As happens occasionally, we had a pretty obvious SEO spammer here:


@Tetsujin suggested flagging, not VTC. I can absolutely see the merit of flagging, but is it inappropriate to also VTC, in order that the spam has a harder time fulfilling its destiny? Plus, flagging seems to take a variable amount of time, whereas three of us can close pretty quickly.

The other suggestion was that I not butcher the url because it confuses the spam detector. I’m open to this (I was really just trying to mess with their attempts at SEO), but haven’t been able to find an explanation of the mechanics behind this. Anyone have a pointer?

3 Answers 3


Editing spam is a waste of time and can confuse various systems, so it's generally recommended not to do that.

Voting to close is a waste of time too, since 4 (previously 6) spam flags utterly destroy the post without moderator intervention. If you see a spam post that takes to long to get deleted, feel free to mention it in Charcoal HQ. That's where most of the network-wide spam detection and destruction takes place.

  • Does the automated processing apply to spam answers as well as questions? I've seen more than a few answers edited to something like removing spam.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 19 at 15:54
  • 2
    @FreeMan There is no difference between questions and answers in this regard.
    – Mast
    Feb 19 at 16:41
  • Cool, thanks. Good to know
    – FreeMan
    Feb 19 at 16:41

I agree that flagging it as spam is the best option. Voting to close means there's a possibility that the question could be edited into a real question; if it's spam, there's no reason to consider reopening it, so: skip straight to deletion with spam flags.

The downside to editing out a spammy URL is that future viewers won't see an obvious reason to spam-flag the post any more. That could mean the post sits on the site longer, until people realize that the downvotes might mean something, and click on the revision history and ... well, take a lot more time and effort. The revision might cause an additional scan by the Charcoal spam detector, but I don't think there's anything to worry about there; it was either caught in an initial scan or not -- the edited post won't make a difference. (Yes, there's a possibility that "false positive" spam feedback on the edited post could cause the spam detector to remove the spammy user profile from the watch-list, but I personally don't think that's enough to worry about). Long story short: I don't think that editing out spammy URLs is worth anyone's effort. If you want to mess with their SEO, spam-flag the post into oblivion :)


Voting to close often delays dealing with spam.

A lot of times users seem to just follow the close votes instead of appropriately flagging. A lot of users might also skip looking at a closed question because they would consider it "dealt with" thus further reducing the potential spam flags.

This is an issue - simply closing the question leaves the spam up and visible. Enough spam flags will delete the post and automatically apply penalties and restrictions to the account making it harder for them to post more spam.

As for editing spam links, short version is do not. It is often simply not worth it. Unless the link is highly problematic. See also on Meta Stack Exchange: Should spam posts be edited?

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