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This is a bit of a long shot proposal, but I think it could also help improve the site. I often times find myself leaving comments, etc on answers which I don't feel deserve flagging for moderator attention yet (because they would most likely just post a comment as well). However, the problem with doing this is that it's hard to keep track of whether or not the user actually improved the answer later on. Sure, I could go search through my long list of comments and try to find that one in there somewhere that I suggested should be improved just to flag it for deletion because it was never improved, but that's a lot of effort for a non-so-great outcome (compared to the amount of effort). As I stand now, I've made 910 comments covering 46 pages, which will only continue to increase.

Take, for example, this comment which I left for an answer which was posted as only a link. I posted this comment 6 days ago and still no improvement has been made, and I doubt improvement ever will be made for this answer.

Anyways, on to the proposal. I was wondering if the network would be interested in implementing a sort of "stub" system (kind of like a wiki). It would work similar to the close/reopen system, where you need 2 (or 3 or 5, I like 2 because I mainly find these answers in the review section where a potentially small number of people will see it) votes to mark an answer as a "stub" simply meaning that the answer in its current state needs to be improved by the author. This should also notify the author of the answer that it has been marked as a stub. Once marked as a stub, it should show an "unstub" link so users can re-vote to unmark it and clear that status from the answer.

This would also add another section in the review page called stubs. After seven days (or some set amount of time, I like seven days), an answer that has been marked as a stub should appear in the review section for, well, review. Users can look at it and either mark it as no longer a stub or flag it for deletion (or vote to delete if they have that privilege). This could also add an additional section for actioned reviews.

Overall, this could contribute to the goal of moderation on the site by forcing users to either improve their answers or get them removed. The main focus here is to cut down the answers which are just Try looking at this: [some link], but it could be applied to other scenarios as well. I'm a moderator at heart and while I'll likely never actually become a moderator, I do spend a vast amount of time in the review panel going through the old posts and reviewing as much as I can. Of course, this proposal can always use additional ideas and improvements. Any thoughts?

Other things to think about:

  • Minimum reputation to mark an answer as a stub?
  • Should questions be allowed to be marked as stubs?

Edit: I was a tad bored and still feeling a little created, so I drew up a small example of what I'm getting at:


Sorry about the blacked out test, I just copy-pasted examples from the review screen. It serves it purpose, but I felt it best to black it out, just in case.

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Yeah, I liked that show too. – Time Traveling Bobby Dec 1 '11 at 8:36
I think this clashes with the overall principle of voting. Marking something as stub is at the moment a simple downvote. The only thing different is a notification and an automatic deletion after Seven Days. I'm all against automatic deletions, because there's always the possibility that it misfires. – Time Traveling Bobby Dec 1 '11 at 8:39
@Bobby: I didn't mention automatic, I mentioned after seven days it would show up in the review page for manual revision to see if it's been improved or not. However, posting a link to something may not necessarily warrant a downvote. The link could be helpful, but just a link does not make for a quality answer as it needs to be elaborated. – animuson Dec 1 '11 at 8:41
Grrrrrr...sorry, I seriously should stop reading posts while sleepy. You can find the discussion about Link-Only answers here, in case you didn't know about. – Time Traveling Bobby Dec 1 '11 at 8:59
@Bobby: Mhmm, yea, that's the question I linked too in my comment to the example answer I provided. ;) – animuson Dec 1 '11 at 9:05
Okay, I'm outta here to take a nap or get a stronger coffee or something...please ignore my jabber. :) – Time Traveling Bobby Dec 1 '11 at 9:09
Related:… – Jason Plank Dec 1 '11 at 10:18
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I deal with this using tabs. If I leave a comment to someone suggesting an improvement that will make their "not an answer" into an answer, I leave the page with my comment on it open, and carry on with my life in some other tab. I do this only for pretty recent answers, say in the last half hour. Some time later, typically just a few hours later, I refresh the page. I can see how long it's been because it tells me when my comment was. If the answer is still unchanged, I flag it. On SO I would not wait a week, or even a full day, for people to come around and fix up their answers in response to my comments.

On other sites, where response times are more like normality, I just leave the tab for a day or two and then wander back to it and refresh it. But one of the reasons I don't wait very long is that the response rate to comments telling people to improve their answers is pretty much zero. If it's going to happen, it happens within minutes. So a site-stored cache (as opposed to something you manage yourself in your browser) is probably a lot of effort for low return.

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FYI, this just worked for me and surprised me a little. Spotted a "hey OP I have a problem doing what you said" kind of answer, commented that questions should be questions, and now I see the answer is gone. So that worked. – Kate Gregory Dec 7 '11 at 21:34

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