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As the title says, my main question is:

What is considered spam and what is not? When should I flag something as spam and when should I not?

I read some meta posts about this, the most relevant one was this: Spam Flag declined.. exactly what *is* the line? But the accepted and only answer to that question mostly deals how to decide whether an answer is spam (when it is not relevant to the OP), but I would like to know how to deal with questions which might be spam.


My minor question:

Yesterday I flagged a question as spam. It was basically a self-promotion of an android developer conference with a link to the conference's website. The flag was declined as "flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention" but the question was actually removed for reasons of moderation.

  • So if it was removed for moderation reasons wasn't it needed to make the moderators aware of that question?
  • Or this particular flag was declined because if the mod accepts that spam flag the user who posted the question will get a huge penalty, and the moderator didn't thought that it was a serious enough offense to deserve that penalty? So he declined the flag but actually removed the content? I would understand this case, since it was a simple advertisement, not like the recent spamwaves, though in my country of residence these kind of advertisements are also considered spamming and are not tolerated. If this was the situation, should I flag such content as the special needs moderator attention flag, or not flag at all?
  • My guess is that some mis-click happened :-) – guntbert Jan 31 '14 at 16:38
  • I was also one who marked that question as "moderator attention needed". Mine was accepted. – Registered User Feb 9 '14 at 12:37
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Spam flags are magical things. Get more than a few and your account starts seizing up. Get more than that and network-level blockers step in. For that reason we try to make sure that only really spammy spam is hitting the spam filter.

The post in question (now deleted - but some users can see it still) was more of community outreach and announcement. It wasn't trying to subvert an otherwise genuine question with a paid link or pushing somebody at a service without any context.

This isn't a black and white thing. There certainly is an element of spam to the post but I agree with the moderator who handled it, it's not the sort of spam we need the system to automatically handle... It's just somebody promoting something in the wrong place... IMO.

I've probably not helped a great deal and the decision you'd have got from another moderator might have been different. Ultimately if you're unsure, use the Other flag option and explain your thought process and if one of us agrees, we'll flag it as spam ourselves and deal with it.

  • Thanks, this answers my minor question, and a little bit of my main question. I agree with that we can say that particular question wasn't the classic spam which usually involves bots and a bunch of the same messages posted repeatedly. It was just a single person promoting his conference. As you say, "It's just somebody promoting something in the wrong place", that is basically the definition of spam. But you are right, it isn't black and white, there are differences between spam and spam. That is why I asked this question, to know when to flag as such and when to not. – falconer Jan 31 '14 at 18:12

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