I recently flagged this answer as very low quality, where a user misread or misunderstood a question about JavaScript as being about PHP, and answered with a PHP function. The flag was rejected, with the rationale being:

flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer

I'd like to discuss this and see if I can get a better understanding of what the VLQ flag is intended for.

When I decided to flag the answer, the first two candidates that popped into my head were "Not an Answer" and "Very Low Quality".

To my understanding, the "Not an Answer" flag should be used when there is no discernible attempt to answer the question. That was not the case, since the user did try to answer the question. The VLQ flag is for when no amount of editing can salvage a post. This was applicable, since I obviously can't salvage the answer without changing it entirely. It also seemed to pass Jeff's soft criteria, since it was a mildly embarrassing slip up.


Since this was not a correct use of VLQ, am I correct in assuming that VLQ flags should only be used when a post is barely understandable? That is, as long as it contains coherent sentences, it should not be flagged as VLQ?

As an additional question, if this is the case (readable content cannot be VLQ), are there any other avenues to getting content like this deleted? Should it be deleted? My answer to that last question would be a strong yes, but I'd like to get the community's take on it.


VLQ means the post being flagged is garbage - the notion that it can be corrected by anyone is simply unimaginable:

VLQ means the flagger thinks this post is beyond saving -- no amount of editing or polishing will turn this particular turd into gold. It is a call for a pooper-scooper.


Essentially this is synonymous with flag for removal. Both for the post and implicitly for the user who created that post … if they accrue enough of them.

For answers that are simply wrong, there's always that down-vote button...

To address your specific scenario: I don't think flagging is appropriate there, but if you were going to flag then using the custom option and entering "answerer is confused - this is in no way a PHP question" would be appropriate. Still no guarantee a moderator will remove it for that reason though; there's no guarantee that a moderator who knows enough about PHP to confirm your charge will actually read it!

At this point, a follow-up comment to the effect of, "you should just delete this if you can't provide a JavaScript answer" would be appropriate; the author would probably appreciate the assistance.

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  • Shouldn't be removed at all, because the PHP code is still helpful given that we can learn from it and rewrite in the correct language. It would be better if rewritten in the answer instead, but an answer doesn't have to have line-by-line code, pseudo-code is sufficient. – Lee Louviere Mar 26 '13 at 17:47
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    @LeeLouviere There is nothing relevant that can be learnt from that answer. An answer that states "Did you know that you there are over 80 species of whales?" is similarly informative, but not relevant. Writing it in the correct language is the entire point of the question, so answering "What tool can be used to parse JSON into a data structure in JS?" with pseudocode or code in a different language is useless. – user200500 Mar 26 '13 at 18:03
  • @Shog I'll try leaving a comment in the future (the answer's already been deleted by other users). – user200500 Mar 26 '13 at 18:04

Example low quality answer.

I thought about this, and then I realized that you're right. VLQ should be flagged. Otherwise, how would moderators find out which answers are VLQ.

It's an answer, so it can't be flagged as "should be a comment". It's a personal opinion and has no backing information, so you can't just downvote it and leave, we do not want these kinds of answers at all, ever. No effort was put into giving a pragmatic answer.

For comparison.

Example: Should be a comment

I want to know the answer too.

Example: Spam.

Please vote for my favorite Reality TV Show Actor at www.somesite.com

Example: Wrong answer. Just downvote these.

A VLQ answer means that the answer should be a comment instead.

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