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Background

A considerable portion of the flags handled by moderators include deletion flags on answers, i.e., not an answer or very low quality. (In case anybody is curious, this statistics does not allow to capture this detail.) A considerable amount of these in turns are on answers that are “just” bad, i.e., they try to answer the question, they are not link-only answers, but they considerably lack details, explanation, or similar. Some of these answers are also just short (in my opinion).

At least going by the flags raised (and I am not talking about automatic low-quality flags based on heuristics here) and my opinions on these flags, there seems to be some disagreement in the community on how these should be handled. It would therefore be great if we could come up with a general policy for such answers to either reduce the number of flags or shorten flag-handling and reviewing times.

On SE it’s usually reserved for misplaced or abusive content. While individual sites can decide to apply it to other kinds of posts (e.g., Skeptics and ELU do this), I am not aware that we made any decision of this kind.

Question

Should a lack of quality (explanation, details, etc.) in an answer be a reason for deletion?

If yes, why is such a severe action as deletion is appropriate here and downvotes and similar do not suffice? Also, if yes, where do we draw the line?

What this is not about

There seems to be consensus that the following kinds of answers should be deleted, so this question is not about them:

  • link-only answers,
  • answers to another question,
  • questions as answers,
  • thank-yous or “I am having this problem, too” answers,
  • true comments as an answers, by which I mean things that comments are actually made for, i.e., suggestions to improve another post, criticism on another post, suggested links, good jokes, etc,
  • spam, rude, or gibberish answers.

Also, this is not about whether such answers should be downvoted.

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I decline those flags with the SE statement:

Flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer.

Those are what downvotes are for.

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    I'm interested to hear from anyone who thinks it should be anything other than this because this is all I've ever known it as across SE. – Zach Saucier Jan 7 at 20:06
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Having as many tools as there are today in addition to those offered by StackExchange to write answers: text html editor, screenshots, animated gifs, images inserted directly or with their links, etc., giving a two text lines answer to explain a graphic process to me is an immediate flag, even if it's right. This helps maintaining the good quality of the site.

This is a graphic design site, and although not all the participants are graphic designers, it's very logic to demand a minimum of coherence with the profession.

I particularly have a deep respect for it and I try to demonstrate it in each answer, especially when reading the following headline repeatedly: – I made a couple of drawings and I think I'm a graphic designer, – followed by the question body.

If we don't profess the respect for the profession ourselves, nobody will do it.

Being coherent, a graphic demonstration: where is the the graphic designer's answer?

enter image description here


Edit after the comment:

There may be an alert option to allow improving the answer, such as the case that is happening right in this answer. This answer has seemed incorrect, it has a downvote and a comment about how it can be improved. These two actions can be reduced to only one.

Instead of commenting that an answer can be improved, there may be an alert option or a pre-flag. This allows the person who answered to improve it in a period of time, if after that time nothing has changed, move it to the flag automatically.

enter image description here

It would be interesting to avoid binary situations: either I like you or kick you off, and offer alternative options.

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    Nobody disputes that those answers are not the crème de la crème. The question is: Do we need to delete them and if yes, why? – Wrzlprmft Jan 8 at 14:37
  • Answer updated with a bold sentence, and the second bold sentence is not enough reason???? – Danielillo Jan 8 at 14:39
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    On another note: Can you formulate any criteria where to draw the line? – Wrzlprmft Jan 8 at 14:43
  • Answer updated after the comment – Danielillo Jan 8 at 15:07
  • Answer updated with a bold sentence, and the second bold sentence is not enough reason???? – Please see my edit to the question: In brief, deletion is a severe action. Why do downvotes not suffice to express our misappreciation of the answers in question? – Wrzlprmft Jan 8 at 15:09
  • Instead of commenting that an answer can be improved, there may be an alert option or a pre-flag. – As this is unlikely to happen soon, what would be your suggestion given the tools we have at hand? – Wrzlprmft Jan 8 at 15:10
  • ok, I wait a while before putting my answer, this is what I think, I'm sorry if doesn't answer 100% your requirement. I think I have given more than one answer and alternative options. Next time I'll just let it go. – Danielillo Jan 8 at 15:12
  • Why are you using flags instead of downvotes? – Ryan Jan 8 at 17:46
  • One of the flag's option is "very low quality", and that's what I think about this answer. I don't think about its future, if will be deleted or not, I just see the answer present: very low quality. – Danielillo Jan 8 at 17:52
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    @Danielillo I agree that the "very low quality" title is misleading for the purpose of that flag. It's been discussed a lot on Meta.StackExchange, perhaps most in this post – Zach Saucier Jan 8 at 20:05
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    I kinda agree with this answer; if you can't do better than how to draw an owl, you're kinda just lowering the signal-to-noise ratio of the 'Net as a whole. We ask a lot of folks asking questions; I don't think it's unfair to ask the folks writing answers to put in a little bit of effort as well. – Shog9 Jan 8 at 20:24
  • Regarding your suggestion: VLQ-flagged answers go directly into review - this folks both an opportunity to provide feedback to the author, and to remove the post if improvements aren't forthcoming. – Shog9 Jan 8 at 20:30
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    I think the critical question there is, "does the answer actually explain anything, or is it only 'right' if you already know the answer?" @Wrzlprmft. Hence the owl joke - yes, those instructions are correct, and also utterly useless / insulting to anyone who would actually need them. Daniel's larger point is the one to keep in mind here: is this the kind of answer that gives you pride in your site, in your profession? And if not, what are you gonna do about it? What are you gonna encourage others to do? Forget deletion: no one has done anything to improve it, or to educate the author. – Shog9 Jan 10 at 20:24
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    I don't think introducing another review/moderation tool is going to fix the problem of low quality answers, even if it is just a combo of existing ones. It will just lead to more issues and more confusion for new(er) users. TBH, if you can't/don't want to spare 15 seconds to type a personalised comment while reviewing, should you even be reviewing in the first place? – PieBie Jan 14 at 9:37
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    @Shog9: we have very little of the owl type answers here. More like 'click this button' or 'set this setting to...'. Those are correct and solve the issue of the questioner, but do not help the questioner understand how or why something works. But deleting that answer helps no one. It just discourages users (who might become valuable members) to post any more helpful info. Therefore I say: leave a personalised comment asking the answerer to improve their post. This also serves as a reminder for other users to leave better answers. – PieBie Jan 14 at 9:40

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