Came across this answer in the review queue (the answer has since been edited by Gilles, here's the version I reviewed).

Scanning through comments quickly I see that people are saying: I do not understand this, I do not understand that, Can you explain this and that, etc...

I wanted to flag this answer for either low quality or moderators attention. I could have edited it through creating the body based on the comments - BUT, I am not an expert in Haskell (I don't even know the basics) and didn't want to mess anything up or provide a misleading information through my edit.

While my intentions are good and helpful I am failing this audit. How's that for a reward to the effort I make?


This was an audit, designed to see if you were paying attention. You didn't pass. Your review was inappropriate. This was a high quality post and you should have considered leaving it as-is or even upvoting.

what would a low quality answer look like? an empty post? ;)

  • Am I missing something here? How did I not pay attention?
  • What would the right thing to do be in this case?
  • What would you do and why would it be different than the path I took?
  • Would you fail this?
  • 24
    FWIW, When I come across a review with tags (particularly language tags) I'm unfamiliar with I'll usually just skip it. Sep 20, 2013 at 7:31
  • 3
    When I look at that failed audit I see them with the question at the bottom. My review is based on the quality of the answer, but I only review based on my knowledge of the subject. Sep 20, 2013 at 7:35
  • 3
    I would fail for wanting to comment saying that an explanation would be nice. Sep 20, 2013 at 7:36
  • 2
    If I am in doubt, I either skip the review or open the question to look at the full context.
    – user213634
    Sep 20, 2013 at 7:38
  • 2
    @AndersUP I wasn't in doubt. I was convinced that was a low quality answer.
    – user221081
    Sep 20, 2013 at 7:39
  • 3
    Ok, possibly my mention of the tags is made my point a but fuzzy. All I mean is that I'll avoid reviewing for languages I'm not familiar with. BTW, i'd probably have failed for the same reason as @Jan, had I decided not to skip it. Saying that though, reading the code it does look fairly obvious what it's going to do, so an explanation would be nice in my view, but not totally needed. Sep 20, 2013 at 7:40
  • 6
    I for one would not fail, because I would Skip this review. Love that button
    – gnat
    Sep 20, 2013 at 8:41
  • 8
    It's a simple accident. That answer has 48 upvotes, so the system assumes it's a good answer...that this answer has 48 upvotes and no downvotes is the problem here. Sep 20, 2013 at 9:01
  • 1
    FWIW I just brought a “human factor” into review audit selection
    – gnat
    Sep 20, 2013 at 9:28
  • Hm, the review link shows the most recent revision as opposed to the revision that was being reviewed. I hope I added the correct link to the OP. Sep 21, 2013 at 0:42
  • 1
    @OldCheckmark it is the correct link. Once the review is completed, the post in the review link shows it as it really is, not how it appeared in the review. This is why you can't see deleted posts that are used as reviews after the fact. Sep 21, 2013 at 11:28

6 Answers 6


I don't think you should have failed this audit, but not necessarily for the reasons you think. Yes, it appears to be a bad audit question1, and had I decided to review it, I probably would have failed. But since I am not familiar with I probably would have skipped it. Personally, I don't think you should have failed it because I don't think you should have reviewed it.

I've said it before on other answers about audits in other queues and I'll say it again in a first posts queue, when reviewing, especially when reviewing answers, if you aren't familiar with the topic, you should skip.

From one of your comments (emphasis mine):

@GeorgeDuckett yes, the question is faded out at the bottom of the page. But you are asked to review the answer not the question. In some cases I would read the question but in this case the given answer is too short, low quality and doesn't explain any code given.

If you admit you review answers without even reading the question, then you need to rethink your review process. Sure, you can judge that post on the apparent quality and conformance to the guidelines, but you are not performing half of the review. How do you even know that the answer, even a high quality one, answers the question unless you look and understand the question? (In fairness, you do say you don't always read the question so it is not like you skip reading the question every time).

One effective way to make sure you only review posts you feel qualified to edit is to filter. Depending on the queue, the filter link has multiple options (to review questions only or answers only in the First Posts, or by type of close vote in the Clove Queue). There is also a tag box in all of the queues so you can specify the tags you want to see.

enter image description here

1 - My position on this being a bad audit question is that the original version shown before Gilles' edits was not an ideal Stack Overflow post. Yes, this was an OK answer that was made exceptional by the aforementioned edit, but since audits are supposed to be more obvious and given the lack of a body in the original, I don't see it being a slam dunk. That being said, it is great for educational purposes, so if they audits are every changed to being more educational then it would have been a good audit.


Yes, as someone who is unfamiliar with the technology as well, it appears to be a bad audit, but since you aren't familiar, you should have skipped.

When answering questions, it takes 5 extra seconds to review the question and the tags. That doesn't mean you need to take the question into account if it is clearly a bad (non-conforming) answer, but you also don't need to rush through the review either - that is the whole purpose of audits, to make you slow down and pay attention. If you learn to slow down and review everything as a result of this audit, then it actually did its job.

  • 1
    I like that I don't think you should have failed it because I don't think you should have reviewed it.. I think we both agree that the audit is a bad one but also I haven't taken the right steps and tried to be too clever. Your point about not reading questions is valid - but only in some cases. Sometimes I can tell right away that an answer needs to be deleted and no further action is needed from me. Sometimes if I want to investigate I obviously read the question - i am glad you also noticed that because reading your answer for a second got me thinking that I am a terrible reviewer :P
    – user221081
    Sep 20, 2013 at 11:46
  • 1
    @mehow Personally, I think you should always read the question regardless. It takes 5 extra seconds to review the question and the tags. That doesn't mean you need to take the question into account if it is clearly a bad answer, but you also don't need to rush through the review either - that is the whole purpose of audits, to make you slow down and pay attention. Sep 20, 2013 at 11:54
  • @psubsee2003 - "I don't think you should have failed it because I don't think you should have reviewed it". Perhaps people should be able to filter reviews by tags?
    – Travis J
    Sep 20, 2013 at 17:56
  • 1
    @TravisJ you can. See my edit Sep 20, 2013 at 18:11

This is a code-only answer. A code-only answer should not be deleted on sight. To call it a high-quality answer is be stretching it, but it is not so low-quality that it needs to be deleted.

An answer should be deleted if it does not contain any content to someone who may be looking for the answer. A code-only answer may be deletion-worthy in some circumstances — for example, if the same code is contained in another answer with explanations, or if the code is completely irrelevant (and even in that last cast the normal reaction should be a downvote). But if you do not have enough technical knowledge to ascertain that the code is useless, then you should skip that review.

The comments should have been another clue that the answer is worth keeping. Yes, there are comments that say “I don't understand this” — and there are replies to these comments! This is an indication that the right thing to do with this answer is to edit it to merge in the information located in the comments. Also, the first comment, which has several upvotes, begins with “last ['a'..] is clever” — if it's clever, surely it's worth having around.

You even seem to have realized that the answer needs to be edited. If an answer needs to be edited, it means it's worth keeping. The definition of a low-quality answer is that it is unsalvageable and needs to be deleted. An answer that needs editing is not a low-quality answer and doesn't need flagging.

If you don't have the technical knowledge to edit the answer, that's fine. Skip the review item.

I've gone ahead and edited the answer, I think I've added in all the relevant information from the comments.

  • 1
    Unless the header on the review page is lying, it was a First Post's not Low Quality, so there's not a "Recommend Deletion" button. I think the OP tried to flag it as a "Low Quality Post", but your general point is still accurate. It wasn't a bad post (although, I do not think it is an ideal audit question given the lack of text in the post) Sep 20, 2013 at 17:48
  • it couldnt have been a first answer. even the SO generated text tells you its a high quality post which is the opposite of the low quality which the review was for
    – user221081
    Sep 20, 2013 at 18:11
  • @psubsee2003 I hadn't meant to imply that the review item was LQ (my answer would apply to this item in any queue). I edited the part of my abswer that I think might have been misleading. I do think it's a good audit: it was clearly not a bad post. Sep 20, 2013 at 19:09
  • @mehow It was in the first posts queue. Sep 20, 2013 at 19:09
  • I missed your edit and I was terribly concerned that my understanding of Haskell was such complete trash that I missed a "low quality" answer right infront of my face...bravo!
    – user7116
    Sep 20, 2013 at 19:14
  • @Gilles it couldnt be as the authors first post was on Sept 4th.
    – user221081
    Sep 20, 2013 at 19:32
  • 1
    @mehow It was an audit, not a real first post. First post audits are no more first posts (except by coincidence) than very low quality audits are very low quality. Sep 20, 2013 at 19:56

(Correct me if I misunderstood the source. But I understand Tim Post is involved.)

The highlighted quote apparently is not a comment from an individual contributor but official StackOverflow prose. That's most worrying. Under no condition should you use such language towards volunteers. I would strongly suggest reprimanding whoever wrote that.

In particular, it consists of 5 accusations in a row, with the same message. That form of repetition confers the message that the author believes the reader to be so dumb that repeating it 3 times would be insufficient, a message that's reinforced by the use of short phrases such as "You didn't pass".

Now, back to the questions at the end. It's unnecessary to answer them individually. What would I do? Well, I would drop out of reviewing and go back to answering. Strike that, I will. I haven't even gotten this message personally, but its mere existence is insulting.

[edit] To opt out of this reviewing, you can use the following bit of custom CSS:

span#hlinks-nav {
  visibility: hidden !important;
  • 1
    the quote was an additional highlight to prove my point that the answer was actually very poor. This was a high quality post contradicts the truth. It either shouldn't have been an audit or I am misunderstanding the concept. And most of the time if I don't understand something I at least make an effort trying to understand it.
    – user221081
    Sep 20, 2013 at 8:29
  • 1
    @mehow: My point was that whoever came up with the audit concept, and wrote the associated text, clearly holds me and the other volunteers in contempt. You're wondering about fixing the process, I think it's far more important to first fix the person or team behind it. Sep 20, 2013 at 8:34
  • 1
    I get your point. it just sounds as you are complaining about the review and the people who put it all together which seems to be off-topic for this discussion.
    – user221081
    Sep 20, 2013 at 8:37
  • @mehow: Well, you were wondering specifically about "How did I not pay attention?". You also asked 'if this is a reward for the effort?". I'm pointing out that these questions cannot have a real answer if the underlying problem is contempt for volunteer efforts. And that's a real problem for a site built on top of volunteer contributions. Sep 20, 2013 at 8:57
  • 14
    Is it just me (and that English is not my mother tongue) or are people really easily insulted/offended these days? That message tells you that you just did something wrong, what's wrong with that? Sep 20, 2013 at 9:05
  • 3
    @M.NightDemonbobby: The message tells me the same thing 5 times over, using small words. That is insulting without even getting into the content. Sep 20, 2013 at 9:15
  • 3
    Small words are a good thing, not everyone’s first (or even second) language is English and someone can be very intelligent and contribute well to stack overflow without having excellent English. Using unnecessarily long words is one of the things I find most annoying Sep 20, 2013 at 9:33
  • I do agree its a bit repetitive though, "You didn't pass. Your review was inappropriate." could probably be cut out Sep 20, 2013 at 9:33
  • @RichardTingle: "Small words" is not an antonym of "big words". See english.stackexchange.com/questions/117838/…. Sep 20, 2013 at 10:15
  • 1
    @MSalters That question does seeem highly context dependant. Like "What did the moonlight represent in .....". Regardless I fear we are going wildly off topic Sep 20, 2013 at 10:23
  • 1
    To use @M.NightDemonbobby's words in a comment on this very question... that his comment has 6 upvotes is a problem here. Sep 20, 2013 at 12:07
  • 2
    mehow's question is: "Am I right in flagging that reviewed post, or is the review audit correct? Would you have failed the audit too if you were to review that post?". This post doesn't seem to address his question. Sep 21, 2013 at 0:55
  • 1
    @OldCheckmark: That's because I believe the audit process to be flawed, as witnessed by the quoted paragraph and the attitude that it exposes. No point in discussing details then, waste of time. And that's why I opted out of reviewing, I've got better things to do. Sep 22, 2013 at 21:45

This post helped me understand where I went wrong on this audit.

  • Am I missing something here? How did I not pay attention?

Maybe lack of the below points was the reason for my original decision. I think I have misjudged the usefulness of the answer even though it was a low-quality one.

You should Delete a post

  • [ANS] If the answer asks another question
  • [ANS] If an answer is actually a comment (such as asking for more info, thanks!, etc.) [possibly flag]
  • [ANS] If the answer is incomprehensible and you are at least a bit familiar with the subject.
  • [ANS] If the answer duplicates another, better answer to the same question (e.g. a link-only answer where another answer provides the same link with an explanation).
  • [ANS] Is obvious spam (tries to sell you cheap sunglasses) [possibly flag].
  • [ANS] Note that wrong answers should not be deleted: deletion is for answers that “aren't even wrong”.

The answer is a low quality one, and there is an extended discussion going on in the comments section about the answer, but it is NOT one to delete according to the above points. It doesn't ask another question, not a comment, not a duplicate, not a spam.

What is faulty here - it's the option given to me. It just doesn't feel right hitting Looks good! while there are visible problems - ie. Low quality question.

What got me really confused is the fact that you cannot flag an answer for being a low quality one.

enter image description here

So an audit asking me if the answer is a low-quality one automatically got me thinking - YES, this is a low quality post without even thinking BUT IS IT A LEGITIMATE ANSWER AND SHOULD IT BE DELETED?.

I wish I had a It's a low quality question but don't delete it button in this case. It could be the correct action to take to actually get through the audit.

I hope you agree and see the lack of a low quality but don't delete it button in this particular case.

  • What would the right thing to do be in this case?

recommending deletion would have been inappropriate in this case. The answer does not fall under any of the above quoted points therefore is a legitimate answer.

skip is what I probably should have clicked - but then maybe the next and next, and next person would have the same problem as me trying to judge if the answer was specifically a low-quality one or not. The question was: "is this a low quality post?" and the answer apparently was "NO".

looks good - thought it would fail me as the answer only provided 4 lines of code with no explanation, however this would have been one of the two appropriate actions to take. It makes no sense to me to give a looks good opinion on an answer with 4 lines of code and no explanation even if I am not familiar with the topic. It's just general idea of answering.

Edit - this is another good solution to pass the audit. Just edit it and create the body for the answer based on the comments posted. I would only do that if the tags and the topic was familiar to me.

  • What would you do and why would it be different than the path I took?

  • Would you fail this?

Honestly, if I could have a go again at this I would just SKIP it. ( which is what most of you suggested in your comments and answers ) - thanks for your input.


Well, I do get more familiar with the website on daily basis, I contribute by giving answers and helping with moderation through reviews and edits, but at this point I will rather try to avoid the review queue until it gets improved.

  • I don't think you can flag it because the moderator won't know what to do with it either (since you've already admitted it shouldn't be deleted). In this case, if you think it's a terrible answer, I guess you could downvote it? (though, that would have failed this particular audit as well)
    – Troyen
    Sep 21, 2013 at 3:17

tl;dr it was right that you failed this audit.

You failed the audit, and rightly so. It was a question and answer where you have, by your own admission, insufficient knowledge.

The right thing to do in those circumstances, whether it's an audit or a genuine review, is to skip. As soon as you realise you are not fully qualified to assess the post, you hit skip and move on. Any other action is incorrect, and should result in a failed audit. Because in reality for a real (non-audit) review, any other action you would take is adding noise to the signal - you'd be making things worse, not better. Such actions are worse than worthless, they give a net reduction to the value of the site.

The audits are there to help us to learn how to review well.

The lesson from this audit should be very clear. As soon as you realise you are not fully qualified to assess the post, you hit skip and move on.

  • 2
    I agree with As soon as you realise you are not fully qualified to assess the post, you hit skip and move on. Any other action is incorrect, and should result in a failed audit. But If I see a 4 line of codes answer and its asking me if it is a low-quality post i am going to say that it is. This is more of a bad audit than it is my own insufficient knowledge or fault.
    – user221081
    Sep 20, 2013 at 11:53
  • 1
    @mehow maybe "looks good" should be renamed to "do not delete"? Sep 20, 2013 at 12:06

I don't think this should be an audit answer.

Audits should mostly be vandalism (when combining C and JS is common), and clear-cut to those who are actually reading the question/answer.

For this answer, if it wasn't already high-voted, it could be go either way. This is the type of answer that is often found in the low-quality posts queue for being short and having no explanation.

I would have reviewed it as "Skip," based on having no knowledge of .

You must log in to answer this question.