According to one of our janitors, "Very Low Quality" flags are not meant for formatting issues:

Very Low Quality flags are not for formatting. Formatting is something that can be fixed, usually in no time.

However, the flag description says right on it that (emphasis mine):

This question has severe formatting or content problems. This question is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed.

Since it's been interpreted that if there are only formatting problems, that it is "salvageable through editing", shouldn't that section be removed? Wouldn't it be better if it read something like this?

This question has severe content issues that cannot be resolved by editing. This question is actively harmful to the site and requires urgent removal.

  • I'd be very curious why that phrase was there to begin with. As it stands now, it does seem wrong, but maybe it was included for a specific reason. Feb 8, 2014 at 13:35
  • +1. I agree with the suggestion but I'd like a different replacement text, more like @shog9 answer.
    – ThunderGr
    Feb 14, 2014 at 11:18

2 Answers 2


Your emphasis changes the meaning of the flag. The purpose is to indicate that the issues - whether with formatting or content - are severe, and cannot be salvaged. That's right: the key part of that flag's description is, unlikely to be salvageable. Anders' answer is correct.

Indeed, we could probably simplify this flag by replacing the entire first sentence with what it actually means:

This [question|answer] is impossible to read or understand. It is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed.

I'm a bit hesitant to suggest this though, as there has been such a long history of folks misunderstanding this flag; suggesting specific criteria for how the post is supposed to be evaluated is important as an educational tool for the folks using it.

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    Could you provide an example where formatting issues alone were enough to make a post "very low quality"? Feb 14, 2014 at 11:03
  • 1
    I like your suggestion for the replacement text better than the OP's, but I cannot upvote your answer since you appear to think that it is not a good idea to make the change. I think your suggested text gives more accurate guidelines on when this flag is to be set than the existing one, which leads to incorrect flagging, IMO.
    – ThunderGr
    Feb 14, 2014 at 11:15
  • Should 20k+ users vote to delete answers even when they aren’t flag-worthy?
    – Adamant
    May 28, 2017 at 19:25
  • Sometimes, yeah @adamant. 20k users are granted this privilege with the assumption that they're familiar enough both with the site's rules and what makes a useful answer to judiciously cull those that fail to meet either / both criteria.
    – Shog9
    May 28, 2017 at 21:05
  • That might make a useful answer here or here, if you have the time.
    – Adamant
    May 28, 2017 at 21:07
  • I don't at the moment, but if you poke around here this has been discussed dozens of times over the past 8 years @adam
    – Shog9
    May 28, 2017 at 21:34
  • I don’t get your logic of your last paragraph. You do not wish to use a more clear description of the flag because there has been a long history of misunderstanding the flag? Your suggestion is certainly more specific and makes more sense than the current state. I have no idea how unsalvageable formatting problems would even look like.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 6, 2019 at 16:06
  • My suggested wording describes a situation in which such a post would need to be removed, @Wrzlprmft - but it doesn't describe what to look for when determining if such a situation exists. "Severe formatting or content problems" isn't much better, but it does at least attempt to give flaggers specific things to look at when evaluating the post; I kinda think we should move further in that direction, or combine the two somehow "this post is unreadable due to severe problems with its formatting, spelling, grammar, etc."
    – Shog9
    Jan 6, 2019 at 17:02
  • @Shog9: Fine by me, though I still don’t see why formatting and spelling are in there. If I can identify problems of either kind as such, I can also fix them. How about: “This post is unreadable due to severe problems with its language or structure. It can only be salvaged by its author and may need to be removed”?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 6, 2019 at 17:12
  • Interet reprts of rscheearch at Cmabrigde uinervtisy aside, it is possible for a post to be so badly mangled as to be unintelligible, @Wrzlprmft. Sending stuff through Google Translate is a common way of accomplishing this. Not to mention stuff like folks posting images of code or formulas.
    – Shog9
    Jan 6, 2019 at 18:47
  • @Shog9: it is possible for a post to be so badly mangled as to be unintelligible – I do not doubt that, but then spelling is not the problem anymore or even if it is, it is not recognisable as such. Google Translate may produce horrible English, but I doubt that it makes spelling mistakes. Anyway, language should capture all of this. — As for images of codes or equations, if this is what formatting refers to, I cannot see anybody understanding the flag text that way, in particular since those can be understood and salvaged by others (it’s just excessively tedious).
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 6, 2019 at 19:15

I think it has to do with a question that is beyond any rescue, if a question is worded so badly and the grammar mangled in such a way that the question itself is unreadable by anyone then formating might be a good reason for closing such a question.

For example let's say you met this:

ts code no work wy no work? cn u fx? code = fr fnd pm nmbs?

 public static a(b)
   if(!c(a,b)); return c(a,b) 
return true
public static c(d){return a%b}
  • 1
    While that's not a bad point, the example you give is more of a content issue. I could format that as the following: "Why doesn't this code work? Can the problem be solved? code = fr fnd pm nmbs? public static a(b) while(i=+2", which isn't badly formatted, but definitely has content issues. Feb 11, 2014 at 13:29
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    I think you are already having trouble with interpating this as code is for finding prime numbers which you took to mean that code= fr fnd pm nmbs as part of the code itself (hey look at that apparently this code triggers some kind of bug that prevents the hole answer from showing.
    – Thijser
    Feb 11, 2014 at 13:31
  • Wow, that's just hilarious, so true. Well then that would read "Why doesn't this code work? Can the problem be solved? What's the code needed for finding prime numbers? public static a(b) while(i=+2<b)if(!c(a,b)); return c(a,b) return true public static c(d){return a%b}". Feb 14, 2014 at 11:00
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    For example, like this. Feb 15, 2014 at 4:48

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