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We have someone on the loose right now who is making post after post that is grossly off-topic. What is the most helpful action for users to take when we see this? Should we vote to close to hit the threshold of three to close without moderator action? Should we flag the posts instead of voting to close? I can see leaving this as an issue for the moderators to handle through a ban instead of closing posts and egging-on a troll. Should we flag and vote to close?

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    $\begingroup$ (+1 to Sycorax' advice) if the user is a troll, you can raise a flag for mods' attention of the same: I particularly leave a message of the said user's account at the chat along with a flag as mentioned earlier. And yes don't waste your energy in engaging with them as emphasized in the answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2023 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ Do all three: downvote, VTC, & flag. For spam, or such, you can also edit & replace the content with "(Spam content removed, see revision history for original.)" $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2023 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ @User1865345 Also, don't answer questions in the comment section. $\endgroup$
    – pipe
    Jun 3, 2023 at 12:14
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    $\begingroup$ I know @pipe. Assuming you are pointing to my comment as an answer, I respectfully disagree. This was my personal take in light of any trolls. A robust answer has already been provided by Sycorax and I have nothing more to add (if you intended to mean anything different, then sorry for that :-)). $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2023 at 12:22

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Don't respond

It's best not to engage -- writing a comment or answer or otherwise exchanging words -- with a bad actor. They want to get attention, sow discord, and otherwise cause a ruckus. Don't let them.

Do vote, close and flag

Instead, there are several options that can be taken individually or in any combination, as the situation merits.

  • Questions which are simply spam, offensive content, or flagrantly unrelated to anything to do with this forum should be downvoted. Questions with a very negative score are pushed off the front page, depriving the post of attention.
  • Off-topic questions should be closed as off-topic, so every vote is helpful in that regard.
  • If you feel that the questions merit special attention, you can either flag for moderator attention or use one of the standard flags, whichever is most appropriate.

The aggregate effect of these actions may even trigger an automatic suspension of the user. This suspension is a feature of the Stack Exchange software & is a positive step to keep garbage off this site. This will slow down the user until a moderator can look into the mess and take any additional remediation steps. (Diamond moderators are asked not to disclose specific details about how the automated systems work to prevent bad actors from evading them.)

Just as a reminder, the main Meta.SE site is a great resource for topics that are common across all of the SE network, such as problem users, down votes, spam, flags, and suicidal users.

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