The “not an answer” flag on answers is meant to be used when
This was posted as an answer, but it does not attempt to answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether.
The “very low quality” flag on answers is meant to be used when
This answer has severe formatting or content problems. This answer is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed.
Low quality posts have a nice workflow: they are shown in a queue to all users with the “edit” (2k) privilege, who can pile on to delete the post or contest the flag. The voting system ensures that after enough reviewers have seen the post, either it will be deleted or the flag will be cleared. As a user reviewing low quality posts, my actions make a difference. As a moderator, I don't need to get involved.
There are a few bad things about the “low quality” workflow:
- As a reviewer, you have to decide between “Looks OK”, “Edit” and “Recommend Deletion” (or “Delete” if you have the appropriate privilege). “Looks OK” is somewhat confusing because it is the right choice for an altogether wrong answer, which should be downvoted but not deleted.
- As a user, when you cast the “very low quality” flag, you don't get to enter a reason. Reviewers in the low quality queue have to figure out on their own why the initial user cast the flag. (Sometimes the initial user leaves a comment which makes this clear, but not always.)
Fundamentally, the “not an answer” flag and the “very low quality flag” say the same thing:
I think this answer should be deleted (either converted to a comment or removed altogether).
I can't think of any reason why certain types of answers that should be deleted should require different workflows. Given that the “not an answer” workflow is inconvenient and the “low quality” workflow is mostly good, I propose:
Replace “not an answer” and “very low quality” by a single “delete” flag, and use the current “low quality” workflow with minor modifications.
The modifications to the LQ workflow would be:
- Supply a reason for deletion. The primary purpose of this reason is to explain what are reasons to delete an answer. We have close reasons, we should have delete reasons too. A secondary reason is to provide a clue to reviewers.
- Reword the “Looks OK” button.
A delete vote on an answer would kick it into the deletion queue with a score of 1 in the “delete” column.
Possible modifications, which may be done at the same time or later based on experience (which should perhaps be separate discussions):
- Allow voting in the
low qualitydeletion review queue, which would help reviewers figure out what to do on altogether wrong answers.
- Tweak the deletion reasons to cover cases where one would use “not an answer” but not “low quality” today. The reasons should handle common cases, for the rare cases there's the “other” flag.
- Allow voting or flagging for conversion to a comment (which would be one of the deletion reason, offering a choice the question and the answers like voting to mark as duplicate offers existing questions).
I don't know whether there should be a score threshold for delete flags like there is for VLQ (but not NAA) today. On the one hand, the occasional joke or duplicate answer sometimes has a high score. On the other hand, the vast majority of posts that need deleting have a low score and exceptional cases can be handled by moderators.