This morning I moderated a couple of answers which had spam flags on them. They weren't spam. These particular answers were not answers, and should have been flagged as 'not an answer'. Ergo this post.

Spam is very specific thing, and spam flags should only be used on spam. Wikipedia offers a thorough description. Meta.StackOverflow offers a more specific to this site description:

What is Spam?

Spam is Unsolicited Commercial Advertisement. You've all seen it. Spam doesn't mean "I don't like the answer" or "this answer is noise."

What is the effect of the Spam flag?

This type of flag receives an extremely high priority in the moderation queue. It should be used only when the content of the post you are flagging meets the criteria defined below, or it will likely be declined.

The spam flag is designed to eliminate posts with no relevant content and to penalize the authors

I highly recommend reading that second link above, as it thoroughly-describes when and why things should be flagged as spam.

  • Shouldn't this be split up into a Q and an A part?
    – bitmask
    Feb 3, 2013 at 23:11

1 Answer 1


I'm one of the offenders here. I would like to point out that I wasn't abusing this feature, the user posted a rambling answer that did not answer the question or any other question, and he ended it with a link to what Keen later determined to be a fan website. When I see links, I don't usually investigate, I mark it as spam (rather than not an answer).

I feel that much of the time this is correct (most such are spam), but I'll be a little more careful and investigate the links properly before assuming that it is so.

In my defense, it needed to be flagged anyway. The only difference would have been the nature of the flag, not the flag itself.

Unless the moderators object, I will continue to mark them as spam if the linked website seems designed to drive traffic for ad view money.

  • 11
    This post is mainly to make sure people are flagging actual spam with spam flags, and nothing else gets those flags. Spam flags behave as a sort of nuclear option, so being a little conservative in their use is the optimal policy. A post advertising buying gold for WoW? Spam. A half-decent answer that also links to the poster's fansite? Ehhh.
    – user1027
    Feb 1, 2013 at 19:29
  • If the link had been to Wikipedia or IMDB, or any other website like that, I would have assumed it was an answer... just a poor one. I might even have tried to edit to salvage. But when I see unknown websites like that, I assume that it's spam... either selling something, or driving traffic for money. It was a bad assumption, I'll be more careful.
    – John O
    Feb 1, 2013 at 19:32
  • 3
    We do have the option to skip editing or reviewing a post if we're not familiar with the subject or fandom. I skip a lot of edits because I simply can't vet them. As well, with links and outside websites, I can't discern whether a site is the best or the worst just by hovering over the link to read the URL or glancing at the homepage. I admit when I think of spam, I think of clicking a link and having 50 windows pop open, barraging me shady advertisements. But, I also see Keen's point about posts that want to sell you WoW gold. This comment isn't pointed at you, John. I'm more just musing. Feb 1, 2013 at 21:56
  • @aSlytherin - "50 windows pop open, barraging me shady advertisements" - Hey, don't knock shade! Wait till it's August and 95 degrees F out there! Feb 1, 2013 at 22:31
  • 1
    Ba-dump tissssh, @DVK.
    – John O
    Feb 2, 2013 at 6:53

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