Recently a new user's account had to be deleted after he spammed the site three times in a few minutes. Do we have measures to avoid that he creates a new account and repeats this? Like for instance a blacklist of sites you can't link to in questions or answer?

I just realized that blacklisting the complete site may give problems with sites like http://www.tinyurl.com.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ For reference (10k only), the deleted spam answers are here, here, and here. The user account was killed with fire, there's nothing left. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Jun 27 '11 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kevin - you know, that should be comforting, but it struck me that the hindu also cremate their dead, and they believe in reincarnation... :-) \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jun 27 '11 at 16:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ The specific action I used was 'destroy', which "Deletes this user account and deletes all content they own.", which is a 30-step process that completely removes their identity. There's really nothing left unless it's on a backup tape. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Jun 27 '11 at 16:26

Jeff's answer covers the tools the engines give us fairly well. Here's how to use them:

Just flag the posts as spam, and downvote.

If enough users flag as spam ('enough' == 5 for now), a temporary block happens automatically. There were 7 flags across the three answers and user account itself when I logged in a couple hours after it happened. When a mod logs in, of course, we can take immediate and permanent action.

In this case, I don't think we need to bother blacklisting. This was the first time I've ever seen spam for this particular site. If a new account is created to spam the same site, we'll put it on a blacklist.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. I already wondered what the "locked by community" meant. That's clear now. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jun 27 '11 at 20:45

Let's see:

  • se 2.0 sites do not implement the question rate limiter (6 Qs per day per user, 50 Qs per month per user). Doubt these were questions; spam is almost always in the form of answers.

  • the standard rate limiters of 2 minutes per answer, 5 minutes per question are still in place. You can't post questions or answers faster than that, at least, not from the same IP address or account.

  • there is auto-flagging of duplicate answers, but we do not block them -- we do block duplicate questions. That's assuming the user had similar enough text posted for each answer for us to detect it.

  • of course we can blacklist URLs but most spammers have URLs so disposable that by the time we blacklist them, they'll have tossed it for another throwaway URL. (but if you see repeatable patterns, let us know.)

  • for new users, if a LOT of your posts are flagged, deleted, downvoted, etc you will be auto-blocked from answering (or asking) any more. This happens fairly rapidly, but takes action from the community and mods to kick in.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Jeff. In this case they weren't duplicate answers. Each answer was one sentence vaguely related to the question, but having the incriminating (and of course unrelated) link attached to the keyword of the sentence. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jun 27 '11 at 8:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ This user had -7, -6, and -5 votes on all their answers, with 7 total flags. What are the requirements for the auto-block to kick in? Would you consider reducing these requirements on SE 2.0 sites? That represents an overwhelming community response on this site. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Vermeer Jun 27 '11 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @kevin it does work, but that voting has to happen during the time the user is posting. If it's after the fact, they are blocked after they are long gone, which is what I suspect happened here. Consider that a user can post, at 2 mins per answer, 20 answers in 40 minutes. How many downvotes will that get in that timeframe here? \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Atwood Jun 27 '11 at 20:57

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