Is a "question" from a bot or a troll.

Do we ever bypass "vote to close" and use the flag function if a Q is complete nonsense like this? Or is close -> off-topic -> "other reason" still the preferred approach?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Don't be afraid to flag if you think it needs attention. whuber's list is correct in terms of importance; if it's very bad/spammy the higher up ones are things you want to do -- but some of the lower items in whuber's list can also be achieved if you do them before some of the ones above them. e.g. if you want to downvote to reduce the chance this account can post anything like that again, and you want to delete this post, first downvote, then vote to delete (because if it would be deleted by adding your vote, you can't then downvote). $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Dec 10 '18 at 22:33

In order of priority:

  1. Flag the post for moderator attention.

  2. Downvote the post. (As Glen_b helpfully notes in a comment, if you plan to do this, do it first, because if yours is the deciding vote to delete, you won't be able to downvote afterwards.)

  3. If you have enough reputation, vote to delete the post.

  4. If you have enough reputation, vote to close it.

  5. If you have the privileges to edit posts and the post is particularly obnoxious, consider editing out the offensive portions in the meantime.

Some explanation:

re (1): Moderators respond to the flag by tracking any other "contributions" made by the same individual and dealing with them all at once if necessary.

re (2): When a new user's first few posts are extensively downvoted, that user is automatically blocked from posting more material.

re (3): Posts can be both closed and deleted. Deletion makes them invisible to most users and so is preferred.

re (5): It's best not to edit a post unless it's obnoxious, because retaining the original text makes it easier for moderators to review it.

When a mod is present (which we usually are 24/7 due to our worldwide distribution) then the response to your flag is often swift. On this site, moderators typically have responded within minutes, if not within seconds, to such material.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for making this site less noisy! $\endgroup$ – Neil G Dec 14 '18 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ What is '24/7'? 24 hours per 7 days/week? Wow, nice! $\endgroup$ – Andre Silva Jan 8 at 23:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Andre That's correct. Of course we don't promise this, but my experience--and some site statistics made available to moderators--suggest this is usually the case. For instance, the site tells me that our average time to respond to user flags during the last quarter of a year was measured in minutes. (I won't state how many minutes exactly, because I want to limit moderation information that could be picked up by any would-be spammers). I monitor this average (over daily, weekly, and quarterly windows) and find it's pretty stable. $\endgroup$ – whuber Jan 9 at 0:03

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