I have over 15 reputation and have been given the flagging privilege.

I understand the guidelines for spam and offensive flags, but it seems The Workplace has different standards for 'very low quality' and 'not an answer' flags, when/how should I use them?

2 Answers 2


Submitted as an answer since I couldn't find a way to match below into neither of comment / chat message / meta question.

Original revision of the proposed FAQ contains a statement that makes me uncomfortable:

If the post is fixable, and the poster is not given time to fix it before the flag is issued, the flag will most likely be declined.

I fail to see how above approach can scale. It works fine when site gets 1 to 3, maybe 5 bad answers a day, but now traffic stats say we are getting 16 questions/day, with about 4x as much answers meaning 60-80 answers a day.

From what I observe today, it looks quite realistic for site to eventually receive 200-300 answers a day, 20-30 of which would be of the low quality.

If above approach allows to handle 20-30 low quality answers a day, I would like to see an explanation on how that could be.

In particular, I would appreciate explanation on how this would be better compared to an alternative flow, when answer gets deleted (with mod comment - there is a feature that guarantees such a comment to reach the author), author edits it and flags for undeletion.

Only benefits that I can see in theory of letting low quality posts stay visible are:

  1. Less burden for moderators to deal with undelete flags from post authors
  2. Opportunity for non-10K editors to salvage these posts
  3. Opportunity for community regulars to indicate troublesome posts by voting it down, thus explicitly teaching other readers about site quality norms
  4. Having moderators handling every immediately submitted flag won't scale

Let's take a closer look at above...

Less burden to deal with undelete flags - per my observations, there were no complaints about this at larger sites (SO and Programmers) so it's unlikely to happen to start with. And, even if it happens, there is a known, tried and true way to deal with: flags can be off-loaded to a dedicated review queue for users with sufficient privileges (10K in this case) to handle.

Opportunity for others to do salvaging edits - it's unrealistic that active editors will be able to cope with substantial loads of stuff like that. Again, looking at larger sites like SO and Programmers, this doesn't happen there. Also, which is probably even more important, it doesn't feel fair to off-load this to editors, if you consider that salvaging bad answers would essentially block them from improving those that already have reasonably good content to start with ("optimize for pearls not sand").

Indicate troublesome posts by voting it down - given the observed frequency of the voting pattern that doesn't have politically correct name yet, it is more likely that opposite will happen, and low quality answers voted up by outsiders for popularity reasons will make broken windows, teaching site visitors the wrong way. How many upvotes were there on that just-quit answer in an agony aunt question? What did it teach readers until it was deleted?

Having moderators handling every immediately submitted flag won't scale - right, this won't scale. Thing is though, experience of larger sites (where delayed flagging is used) indicates that alternative won't scale either. Here I am specifically referring to changes introduced in low quality review queue a while back when six 2K users were allowed to delete answers. You see, delayed flagging doesn't help. Sites practicing it experience scaling issues and are forced to delegate deletion of low quality posts to wider community anyway.

Summing up, mentioned statement seems to do more harm than good for the site.

Consider changing approach, so that troublesome post is quickly deleted with mod comment, without keeping it visible (expecting that author willing to salvage would find and edit it while deleted, then flag for moderator to review and undelete).

For the sake of completeness, I can see how site like SO can afford such an approach in their site-specific guidelines: having 2,000 (that's two thousands) trusted users capable of quickly, directly removing bad stuff at their own discretion, without any flags at all makes it not that important. But Workplace is not like that and is unlikely to become like that anytime soon.

  • 2
    In practice, I don't think any experienced SO moderator would decline a flag on a crap post because it hadn't baked long enough yet; that's the sort of luxury reserved for very low-traffic sites. Either the post is so worthless that needs to be removed, or it doesn't - either way, the onus is on the flagger to verify that the situation is beyond his control, not the moderators or other community members responding to the flag. Moderators and trusted users will occasionally edit to save the occasional "gem in the rough", but such responses are very much the exception rather than the rule.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 18:57
  • 2
    @Shog9 I know how it's supposed to work (with 6K flags at 3 other sites besides Workplace I am pretty confident stating that): 1) vote down and comment 2) wait for 1 to 7 days (sometimes 2 weeks) 3) flag for moderator. I suggest that keeping "phase 2" (wait) at Workplace would do more harm than good and laid down reasons why I think so
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 19:04
  • 1
    "I fail to see how above approach can scale." Well, it scales better than having the moderators intervene every single time someone makes a bad answer. It takes time for me to parse through the question and answer, evaluate the flag, check the comments to see what I need to add (if any), and then handle the flag. We have had over 4500 active users in the past 30 days. We have 3 mods. We need a scalable way to handle content, I don't think this is it.
    – jmac
    Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 23:32
  • @jmac thanks a lot!!! Not that I agree (I haven't yet made my mind on it) but that's an important point missing in my analysis. It's definitely worth giving a thought, I'll update the answer (and conclusion if it turns out necessary:) after I'm done pondering
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 6:48
  • This query may help. It shows active users in the last 30 days by rep level. There were 52 active 3k+ users in the past 30 days (and 3 of them are mods). There were 16 10k+ users (2 of them mods). So without a doubt, the community has way more potential capacity than we do, and even considering activity we are talking about 3v49, or 2v14, meaning a mod needs to be 18 or 7 times more active than your average user to cover the same amount of content.
    – jmac
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 7:30
  • I'm not saying it isn't our responsibility to help out, and I certainly don't want to imply that you guys are on your own -- the key is finding a way to work together to make best use of our resources. Since we have 800 active users in the past 30 days who can comment, I don't think it's a huge burden to ask the community to leave a comment and wait a working day to flag if it isn't fixed. It may not be instant gratification, but it will help spread the burden, and the site won't blow up if a few bad answers are left up for 24 hours with a comment on them.
    – jmac
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 7:34
  • @jmac that's really interesting. I am still investigating but one thing for sure is, unless there is a way to address the point you made, it invalidates my reasoning and respectively, dismisses my objection in this answer
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 10:24
  • @jmac I addressed your point (I think:). Would appreciate if you take a look, reasoning doesn't feel quite waterproof
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 19:37
  • related: Are we using NAA and VLQ flags correctly? "Look ma, it scales..."
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 11:18
  • 1
    @gnat, I have edited my post in response to your objection and the changes to the handling of NAA flags on the SE network. Hope this removes your objection!
    – jmac
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 0:07
  • @jmac thanks! per my reading, revised version addressed this concern
    – gnat
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 5:15

When should I flag?

Flags are a way to let the moderators know about issues with content on the site that can't be handled by the community, or are so harmful to the community that they need to be dealt with promptly. If you aren't sure whether or not to flag, consider asking in chat, or asking a question on meta for guidance first.

How should I use 'very low quality' and 'not an answer' flags?

it is very low quality

This question has severe formatting or content problems. This question is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed.

If the content can be saved with an edit or a comment, then it isn't very low quality. Very low quality flags should be reserved for content like this answer:

very low quality post

or this:

very low quality post

It isn't offensive, it isn't an advertisement, but it wouldn't fit as a comment, question, or an answer and should be removed. If you see content like this, feel free to downvote and flag immediately, and the flag will be reviewed by a mod.

it is not an answer

This was posted as an answer, but it does not attempt to answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether.

We have a related faq explaining what constitutes an answer here. An answer is not an answer if it does not:

  1. Answer the question
  2. Explain why and how it is correct
  3. Provide information not covered in other answers

Just because it doesn't meet those criteria now doesn't mean the moderators need to handle it. First consider making a friendly comment explaining why the answer is not an answer and how to fix it (or make an edit to fix it yourself), and give it a downvote.

If the person doesn't fix it in a reasonable time (at least 24 hours, more if a weekend or during the holidays), and it cannot be saved by editing it yourself, then feel free to issue a 'not an answer' flag. As 'not an answer' flags now send posts to the low quality review queue, particularly poor answers that don't address the question being asked can be flagged without a comment in a pinch.

other (needs ♦ moderator attention)

This question needs a moderator's attention. Please describe exactly what's wrong.

If you have under the 125 reputation required to edit, or under the 50 reputation required to comment, but you still think the post is wrong for some reason, you can flag as 'other' asking a moderator to add a post notice for:

  • citation needed
  • insufficient explanation

Explain which post notice you would like added, and a moderator agrees with your assessment they will either make a comment, or add a post notice.

Regardless of reputation, if the content needs attention for reasons that don't fall in to existing flag categories, please use the 'other' option with a clear message to the moderators explaining what the problem is.

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