This flag reason is rarely used properly. I remember explaining to basically every single highly active user in our chat what it is about. When relying on the UI, all of them had gotten it wrong. Moderators from other sites on the network also report that it is practically never used correctly.

The reason is known: naming is hard. Here, a name was picked that can reasonably mean one of multiple things:

  1. the post fails at providing a usable solution to the problem
  2. the post fails at addressing the question
  3. the post fails at communicating any information between users

In the real world, all of these are a sign of a low quality. Now Stack Exchange may have some rule book which says that 1) cannot be handled by moderators and should be downvoted, 2) is Not an answer, and only 3) is Very low quality. Truth is, when an interface aligns so nicely with people's common sense, they don't check the rulebook for deviations.

My suggestion is to simply use a word which means 3, and only 3. The best one-word description I can come up with is

Unintelligible This [question|answer] has severe content or formatting problems, to the point where it cannot be understood by other users. It is unsalvageable by editing and has to be removed.

"Unintelligible" is indeed a harsh judgement of a post. But so is "Very low quality". And it is the most matter-of-fact way I can think of to describe posts like "asdfasdfas" or ones written in a foreign language.

As an alternative, we could also choose a synonym with a slightly different scope, such as incomprehensible or meaningless.

The one problem I can foresee with this is smartasses saying "this math answer is so complicated, it is unintelligible to me, I will flag". My gut feeling is that it will lead to less wrong flags than the current situation, but any improvement suggestions welcome!

Related: Rename "Very Low Quality" Flag as "Unsalvageably Bad". I agree with their assessment of "confusion", even if I don't support their exact wording proposal.

Edit removed reference to English speakers, made it a more determined "has to be removed" instead of the wishy-washy "might need to be removed" - if the flagger is not sure it has to be removed, he shouldn't be casting that flag, as suggested here.

  • 2
    I only have a small pony in this race, so to speak, but one thing we can't really do is specify "understood by an English speaker" when we have sites about learning other languages or entirely in other languages.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Mar 15, 2016 at 21:27
  • 1
    I agree with this post in the extreme. VLQ is the flag I most commonly decline, it's mostly misused for wrong or disliked answers and very minor issues that could just be edited. Most of the rest of the time it's confused with NAA.
    – user154510
    Mar 15, 2016 at 21:30
  • 1
    Good point @AdamLear. I assume that the UI of sites in entirely other languages uses a different version of the text anyway, but I had indeed forgotten about the bilingual sites with English UI. Maybe going with "understood by other users" would be the better option then, and the assumption that users speak the language(s) of that site will have to stay hidden in Meta.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 15, 2016 at 21:30
  • @rumtscho Sites that are entirely in other languages simply translate the original strings, so "English speaker" would very likely be translated into whatever that phrase is in the target language, which is suboptimal. Neutral language is best in any site copy we have.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Mar 15, 2016 at 21:32
  • 4
    You may also be interested in Merge the "not an answer" and "very low quality" flags into one, over on Meta.SO.
    – jscs
    Mar 15, 2016 at 21:37
  • 1
    Too much Latin. Shorter words are better UX. Mar 15, 2016 at 22:48
  • Personally, I've given up entirely on voting on VLQ queue because there seems to be no inherent meaning or logic in how things end up there.
    – FuzzyChef
    Apr 17, 2018 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


“Unintelligible” is not the right wording for “very low quality”. A post can be perfectly comprehensible, but still very low quality. A post that doesn't actually say anything — a repost of an existing answer, “I like turtles”, “http://example.com/whatever” are very low quality but not unintelligible.

The right name for this flag is “delete”.

  • 1
    If we want the flag to mean "everything that has to be deleted" then we have to live with people throwing it at everything they don't like, including technically incorrect answers, etc. For me, these examples will work well after the renaming. Link-only answers have always been NAA. "I like turtles" - I would argue that this is unintelligible, because human communication is highly context dependent, and "I like turtles" as an answer to a programming question has no discernible meaning.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 16, 2016 at 13:35
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    A repost of an existing answer - I would love to not get this as VLQ. It appears great on the surface, so I have to read the whole thread to determine if it's a repost or a fake flag. If it is chosen as "other" and the flagger has to write "this is a repost", the moderator load is much easier.
    – rumtscho
    Mar 16, 2016 at 13:36
  • 3
    That's the point... VLQ shouldn't be used as a close reason for someone typing "I like turtles"... That's NAA, not VLQ. The point made in the question is that most people misuse VLQ to mark answers that are either incorrect or unsupported... But that's not a deletion reason, it's a reason to down vote. This is why the terminology is being questioned.
    – Catija
    Mar 16, 2016 at 13:57
  • 1
    @Catija I fail to see why “I like turtles” isn't VLQ. Regarding misuse of VLQ, that's my point — instead of using made-up name that nobody understands, we should use the clear name “delete” and have deletion reasons just like we have close reasons. And of course “wrong” is not a deletion reason. Mar 16, 2016 at 14:35
  • 2
    And I fail to see why you would ignore the purpose-built NAA and subvert the intended meaning (as I understand it) of VLQ. Unless the question is "Who likes turtles", the response "I like turtles" is very simply not an answer. "Delete" isn't helpful, either... I have millions of answers I think should simply be deleted... that doesn't mean there's cause for it. If the intended purpose of VLQ is to flag content that is gibberish... "I like turtles", while not necessarily useful, is also not gibberish.
    – Catija
    Mar 16, 2016 at 14:41
  • Yes. "delete" will definitely not be even more misused than VLQ. Not a chance..
    – ɥʇǝS
    Mar 17, 2016 at 19:59
  • @ɥʇǝS “Delete” with reasons. Comprehensible ones. Mar 17, 2016 at 20:48

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