I've been seeing answers recently in the Low Quality and First Posts queues on SO that are only 2-4 lines of code, with no other explanation. My habit was to scroll down to the question and try and see if it seemed like the code did actually solve the problem. Sometimes it seems to; "How do I do X with a button?" Answer: 2-4 lines of code about buttons. So okay, maybe sometimes they're self-explanatory and don't absolutely require explanation (though that would of course make them better answers.) Generally I do end up approving these; sometimes I skip when I can't tell if they're legitimate answers or not. (Disclaimer: I've only had 2k privileges and been reviewing actively for <2 weeks.)

But just now I reviewed an answer that was 1 line of actual code (a function definition), with 2 more lines that were simply opening and closing braces. This made me pause and think "Is this a review audit?" But I stopped and looked at the question, and it did seem like it answered it, so I approved the post. But this has made me stop and think: should I be approving these as a rule? I mean...if they're helpful and give the OP the code they need, then even though you could say they are LQ, they're still an answer. But since some are very short, and this one was actually short enough to make me wonder if it was an audit.... I just want to check that I'm doing the right thing with these posts.

Approve, reject, or skip and let someone who knows the language take a look at it? I'm sure editing would be the preferred option, but I'm not always going to have the knowledge to edit explanation into every one of these answers I review.


Yes, if the code does attempt to answer the question then it's an answer. If you don't know whether the code attempts to answer the question then you should skip the review.

However, I really dislike an answer that consists solely of:

Try this:


So, I try to comment as well; something like this:

Hi, your post has been flagged as "low quality", probably because it consists solely of code. You could massively improve your answer by providing an explanation of exactly how and why this answers the question?

If it's someone with not much rep it might be worth mentioning that good answers get more rep as an extra incentive.

There's one more option. You can edit the post yourself. This is a "looks good" vote but if you know the subject and understand both the question and answer this is an option. Not that I've ever done it...

  • Commenting is a great idea, I probably should have thought of that :) +1, and thanks for your response!
    – WendiKidd
    Aug 21 '13 at 21:10
  • 1
    I for one typically downvote code-only answers with a simple straightforward comment "how does this answer the question asked?" Then, if author replies with comment answering my question (which happens fairly often), I edit their comment into the answer (with edit summary "clarification copied into post from comments") and undownvote
    – gnat
    Aug 21 '13 at 22:44
  • I usually comment "How does this solve the OP's problem?" or "Why does this code fix the issue?"
    – Cole Tobin
    Aug 22 '13 at 0:28
  • By telling then that they're answer seems to be low quality I'm hoping for a little more notice @cole. I used to do what you suggest and got a load of crap comments in return. Mqybe I was unlucky? Aug 22 '13 at 6:05
  • @ben probably. I rarely have that happen with me.
    – Cole Tobin
    Aug 22 '13 at 8:08
  • @benisuǝqbackwards are you sure that comments you receive are 100% crap? I ask because I often receive partial crap in replies to my comments, like stupid gnat, it is obvious that... + explanation. I naturally "filter the noise" and edit only explanation part into the post
    – gnat
    Aug 22 '13 at 16:33

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