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You might have noticed we have a bit of a spam wave going on at the moment. The mods are getting it cleaned up. Thank you for all of your work flagging!

Please keep in mind, with spam users, the best thing you can do is flag as spam. You don't need to do a custom flag to send the mods a message - that actually slows the process down. As more and more spam flags come in, posts will be auto-deleted, and ultimately we can get the users' IPs blocked. We can also see the users who are drawing a lot of flags and nuke them, even if their posts have already been auto-deleted.

This wave is a bit unusual in using answers and comments to spam, which I at least haven't seen before. If you see comment spam, you don't need to flag that in addition to a question or answer post from the same user. It will get wiped out when we destroy the user's account. If you do see comment spam hang around, though, go ahead and flag to make sure it does not get missed.

Thanks for helping us keep spammers out and signal-to-noise high!


Edit with further notes: the spammers aren't using consistent IPs, but their patterns are now being detected by Charcoal anti-spam. This seems to result in most spam posts being hit with enough flags to remove them in less than 10 minutes. We'll continue to clean up where needed and destroy users to get them fed into Stack Exchange's own anti-spam system.

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  • And they're back at it again. One new twist I'm seeing now is that sometimes they'll make their initial question/answers not contain explicit spam, wait a few minutes, and then make an edit to reveal their true nature. Still seems easily detectable though as they tend to just either mash on the keyboard a bit or copy/paste a short snippet of text multiple times.
    – Derek F
    Jun 9, 2023 at 12:07

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Good to know about the custom flag slowing things down and not needing to flag the comments in addition to the question/answer.

I was definitely one of the people doing that (flagging the comment + the q/a), thinking that it might help train the system faster (it's all a black box to me), and seeing the comment entirely removed (users with >= 10k rep can see questions after they're deleted) struck me as a more complete removal of their slimy tendrils.

It looks like the spam campaign has effectively been quashed at this point (knocks on wood) either by them giving up or anti-spam becoming trained for it.

One question I do have is: Does it make sense for someone to raise a custom flag to get a spammer's profile scrubbed (or the user burninated outright)?

I know that almost all of the spam users were eventually nuked (which would make flagging for a profile scrub moot), but is that something that you (our mods) do, or does StackExchange do that on its own? I think this one might have been involved and escaped.

Supplementary: Is there any indication that this campaign was automated? or do we think that it was a group of actual humans (which is what I think I'm leaning towards)?

At any rate, the "recently active questions" view was instrumental in being able to respond quickly (and identify spam answers being added to otherwise fine questions). Monitoring the review queues also helped pick up on some attempts to edit questions/answers into spam (and thankfully we didn't have any rubber-stamp approvals of those edits).

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  • They have not given up, but antispam has gotten good enough to catch them within a few minutes. Credit where credit's due, it is Charcoal smashing this one - not SE's built-in antispam.
    – David Reed
    Apr 3, 2023 at 17:32
  • Yes, feel free to raise flags if you see material or users that appear to have been missed by cleanup. SE does not nuke spam users, but I do. I also believe this is a group of humans, primarily not automation.
    – David Reed
    Apr 3, 2023 at 17:33

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