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This question and this question originally contained religious messages, which were obviously completely off topic, were not questions, and served only to promote religious beliefs. They should clearly be closed. The questions were later edited and replaced with lorem ipsum; the description of one of the edits is

Substituted obviously irrelevant text for less obviously irrelevant text. Question should be deleted

I'm wondering why this was the case. I initially flagged one as spam - only seeing it after the edit - then realized that the version was not necessarily spam (perhaps it is, perhaps it isn't). Then I saw the revision history. This, I think, is closer to spam, because it serves only to promote a product or service - in this case, a system of religious beliefs.

Both edits were rolled back, which is something I agree with. I don't think that posts that are this bad should be edited to something just as bad.

What is the general consensus on the matter?

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Both have now been closed and deleted.*

I know some stacks as a matter of policy remove the contents of any post considered spam. This is usually noted, with a remark that anyone interested in seeing the original spam may check the revision history.

However, I'm a bit uncomfortable with users doing that for messages that have not yet been closed as spam. Yes, it was fairly obvious in this case, but still there's a principle here. Voting to close is merely a claim that its spam. The closure is the decision. Until that, I think it should probably be treated as a normal post, and not be subjected to utterly destructive edits.

I should also mention that I don't think that naked religious witnessing is precisely spam, but its awfully darn close to it, and no other close reason fits that kind of message better.

* - This may look a bit capricious. Normally its best to give users a chance to fix their questions before deletion, but I think its pretty clear in this case that there was no real intent to ask a question about history. Also, I was the 5th vote on closure for both, so for the purposes of closure I was just acting as a normal user.

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I did it based on broken window theory. Violations of the rules tend to nurture other rulebreakers; or to put it another way, in a healthy, well maintained community people are more content to follow the rules. In this case I found the violation of the rules so egregious and I felt that there was a potential to be offensive. I chose to suppress the content I found offensive, knowing that anyone who was interested could verify the action by checking the edit history.

Of course what I should have done was to trust the process.

  • Its actually not a bad idea for the exact reason you state (so +1). I'd say it more as a matter of not rewarding improper behavior. For a spammer the "reward" is their message getting seen. They probably don't care about site rep, so downvoting or receiving castigating replies doesn't matter to them. But if the post content is quickly removed then so is all benefit they may have gotten for their behavior. – T.E.D. Jun 17 '15 at 17:42
  • I did the same thing as you once before, so I sympathize. There are cases where I still think that this kind of editing isn't wrong, per se. I apologize, by the way, if the question came of as accusatory; I don't mean to try to cast you in the wrong. – HDE 226868 Jun 18 '15 at 15:08
  • No offense taken. I very much appreciate the civility though, I think it is one of those virtues which greatly add to the value of SE sites. – Mark C. Wallace Jun 18 '15 at 15:10

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