I recently downvoted and flagged an answer as "Very Low Quality". The answer was to a two year old question that already had three correct answers (including one accepted), and the existing answers thoroughly explained the subject at hand. The bad answer provides the wrong conclusion and justifies it with an explanation that would apply to a different though similar question. This answer was also the first answer that the user (who had 6 rep) has provided on SO.

The "Very Low Quality" flag was rejected with the note that "flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer". I try not to flag answers simply for being wrong; this answer seemed to me to go above and beyond merely being dead wrong, but didn't stray in to the territory of incomprehensibility that would qualify it for a "Not an answer" flag, nor was it completely off-topic, nor did I see a way to improve it without changing the essential meaning of the answer (which seems inappropriate, and would pretty much make it a duplicate answer). It seemed to me that the answer satisfied Jeff's test of "Not just bad but embarrassingly bad."

So, if I was overreacting and that answer wasn't actually bad enough to justify the flag, then what would be bad enough while still not qualifying for the "Not an answer" flag? From the discussion on I've seen here about the VLQ flag, it seems that many are opposed to its existence, but that its applicability to questions has been defended. I haven't seen much discussion specific to flagging answers. Can anyone provide specific guidelines for what makes an answer eligible for the VLQ flag, or should I just avoid it altogether?

1 Answer 1


If it would take a Herculean editing effort to bring a post (question or answer) up to our minimum quality standards, or if the post just can't possibly be salvaged, it's a great candidate for very low quality.

If an answer is wrong, but the author seems to have read and understood the question, use your down vote. Moderators judge the quality of posts, not the accuracy. Well, we do judge accuracy when we're knowledgeable, but we do that with our votes.

If the answer in no way answers the question with content that stands on its own (e.g. "me too", "thanks", "try this link"), it's not an answer and should be removed. The same goes for answers where it's blatantly obvious that the author did not read the question.

Stuff like "Buy nike shoes" is obviously SPAM.

If a moderator investigates a very low quality flag and sees an answer that is readable and seemingly relevant to the question, well .. there's not much evidence of a quality issue. If we can see why someone might think the post was problematic, we generally mark the flag as helpful (after editing or removing the post).

The post that you linked is not very low quality. The first sentence could use a little bit of editing. I can't vouch for it's accuracy, but (again) as a moderator, that's not what I'm supposed to be looking for.

Would that little bit of information and citation be helpful to someone else? I don't know. But it is related to the question, and it can be understood without a lot of effort. The votes it receives should be an indicator of its accuracy and usefulness.

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