How are response times calculated?
On your dashboard, the average response time is calculated by counting the time between a user's comment and a supporter's comment. Because we are talking about averages, outliers in a day can skew the average quite a bit.
Be aware that the calculation on your dashboard is different from the one you will see on the Reporting page. The dashboard calculates the time based on every time a user comment is waiting for a response. In the Reporting pages and on the CSV export for Reporting, the calculation is performed ONLY on initial response time (the first response to a new discussion). If you see a difference between the initial response time and the dashboard's reported average response time, it is because the dashboard includes responses after the initial one.
If on the dashboard, for example, you just responded to 9 issues that came in this morning around 1 hour after receiving them, the average would be about 1 hour. Then, in the afternoon, you respond to a discussion that's gone 7 days without a response. Calculating the average means that the average response time is now over 17 hours (your 10th response is over 168 hours later). Our calculation is simply a guide, and if you want to have more detail, you can use our CSV export and weight your averages as you feel appropriate.
What about evil spam?
When you mark something as spam, it excludes that discussion from dashboard calculations. Marking spam that was previously just closed after a long wait can drive back down the average response time. Leaving spam open, or simply closing a lingering spam message rather than marking it as spam, will almost inevitably increase this average calculation.