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Recently we've been hit by a wave of extremely low-quality questions, mostly from unregistered accounts. A few examples (all deleted):

There (a lot of) others, I've highlighted only ones from removed accounts. Those accounts where all unregistered, obvious throwaways, and one way or another the IP trail lead back to a known and exceptionally persistent network-wide troll. I've already contacted Stack Exchange to take a closer look at the remaining accounts.

One thing we could do is stop accepting questions from unregistered accounts. It's not a great option, but it will add a little bit of friction for our troll. The downside is, of course, that we may miss some legitimate questions from unregistered accounts, like these:

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    Being far from a fan of the quality of posts from unregistered accounts, this creates a barrier. And if this goes really back to one troll and his obsession, why ban all others? The posts you link are quite similar indeed. With that level of obsession, (half-)registering would be only a small barrier for one troll who wants to get in, but a big entry barrier for all fresh noobs. Therefore, how many bad ones were there in total, how many from troll0, how many false positives? Can you quantify for, say, last 12 months? – LаngLаngС Oct 22 at 18:04
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    @LangLangC Unfortunately deleted posts aren't exposed in the data explorer. I'll see if I can get someone from SE to give us some actual data. – yannis Oct 22 at 23:53
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    It might be probably useful to check on other sites that require registration for asking question, whether this is has some kind of impact. I remember discussion about this on Mathematics Meta: Registration to ask a question – has it made a difference? I consider very likely that something similar was discussed also on other sites where this was introduced. (But it might take some time to find discussions about this.) – Martin Oct 23 at 5:25
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    Regarding SEDE, I'll just mention that if you have some query, CMs are able to run them on the data which includes deleted posts. Again, I will include as an example this post from the site I use most often: How much did “advice for first-time askers” help? There we asked for help on getting data, we get some data on that from one of the CMs. (Similar post on Server Fault: Should folks have to click through an interstitial page to ask questions on Server Fault?) – Martin Oct 23 at 5:29
  • Tangentially related: politics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4021/… – GGMG-he-him Oct 23 at 16:40
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    Also related: Talked with the Metasmoke folks, and they added "Fascist" and "Fascism" to their search filters: metasmoke.erwaysoftware.com/post/204146. That will at least help with this specific troll. – GGMG-he-him Oct 23 at 16:47
  • @GGMG-he-him: you may need to add "racism" to that skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/45272/… – Fizz Oct 23 at 23:15
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    @Fizz While trollish, adding just all the words this troll used is not a sane approach for auto-filters! Adding just the word "racism" to the list is surely increasing the false positive counter quite a bit. Such a primitive filter will do nothing more than block legitimate Qs and increase the amount of circumvention, among them dog whistling. – LаngLаngС Oct 24 at 1:03
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    Thank you @GGMG-he-him. – yannis Oct 24 at 1:06
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I've done this temporarily. What that means depends on how long it takes. I'll probably re-enable anonymous participation when I'm confident that we've got this situation under control.

  • How is it decided if the situation is under control? – GGMG-he-him Nov 7 at 21:35
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    I'll defer to yannis's judgement on that. – Shog9 Nov 7 at 23:19
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Unless this takes a lot of work on the part of the moderators, I'd leave it as is. While in beta we have many users that can vote to close.

Furthermore, once a troll is known it seems a few down votes does the trick when the question is asked by a known troll, at least I think that's what happened here.

As of yet, I don't think banning questions from unregistered accounts weighs up to the benefits some of these questions may have to the site.


To other users, I would stress that down voting questions costs no rep and if questions are down voted to a sufficient extent they will be removed from the front page. So this can be a quick remedy to minimize the impact of low-quality questions.

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I'm not terribly convinced that stopping unregistered accounts has helped much. The problem user is now posting from registered new accounts

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I think the same person was in control of an older registered account with 40 or so reputation, account which has now been deleted, asking "Will Fascism win in the end?"

And a few more registered accounts I suspect might be the same person, with their deleted questions: What if Stalin genocided nonwhites?, Will 3d printed assault drones herald the annihlation of Cops? (self-tagged "antisemtism" for some reason), Is Holocaust denial serious. Some had questions posted on other stacks as well.

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    What do you need to make a new account? Does it need a unique email address that hasn't been used for an earlier SE account? Obviously nothing is perfect, but any barriers that help balance the amount of effort required to post vs close a question will help us – divibisan Nov 8 at 17:40
  • @divibisan: yes, I think an email address suffices to create a registered account (and/or a FB or google account, which is probably a bit more involved to create). – Fizz Nov 27 at 11:28

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