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While cleaning out the spam queue today I noticed a flurry of down-votes on these posts. Just wanted to remind everyone that you only need to flag spam to get a moderator to remove it from the site. No need to down-vote.

The only reason I mention this is that you lose a point of reputation for every down-vote. While a single point isn't that significant, I hate to see people wasting it unnecessarily down-voting these posts which will almost certainly be deleted very shortly anyway.

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    As far as I know, you only lose rep for downvoting answers (questions are free), and you get it back when it's deleted anyway. That said, it probably doesn't achieve much. – Ganesh Sittampalam Apr 26 '15 at 7:54
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    I think those points are returned once the answer is deleted. Downvoting on top of the flag might help "bury" the answer in the short time before it gets handled. Other than that perhaps there's some, ah, added satisfaction in doing it? :) – Chris W. Rea Apr 26 '15 at 13:08
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    Doesn't a spam flag automatically cast a downvote (and a non-rep costing downvote)? (Ie, here)? Or can you tell the difference as a mod? – Joe Apr 27 '15 at 3:55
  • Apologies everyone. My bad. Sorry for any confusion this post caused. – JohnFx Apr 27 '15 at 14:17
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As the comments have already mentioned, downvoting spam really doesn't cost you any rep at all. Downvoting questions never costs rep, and downvoting answers temporarily costs 1 point, but if the answer gets deleted (as it will with spam), you get your point back.

However, it is still recommended that you not downvote spam and simply flag it instead, per this Meta.SE question:

Why shouldn't I downvote spam that I've already flagged?

The reason given is that downvotes hide the spam from the front page, making it less likely that it will get the required number of spam flags to delete it completely without moderator attention. Downvotes don't really hurt the spammer's rep, since they likely have a rep of 1 and the account will be deleted soon anyway.

Having said that, I still question the importance of this recommendation.

The whole point of deleting spam is so that people won't see it. If it gets downvoted enough to hide it from the front page, then fewer people will see it, and that is a good thing.

As soon as it gets one spam flag, more people will be able to see it and flag it in the review queues. There are several review queues it could show up in: First Posts, Close Votes, Low Quality. It'll get its opportunity for more flags. At the very least, a moderator will see it and delete it, and a moderator is required to destroy the spamming account, anyway.

My recommendation is definitely flag any spam you see; that is important. If you happen to downvote it as well, I don't think it matters much.

  • Thanks for the clarification Ben. Apologies if my OP confused anyone. Even after a year as a mod I still have room to learn the finer points of the SE system it seems. – JohnFx Apr 27 '15 at 14:14
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    To me, this implies you should upvote spam to "make it more visible." – Daniel May 4 '15 at 15:57
  • @DanielCook That's something you definitely don't want to do, because that might mess up the automated filters behind the scenes. But I see your point, and that is why I don't really like the recommendation that spam never be downvoted. – Ben Miller May 4 '15 at 16:02
  • @JohnFx only on questions. Downvoting spam answers is fine. But questions fall off the front page after -6 (though if you view "Newest" then it doesn't matter). – enderland May 4 '15 at 19:10
  • @enderland I would argue (in fact, I did argue) that downvoting spam questions is not necessarily bad, either. – Ben Miller May 4 '15 at 19:17

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