I would like to invite active GD users to help combat spam on this site. Towards that end, I have created a dedicated chat room called The Spam Blot where I have been posting links to recent spam.
My concrete question for you here and now is
Can we enable automated Smoke Detector reports in this dedicated room?
I'll add some background below, but the TL;DR is
- I'd like to raise awareness by documenting what is done about spam; and
- I'd like to improve coordination between GD and Charcoal HQ.
The following is optional background; think of it as sidebars, only below the text instead of next to it.
What Can Users Do About Spam?
We generally see that spam posts receive a good number of downvotes before it is deleted. Just to be explicit, the best way to react to spam is to flag it as spam (next to the "share" and "edit" links below a post, there is a "flag" link where the first option is "Spam"). A post which accrues a significant number of spam flags will be deleted from the site, and the network admins will receive a notification. (Details about the inner workings are available from this Meta.SE post: What are the “spam” and “rude or abusive” (offensive) flags, and how do they work?)
The Charcoal HQ chat room is a stackexchange.com network-wide volunteer effort for flagging spam from the network's member sites.
The Stack Exchange admins already block a significant amount of spam, but every once in a while, spam still slips through. By coordinating and automating flagging, we hope to help improve the overall experience for regular users who don't want their visits on our sites to be disrupted by unwelcome, off-topic, and potentially disturbing spam posts.
The following recently featured meta.SE post describes the system in more detail: Can a machine be taught to flag spam automatically?
So just to reiterate, the bulk of spam is fended off quietly behind the scenes by the Stack Exchange personnel. Charcoal is completely based on volunteer users who teamed up to take care of what little still slips through.
What's Smoke Detector?
Smoke Detector is the software which identifies probable spam and alerts the Charcoal chat room when it finds some.
Many sites in the Stack Exchange network already have dedicated rooms for this, or have requested Smoke Detector reports to be posted to their regular chat room.
What Kind of Numbers are We Talking About?
Recently, Graphic Design has received on the order of half a dozen to a dozen identified spam posts per day (typically, less on weekends). The vast majority of these spam posts are from a single spam operation, by the looks of it. The (manual, for now) posts in the Spam Blot room should provide you with details if you want to look at them in more detail.
On average, recent spam on GD that was registered by Smoke Detector was deleted within a few minutes.
So Just Get On With It, Then?
The intent is, on one hand, to collect spam notices for those who want to see what's happening in this field (and maybe flag spam which otherwise has not yet received enough flags), and on the other, to improve feedback between the site's moderators and the network-wide anti-spam volunteer squad from Charcoal HQ.
While discussing this in the regular GD chat room The Ink Spot I discovered that our efforts to remove spam are obscuring spam accounts from the site's moderators. They encouraged me to post here for feedback from the GD community before proceeding to enable automatic spam notices in the chat room I created.