I've recently been seeing a lot more questions on meta regarding how to fix a question so it passes the Low Quality Filter, which was tweaked on 4/17 to be more strict, and the majority of the posts only needed help with grammar and/or punctuation.

Since "proper" written english on the internet is overrated and underused, especially when writing a question interspersed with blocks of code, can we lower the weight the low-quality question filter places on the usage of correct grammar and punctuation?

Other low-quality checks like spelling errors or capitalization are typically easy to understand, spot, and correct, but problems with grammar and punctuation are not always so noticeable, especially if English is not your first language, and this appears to only be leading to more work from the same users that the low-quality filter is in place to help.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting we get rid of this aspect of the filter altogether, but only that we reduce the weight at which mistakes in grammar and punctuation are applied. The weight of spelling errors, incorrect capitalization, and whatever else you have would still apply like normal :)

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    "Since "proper" written english on the internet is overrated and underused" - Isn't that reason enough to not lower the weight of grammar and punctuation? "this appears to only be leading to more work from the same users that the low-quality filter is in place to help" - How's this a bad thing? That's exactly what the filter is supposed to do.
    – yannis
    May 3, 2013 at 16:57
  • This is snarky but completely germane - was the filter designed by computer scientists tweaking some variables until we get it "about right", or an actual statistician preferably with some understanding of AI or NLP? Because that would help.
    – djechlin
    May 3, 2013 at 16:58
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    What I feel is wrong with the quality filter is that it's blocking posts based on criteria that is extremely trivial, such as failure to capitalize the pronoun "I", while allowing egregious language and formatting catastrophes - the kind of stuff that we'd be happy to not have to deal with entirely. That said, a post can be reduced to a mess simply by accumulation of multiple trivial issues as well, but the quality filter seems too strict and too permissive with the wrong things. May 3, 2013 at 17:05
  • Can these filters be staged by throwing them in the "low quality" review queue, and factors that perform well can make it into production? Sounds like a good use for a genetic algorithm and I think there's demand for more stuff in the low quality queue.
    – djechlin
    May 3, 2013 at 17:09
  • I would not take the decision based on an increase Meta activity for such blocks. (Do we actually see that much of an increase anyway?). If there are figures suggesting that users try, are blocked and never seen again, then there might be a point to this. If most of them try, adjust and then post their question, perhaps not so much.
    – Bart
    May 3, 2013 at 17:21
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    Oh, how I wish I could downvote this more than once.
    – user164207
    May 3, 2013 at 17:23

3 Answers 3


The weight is already very low. Lower it further and we might as well not consider it at all.

Remember, the purpose of the filter is to block questions which are likely to fare poorly on the site (and annoy people in the process); like it or not, extremely poor grammar, spelling and punctuation are distractions and annoyances to many readers.

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    For once, I completely agree.
    – user164207
    May 3, 2013 at 17:40
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    I thought the weight on grammar/punctuation was higher based on some of the recent posts I've seen on meta, which looked OK other than minor grammar infractions and punctuation missing at the end of sentences. Thanks :)
    – Rachel
    May 3, 2013 at 17:45

I think that correct grammar and punctuation is very important. Especially because of the technical nature of SO questions. It can make a difficult question even harder to understand if the question isn't formatted properly.

Therefore, I think the stronger the better.

  • Shouldn't that be "I think that correct grammar and punctuation are very important."? May 3, 2013 at 18:37
  • The statement holds true despite the irony :P
    – Chris Bier
    May 3, 2013 at 18:52

Presumably we have analytics on this factor and don't have to have a town hall discussion about it.

  • Do our analytics show that human moderators consistently reject items triggered by this factor in the "low quality" queue? If so, keep it.
  • Do our analytics show that it's spotty at best? If so, get rid of it.

I'm not a statistician and care must be taken to isolate this variable but this really should be straightforward from the data.

If it is the former case then we shouldn't be asking how to weaken it, but how to deal with frustrated users who were about to post a low quality question and now don't know what to do. If many of these users were about to post quality questions, then our analytics were wrong and we need to find the bug in our analytics.

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