I'm a moderator over at Robotics.SE. I've seen new-ish users in the past come to promote sites, products, etc. I've seen brand new users come in to post what is clearly spam (something along the lines of, "I think this is a great question, check out my answer at shady.url").

The problem I had today is a user comes in with a barely coherent answer, but the length of the answer is somewhat substantial (more than just the typical one-line spam), it addresses one of the points of OP's question, but it looks like it's written out of a bag of keywords or something.

I may have flagged the user as a spammer, or sent a warning, etc., but the user has a small reputation on a couple other sites where they asked a couple questions that got good answers (several upvotes and accepted answers), etc.

My concern is that I don't want to come off as insulting the person if English isn't their first language (or especially if it is), but I'm not sure what to do about this.

The question asked about how to build a fast quadcopter, and then the user in question answered with a bunch of text, including this closing paragraph:

Can Helium Drone Armour Help reduce weight? I think it would be cool to have clowns making balloon animal drones But the wind drag might defeat the perhaps or inhouse perhaps drones that walk on the roof.

Clowns making balloon animal drones? Or inhouse perhaps drones that walk on the roof? There were comments earlier about seeing the "Kalman-filter keyword on Stack Exchange," but nobody mentioned Kalman filter, that wasn't what the question was about, the question wasn't tagged with it, etc.

Should I make a notation on the user account that they're a potential spammer? This isn't the first time I've seen a user like this, where they are new and their question/comment seems to be a collage of keywords, but again I'm not sure how to handle this user in particular because they seem to be established on other sites.


Here's the full answer:

I found a Kalman-Filter keyword here on stack exchange that may have something interesting also consider: Direct Drive vs. Indirect Drive.

There is a neat hex or octal shaft that "slips" with a kind of torque like counterpart grip. This makes like a plastic flywheel; A method would a eliminate a few gears.

Experiment - Perhaps drilling holes in the frame or making your own frame will reduce weight but comes at the expense of breaks of the chassis. You might need to tape holes to prevent drag.

I like the fact that you asked about overheating problems maybe you can bring a dry ice box to quick cool it when not in flight? I saw popsicle stick frames for standard drones on youtube. I wonder if a chip of dry ice would cool it in the air.

Can Helium Drone Armour Help reduce weight? I think it would be cool to have clowns making balloon animal drones But the wind drag might defeat the perhaps or inhouse perhaps drones that walk on the roof.

This is in response to the question, which was presented as a list of questions following an introductory statement:

Will this overheat (bad consecuences) if i let it drain the full battery at 100% throttle?

Will this fly at least 4 minutes under the previous conditions?

Should i get a higher C-rating battery?

As i can't find better motors of that size, is the only way to improve its speed by putting a 6S battery? and what would happen if i do it?

Should i put the 6inch props or 4inch? I know 4inch should get faster rpm changes but will it be noticeable at this sizes?

  • I think in this case the guy thought of an idea that he was existed/amoused about and when he wrote the answer he sort of forgot to write some connecting words. I do that sometimes. As Jan said you should just ask for clarification. As to what he meant, he said it would be cool if Clowns could make animal drones with hellium (you know how clowns make those balloon animals), but he thought the wind would be a problem, so he thought maybe they could be in-door drones that walk on the ceiling, so the wind is not a factor and they can actually move. Does that make more sense to you?
    – Sky
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 4:49
  • As a point of interest: If I take your 'clown roof' paragraph and convert it to simplified Chinese and then take the translation and translate it back to English it makes ~10-20% more sense, see: "Does the Xenon drone armor help to lose weight? I think it's cool to let the clown make a balloon animal, but the wind resistance may be defeated or maybe the inside of the drone can walk on the roof." --- Would a Xenon balloon be usable to make a drone lighter?, let the ill-informed person try for themself. It probably would have too much wind resistance and hit the ceiling indoors.". --- Bot/not?
    – Rob
    Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 22:58

2 Answers 2


That's not a bot. There's definitely some 'coherence' and attempts in the answer.

But you cannot know what else is the matter:

  • Someone who mentally makes quick jumps (for whatever reason)?
  • Someone who has issues focusing?
  • A very young person?
  • Someone having trouble with the English language?

... or a combination of these.

I would suggest to leave out any interpretation about the person. Just respond to the quality/(un)clarity of the question, keeping our 'be kind' policy in mind, and the quality of the site.
You may want to guide the person to give better answers, like pointing out the distinction between comments and answers, between answers and irrelevant side remarks (and even edit accordingly).


  • Ask specific clarification in comments.
  • If there is something you understand edit the answer to improve the language.

If you don't feel like approaching it this way/putting the effort in: fine. You are not personally responsible, and someone else will pick it up. Or maybe not even that, and the answer will dwindle away among better ones (maybe because of downvotes).

And it does not help that the original question was too broad anyway ;-)

  • It was borderline for me; the question wasn't/isn't tagged Kalman-Filter, nobody mentioned gearing or shafting, or weight really (though weight would impact acceleration). Then obviously too there's the comment about clowns making balloon animal drones and something I can't understand about walking on a roof. On the user's profile page, the email address is a complete street address (123MainStreetCityState12345) at an email forwarding service's domain (33mail.com).
    – Chuck
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 19:56
  • And I agree that the question is probably not suitable, but it was asked shortly after I joined SE, well before I got moderator status. I'm kind of reluctant to crusade through posts made before my time and edit/remove old posts, but that's a different question/discussion.
    – Chuck
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 19:57
  • 1
    Maybe the folks at Robotics.SE write better bots than you and I want to know exist ;-)
    – gerrit
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 14:20
  • I like your answer but I feel there could be way more reasons for the way he wrote. For instance it could be that he copy-pasted something inside his answer without realizing. Or maybe he was writing something and talking with someone about something else and mixed things, etc. What I mean is that there is not necesarily anything wrong with the person. But I agree the best is to ask for clarification and not make any assumptions about the person.
    – Sky
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 4:53

I agree this does not sound like a bot to me. I agree with Jan's conclusions.

SE is a bit different from other online communities, and it's not one I've moderated. On email or Facebook and some other places, I might send a private message thanking them for replying but mentioning that their answer was hard to understand. Basically, what you're after is an email back that will show this is a real person reading messages. Followup as needed until you can determine the user's human cred.

If human, then maybe (or maybe not) focus on how to come across more coherently. Whether or not you do that depends on your preferences, the user's desires, and the culture of your community.

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