This question's answer has a couple of comments of a rather suspicious nature which left me with the impression that the question's author is trying really hard to drive the discussion towards a certain product. And indeed, a short search revealed that he is seemingly affiliated with the mentioned company. As neither the question nor any answers mention the syscomgroup's stuff directly, I wondered how such cases are handled.

  1. should I just comment upon the question, downvote it and leave it as a memorial?
  2. should I flag it for moderation attention?
  3. should I vote to close it with some obscure reason?

For now I opted for 1. but I am open to suggestions to do otherwise.


As I see, the question has since been

  1. migrated to superuser
  2. closed and deleted there
  3. deleted by Community here
  4. had its poster excommunicated

The points I am wondering about are:

  • why has the deletion been done by "Community"?
  • having the spamming users banned would not give them the opportunity to read the community's comments - would they get the hint nonetheless?
  • should not we leave this question visible and just edit out the links and delete the spammy comments instead? It has some merit at least.

For the sake of completeness here the screenshot of the conversation which is meanwhile marked as "deleted":

deleted answer with comments

I'm inclined to agree. Smells a little spammy to me. –  RobM Mar 28 '13 at 12:14
Fun fact: Gillian Miller isn't even from Miami. Guess where he comes from? (But yeah, definitive spammer here. Also posted spam answers on SU already.) –  slhck Mar 28 '13 at 12:40
Re: keeping the post here - this really doesn't seem "professional sysadmin related" (Yeah the guy's in a work environment, at least theoretically because he has colleagues, but he's asking "How do I as an end user move my mail between formats") -- You might be able to make a case for keeping it on SU but I'm not so keen on it as a SF question (the spam just pushes it over the edge, down the elevator shaft, onto some bullets) –  voretaq7 Mar 28 '13 at 17:45
@slhck: I haven't been to look but Mumbai, the Philippines or China would be my guesses in order ... –  Iain Mar 28 '13 at 18:04
@voretaq7 the reason I asked to deny the migration was simply to make sure we do not dump questions which we would consider "SPAM" onto others. Also, this can easily be turned into a sysadmin-related question by saying "I am a sysadmin with a handful of Outlook Mac users who will be getting bootcamped to Windows at short notice and need their local mail archives converted"- –  the-wabbit Mar 28 '13 at 18:15
@syneticon-dj Oh I'm not saying it's migration worthy (making that assessment would require more time than I want to put into it now), just that as written it's an end-user question, not a sysadmin question (and the work to change it to be "professional sysadmin" would be more than just what you propose - it's not like the questions where you can just cross out "home" and it could easily be a datacenter: the whole premise is "end user", or at least that's how it reads to me) –  voretaq7 Mar 28 '13 at 21:30
@iain: "I haven't been to look but Mumbai, the Philippines or China would be my guesses in order". The guy's grammar suggests that your first guess was spot on: "and the provided me complete guidance about their product". Not just "guidance", but COMPLETE GUIDANCE! The grammar is a dead giveaway. It's a spammer from India. –  Austin ''Danger'' Powers Mar 31 '13 at 4:14

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

should I flag it for moderation attention?

Yes. These are obvious cases of spam, and usually the moderators will find that these users:

  • signed up with fake e-mail addresses
  • don't even come from where they claim they are
  • have several colleagues behind the same IP

The sole purpose of these accounts is to promote their products without proper disclosure and without really trying to help someone here. Sometimes they think they're clever and pretend they're asking real questions. Sometimes their colleagues will be happy to help them out by providing even more fishy answers—but their intentions are still the same.

We've had the same on Super User, literally hundreds of these posts have been deleted now.

why has the closure been done by "Community"?

This happens when a post is deleted through spam flags.

As for educating these users: there's no point. We've been trying that and our suspension messages are quite explicit on how to properly disclose your affiliation, but these people don't learn.

And while the question may have its merits, consider that if someone had a genuine question they could just ask it themselves again.

Thanks for the insights. Yet I think that salvaging the question and leaving it on site would have been the preferable approach in this case. Of course I am strongly biased as it was my effort which is now in a deleted answer, but as I understood Jeff Atwoods posts on Meta.SO editing / salvaging should be preferred over deletion wherever possible. –  the-wabbit Mar 28 '13 at 13:57
Do you have a specific post you're referring to? I'm not aware of any policy of that sort (and even then, Jeff's not in charge anymore :P). I agree salvaging is always an option if there are good intentions in the first place. The post will always be owned by a spammer, and even worse, they can get reputation for the question. More reputation means more privileges, and we did have a spammer who made it quite far on SU, because with more reputation you earn more trust. Don't forget that the review queues now kinda encourage blind upvoting as well. –  slhck Mar 28 '13 at 14:01
That being said, this is your community. If you want to handle spam differently, so be it. You could maybe have the question disassociated from the owner if it's worth keeping—but I'd still say that we should in no way encourage these people to contribute to our sites by keeping their content around. –  slhck Mar 28 '13 at 14:03
The problem here is that you educate one user, meanwhile 10 new clueless users are forming in line. –  vonbrand Mar 29 '13 at 0:28
@slhk I was not able to find anything specifically mentioning this corner case. But his posts on editing like Asking Better Questions seem to be breathing the "anything [...] that’s salvageable, edit it" spirit. I am inclined to stick to that as I could think of a bunch of good reasons to do so. –  the-wabbit Mar 29 '13 at 17:03
@syneticon-dj I see. Well, I stand by my opinion that we shouldn't give spammers a platform to post their crap because that'd make it appear like we didn't care. If the post can be disassociated from the user and cleaned up, that'd probably be the ideal solution. –  slhck Mar 29 '13 at 17:07

I always flag these for the moderators to deal with, using the other category and a message about it being possible spam, and why.

After all, this is the type of things the moderators are there to use their judgement on, and why they get paid the big bucks.

Why didn't anybody tell me about the big bucks? I would have applied for a moderator seat years ago. With campaign staff, public speeches and a donations account. –  the-wabbit Mar 28 '13 at 13:13
@syneticon-dj So there's less competition and more of the big bucks for them, obviously. –  HopelessN00b Mar 28 '13 at 13:26

This particular brand of spammers has been active here last year (flagged a few), we can be sure that they are promoting a kind of PST converter, and that they will return. The warm fuzzy feeling is that they are few (come on - how many other product campaigns have you seen on SF?).


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