False positive spam flag resolution

On iNaturalist, “spam” is defined as commercial spam…

…anything that is clearly intended to make money, which could be linking to spurious sites, or trying to manipulate search engine indexing through lots of links to weird places…

…so it excludes things like observations of humans or inanimate objects. That said, some users find those types of observations stupid/pointless/annoying, so they often get flagged as spam. Additionally, the Akismet spam-detection system doesn’t always identify spam correctly, and sometimes marks otherwise innocuous non-spam content as spam. Flagging as spam hides content from other users, and if someone gets too much of their content flagged as spam, they’re automatically suspended. :frowning_face:

The most common types of content that are flagged as spam, but usually aren’t spam are:

Check the flagged content, and if it’s not actually spam (iNat’s definition), then resolve the flag, marking it as “not spam”. If it is spam, for now the process is to just leave it unresolved.

Also check the user’s profile to make sure they weren’t marked as a spammer. To unmark a user as a spammer, click Admin tools in the lower left, then Flag as non-spammer. After you flag them as non-spammer, send them a message informing them that their account has been unsuspended. This is the message I use:

Account UNsuspended

Hi! Unfortunately you were the victim of iNaturalist’s overactive “spam-flagging bot,” so your account was flagged as spam and suspended. I’ve unsuspended it and marked you as not a spammer.


So I see some comments that are clearly inappropriate, but don’t necessarily meet the “money making” criterion for spam. Should we be putting effort into reclassifying these, or not bother?

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I would use spam flags to flag anything that is not appropriate, until another measure is given. If something is obviously not appropriate, I think curators can also delete comments themselves.

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I’ve seen a lot of these flags as the CNC goes on, so something to be aware of.


We’re working on a hiding comments (and other posted material) functionality, which I think @bouteloua (?) requested a while ago. Once that’s implemented it should be a good way to hide offensive non-spam material but still keep a record of it so we can evaluate if the user requires suspension.