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In this question Destroying a Planewalker before its ability is used, this answer https://boardgames.stackexchange.com/a/14618/2474 was deleted as spam. The answer has been replaced with:

This answer was marked as spam or offensive and is therefore not shown - you can see the revision history for details.

I could understand to delete it because of very low quality (though I personally don't agree), but I don't get why it is spam.

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I'm the mod that deleted that answer. I've never noticed this spam text behaviour before, because as Jefromi's test shows, mods don't see the replacement text.

I completely agree that this answer is not spam. In fact, I didn't act on the spam flag. The post triggered a deluge of flags - 4x 'not an answer', 2x 'very low quality', 1x 'spam', and 1x 'invalid flags'. From a moderator point of view, all of these are bundled together, and appear as a single "flagged post" that needs attention.

When a post has multiple flags, I go and look at the full context of the page to decide what to do. Although not spam, I agreed that this was so useless that it could be deleted. A side-effect of taking action by hitting 'delete' is that all the flags are automatically marked as 'helpful', and, presumably because of the presence of the spam flag, the spam-hiding text was introduced.

In other words:

  • This was not deleted because it was spam.
  • I wasn't aware that spam flags changed the view of deleted answers for high-rep users.
  • The auto-marking of flags, while normally a very handy automatic step, in this case did more than was intended.
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    Just a supportive note: I totally understand handling the flags this way, and I've done it too. It's way easier to just let all the flags be marked as helpful, and sometimes even if I do notice that there's a spam/offensive flag mixed in that's not quite right, I'll overlook it because I'm glad that they flagged it. – Cascabel Feb 14 '14 at 23:01
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    Actually, I don't know of a way to dismiss some flags on a post while marking others helpful, so unless you wanted to decline all of them you were kind of stuck. (If my understanding is wrong please correct me.) – Monica Cellio Feb 17 '14 at 23:09
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Speaking as a user here and a mod on another site, I agree - the spam flag was misused on that post, and I've seen it on other deleted posts as well.

The spam flag is meant for actual spam: people trying to advertise. (And the offensive flag is for actually offensive things - hate speech and so on.) That's why the deletion with those flags triggers that replacement text, to keep people from ever even seeing spam links or offensive content. The feature was added in October. It's not for hiding away silly/stupid/pointless/misguided non-answers; it doesn't trigger for the "not an answer" flag.

So that answer? Not an answer. Whoever flagged it as spam was misusing the flag, and the text should not have been replaced.

Unfortunately I think this is something only mods can address. If the answer is undeleted, the replacement text goes away, then it can be deleted again. They can also decline incorrect flags; if the spam flags aren't marked as helpful, this feature won't be triggered.

(If you happen to be a mod, you can find deleted answers by searching for "is:answer deleted:yes" - I think you might find a few more this has happened to. But as I just discovered, mods don't actually see the replacement text. You'll have to just trust that it happens to anything where there's a spam flag showing as helpful in the post history.)

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  • I'm confused. Are you saying the text on this deleted answer has been replaced? I don't see any replacement text. – ire_and_curses Feb 14 '14 at 5:46
  • @ire_and_curses Oh, ick, I think it might show the full text to mods. That's really hard to test by yourself - you need a mod account and a high-rep account :( I've pasted what we see into the question. – Cascabel Feb 14 '14 at 7:00
  • @ire_and_curses I found a few questions on cooking that were flagged as spam and deleted, and I don't see the replacement text. Pretty sure this is something that's visible only to 10k users (2k on beta sites), but not mods. – Cascabel Feb 14 '14 at 7:05
  • @ire_and_curses It sounds like there's a much bigger problem with spam posts on bigger sites, so they're erring on the side of masking out posts unnecessarily. Unfortunately that places the burden on mods to decline spam flags (even if the post is going to be deleted for other reasons) to prevent the post from being masked out, and we can't even see that this is happening. – Cascabel Feb 14 '14 at 7:13
  • Thanks for this investigation. Maybe worth bringing this up on the main meta? – ire_and_curses Feb 14 '14 at 18:59
  • @ire_and_curses Posted there, linked in question comments above. – Cascabel Feb 14 '14 at 20:01

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