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A few months ago, I went on a flagging/downvoting/commenting spree on SO, hunting for low quality stuff (this was before the queues). Now, I'd like to start again--but I'd like to get a few things straightened out first:

Are extremely short answers considered VLQ? What if they're just code? I'd had some declined flags on such posts ( , Starting a service via Alarm does not work); at the same time, I had some helpful VLQ flags on similar posts. I didn't look into it that deeply then, but now that I want to start flagging again, I'd like a clearer policy on what is considered VLQ on SO. For example, are any of the following considered VLQ?

  • Short one-liner answers?
  • Answers with a few lines of code and no explanation?
  • Link only answers?

How can one differentiate between a VLQ and non-VLQ answer?

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I don't think a VLQ flag is warranted if it answers the question, particularly if there are no other answers that do this. A DV + comment is sufficient, no? – Asad Saeeduddin Jan 1 '13 at 21:15
@Asad: I would not have agreed with that then, but I do agree now (well, partially). We still need some clarity on the issue though (official response or something) -- if some flags were declined and some were marked as helpful (with the post being deleted), there probably isn't consensus on this yet. – Manishearth Jan 1 '13 at 21:21
related: Why are the moderators being so strict with quality related flags recently? "I recently flagged a question as 'very low quality' just like I've flagged many questions in the past. However, my flag was found to be unhelpful this time. The same thing happened when I recently flagged a post as not an answer..." – gnat Jan 1 '13 at 21:47
Frankly, I think the "very low quality" flag should be disabled for answers, because it's rarely useful. If someone is making an honest effort to answer a question, I'm not going to delete it. All other cases are handled by not an answer, spam, or custom flags. If it's just rough, why push the editing work onto moderators rather than doing it yourself? – Brad Larson Jan 1 '13 at 23:19
If you can only rate an answer by low indicators like that and have completely no clue whatsoever whether the post answers the question then.... stop helping. It isn't helpful. – Uphill Luge Jan 2 '13 at 0:37
@UphillLuge: ? I never said I had completely no clue... I started off on SE via Physics.SE, where such posts are frowned upon (though not necessarily deleted), even if they answer the question. I was naiveley applying the same mentality on SO, which I now know is wrong :\ – Manishearth Jan 2 '13 at 4:39
@BradLarson dfgdfgdfhsdfjhjkdfgsfkgjfh – gnat Jan 2 '13 at 7:58
@gnat - Not an answer. A spam flag might also be acceptable in that case, because spammers try to test the posting process by doing that. – Brad Larson Jan 2 '13 at 15:12
@BradLarson hm well, that makes certain sense. As soon as I see not-an-answer or spam tag wiki updated to reflect cases like that I wouldn't mind using it – gnat Jan 2 '13 at 17:45
@gnat - The not-an-answer tag wiki already states "this is not an answer, just a random conversation or rant, or meaningless typing that should be deleted." which seems to cover this case quite well. – Brad Larson Jan 2 '13 at 20:53
@BradLarson "meaningless typing", great - that covers it indeed! Consider me 100% convinced, disabling VLQ for answers makes perfect sense – gnat Jan 2 '13 at 21:22
up vote 10 down vote accepted

The key part of the very low quality flag is that the post cannot be salvaged through editing. A one-line code answer or even code with no explanation can be salvaged. It may not be complete, but it does answer the question and pretty much anyone can look at it and add in text that describes the code. Most people just don't want to do that or would prefer the person posting it do that instead, but that's certainly no reason to just flat-out delete it.

As for link-only answers, those have already been discussed extensively. There's even a FAQ about them.

share|improve this answer
for flagging purposes, the "FAQ" you mentioned is practically useless. 'Attentive reader will notice that (as of now) the very word "flag" is not mentioned neither in the question, nor in any of the answers, not even in comments.' (flagger's guide to link only answers) – gnat Jan 1 '13 at 21:45

Terseness should be appreciated, not flagged.

The most important criteria is if it answers the question.

If it's not readable or in bad english, then editing should be used to clean it up. Though for bad enough composition it maybe should be flagged (some posts are unfixable, since the intent of the poster can't always be determined).

I think VLQ is mostly for answers that are too vague and don't give a specific answer.

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