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I've noticed that in the past week or so, numerous questions pop up that are spam. I flagged around 30 of them so far (or more) but they keep popping up in the Questions section, shadowing proper questions users have that are indeed related to Academia. Is there a way to solve this problem?

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    I find it amusing that they think academics are the best marketplace for loansharks and pimps. Surely there is a better target... :-) Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 7:35
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    @BrianTompsett-汤莱恩 I don't know, given the state of academic pay in the UK, I imagine they could be a good target....
    – user438383
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 10:57
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    They are getting up-votes now! Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 11:11
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    @Brian at least one of them now has 200+ rep so they they've got the 101 association bonus for all sites and could start upvoting and post spam comments on all SE sites
    – PeterJ
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 11:43
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    @BrianTompsett-汤莱恩 Academia StackExchange is so flooded by spam that it's almost unusable by now :/
    – cconsta1
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 11:43
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    (Thinking like an academic). Hmm. Perhaps there is a paper on this? Collect the data. Analyse. Build a map. Can I match it to Earth Sat images...? Internet traffic analysis... Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 11:55
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    @BrianTompsett-汤莱恩 they are probably upvoting each other
    – Sursula
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 13:14

3 Answers 3

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This is a consequence of the moderation strike, and of the community-built and community-run spam detection tool SmokeDetector having shut down as part of the strike. To quote from @cocomac on the main meta:

We have extremely good community spam protection. Or, we used to. Normally, there’s a number of tools used to fight spam and get it flagged very quickly 24/7. This means most spam gets deleted extremely quickly.

A number of users (myself included) object to recent actions by SE and are now on strike. As such, when the subset of the community dedicated to fighting spam stops fighting spam, there will be more spam visible. That is ... kinda the point. People notice when less moderation means more garbage (spam). Notably, the strike includes the primary system used for spam fighting.

The question of whether StackExchange itself should improve its own anti-spam system was raised here. In the meantime, users can either flag the spam posts, or leave them alone and hope the presence of spam serves as motivation for StackExchange to proceed with negotiations. Some progress has been made.

I would also suggest users refrain from editing out the spam in spam posts. This is not particularly productive, and can even slow down future conscientious flaggers; see Should spam posts be edited? for more details.

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    Additionally, we Academia mods are usually VERY quick to destroy spammers that slip through SmokeDetector (posts deleted and accounts destroyed within minutes), which usually discourages them. With the strike, some posts are staying up for hours, and accounts are not being destroyed.
    – cag51 Mod
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 11:13
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    Dealing with the spam by flagging (my only option) is getting burdensome for your GOAT. I'll also guess that it is an AI generating this stuff, which should send its own message about policies.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 22:48
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    It also helps to both flag as spam and downvote (which will give it together two downvotes) to make it invisible. Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 6:07
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    I'm out of flags for the day. :/
    – shoover
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 18:08
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    FYI, we got a note from staff a few hours ago that says: "the worst has [probably] passed." Not sure what that means technically, but good news I hope.
    – cag51 Mod
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 19:48
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    @cag51 Today I used up my quota in less than an hour, a miserable 12 flags. Is there a way for users who have earned >20K in three or more sites to have that number increased? I didn't realize that I had such a tiny number of flags available so I made the mistake of flagging some spam answers as well
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 5:55
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    @Mari-LouA The more you flag, the more quota you have. Just keep flagging when you see spams. My limit is 100 spam flags. That's because I have >900 helpful spam flags.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 12:34
  • @Nobody I think the quota is based on the size of the rep. I have only 332 whereas you have >13k
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 12:49
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    There's no way I can reach 200 spam flags in less than 20 days. Users who have raised hundreds (even thousands) of helpful flags on different sites, should be trusted to use up to 50 or 100 flags responsibly on sites where they are less active.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 13:05
  • @Mari-LouA I kinda agree. I just hope the strike will be over soon. It doesn't look like so to me, though.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 13:16
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    @Mari-LouA The flag limit starts out as 10, and is raised by 1 bonus flag for every 10 net helpful reports, and by 1 bonus flag for every 2,000 reputation.
    – Anyon
    Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 14:42
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    Agree that users trusted on certain sites should be trusted network-wide when it comes to spam. Not something we as academia mods can fix, though.
    – cag51 Mod
    Commented Jul 10, 2023 at 15:33
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Not an answer but a bump.

I guess some desperate academics must be taking loans from them, because they have come back. Obviously there are lucrative customers among us somewhere, because otherwise why keep going in this backwater.... (rhetorical).

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I guess an effective way to deal with them is to upvote them. It will force SE to filter them out and because of transparency SE should declare what tools they are using to filter them out.

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    During a firefighter's strike, is the solution to outbreaks of arson to pour gasoline on the fire to prove a point?
    – Yemon Choi
    Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 19:37
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    @YemonChoi a) I would not define SE life-emergency service; b) if the firefighters are protecting the fancy silk depot of the king, and the king is an absolut(ist) egoist, why not?
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 11:58

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