No way for unprivileged users to report (probable) spam or abusive content within Launchpad

Bug #45419 reported by Omnifarious on 2006-05-18
This bug affects 72 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Launchpad itself

Bug Description


Spam of various sorts can be handled by Launchpad administrators and the community help rotation role that Launchpad developers participate in. However end users have to report these spam objects over IRC or email. This makes it awkward for new users or users unaware of the process to actually address the spam, and can even lead to more spam where folk reply to the conversation in a bug / list etc saying that the previous message is spam: if the previous message is quoted this can perpetuate the spammers link / message.

In the past these have included: spam projects (bug 151504, e.g. bug 32990), dummy branches (bug 177980), spam bug reports (e.g. bug 69942), incoherent/disruptive bug comments (bug 220535), spam bug attachments, offensive translations (e.g. bug 153962), and off-topic answers to questions (bug 85358). Future examples might include malware PPA packages, defamatory text, or copyright or trademark violations.

Current status

Spam should be reported by opening a ticket on

Proposed solution

Allow unprivileged users to flag that they consider a given object to be spam / abusive content.

Provide folk responsible for handling spam/abusive content a work queue where they can review flagged objects and decide:
 - definitely not spam (takes it out of the queue forever)
 - spam (hide or even delete the object)
 - link to other objects updated or created by the same account (bug 520413)
 - suspend the account if appropriate (bug 122170)

Brad Bollenbach (bradb) wrote :

Thank you for your bug report.

You mention projects, but exactly what kind of spam are you referring to?

Bogus projects? Products? Bug comments? Support tickets?

Changed in launchpad:
status: Unconfirmed → Needs Info
Omnifarious (omnifarious) wrote :

I refer you to bug #32990

If that project could've been added then any random project could. I suppose a bug report could be filed each and every time someone notices a project like that, but IMHO, the process path for handling spam should be a lot shorter and speedier.

Changed in launchpad:
status: Needs Info → Confirmed
Luca Falavigna (dktrkranz) wrote :

See also bug #85358.

description: updated

Yep I'm having the same problem:

description: updated
Sitsofe Wheeler (sitsofe) wrote :

(For other who come across this bug report)

At the time of writing (27 September 2007) the current protocol for dealing with spam comments is to create a new question on with [spamreport] somewhere in the subject and to include a link to the spammy comment so that an administrator can review it.

Sitsofe Wheeler (sitsofe) wrote :

(a better link for the above is )

description: updated
Joey Stanford (joey) wrote :

Raising to High based on Launchpad Team meeting on 2008-03-20

Changed in launchpad:
importance: Medium → High
Joey Stanford (joey) wrote :

A suggestion was made today that we hide, rather than delete, the spam comments. It would make it easier to reverse the situation should someone complain. It also solves the problem of comment index moving when removing a comment

description: updated
description: updated
Martin Pool (mbp) wrote :

A possible cheap fix:

Add a link to the page footer titled "report inappropriate content" that logs the page URL to something that can be seen by Launchpad developers. If deletion or other action is needed it can be taken in the usual way but at least there will be a straightforward way for users to report it.

description: updated
Matt Zimmerman (mdz) wrote :

I'd like to add spam attachments to the list of considerations, as I just dealt with one of these in bug 57153

Diogo Matsubara (matsubara) wrote :

Would this mechanism to deal with spam be used by the wikis as well?

Matthew Paul Thomas (mpt) wrote :

Please don't report individual spam instances in this bug report. The current way to report spam is as a "question" <>.

Diogo, if Launchpad gets a built-in wiki, certainly it should hook in to this system. But I don't think it's feasible for Launchpad to include code to revert changes in *external* wikis, comments in external Weblogs, posts in external forums, reviews in external software catalogues, etc etc just because those services happen to use Launchpad for authentication.

sorry for reporting here.
I totally forgot that now we use answers.
I've reported on

description: updated
Przemek K. (azrael) wrote :

Maybe we could add an ability to filter comments by user's karma? New users that have just signed up just for bug flamewars would have low karma and then their comments could be filtered in the gui (not shown on demand, NOT blocked or deleted). This could look like ie. Slashdot's comment filters.

Endolith (endolith) wrote :

It would be better if you could rate comments both up *and* down. Comments with a lot of negative votes are hidden by default, and comments with lots of positive votes are highlighted. Then it's easy for a visitor to skim through the comments and find the ones that are actually helpful towards resolving the problem, while ignoring the ones that maybe had advice that was later proven bad, and not seeing at all the ones that are just "yes i would like this too" spam or "bug report comments are not for advocacy spam" spam.

So, for instance, comments 3,4, 13, 14, 16 in this thread would be hidden by default. ;)

Martin Pool (mbp) wrote :

Przemyslaw, Endolith: distinguishing the most useful comments is an interesting problem, and there are other bugs about it, but I think it's a different case from outright spam, which we just want to delete.

To follow on from #10: people designing this should look at Craigslist which does this very well:

 * There's no confirmation and the person is not required to give a reason: they just press the button and it's done. It's very cheap so people will just do it without fearing distraction from their regular flow. They say if you flag the wrong thing, don't worry, it will be caught in review.

 * Using the same system across all pages - projects, comments, branches, ... is good

 * Just flagging as "a problem" is better than having the user specifically distinguish whether it's spam, abuse, trash, non-free software, ... -- it will be obvious to the reviewer

 * You need a system that will scale to many small data points, with many dupes. Having just the url (or similar) and no other data makes it easy to just say "10 dupes"

 * This means there's no direct feedback to the user, which is probably ok. I guess you can message them if you really want.

tags: added: gatekeeper
Gary Poster (gary) on 2009-08-20
Changed in launchpad-foundations:
milestone: none → 3.1.10
komputes (komputes) wrote :

I was referred to this bug by Steve McInerney when I requested a specific post be removed.

Apparently making changes on a live database with raw SQL updates is for special occasions only (such as removing spam). Meanwhile, Launchpad admins deny valid requests from users to delete unintentional or duplicate posts that may contain unwanted and sometimes sensitive information.

This makes little sense as Launchpad users who spends time and effort improving Launchpad bugs are being ignored. If spam (unsolicited/unrelated posts by strangers) can be removed, there is no reason why reasonable post removal requests by valid users should be denied.

Endolith (endolith) wrote :

"distinguishing the most useful comments is an interesting problem, and there are other bugs about it, but I think it's a different case from outright spam, which we just want to delete."

Which other bugs are about that?

Martin Pool (mbp) wrote :

> Launchpad admins deny valid requests from users

That sounds bad by definition, so you should escalate it separately from this bug, perhaps by mail.

The general mechanism described in the definition of this bug could handle inadvertent posts as you describe. But in the meantime the specific case should be considered and if appropriate removed.

Curtis Hovey (sinzui) on 2009-11-11
Changed in launchpad-foundations:
milestone: 3.1.10 → 3.1.11
Gary Poster (gary) on 2009-12-15
Changed in launchpad-foundations:
milestone: 3.1.11 → none
description: updated
Tom Haddon (mthaddon) on 2010-05-28
tags: added: canonical-losa-lp
Paul Sladen (sladen) wrote :

Had (after 5 years), my first piece of spam today... or rather the first piece of LP spam that also made it though two spam filters afterwards (bug #653473 comment #2). The first thing I did was view the users' sign-up date (1996, signed CoC), and so I wanted to review their other recent additions to see if they were similiarly affected... however the karma page (which is trying to be something like the Special:Contributions page in Mediawiki) doesn't /link/ to the those activities that the user performed, which makes it hard to follow this up. My hunch in this case is that it's just the statistically small chance from the random set of a spam bot actually generating a message that $from_address_with_launchpad_account && $to_address_bugs_at_launchpad (quite small, but liable to happen eventually).

neuromancer (neuromancer) wrote :

This comment is spam too.
I think also all this user is created by a spam engine.

We need a flag to mark comment as spam.

Curtis Hovey (sinzui) on 2010-11-11
summary: - Launchpad needs a way of easily flagging spam
+ Launchpad needs a way of easily flagging spam and abuse
tags: added: feature-flags
tags: added: feature
removed: feature-flags

Any new developments on this? We have started getting spam bug reports recently as well.

Launchpad QA Bot (lpqabot) wrote :
Changed in launchpad:
assignee: nobody → j.c.sackett (jcsackett)
milestone: none → 11.04
tags: added: qa-needstesting
Changed in launchpad:
status: Triaged → Fix Committed
Robert Collins (lifeless) wrote :

I should note: the branch landing is *not* a fix for this bug; its a specific case of 'object users can create' which we have added spam handling for; as such, this bug should not be closed when we deploy that branch.

j.c.sackett (jcsackett) wrote :

I've set the bug back to triaged; see Robert's comment above.

Changed in launchpad:
status: Fix Committed → Triaged
tags: added: qa-ok
removed: qa-needstesting
j.c.sackett (jcsackett) on 2011-04-05
Changed in launchpad:
assignee: j.c.sackett (jcsackett) → nobody
Launchpad QA Bot (lpqabot) wrote :
tags: added: qa-needstesting
removed: qa-ok
Changed in launchpad:
assignee: nobody → j.c.sackett (jcsackett)
status: Triaged → Fix Committed
j.c.sackett (jcsackett) wrote :

This was another incremental landing that I guess wasn't marked as such. Apologies for the noise.

Changed in launchpad:
status: Fix Committed → Triaged
assignee: j.c.sackett (jcsackett) → nobody
Robert Collins (lifeless) wrote :

@Jon Once the tagger decides its related, you *have* tag it appropriately or we can't deploy - see the deployment report. To stop this happening, unlink your branch from this bug, that way future lp-land/ec2 land commands won't capture the bug number in the commit message.

tags: added: qa-untestable
removed: qa-needstesting
Curtis Hovey (sinzui) on 2011-04-11
Changed in launchpad:
milestone: 11.04 → none
William Grant (wgrant) on 2011-05-16
tags: removed: qa-untestable
summary: - Launchpad needs a way of easily flagging spam and abuse
+ No way for unprivileged users to report (probable) spam within Launchpad
summary: - No way for unprivileged users to report (probable) spam within Launchpad
+ No way for unprivileged users to report (probable) spam or abusive
+ content within Launchpad
description: updated
Robert Collins (lifeless) wrote :

I've tightened the bug description - there was a lot of historical baggage. With the tightened description its clearly doable without huge amounts of work, if someone wished to tackle it.

Jonathan Lange (jml) on 2011-06-07
description: updated
Curtis Hovey (sinzui) on 2011-10-22
Changed in launchpad:
importance: High → Low
tags: added: comments spam
A. Eibach (andi3) wrote :

Caught another one here:

Linked-in advertising?? ("Contact me" stuff)
This has definitely nothing to do in bug reports.

A. Eibach (andi3) wrote :

P.S. I'm really astonished this request is EIGHT years old and still nothing has happened to make life easier for users spotting spam.

Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

As above.

I've arrived here while searching for how to report user 'ellieviolet46' who has added comment to 3 bugs by including link spam to an essay writing service. Can someone please do something about that 'user'?

@A.Eibach: now NINE years old. I'm astonished too. Really makes you proud to be part of such a reactive community, right? :(

pbhj (pbhj) wrote :

So, erm, is there a current protocol for reporting spam (a bunch of random words in Answers as questions) now?

pbhj (pbhj) wrote :

Might be best to have a "flag user" and then hellban if they have enough flags and a mod approves; saves them realising there's anything wrong and stops their efforts from hurting the usability of the site.

Approaching 12 year old. This bug will be going to college at this rate.

Colin Watson (cjwatson) wrote :

The current protocol is to report it on so that we can clean it up and improve our automatic detection techniques. We do sometimes miss these reports depending on the nature of the spam, but we deal with most of them and as a result are able to automatically eliminate the vast majority of spam on Launchpad.

I appreciate that people are annoyed by the somewhat cumbersome nature of this, but adding successive sarcastic remarks about the age of the bug adds nothing substantive to the discussion and just consumes developer time reading them. Please don't.

Colin Watson (cjwatson) on 2018-10-04
description: updated
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