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So, a question was asked earlier today that was quickly closed. It did raise a question in my mind that I thought I would put forward.

What is there to keep someone who is trying to promote an external site from just creating a (or loads of) sock puppet(s) with which to post puzzles from an external source?

As far as I can tell currently, it basically comes down to either an honor system where we all should be following the rules, or the mods get to keep a super close eye on it. As the issue has become much more prevalent recently, do we, the users, need to keep an eye out to help the mods find everything? I just worry about it becoming much more rampant and wonder if in the end we may need to do as was suggested and go with an "All or Nothing" type of policy.

Thoughts?

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We have you guys. We really do depend on your flags, and not just for this. The last time this happened - which was very recently - flaggers alerted us to the fact that this was an extended issue. Your flags make a huge impact.

Moderators depend on user to watch everything. There's no reasonable way three people can (or should be expected to) read every post and watch every message. It's our job to watch stuff too, and we often do find things on our own, but nearly everything we act on was flagged by a user. It's everyone's community, and it's actually regular users that have the majority of the powerful tools of moderation.

Once we're aware of an issue, moderators have tools designed specifically to find and handle questionable accounts. For obvious reasons, I can't go into details on how these tools work and what they specifically do, but suffice to say they tend to be quite good at their job. Anyone trying to pull this will likely be shut down very quickly.

This combination means it would be awfully difficult to go un-noticed doing this. Frankly, even two posts linking out to the same site on any user's account would be enough to prompt me to probe further - not necessarily take action, but look and see what's up. I do the same thing when I see a new user whose first post links out to an external source.


However, the last line of your question raises a good point, and it's something I've been thinking about as well. My go-to answer is that we should cross this bridge when we come to it; that might be sooner than we think, or it may never become a serious enough problem. If it becomes a problem, we can do something about it reactively.

Still, a close reason specifically for challenge questions that are copied from elsewhere might be warranted right now anyway. It really depends on how you all feel about it - whether these questions are a benefit to us, and if they're not, are they detrimental? They can be a pain to deal with, but to be fair, that's almost definitionally everything mods have to handle anyway ;). This is a discussion for another post, though.

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    $\begingroup$ This, this this. As a diamond mod on another SE site, I cannot stress enough how important flags are to keeping the site clean. It's how in boy scouts how they vow to leave the camp site cleaner than when they found it. If you see some trash, pick it up and throw it out. If you see something wrong on the site, clean it up. Flag it, edit it, down vote it, but don't ignore it. $\endgroup$ – corsiKa Oct 21 '15 at 20:12

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