On most sites on the network, it takes six red flags (spam or rude) to delete a question or answer. In December 2016, two sites that were getting a lot of spam had the threshold lowered from six to three. Ours is one of them.

A few things have changed since then:

  1. Our spam levels are no longer through the roof. We get less spam than Meta.SE (which never had a lowered threshold) and we're on par with other sites. We average about 1-2 posts per day that are deleted by red flags.

  2. The Charcoal project has gotten a lot more effective. A team of active users from across the network, combined with software that's very accurate, kills most of the obvious spam within minutes. The borderline stuff still requires more review, which takes time, but most of our recent spam was not borderline, and if it is borderline, it's ok if it hangs around until users can review it.

  3. The other site that had this lowered threshold just went back to the default threshold.

Shall we do likewise? I don't think we need the special exception any more, especially if we're the only site on the network that has it (which can be confusing -- see the question that that link is an answer to).

For the most-obvious spam, handling time wouldn't actually change -- currently Charcoal casts only one flag and requires users to provide the other two. With the higher threshold, Charcoal would cast four flags, requiring users to provide the other two. This is how it works on every other site. The obvious spam will get deleted as quickly as it does now. The borderline spam might take a little longer, but I don't expect it to be excessive.

Everything I've said about spam flags applies to rude flags too, though the vast majority of red-flag deletions here are spam.

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    What would happen if we leave it the way it is? Is there any benefit in increasing it? (Say, how will doing that benefit or help TWP Community?)
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 6:09
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    Is there an issue with the lower threshold (i.e., abuse)?
    – Jay
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 12:39
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    @Jay there's been no abuse. The issue is just that inconsistencies have ripple effects, like the documentation in the help center on flags is wrong here but can't easily be fixed because that content is global. More broadly, special cases can get forgotten sometimes -- if SE changes something about how flags work, we're relying on somebody on the team doing that work to remember that the threshold isn't always six. I think it's just safer to eliminate the exception if we agree we don't need it. Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 14:37
  • @DarkCygnus ^^^ Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 14:37
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    "shall we do likewise? I don't think we need the special exception any more, especially if we're the only site on the network that has it " - makes complete sense to me. I doubt there's all that much unique about TWP. Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 18:13
  • This was marked completed less than 1 day from being posted and after <10% of monthly active users viewed it (generously estimated). Even with a consistent "yes" in the answers, I would have liked to see something that changes the mechanics of the site remain open for discussion for at least several days - this hardly seemed urgent.
    – Jay
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 17:59
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    @Jay Some people will be annoyed that small changes that can easily be tested in the field instead of debated over take too long to effect. Others will be miffed that such things are changed too quickly. This had nigh-unanimous support and was a small change with limited impact that we can easily track and quickly roll back. I would argue that further debate on the topic would have been wasted effort.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 7:30

3 Answers 3


This seems pretty reasonable and it's a quick and easy change so... it's done. I've spoken with Charcoal to ensure that the autoflagging is raised to four as discussed.

Thanks for having this discussion and for letting us restore the entire network to the default!

As I noted on English, if there's a huge increase of blatantly problematic content that isn't handled reasonably quickly, feel free to reach out to us.


Do we still need the lower threshold for spam/rude deletions?

Based on the numbers outlined in your question, I don't believe we need any special attention. Also, considering our community is strong and our moderation team is solid I think we can revert our site back to the normal threshold.

My two cents.


It seems like it's an appropriate time to recalibrate. The trend is pretty clear on spam:

enter image description here enter image description here Data from SEDE

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    And the numbers on "offensive" are low enough that the usual complement of humans can handle them without getting overwhelmed. Thanks for the graphs! Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 17:43
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    Today I was reminded that an image is worth a thousand words... good thing you included the graphs Jay
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 0:24

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