The Very Low Quality flag option sucks. prepares for controversy
I'd like to see it removed totally as a flag option.
Its original purpose was as a response to contentless or meaningless posts; posts that aren't answers, aren't coherent, aren't even made up of words. It was intended for cases where the cat has walked over the keyboard.
However, Shog9 has more recently recommended that the "rude/abusive" flag should be used for gibberish posts. Such gibberish is abuse of the system, and is certainly inappropriate for respectful discourse, so gibberish can be happily flagged as abusive instead. This also enables the community to remove it much quicker.
The effect of the VLQ flag is to send the post to the Low Quality Posts review queue, where the (effectively) two options are either Looks OK (i.e. do nothing, leave the answer as is), or Delete. Hence, the only thing a VLQ flag is ever going to achieve is getting the answer deleted.
By talking with some other moderators, I've discovered some common misuses of the VLQ flag:
- (on SO) Code only answers
These are answers. While they may not be great quality, that's a reason to downvote, not to delete (which, again, is effectively the only thing a VLQ flag can do).
- Questions that need closing
These should not be deleted (the VLQ effect) or sent for moderator attention. The correct action is to close flag or delete, and send it to the Close queue.
- Short answers i.e. answers that don't give much detail, but do attempt to answer the question. Once again, these are answers - should not be deleted, don't need moderator attention. Downvote.
So far, the only case that has been thrown out as possibly a valid use for the VLQ flag is link-only answers. They don't fit exactly with the description text of the NAA flag. However, I often flag link-only answers as NAA, and have yet to have such a flag declined; the NAA and VLQ flags both send posts to the LQP review queue. If this is really an issue, we could change the NAA description to include link-only answers. On the other hand, my opinion is that link-only answers aren't answers - the litmus test is to read them as you would if the link was not there, and "click here" is definitely not an answer.
So, we're left with a flag:
- that is commonly misused;
- that has a viable alternative;
- whose purpose has become less and less clear over time.
Are there any reasons we shouldn't remove it? I don't see any.