# Flagging spam user

I just noticed an "Autobiographer" badge awarded to this unusually named user: https://mathoverflow.net/users/117744 . I immediately moved to flag this obviously spam account, only to realise that you could only flag questions, not users. Is it the community perspective that such accounts, with spam names, are OK as long as they do not engage in spam activity? If not, what is the appropriate thing to do?

EDIT: @GerryMyerson points out that the account has been deleted. I am reluctant to give the name of the account here, but it was advertising car insurance.

• On Stack Overflow, the admin response was "nah, they're harmless as long as they don't post anything." The SEO effect should be minimal (the HTML has all the necessary nofollow etc tags) even though the admins here could IMHO reasonably take a different stance. Nov 27, 2017 at 13:26
• This older posts seems - to some extent - related: Companies accounts allowed? Nov 27, 2017 at 15:39
• The link now leads to a 404. Nov 27, 2017 at 21:51
• Related on Meta.SE: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/303746/… Nov 28, 2017 at 7:05

## 3 Answers

I'm happy to hear what the community thinks, but my instinctual reaction would be to destroy it. The account has no business here and the page is meanwhile free billboard space: not something I think should be condoned.

• I'd say the problem would mostly vanish if user accounts would be publicly visible only if they have made at least one post which is not deleted.
– Stefan Kohl Mod
Nov 27, 2017 at 14:53
• Intriguing suggestion, Stefan.
– Todd Trimble Mod
Nov 27, 2017 at 14:58
• @StefanKohl meta.stackexchange.com/a/303751/295232 Nov 27, 2017 at 16:29
• On PO we get this kind of "About" spam accounts too, sometimes containing very nasty and disgusting links, and we decided to destroy them on first sight. Maybe a dedicated thread (similar to the request for reopen votes) for reporting such spam accounts (one per answer) would be useful here? The corresponding answers could then be marked by the keyword [DESTROYED] or something like that as soon as a moderator has dealt with it. Nov 27, 2017 at 16:31
• the list of spammy autobiography badges grows every hour (two dozen new ones just from today), it seems some sort of corrective action is needed: mathoverflow.net/help/badges/9/autobiographer Dec 1, 2017 at 11:03
• @CarloBeenakker Many thanks. I've just destroyed a whole bunch of obviously spam accounts. The majority of recently awarded autobiographer badges that were on page 1 (of 328 or so) were in fact for Car Insurance agencies and the like, but there were only a few on page 2. So I wonder if the spate is pretty recent in nature.
– Todd Trimble Mod
Dec 1, 2017 at 13:54

There are now lots of similarly named accounts (having to do with car insurance) showing up in Recent Badges. I think they are effectively spamming in the Recent Badges space.

Going back further, there is another set having to do with dentists in Dubai...

I advocate for immediate destruction of such clusters of accounts, and broader network-level blocks as needed.

I would also suggest that perhaps recently created accounts should not show up in Recent Badges. (Actually I don't really see the point of having this section in the first place, but then again I also don't really see the point of having badges in the first place.)

There is no clearly defined networkwide policy on this topic, because the rules on self-promotion only apply to posts, not user profiles. Your ‘About me’ is your own space, and as long as it’s not offensive to others, you can put there whatever you want.

That said, it’s clear that this user is up to no good. I'm not sure if the ♦ moderators want to spend time destroying these accounts (edit, see comment: they do). The generally accepted way of drawing attention to a user profile without posts is to custom flag one of your own posts, including a link to the profile.

• Destroying a spam account takes only a few seconds, so it's not a big deal (to me, anyway) if this happens only occasionally.
– Todd Trimble Mod
Nov 27, 2017 at 15:01
• Ah, you're lucky. On Ask Different, we get like a dozen spammers per day. Nov 27, 2017 at 18:38
• Without meaning to doubt Glorfindel, only to make sure that the post reflects community consensus, could someone else confirm that the correct action is to custom-flag one of my own posts? Nov 27, 2017 at 21:57
• (I also mention, in case the hair-fine distinction is worth it, that my objection was not to what was on the "About me" page, but to the account name itself, which had a specific company's name embedded in it.) Nov 27, 2017 at 21:57
• @LSpice Re: "can someone else confirm...". There is a meta.SE post linked in the answer. Here is another one related to your question: How should I flag a user account if it has no posts to flag? Nov 28, 2017 at 1:22
• @LSpice There are also MO General Chat and MO Editors chat channels, and I frequently see the moderators talking in there. If you flag them in there, they will receive notifications, I believe. Nov 28, 2017 at 20:44
• @HarryGindi By "flag" do you mean ping? Flags in chat are handled entirely differently from flags on the main site. (In particular, they don't go to MO mods even if the room is associated with MO.) I suppose the room you are have in mind are MathOverrflow and MO editors' lounge. Nov 29, 2017 at 14:11
• @MartinSleziak Yes, sorry. Nov 29, 2017 at 14:23