I would like to call attention to Rule 5 in this sub's sidebar, which reads:
Scams, Spam, Duplicates, Stalking, Excessive Profanity & Blatant User or Mod Abuse will result in removal of posts and in some cases the user will be banned (eg. when it appears that automation is being used)
The first thing everyone should note is that Rule 5 is not new, but is a policy that has been in force for as long as this sub has existed.
What is considered "spam"
The second thing that I would like everyone to note is the parenthetical text that has been added recently. When the mods see the same account posting spam (either links or off-topic text) over and over at a very high rate, we must assume that some form of automation is being used. This sort of automated, repeated violation of Rule 5 is grounds for an immediate ban, as an automated posting bot is capable of creating an immense amount of noise in an incredibly short amount of time. It turns out that with enough volume, some of the spam can even slip through the automoderator for some reason. If you're posting spam so fast that we can't tell whether or not the comments are being made by a human or a bot, we will assume you are a bot and ban the account without warning.
An example of such an attack happened today: an account that had been dormant for over 9 months suddenly woke up and began posting links to the same URL in comments all over the sub. Something like 100 comments were created in well under an hour. Most of the spam was removed by automod rules, but maybe 10% got through and had to be manually removed by mods. The abusive account was subsequently banned.
What is NOT considered "spam"
Rule #5 does not necessarily consider repetitious low-effort comments to be spam, assuming they do not link anywhere or contain the same off-topic text. For example, repeatedly replying in the same thread by posting a clown face, asking "what?", saying "no" over and over again, is not necessarily considered "spam" according to our current rules, in particular because of the difficulty making determinations of what is "spam" and what is simply an annoyed or confused user, or a caustic debate. Annoyed, confused, low-effort, or harsh debate is tolerated on this sub.
The solution to these low-effort comments is the downvote button. The purpose of the downvote button is to signal a comment that does not add value, or which detracts from the value of the conversation in the sub.
That said, Rule #5 does prohibit excess duplication of comments. An example might be a user who posts the same comment over and over throughout the sub.
As always, a degree of subjectivity is required to determine whether or not these comments violate Rule 5. When deciding if a violation has taken place, we will consider whether the repeated comments are thoughtful and informative, or low-effort and off-topic. Some users have some boilerplate replies to common questions that they copy-paste because it's pointless having to type out the same complex reply over and over. As long as the repeated comments are on topic, information-rich, and not excessively repeated, they are welcome. If the comments are off-topic or low-effort, and excessively repeated, then a Rule 5 violation has taken place.
When these sorts of abuses take place, we will not automatically place the account in timeout, but give the user a series of warnings. We will give at a minimum 3 warnings, but usually we'll try to be much more lenient than that. However, at some point we will have to draw a line. After the timeout period, we will return to warnings if the user continues to abuse Rule 5. After being placed in timeout multiple times, the account is subject to banning at the discretion of the mods. We will always try to err on the side of tolerance.
Abusing the report or ping function
Repeatedly pinging a mod by using the /u/ mention function, or abusing the reporting function by unnecessarily repeatedly reporting a certain user, is a cut-and-dried violation of Rule #5. DO NOT DO THIS or your account may be placed in timeout or banned. The reporting function is for actual rule violations according to the sidebar.
About moderating /r/btc
Since this sub strives to be a "censorship free" place, we always try to err on the side of free speech and tolerance. Please understand that this policy creates vastly more work for the mods than if we moderated more heavily, such as, well, most everywhere else on reddit. If we moderated this sub like the typical crypto sub, then the job of moderator would be rather trivial. None of us are being paid to moderate this sub. We do it because we think this sub serves a critical community function.
Edit: just in case it isn't crystal clear what is meant by repetitive comment spam, maybe this will help:
If you're in a thread with someone and they keep replying "what?" "huh?" ":clown:" then they aren't spamming the sub, they're just trolling you. The solution is to just downvote their shitposts and stop replying.
If someone is jumping into threads all over the sub just saying "what" "huh?" and ":clown:" then that is "spammy" and deserves a warning and / or timeout / banning if the user is an habitual abuser who refuses to take the hint.
I hope this clears up what is intended by Rule 5. If you have any questions, please use the comments for discussion. Thank you for helping to keep r/btc a place for uncensored, productive, constructive, and polite discussion.