It looks like today there's a huge number of spam questions being created. Other than downvoting/flagging, is there anything useful regular users can do? Are there sysadmins that are hopefully looking at net logs and blocking IPs?

Just asking in case there is!


3 Answers 3


I'm putting this in as another answer even though it's already mentioned:

The most important - most helpful - thing to do when you see spam is to flag it.


Downvoting isn't wrong, but if all you do is downvote, that's not as useful as flagging.


As an admin for Charcoal, the team who develops Smoke Detector as a volunteer effort, I'll pipe in to mention that we can always use more volunteers. This spam wave is not confined to Server Fault, though yesterday's deluge by and large was. A simple way to help is to join the Charcoal HQ chat room and flag the spam as it's being reported there, in near real time based on a battery of regular expressions and other detection techniques.

If you can analyze the archived spam and help develop better detection rules, that's obviously a very valuable sort of contribution. Authorized users are also encouraged to !!/blacklist-number any new phone numbers we don't currently detect, though you need to be an enrolled team member with some amount of participation in the project before you can be granted these privileges. Perhaps see also our guidance at https://charcoal-se.org/ if you are interested in taking part.

(Our general guidance calls for several confirmed spam reports before we blacklist anything, but this particular campaign is far above and beyond anything we have seen before, and so we have relaxed the blacklisting criteria for this particular phone support spam campaign.)

I'm also wondering what could possibly motivate this severely disruptive behavior, and whether anything is being done legally to seek restitution for this serious DoS attack. Perhaps somebody from Stack Exchange could fill us in on whether they are seeking legal remedies and what sort of evidence or coordination would be useful for that. We archive the spam in metasmoke as soon as it's reported, so we may have information which could be useful for any fact finding. (However, we don't have access e.g. to IP addresses; we simply use the features of the existing Stack Exchange API.)

For fun, here's a screen shot of the chart on metasmoke's home page just now. You can clearly see that yesterday's spam levels were quite extraordinary.

metasmoke graph of the last week's spam levels

  • 2
    Oh cool! I'll take a look at this, I may be able to help with regex etc.
    – shearn89
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 9:00
  • 1
    An ambitious project for somebody from the Server Fault community could be to help improve the resilience of metasmoke. I have some idle thoughts around putting it behind Cloudflare to make it more responsive but I'm a complete amateur about these things. (The actual hosting is fortunately handled by someone who is a professional.)
    – tripleee
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 9:04
  • I could definitely try and help with that although it sounds like a larger project! Where's the best place to start talking about that?
    – shearn89
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 9:06
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    The chat room is a good place to at least start discussions. Perhaps pick a time when our North American members are more likely to be around (Thomas is US East coast I believe).
    – tripleee
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 9:08

Thanks for the action you do. You can't do much than that unfortunatly, as the spam attack seem to come from different direction.

To help during that spam attack the dev of SmokeDetector, a bot that help to moderate spam, have changed the spam count risen when it detect a spam. It will help as it take less users flag to get the spam removed by the system.

In the hope it help. In any case the mod team will help as soon as we see some more spam.

The CM team/site employes's staff got notified too.

  • 3
    I'm not here much (mostly active on Ask Ubuntu, instead), but I recently ran out of flags for the day due to me flagging a bunch of spam (apparently there is a limit on the number of spam flags I can raise per day), despite every spam flag I've raised being marked helpful, and having no declined flags. Is there a way the limit of red spam flags per user can be temporarily raised, so long as they have a good helpful/declined flag ratio? It would be nice if I could flag more spam per day, but the limit is preventing that, so could the limit be increased for a while, perhaps a week or two?
    – cocomac
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 3:37
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    By flagging you automatically earn more flags per day: one bonus flag for every ten net helpful flags (helpful flags minus declined flags). Just keep flagging. Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 13:27

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