In the past, it was the job of the moderators to handle this when it came up. As time has gone on, the cycles have grown shorter, because the number of new people coming in each month has grown. It's now reached the point where we need bug hunters in-house pretty much all the time.
That would be you.
Here's the thing: Most of these pests don't know they're destructive. That's why they sound so sincere when they complain about their posts getting deleted. I'm pretty sure that rats, mice and roaches would feel like they were being badly treated by the exterminator, too.
They would no doubt be quite sincere in their pleas. It could be easy to feel like they had a valid point.
If you let them breed, they'll make your house unlivable.
The most common of these lately is the One-Line Wonder. They start up an account and race to 30 posts, most of them irrelevant, and nearly all one or two lines in length. As soon as they hit the Magic Number, they post a WSO. Shortly after that, they disappear. At least under that username...
For them, the rules about posting limits are either unfair or some kind of stupid inconvenience, put in place to keep the Little Guy from making "easy money." The idea of what a WSO is supposed to be doesn't make sense to them. "Participation? Exchange of ideas? Being part of the group, and then giving something back? What's that got to do with making money? That's too much work!"
Don't bother trying to educate them. That's about as productive as trying to teach a leech. They have one thought in mind: "Feed me!"
Very few of them are "evil," although some really are. If you doubt that last part, you should visit some of the other forums in this niche and read the things that are said about running a WSO to get some quick cash from the newbies. Which is a whole other reason for making regular participation a requirement...
Most of the one-line wonders are okay people who are just focused on that one thing: Get the money. They usually sell crap, thinking it's gold, and always fill up the board with time- and resource-wasting nonsense. Doesn't matter what their intentions are, they need to be removed.
If you see posts that say things like, "Great post. Thanks for the share," or "Thanks. That's really great info," and the poster has a low post count, look at their profile and check their other comments. If they have a lot of one or two line posts that seem rushed, use the report post button. (The red triangle with the black exclamation point, at the lower left of each post.)
If the folks who complain about the WSO forum want to do something useful to clean up the stupid stuff there, that's an excellent place to start. Then there's...
The Regurgitator: This is the person who comes in after reading a couple of books and thinks s/he's a marketing genius. They spout cliches as absolutes, opinion as fact, and generally run off at the keyboard without having the first hint of a whiff of a sniff of clue, and expect their comments to be taken as Gospel.
The answer to them is to call them on their BS. Ask them if they've actually tested it, or if this is just their opinion. If they say, "It's obvious," or "That's how I feel, so there must be a lot of others who feel the same way," they're just spouting. Calling them on their fantasies helps to keep others from being misled.
A (usually) less obvious bit of vermin is the Ghost Poster. These are people who are paid to work an account up to the requisite 30 posts for commenting in the WSO section. These are sneakier, since what they normally are meant for is posting positive comments or giving testimonials in response to a WSO. Because of that, their comments have a slightly different, somewhat friendlier, tone.
A frequent clue to these is a common name in a major American, Canadian or British city, with posts written in English that's broken in ways that are more like those typical of Malaysia or the Phillipines. That's hardly universal, though. Some ghost posters are knowledgeable of the industry and speak English well, as a first language. Those are the toughies.
If you see something you suspect to be a set-up, don't flag it. Report it using the help desk. There are ways of recognizing those activities that the folks with access behind the curtain can see more clearly than the usual visitor.
There's a lot more of this going on than you might think. The problem is that it's often indistinguishable from legit comments from people who just don't post often. That's why you should report it, rather than flagging the posts with the "Report Post" button.
My personal opinion: Anyone caught "ghost posting" here should be permanently banned. The only person who has any business hiring someone to post here (Allen) has no need to do so.
If it were up to me, anyone using ghost posters to manipulate the WSO forum would be outed in both that section and the main forum, and reported to whoever might have authority over them for fraud. (Yes, this fits the legal definition of fraud. It's a crime.)
Then there's everyone's favorite - The Troll. These are people (and I employ the term here quite loosely) who use various techniques to draw others into arguments or pointless debates.
The term comes from the fishing technique by the same name, which involves pulling bait or a lure on a line behind a boat, hoping the fish won't see that it's a trap and will hook themselves.
Trolls can sometimes be subtle, and seem like the usual confused person expressing an opinion. They can sometimes be obvious, such as the ones asking for advice and refusing to acknowledge or consider what's offered. And they can sometimes just come out with it, posting outrageous nonsense that's guaranteed to start an argument if anyone takes them seriously.
If you suspect you're dealing with a troll, either flag their posts or, if there's a senior person involved who's engaging them after stating what they are, pop some popcorn and enjoy the show. A few of the more experienced people here will often carry on the discussion in order to let the less experienced become more familiar with the mindset of trolls.
Trolls are sneaky, cowardly creatures. They like to start trouble and then sit back and watch as others argue. If you call them on their games, they may respond by stating some seemingly harmless reason for their comments. They most commonly throw a tantrum or start to devolve into even lower life forms, right before your eyes.
Some will switch gears, and claim to be engaged in "performance art." Those people should be laughed out of the place, as they deserve.
Unless you're really experienced in dealing with them, your best bet is to flag their posts, and explain it with the phrase, "Looks like a troll." The mods can usually recognize the species pretty well. If they can't tell for sure, it's probably not a thread that needs to be left anyway.
Don't confuse trolling with outright racism or other hate speech. There's a name for animals who post that sort of thing on public forums, but it's not suitable for use here. The best use for such creatures is hauling large piles of heavy rocks from here to there and back to here again - ad nauseum.
Or as archery targets, if you don't have any large piles of rocks for them to move around.
There are a couple of categories of posters who aren't strictly vermin, or even bad people in any way, but who should nonetheless be reported for removal.
The first are folks whose grasp of English is so bad that their posts are incomprehensible. I don't mean, "their grammar is off." I mean people who simply can't be understood at all.
Yes, they speak English better than I speak their language, which is to say, "Not even a little." However, since English is the default language here, and must be for the moderators to keep various forms of nastiness out, that's what we've got. A lot of posts that add nothing but confusion are as unhelpful as those which have less honest motives driving them.
These folks aren't to be seen as bad in any way, but we really shouldn't keep their posts until they learn the language well enough to at least be understood with a little effort.
Yes, that sucks, and yes, it seems somehow unfair. Still, if they can't make themselves understood, they're not going to gain anything by active participation here anyway. All they're going to do is confuse the hell out of well-meaning people who try to translate what can't be translated.
Don't abuse them, but flag them.
The second are the folks who post nothing but negatives. I don't mean, "sometimes skeptical or argumentative." Those can be very useful. I'm talking about people who post complaints with no search for answers, no point that can help anyone else, and just to vent.
What, exactly, is helped by someone posting, "I'm depressed, it's so unfair, my life sucks!?" Or worse, "I hate it! This takes sooo muuuuch woooooork!"
Flag 'em. Especially that last one.
Oh yeah... Any time you see someone use the expression, "Thanks for the share," (in those exact words), you want to be careful in dealing with them. That is not conclusive proof, but it tends to indicate that they've hung around on pirate boards, where that phrase gets used a lot.
If you see that used by a One-Line Wonder, you can safely bet that they've got something sneaky planned.
Before you ask, no. Telling you rhis isn't going to help the creeps. If everyone who's signed up right now read it, which is simply not going to happen, it wouldn't affect anything for long. First, there are other signs that people with the experience to be moderators here will recognize. And, after a week at most, there'll be a whole new crop of them, doing the same things as they pass through with their scams. The folks who plan to be here for a while will be the ones who remember, and a few of you will be better equipped to help deal with them down the road.
The scammers and creeps run on short term approaches. The serious members go in longer phases, and tend to teach other serious members. Understanding that and taking advantage of it is how the place keeps some semblance of sanity, and gets better over time.
Like I said: Cycles.