I've come across an audit I failed while reviewing the VLQ queue.

The question was about a PHP hit counter that wasn't working (it was due to an incorrect filename extension).

The answer was:

I have a PHP hit counter on my website for free download,its basic and easily.might help you with your problem. I have explained its working also here's a link

Alright, I agree it's really not a good answer, but it seems clear the user has the intention to provide an answer to the question. Yes, it is a link-only answer and moreover borderline spammy (it's linking to the site the user has in his profile), but I don't see why it would be VLQ according to its definitions here and here.

What would you have done with this review item?

EDIT: Just to clarify, I don't think the answer is a good answer or that it should not be improved or deleted. I was asking for the reasons to consider it Very Low Quality according to VLQ flagging criteria. It turns out I was misusing review queues by thinking the Low Quality Posts queue was about reviewing VLQ flags.

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    Recommend deletion as a link-only answer? It's an audit because people flagged it as "Not an Answer" in the past. – Martijn Pieters Feb 20 '14 at 12:17
  • @Martijn I'd agree with a NAA flag, but not with a VLQ one. And on a related note, I've recently had some NAA flags disputed because another user improved the post to quote parts of the link, so I don't think I'll be flagging them anymore for deletion, just leaving a comment. Of course, not that I care about the flags, it's the content that matters, and in that case that user literally saved that post. – Xavi López Feb 20 '14 at 12:21
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    The Low Quality queue is not just for VLQ flags here; posts are entered into the queue because automated heuristics have determined they need to be looked over by reviewers because they are short, contains a lot of spelling mistakes, etc. The VLQ criteria are not the only things you are to look for. – Martijn Pieters Feb 20 '14 at 12:22
  • The goal is to educate users, to help them improve their posts, or if that's not an option or too much work, delete the post. If an answer contains nothing more than a link, the comment is appropriate. The user can always improve the post after deletion and flag it to be undeleted. – Martijn Pieters Feb 20 '14 at 12:24
  • Flagging as very low quality isn't the same as what you do in the "low quality posts" queue -- very confusing, but keep that in mind. – Qantas 94 Heavy Feb 20 '14 at 12:33
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    @Qantas94Heavy Thanks, I could accept that as an answer. Obviously not knowing that is the reason why I raised this question. – Xavi López Feb 20 '14 at 12:35
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    @MartijnPieters I think it's an audit because it had a spam flag marked as valid, in fact. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 20 '14 at 12:45
  • @Gilles: Yes, I see indeed that the post was marked as spam now; not sure why I missed that before. – Martijn Pieters Feb 20 '14 at 12:46
  • possible duplicate of Are answers that just contain links elsewhere really "good answers"? – gnat Feb 20 '14 at 13:01
  • @gnat I can't see the reason why it would be a duplicate. The question was originated due to my misconception that posts in the queue were to be reviewed according to if they're VLQ or not. – Xavi López Feb 20 '14 at 13:07
  • the point is, if you believe an answer like this is good (click "Looks Good"), you better abstain of reviews: dupe question just explains why these answers aren't good. Whatever misconceptions and doubts you may have, use "Skip" - Looks Good is for posts that are really good – gnat Feb 20 '14 at 13:09
  • @Gnat I don't believe an answer like this is good (around 4k flags 12 declined could somehow back that up). I clicked "Looks good" thinking about "Looks good with regard to VLQ flagging reasons". I don't use the review queues regularly, but next time I do, I'll consider the Skip option more thoroughly. – Xavi López Feb 20 '14 at 14:08
  • no one can read your mind about what you were or weren't thinking, but Looks Good button in the queue has tooltip: "this answer doesn't seem low quality"; dupe question explains why you shouldn't have clicked it – gnat Feb 20 '14 at 14:30

The Low Quality queue is not a queue of posts flagged as VLQ. It is a queue with posts that an automated system has deemed to be of low enough quality that an extra review is warranted.

That means automated heuristics found spelling errors, too little text, and other problems, and you are expected to either help improve the posts (edit them into shape), and weed out the chaff.

The queue explicitly tells you this:

Identify, then improve or delete low-quality posts


This answer was flagged as low-quality because of its length and content.

  • Looks Good if nothing is wrong with this answer
  • Edit if you can fix all the problems with this answer
  • Recommend Deletion to recommend that this answer be deleted
  • Skip if you are not sure and want to go to the next item

You can also leave a comment on the answer, but you will still need to choose one of the above actions to clear the post from the review queue.

The audit you were presented with was picked because it was flagged and deleted as spam in the past. To pass the audit you should have recommended it be deleted, or attempted to add a comment.

You could also have followed the link to the post itself to flag it as spam (at which point you'd have discovered it was already deleted).

If unsure, there is always the option to skip the post.

  • "You should have recommended it be deleted" - not necessarily so, Skip is also a legitimate option – gnat Feb 20 '14 at 13:14
  • @gnat: Yes, except that this was an audit, and there is no 'flag' option in the LQ queue. – Martijn Pieters Feb 20 '14 at 13:15
  • so what? Skip option is there, and as far as I know there's nothing wrong using it. I guess I skipped tens if not hundreds audits in SO LQ / Close queues when I've been active in these and I see nothing wrong with this, do you? – gnat Feb 20 '14 at 13:18
  • Sure, skipping neither fails nor passes the audit. For passing the audit the correct action is to recommend deletion. – Martijn Pieters Feb 20 '14 at 13:20
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    the way your answer is currently written, it appears rec-del is the only way to go at all, not just to pass: "You should have". Consider editing it to avoid confusing readers, to something like "In order to pass, etc" if you prefer to focus on that, or mentioning skip if you prefer to cover all options – gnat Feb 20 '14 at 13:24
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    May also be worth noting that an edit will kick the item out of the review queue. – user194162 Apr 3 '14 at 14:06

The low quality posts queue is intended for weeding out "crap" that enters the system. There are two main things that bring a question to the "Very Low Quality" queue:

  • users flagging the post as "very low quality"
  • posts that have been detected by heuristics to be low-quality (measured using a score)

For this reason, we're not judging whether it would be appropriate to flag the post as "very low quality" -- this job is meant for 10k users and moderators.

Instead, we're looking at whether they're acceptable posts in general. For example, if you would have flagged a question as spam or offensive, go to the post, flag it, then click "close" or "recommend close".

If it was an answer posted that didn't answer the question at all, click "recommend deletion". For example, any of these are rife for burning in a fire pit:

  • it's a reply that's meant to thank one of the other posters ("gunna copy-paste to assignment for teacher now, thanks!")
  • it's a post to bring attention to the question ("me too, i have urgent requirement for client to fix code, can any1 answer?")
  • it's asking another question ("hi, prblm w/ my java code, var do = 1, syntaxerror, plz gimme da codez")
  • it's spam ("cheap chinese barley herbal medicine v*agra buy now")
  • it's offensive ("f**k off, you dont know damm sh*t go get a gun and shoot yourself of a bridge")
  • it's not appropriate at all ("see my large t**ties [NSFW image here]").

Note that wrong answers should not be deleted.

However, the issue of link-only answers isn't so easy. Despite there being a "link-only answer" reason for recommending deletion, there's been a bit of diagreement over this: some moderators have said that they don't warrant deletion, while others believe they are actively harmful to the site and should be deleted. Keep in mind that more moderators are on the former side than the latter.

As well, I've seen cases where the automated review audit has selected a link-only answer as a high-quality post audit, due to the sheer number of upvotes on it (I failed one because of that), those these are quite rare.

I know that these can be quite confusing and contradictory at times, so in essence, if you see a link-only answer:

  • look at the actual post (click "link") to check it's an audit
  • if it seems useless, "recommend deletion"; if not, "edit" the answer
  • if you're still not sure, skip the review.

If you still fail an audit and you believe it was an unfair audit, feel free to bring it up on Meta.

  • Thanks for the great detailed answer. It's the kind of answer I'd expect from a mod. Best luck in the election ;-) – Xavi López Feb 20 '14 at 17:10

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