Inspired by Magisch's recent post.

If a post is spam, in addition to flagging it, should we edit the links so that they are not clickable? I know that the policy is not to delete links unless they link to known malware or adult site, but should we take care to disable them by making them no longer clickable?

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    Why does it matter if they are clickable or not? Aug 29 '16 at 16:33
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    @WorkerDrone Just to keep people from accidentally clicking on them and going to potentially NSF, or malignant sites Aug 29 '16 at 16:49
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    edits to spam posts introduce difficulties in detecting these. I think that's why canonical MSE post referred in an answer to prior question makes exception only for links to "porn, viruses, or disturbing content"
    – gnat
    Aug 29 '16 at 17:29
  • @RichardU wouldn't removing the link altogether would be far more effective? Aug 29 '16 at 17:31
  • @gnat, but that's not what I'm asking. I'm asking if links should be disabled, not deleted, thus the new question. Aug 29 '16 at 17:32
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    @WorkerDrone, in another question, it was stated that it's not a good idea to remove the links because it makes moderation more difficult. Aug 29 '16 at 17:33
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    @RichardU per my reading you ask about editing: "should we edit the links so that they are not clickable?" I believe that anti-spam system works best when posts aren't modified at all - first because this way it's easier to match against prior spam posts and second because edits send wrong signal to detection heuristics, edited posts are generally considered more likely to be salvageable
    – gnat
    Aug 29 '16 at 17:36
  • @gnat. Okay, thanks! That's the answer I was looking for Aug 29 '16 at 17:46

Don't edit spam posts. There are almost no exceptions to that rule - even for truly obscene posts, a flag is much more effective, and much less time consuming, than editing, and will destroy the post quicker.

In general, you shouldn't edit spam posts because, as mentioned in the answers to Magisch's post, it makes moderation more difficult - the spam becomes less apparent, people don't flag it as readily, and it ends up taking more work from more users to clean up properly. There's also the chance of invalidating valid flags, if the post is rolled back, which would reset the spam-deletion counter to zero and require even more work.

It also, as mentioned, messes with spam detection heuristics - while Stack Exchange's native spam blocking system doesn't currently do anything with the bodies of posts (it works with IP addresses), there are a few community run spam detection systems, such as Smoke Detector, which rely almost totally on post bodies. Editing links to be unclickable would result in one post being scanned twice, with different results. Again, that results in more confusion, and more moderation work to clean up.

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