from me and my history?

EDIT: Possible Serial Downvoting?


as well as one here. Not a huge bunch of Rep, but for someone who is trying to reach 2K rep to help with moderation, all rep is huge. Another one:


I suspect at least one of those could be this.

  • was it just now you got kicked? I bet someone was doing clean up, and mistook our site clean-up efforts.
    – Mateo
    Jan 14, 2014 at 3:40
  • @Mateo Yes, it was just now. Can someone unban me? Jan 14, 2014 at 3:41
  • I linked to it because I was trying to help stop the spamming! Jan 14, 2014 at 3:41
  • Also, will I lose rep over this? Jan 14, 2014 at 3:45
  • No. Only suspended from chat.... only wait 3 mins...
    – Braiam
    Jan 14, 2014 at 3:49
  • Good grief. This a-league sucks Jan 14, 2014 at 3:50
  • Which mod flagged that as spam? Whoever you are, don't you think almost 1.3K rep is a little high for spam? Jan 14, 2014 at 3:52
  • 2
    don't panic: youtube.com/watch?v=ZR6wok7g7do I'm sure things will be fixed ;)
    – user25656
    Jan 14, 2014 at 4:04
  • @vasa1 Oh goodness. XD xD xD British humor making my day. :D Jan 14, 2014 at 4:18
  • 1
    wow, that is last year! someone had to deliberately search for that.
    – Mateo
    Jan 14, 2014 at 5:06
  • Harrumph. Someone downvoted and I am losing rep :( Jan 14, 2014 at 13:41
  • I believe someone may not be happy with me. I think I'm getting Serial Downvoted...could a mod look at my edit? Jan 14, 2014 at 13:42

2 Answers 2


A few things about chat:

  • It sucks that this happened.
  • Any user who can be in chat can flag a message as spam.
  • Every 10K+ user and every moderator from every SE site receives an alert when something is flagged as spam in chat. Any of them can agree or disagree with the flag.
  • It only takes a few of those to have your post "dealt with" as spam. The ban is an automatic side effect of this.

I suspect that somebody maliciously flagged it but the people who actually dealt with the flag (the moderators and 10kers) just saw the expanded link with post extract (onebox) and thought you might be reposting spam.

In the future, I'd suggest breaking the onebox functionality but prefixing the link so that people can see that you're alerting people to spam, not reposting it. Something like this:

Flag this post as spam: http://askubuntu/questions/.../

Or just flag it on the site and let nature take its course. We don't take that long to respond to spam flags organically.

As for the downvotes, thanks to some help directly from SE, we know who it is. We're not sure if they're the same person who submitted the initial flag but either way, you're unbanned now so leave it with us.

Now, has anybody seen my katana?

  • 1
    We don't take that long to respond to spam flags organically. That's actually not really true... If we don't post the links in chat they don't disappear fast at all. (I will say since the new spam attacks more people are paying attention and things have been going somewhat faster, that and answers don't disappear if they get 4 downvotes)
    – Seth
    Jan 14, 2014 at 17:35
  • Seeing as it was oneboxed, it may be possible that someone flagged the chat message believing that it would auto-flag the question instead.
    – kiri
    Jan 14, 2014 at 20:57
  • 2
    You're not even supposed to be able to flag something so old though.. That's what I don't get.
    – Seth
    Jan 14, 2014 at 21:00
  • 1
    @Oli From now on, I am making very clear that it is spam. Eg... SPAM: [LINK](THESPAMLINK) Thanks for the response! Jan 14, 2014 at 21:04

It's important to be careful when posting links to spam in chat.

Most spam on Stack Exchange is link spam, a malicious (or at least unwanted) attempt to get people to click a link.

A link in chat to a link spam post is not, generally speaking, itself spam. But most of them time when a user posts a link to a Stack Exchange post in chat, it is oneboxed--expanded to a box that shows a preview of its text. If that preview contains a live link to an external spam site, then there is actual spam in chat.

The presence of a live link to a spam site in chat--remember, this is different from just a link to a spam post on AU--achieves the same sort of goal for the spammer as their original post. In particular, it survives the deletion of the original spam post, and may continue garnering clicks for the indefinite future. Furthermore, chat logs are indexed by search engines. If you create oneboxed posts that display live spam links, even if your goal was to fight spam, you are propagating spam. Such posts absolutely should be flagged. But they are best not flagged as spam.

Since a user who does this is not usually spamming intentionally, rather than flagging a oneboxed chat post that immortalized an external spam link as spam, the appropriate action is to flag it with a custom moderator flag. This is usually actioned relatively quickly since moderators from any Stack Exchange site can handle custom moderator flags in any SE chat room (even if it's associated with a different site).

As Oli says, the solution for people using chat to coordinate anti-spam efforts is to include other text in your post besides the link, so that it is not oneboxed, when posting links to spam posts.

This is a known issue.

I'm posting this separate answer to raise attention to how this has happened before, that it could be mitigated by changes to the Stack Exchange chat system, and that having your oneboxed spam flagged as spam in chat does not mean anyone is out to get you:

Flagging oneboxed spam in chat that has clickable external links is the wrong thing for someone to have done, because flagging for mod attention is more appropriate and avoids unnecessary punitiveness.

With that said, posting a live link to an external spam site in chat is a more seriously wrong thing to do: the main difference between it and actual spamming is intent. (On the other hand, maybe you did not do that, and I am not saying you did; I didn't see the chat post in question.)

And neither wrong thing is all that serious. In a case where neither a user who inadvertently oneboxes link spam payloads, nor the other user who see and flags their chat posts as spam, is actually attempting to abuse the system, then in the end no major harm has been done.

Finally, note that any user who has immortalized links to external spam sites in chat oneboxes can fix the problem by going back and flagging the posts for moderator attention. (Oneboxed spam that doesn't contain clickable links, on the other hand, it almost certainly not worth bothering moderators to remove--such posts are even occasionally considered of lasting value.)

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