2

All is in the title :).

When seeing a spam, it could seem useful to delete the link, make it non-clickable or hide it to ensure that no user will be tempted to click on it.

The obvious solution would be to edit the spam post, but I have the impression that there is a high number of drawbacks, notably:

  • The automatic StackExchange spambot will be fed with invalid data,
  • The account of the legitimate user having edited the spam may be linked to spamming activity (technically all following flags are made on his own edit, not on the original post),
  • The spammer just have to rollback the edit to cancel all spam flags made on the edit,
  • Other users may feel less concerned and may not feel necessary to flag the post as spam anymore, the problem being already handled by others.

A few references related to the above statements:

So my question: is there any clean way to handle such links, or should we just let go and tough luck if any user clicks on the links while it is available?

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  • 3
    IMO spam flags get handled rather quickly, usually only a few hours at the most, usually much less than that. So I would say that if the link is a malicious link, sure go ahead and remove that, otherwise (just plain commercial junk) just leave it, and let the flags handle it. – AviD Jan 25 '16 at 22:47
5

The clean way to delete links from spam is to ensure that the spam post gets deleted as soon as possible. To do this, flag as spam. Six spam flags (or a single one from a moderator) delete the post, lock it in this deleted state, and teach the Stack Exchange spam filter to reject posts with similar characteristics¹. Do not downvote in addition² — that can draw reviewers' attention away from the post, and thus delay its removal.

Once a spam post is deleted, it will no longer show up anywhere. Even users who can see deleted posts³ only see an indication that there is a spam flag and need to click through a link to see the post's content.

Never edit links out of a spam post. This makes the spam less recognizable and opens a chance that subsequent reviewers will consider the post ham.

You can't have your cake and eat it. Until the post is officially deemed to be spam, it must be recognized as spam. If you were to turn it into ham, it would no longer be spam and thus no longer on the fast track to deletion with extreme prejudice.

¹ The details of how the spam filter works are deliberately kept confidential and change over time.
² The spam flag carries an automatic downvote in itself.
³ Except ♦ moderators, who are considered smart and dexterous enough not to click on spam links.

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  • I didn't realise downvoting manually was unnecessary. Thanks for explaining that! – Philip Rowlands Jan 28 '16 at 10:08
  • Well said. If spam isn't getting cleared quickly enough, the solution isn't to remove links from spam, it's finding a way to clear spam more quickly. Fortunately, from what I can see, that's a hypothetical concern, not an actual problem the site is currently facing. – Pops Jan 28 '16 at 18:47

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