A guy named Russ Palmer has created at least three accounts over the past few days, each time answering a single old mold question, recommending that they seek a professional. The first time he included a link which I edited out; it was to a mold company, but I don't remember what. Other times it's just "seek a professional". My guess is he's trying to generate a Google reputation.

How should I respond to this as a reviewer? Should I just start marking any mold-related answer from a new "Russ Palmer" account as spam? (And, I'd be interested in what that first link was to; I can't find it now, I'm guessing because it was deleted.)

| |
  • For future readers, I'd included a link to what I believe is Russ' LinkedIn profile, and Niall C. edited it out, probably to (quite reasonably) avoid boosting Russ' cred. – Daniel Griscom Oct 19 '18 at 15:00
  • I removed it because it's someone else's PII, not yours to share, and it's not relevant to questions about their behavior on Home Improvement. – Niall C. Oct 19 '18 at 15:17
  • 1
    I wasn't objecting to the removal. However, note that the existence (and easy Googling) of a "Russ Palmer" who is promoting his mold-removal business seems pertinent to figuring out what's going on here. Perhaps there's a better way to include that fact? ("Google 'Russ Palmer mold' and you'll find the apparent source of the postings"?) – Daniel Griscom Oct 19 '18 at 17:25

Unless they're including a link and not declaring their affiliation then it's not, by SE's definition, spam.

However, if all the answer is saying is "seek a professional" without giving any background as to why they need a professional then it's a poor quality answer which needs to be down-voted, or in extreme cases flagged as not an answer.

If they do this enough and enough of their answers are down-voted and/or deleted then they'll start hitting the poor quality filters and be unable to post.

| |
  • Do the "poor quality" filters work if he creates a new account each time? – Daniel Griscom Oct 19 '18 at 15:00
  • 1
    @DanielGriscom I think so - it works at the IP level so if we get a lot of poor quality/spam from a single IP that IP gets throttled and then blocked. – ChrisF Oct 19 '18 at 15:02

Prefer not to edit spam posts; it makes it more difficult to see that a post is spam, and provides an opportunity for the spammer to invalidate your flag by rolling back the post. An exception might be if the post is otherwise useful and provides new information (but check for plagiarism in that case and flag the post with a link to the original source if you do find it was plagiarized).

See Should spam posts be edited? and the other posts it links to for more information.

There were three accounts, each with one post. The one with the link was spam so it got nuked. The other two posts read like spam seeds (posts that are innocuous at first glance but are intended to be edited later to include spam links) so I removed them too.

Evaluate new posts individually; it's entirely possible that this person will eventually get the hint from seeing their posts and accounts deleted and start writing useful answers. If they post spam, just flag it as such and move on. If they don't, then we all win!

| |

Having hung around Charcoal for a while (anti-spam project), here's what I would suggest

  1. If he's linking the same site over and over, that's spam. If you catch it happening, let Charcoal know so they can blacklist the domain (link the offending posts so they know why). Charcoal will get a notice if he tries to link it anywhere in the future, regardless of the account
  2. If he's just suggesting a product, AND he discloses his relationship, AND it could answer the question, leave it.
  3. If the link has nothing to do with the answer it's spam. I found one like that today
| |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .