A new user just registered and posted two spam posts, one of which was very long. Both posts started to get downvoted very quickly, and a number of close votes were made.

The questions were live for around 5-10 mins, before they got deleted:

http://serverfault.com/questions/436391/telemarketing-services-in-pakistan
http://serverfault.com/questions/436393/b2b-marketing-services

I made an edit to both posts to remove the bulk of the text, to reduce the chances of anyone clicking on the links to the website in the 'questions' that had been posted.

Editing the post in this way didn't seem the right thing to do, should have I left the question alone and just waited until a moderator deleted it? Thoughts please?

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As a Sub-3k user, I'll just flag, downvote, and move on. Spam really don't hang around for long so I woudln't worry about adding something extra to the edit queue only for it be deleted a few moments later. –  tombull89 Oct 9 '12 at 14:22
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The number of votes on your question and its answers, which is pretty high for Meta posts, should give you an inkling of how we feel about spam, which generally has a proportional response time. –  John Gardeniers Oct 10 '12 at 4:29
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3 Answers 3

up vote 19 down vote accepted

The best thing to do is flag and downvote. Flags don't generally get left hanging around for long and enough of either will cause the post to be hidden/deleted automagically.

6 Spam flags will cause automagic deletion.

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@Bryan Generally we knock out flags within an hour or two on our worst days - blatant spam will usually get buried (by the community or the wrath of the mods) much quicker than that. –  voretaq7 Oct 9 '12 at 14:23
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Edit out whatever the spam links are and flag it as spam.

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Editing out really isn't necessary since new user's links have nofollow, they don't get indexed by search engines. This makes Astroturfing particularly annoying as there's no chance of the spammer accomplishing their goals. –  Chris S Oct 9 '12 at 13:49
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@ChrisS They're still links to things that don't matter, though. At least that's how I look at it. –  MDMarra Oct 9 '12 at 13:50
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@ChrisS They're still links to things that could be dangerous. –  Wesley Oct 9 '12 at 15:59
    
@ChrisS If the user makes a little edit to an experienced user's links, but sneaks in a link to his own sites, is that link nofollowed? –  hexafraction Oct 9 '12 at 23:17
    
@ObsessiveSSOℲ It wouldn't matter much as anyone under 2000 rep has to have their edit approved by a high rep user/moderator before it goes on the live site. –  TylerShads Oct 15 '12 at 18:44
    
@TylerShads I'm noting about a user maliciously "typoing" a link where a high-rep user doesn't notice the "change", in that case, is the link nofollowed? –  hexafraction Oct 15 '12 at 19:08
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Please flag such posts as spam, and downvote them if you wish to get them off the front page faster, but please do not edit them. (This is also the current advice given network-wide.)

Here is why:

First, six spam flags from the community is sufficient to delete a post. But for a community member to know that something is spam, they have to be able to see it. If the post is edited, then they have to view the revision history first, before they can be sure it was spam.

The same is true of moderators: while we can kill the post immediately, we still first have to take the extra step to see what the post was.

Second, the spam flags feed into a variety of new features Stack Exchange has implemented over the past year to control spam network-wide. As does the act of destroying the user account, which a moderator (very often me or Tom O'Connor for stuff posted overnight) will come along and do after the spam has been deleted.

Finally, it's not necessary to worry about search engines. Even though they keep a close eye on our site and have posts indexed within minutes, they will also quickly remove anything that was posted and deleted shortly after. Plus, new users have "nofollow" added to their links, so spammers can't gain any search engine benefit from them for the short time they may be visible.

In short, there's no real need to edit a spam post, and because it causes some inconvenience to others who may want to help get rid of it, it's better not to.

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Michael, could you perhaps clarify that the "don't edit" advice also applies to SEO spam (which I believe is the current recommendation)? –  MadHatter May 25 at 9:00
    
Yes, everything. Sometimes, especially on some of the non-obvious cases, the only way to figure it out is to look at the URL. –  Michael Hampton May 25 at 12:37
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