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I'm having a hard time finding a use case for the "very low quality" flag that isn't already covered by some other flag. The descriptive text for VLQ basically says that it's for cases where no amount of editing can salvage a post, no matter how intrepid the editors are.

In 99.9% of cases, that translates to "we can't tell what this person was trying to say. Even if we squint and tilt our heads."

  • Incomprehensible questions can also be described as "not a real question" or "not constructive." Users can already flag or vote to close as one of those two, depending on rep.

  • Incomprehensible answers can also be described as "not an answer." We already have that as a flag option, too.

In the other 0.1% of cases, a question might be just coherent enough to be understood, but show a complete and utter lack of effort. NARQ would apply there, too.

So do we really need VLQ as a distinct flagging option?

Related posts:
Is the Very Low Quality flag too ambiguous?
Add a warning to the "low quality" flag option

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Also related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/86984/… –  Rob Hruska Sep 1 '11 at 19:06
I think that flag should be removed and added as a close reason. –  Won't Sep 1 '11 at 19:36
Aren't flags used by users that don't have enough rep to close? There's no NARQ or NC flag, is there? –  Uphill Luge Sep 1 '11 at 22:23
As of a few months ago, users who don't have enough rep to vote to close can submit an "it doesn't belong here" flag with the same text and description as any valid close reason. (@Hans) –  Pops Sep 1 '11 at 22:27
If it helps you better understand it, VLQ is a close cousin to spam/offensive. It is the difference between malice (vandalizing the park) and ignorance as malice (letting your dog poop in the park). –  Jeff Atwood Jan 3 '12 at 20:53
Could someone provide an example of a post which a "very low quality" flag would be suitable, but no other flag? I am finding it hard to get any examples where another flag isn't appropriate or the post shouldn't have been flagged in the first place. The only reason I currently flag VLQ is because action is usually faster on poor questions/non-answers than flagging NAA, especially on poorly-worded/formatted posts. –  Qantas 94 Heavy Feb 5 at 9:54

3 Answers 3

"Not constructive" does not mean "unreadable". Its goal is to cover questions that are polls or invite extensive discussion. Please don't use that close/flag reason for other purposes.

You could potentially use NARQ for questions that are hard to understand, but usually I see it pop up on questions that are blog posts in disguise or where the question tries to cover too much ground. All the "what ifs" fall into this category as well. I don't think "this question has major formatting/content problems" is quite the same.

Far as answers go, I agree with this. "Not an answer" is for things that don't answer the question. As in, someone goes off on an unrelated tangent. A bad/incorrect answer or an answer that's difficult to understand can still answer the question, albeit badly. I don't think "not an answer" the same as "very low quality" at all.

Mind you, most "very low quality" flags I see (on Programmers) are things that can be fixed with a simple edit, but that's a topic for another time.

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+1 Mostly agree. More specifically, "Very Low Quality" is reserved for those cases where questions and answers cannot be salvaged by editing. –  Robert Harvey Sep 1 '11 at 23:31
When I asked this question, I was suggesting expanding the definitions of those other categories so that they did include "unreadable," so this is kind of circular. That said, point well taken. –  Pops Jan 2 '12 at 18:44
@RobertHarvey what kind of post cannot be salvaged by editing? You can literally replace all of its content by editing. I only use this flag when marking posts that contain nothing but unformatted, random pieces of stack traces (with no hint of explanation) and even then I am disputed. I could post the first chapter of Snow white as a question and "salvage" it by saying I actually want to extract verbs from the text using Java. If a lack of formatting and content is not a "severe formatting or content problem", I don't know what is. IMO, this flag should be burnitated. –  Tom May 23 '13 at 12:01
@Tom: blargh blargh wugga wugga wugga codez plz. –  Robert Harvey May 23 '13 at 14:55
@RobertHarvey you're supposed to use English on this site. Please update your question with a more comprehensive description of your problem. I'm not sure I'm getting the blargh blargh right but JQuery should do the trick. Give it a try... Seriously though, I didn't know we even get such posts. –  Tom May 23 '13 at 15:25
@Tom: My example is better than some. The quality filters catch most of these nowadays. –  Robert Harvey May 23 '13 at 15:55
Yes maybe @RobertHarvey, but you could easily edit 'blargh blargh wugga wugga wugga codez plz' to something more useful... so how can it 'not be salvaged'? –  Sheridan Feb 13 at 12:54

So do we really need VLQ as a distinct flagging option?

In my eyes yes. An answer can answer a question, and still be very low quality. I find it helpful to have as a separate flag.

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I'm pretty sure those are mutually exclusive. If a post answers its question, then it's comprehensible, and therefore not "very low quality." –  Pops Sep 1 '11 at 18:47
@popular not really; it could be a single sentence 'answer', for example. It is an answer, but one that reflects extremely poorly on the overall site and the user who posted it. Think toxic waste, superfund cleanups, etc. The subtext of VLQ is "we don't tolerate dumping toxic waste on our sites -- produce answers of some basic level of quality, or go away forever." and the VLQ flag hastens this 'go away forever' process, by the way. –  Jeff Atwood Jan 2 '12 at 11:01
Thanks for clarifying, @Jeff. My previous understanding was that mods encouraged downvoting "toxic waste" but discouraged flagging it as VLQ, and that they only wanted to see VLQ flags for pure nonsense posts like "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" or "class the incrse itneger java." –  Pops Jan 2 '12 at 18:41

In my opinion they are usefull for questions/answers that are written is something that looks like english (e.g. uses latin alphabet) but actually it's hard to say if they are in english or not ;) In other words, when the message can not be understood, in order to be categorized in another category. Understanding what the user is asking would require a lot of effort and a long dialogue with the OP. But since it's rarely used, and 'doesn't belong here' is the most used one, I would suggest reworking the dialog so the default one is doesn't belong here, and 'very low quality' falls to 'other' category

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