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On the review page, there is a one-sentence guideline on reviewing. I think that as the number of reviewers increase, it is going to become increasingly necessary to come to some kind of agreement about a standard way to handle the different 'cases' that arise.

I'm not sure if 'one question to rule them all' here is a good idea or not, but let's try.

Post an answer for each new 'type' of problem, with a suggested approach, then people can weigh in with comments and update the approach accordingly. Make the posts CW preferably.

(Obviously, don't bother posting links to problem posts, as they won't be around long - just copy/paste any relevant text)

EDIT IMPORTANT: There has been some (cough), 'confusion' about the semantics of 'flag for removal' in review. Some people took that to mean "this answer is ok, remove it from the reviewing list", whereas (as I understand it), it actually means "flag for removal from the site".

EDIT2 - (Shameless plug) If you find the answers to this question helpful, you may be interested in my Pro-forma comments script

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2  
Maybe I'm crazy, but is this in any way necessary? /review doesn't create new problems/solutions, it just makes it easier to find bad posts -- the ways we've always dealt with those posts still apply –  Michael Mrozek Jan 10 '11 at 8:18
4  
@Michael, maybe not. But I guess now that there is a review page, and people are being actively encouraged to go there, it would be good to draw together all the collective 'edition culture' that we've developed into one place for easy reference - not so much for the 'old hands', but to point new people to. –  Benjol Jan 10 '11 at 9:00
    
In general, if these are old posts, I wouldn't even bother commenting on them. –  mmyers Jan 11 '11 at 23:42
    
@MichaelMyers, yes, that's what @radp suggested in his answer. –  Benjol Jan 12 '11 at 5:38
2  
Should this be community wiki? –  Bert F Jan 22 '11 at 18:56
    
This question and its answers are about collecting policies for reviewers. It may be useful to have a parallel question/answers for end users. For example, take the issue "Nothing but a URL, but does answer the question" - the example comment is good, but the linked question in the comment is exactly that - a question with a bunch of potential answers - may not be user friendly. It may be better to link to a nicely-edited, concise post that clearly explains the rationale behind why URL-only posts are bad. These posts would be collected in a meta question that holds all these faq-like posts. –  Bert F Jan 22 '11 at 19:14

12 Answers 12

Category: Answers which should be comments (or votes, or accepts)

Symptom: Thanks

Example:

Ah Matthew!! thank you so much! I strugled the whole day with this... never though about putting it in a using block.

I am really just a beginner and read a few threads and just tried anything really... and thnaks for the info, took the Flush out, added the using block, and everythings working perfectly.

Oh and the fast answer is much appriciated!

Policy: Click through, comment 'this should be a comment' (see below), flag, (don't bother to down-vote if very low rep user?). If the user is the OP, also mention accepting. There's no point commenting if the user hasn't been back in months

Example comment:

[Optional: Welcome to SiteName!] Please don't add 'thanks' as answers. Invest 
some time in the site and you will gain sufficient 
[privileges](http://stackoverflow.com/privileges) to upvote answers you like, 
which is the SiteName way of saying thank you.

Notes: Don't forget that low-rep users (http://stackoverflow.com/privileges/comment) can't comment everywhere - only on their questions, and answers to their questions, and on their answers.

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1  
Thanks should be upvotes -- or even better, accepts :) –  badp Jan 7 '11 at 11:07
    
Suggestion: Welcome to Site Name! Please don't add 'thanks' as answers, the answerer will not be notified of your response. Instead, invest some time in the site and you will gain sufficient privileges to upvote answers you like, and comment on them if you want to notify the answerer. –  Tom Wijsman Jan 11 '11 at 15:11
1  
I disagree here. Thank you answers should be deleted, otherwise we teach low rep users that "thank you" answers are fine. –  waffles Jan 11 '11 at 21:28
1  
@waffles, you forget that we mere mortals can't delete answers :) –  Benjol Jan 12 '11 at 5:39
    
:) I think I misunderstood the symptom here ... If it is "Contains important information about the questions" I am totally for this policy. But if it is only a "thanks" well "flag for removal" makes more sense –  waffles Jan 12 '11 at 6:05
    
@waffles, no, you're right, I've edited a bit to try and make things clearer. –  Benjol Jan 12 '11 at 6:22
1  
After you flag the answer, do you mark for removal from /review? –  The Unhandled Exception Jan 22 '11 at 17:42

Category: Nothing but a URL

Symptom: Does actually answer the question

Example:

1: http://wiki.eclipse.org/J9? - try this

Policy: If someone else has actually provided a better answer, just downvote. If user is still active on site, leave a comment inviting them to provide more information (see below). Otherwise edit?

Example comment:

[Optional: Welcome to SiteName!] Whilst this does theoretically answer the 
question, [it would be preferable](http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8231/are-answers-that-just-contain-links-elsewhere-really-good-answers/8259#8259) 
to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for 
reference.

Alternatively: If you're feeling generous, edit the answer into shape...

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As a new user, I'd wonder why that is preferable. –  meriton Jan 11 '11 at 19:37
    
@meriton: Good point. There are plenty of good reasons, to be found here and here –  Benjol Jan 12 '11 at 5:44
    
If you downvote/comment on the answer, do you mark for removal from /review? Obviously you would do so if you edited it to make it better... –  The Unhandled Exception Jan 22 '11 at 17:44

What I do when browsing low quality posts:

  • If a new user posts a "bad" answer and his last visit was relatively recent (I'm thinking within 30 days), comment.

    Welcome to Site Name Here! This is not a forum. In a few upvotes' time you'll be able to Intended Action Here; in the meantime, please use the "Post answer" button for actual answers only.

    or:

    Welcome to Site Name Here! If you have another question, please ask it by clicking the "Ask Question" Shape of Ask Question Button Here. I have taken the time to fill in the tags for you :)

    or:

    Welcome to Site Name Here! If you would like to add further details to your question, feel free to use the "Edit" button below your original post instead and only use the "Post Answer" button for actual answers.

  • If a new user posts a "bad" answer and his last visit was far back in the past (usually minutes after his post), flag for removal.

  • If the post is low quality because of grammar but actually answers the question: edit.

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4  
Welcome to Meta Stack Overflow! This is not a forum. In a few upvotes' time you'll be able to make proper GLaDOS references; in the meantime, please use the "Post answer" button for actual answers only. –  badp Jan 7 '11 at 11:05
    
I'm not sure if it is appropriate to comment after so much time as passed since this answer was posted, but... how is it that a last visit within 30 days is relatively recent, while while one within minutes is far back in the past? –  A.P. Apr 13 '13 at 18:57
    
@A.P. Question timestamp + minutes != Now - minutes –  badp Apr 14 '13 at 9:21
    
I see, thanks. I didn't think posts could be added for review after so much time has passed since they are posted. –  A.P. Apr 14 '13 at 9:23

Category: Nothing but a URL

Symptom: Totally unrelated spam

Example:

www.cheapwatches.com

Policy: Click through and flag as spam

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Category: Answers which should be questions

Symptom: How can I do [something related]?

Example:

Hi all, I have a similar problem with my Foo which won't compile properly in the following circumstances. I'm going crazy here, someone help pleez!

Policy: Click through, comment 'please post a new question' (see below), flag, (don't down-vote if very low rep user?). There's no point commenting if the user hasn't been back in months

Example comment:

[Optional: Welcome to SiteName!] If you have another question, please ask it by
clicking the [Ask Question](http://siteurlhere/questions/ask?tags=tag1+tag2+tag3)
button. I have taken the time to fill in the tags for you :)
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Category: Answers which should be comments

Symptom: Additional information added by OP

Example:

John that doesn't work, here is the code for my snozzleTheFrubuts() method...

Policy: Click through, comment 'please edit your original question' (see below), flag, (don't down-vote if very low rep user?). There's no point commenting if the user hasn't been back in months

Example comment:

[Optional: Welcome to SiteName!] Please use the "Post answer" button for 
actual answers only. You should modify your original question to add additional 
information.
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1  
Usually I'll copy the information into the user's question as well with text like "Edit: Copied from OPs answer" or similar. –  Brian Jan 26 '11 at 19:19

Category: Answers which should be comments

Symptom: Requests for OP to provide additional information

Example:

question is confusing make it in points so easy to understand and answer

Policy: This is a tough one, because if the user doesn't have sufficient rep to comment, they don't really have much choice. If you are feeling generous create the comment yourself, then flag. Moderators can choose to turn it into a comment. (See this related question.)

Example comment:

[Optional: Welcome to SiteName!] This is really a comment, not an answer. With 
a bit more rep, you will be able to post comments. For the moment I've added the 
comment for you, and I'm flagging this post for deletion.
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Seems like there's really only one option right now - flag for moderator attention as "not an answer". Since this happens a lot, it may be useful to (1) make "should be a comment" its own separate option(s) ("should be a comment to question", "should be a comment to answer XYZ") from the other "not an answer"-type selection, and/or (2) given it automated treatment (e.g. if N people mark as "should be a comment to question, it becomes a comment to question). –  Bert F Jan 22 '11 at 19:00
    
There is a practical problem here, in that sometimes we need much information, which might result in exhaustive scripts - I had such situations, but rarely on Unix&Linux or AskUbuntu, in the context of network settings. A multi step investigating-the-error " (lspci, lsmod, ifconfig, cat /etc/resolv.conf, ...)" guide can be very useful for multiple users, which find the question, but I admit, it's not an answer. But it is unreadable if spread over 3 comments with multiple code invocations, sample output, how to read the output and so on. I don't have an answer for this problem. –  user unknown Mar 6 '12 at 22:23

Category: Answers which should be questions

Symptom: I have the same problem

Example:

Yeh i have the exact same problem did you ever find solution to this problem?

Policy: Click through, comment 'this is not an answer' (see below), flag, (don't down-vote if very low rep user?). There's no point commenting if the user hasn't been back in months. Note: very low rep users can't upvote questions, so there's no point including that advice if you comment.

Example comment:

[Optional: Welcome to SiteName!] If you have a NEW question, please ask it by
clicking the [Ask Question](http://siteurlhere/questions/ask)
button. If you have sufficient reputation, you may upvote the question. 
Alternatively, 'star' it as a favorite and you will be notified of any new answers.
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Category: Very Short (one line) Answers

Symptom: Answer does solve the problem

Example:

SELECT * FROM myTable LEFT JOIN myOthertable ON myTable.name=myOtherTable.name

Policy: Ignore the post, because it's OK? I was confused, I thought "flag for removal" meant removal from the list of posts to review, not removal from the site altogether!

Alternatively: If you're feeling generous, edit the answer into shape...

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Can you explain the rationale that makes these bad answers? Getting everyone thinking the same about it may help decide the policy. –  Bert F Jan 22 '11 at 18:49
    
@BertF I'm suggesting that they're not bad answers, but the show up under /review so we should remove them from there because they're OK. I'm really looking for guidance here. –  The Unhandled Exception Jan 22 '11 at 18:53
    
@BertF it was just explained to me that I totally misunderstood what "Flag for removal means!!! So, sorry about that! –  The Unhandled Exception Jan 22 '11 at 19:16
    
:-) thanks for clarifying –  Bert F Jan 22 '11 at 19:18
    
I consider this to be a "bad answer" if the questioner has actually asked for an explanation of why they're having the problem... With no explanation, they haven't provided what the questioner actually needs. –  Taryn East Jun 1 '11 at 13:28
    
Why - supposed it is an useful and complete answer - would it be generous to add some noise? I suggest upvoting instead (maybe as a new answer to this thread). –  user unknown Mar 6 '12 at 22:16

Category: Very Short (one line) Answers

Symptom: Answer does solve the problem

Example:

egrep -v "[^fobar]" FILE 

Policy: Upvote the correct answer.

(Category+Symptom are a shameless copy of "The Unhandled Exc"'s answer, but my policy is very different.

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Category: Suggested edits gone wrong

Symptom: Editor is reckless with the OP's original content

Example:

Original:

I heard that you can't copy text (in the browser) without using something like Flash; so, is there a way to select text by using an anchor and JavaScript or jQuery?

Reviewed:

I heard that you can't copy text (in the browser) without using something like Flash; so, is there a way to select text by using an anchor and JavaScript or jQuery?

Policy: Click Reject, and mark as "Radical Change".

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Category: Questions that are a tangled mess

Symptom: Cluttered with redundant content

Example:

Original:

I heard that you can't copy text (in the browser) without using something like Flash; so, is there a way to select text by using an anchor and JavaScript or jQuery?

Edited:

I heard that you can't copy text (in the browser) without using something like Flash; so, is there a way to select text by using an anchor and JavaScript or jQuery?

Edit: Maybe it's possible using HTML 5?

Update: I tried with HTML 5, and couldn't find any way of making it possible.

Notice: My birthday is coming next week, so any answer is welcomed by then, thanks!

Policy: Click Improve, remove redundant content, and leave a comment to explain the edit.

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