When flagging an answer for deletion or voting to delete an answer, users are opted to select a reason for deletion from a list or enter a custom reason (much like when flagging/voting to close). This replaces the not-an-answer and very-low-quality flag. The same list is presented to reviewers in the low-quality queue.

The list of reasons would be similar to the canned comment in the low-quality queue for answers and contain, e.g.¹:

  • New or same question posted as an answer.
  • Thank-you answer.
  • Link-only answer.
  • Answer to another question.
  • Attempt to comment on another post.
  • Other (enter custom reason).

If selected by somebody with sufficient reputation, each reason should result in a canned comment providing useful guidance to the poster.


Generally speaking, this proposal makes it easier to communicate the alleged problems with the post to:

  • The author of the post,
  • Reviewers in the low-quality queue,
  • Moderators in the flag queue,
  • other users.

This in turn results in posts being less disappointment for new users, shorter review and moderating times and less misunderstanding.

More, specifically, this addresses the following issues:

  • On some sites (including SO), the moderators established a policy that posts should only be flagged as NAA if they can been recognised as such without looking at the question or comments (because moderators don’t directly see these in their interface); otherwise a custom flag should be raised. This is problematic as it contradicts the flag description (which applies, e.g., to answers to another question) and increases moderator workload (as custom flags cannot be handled by community moderation). The proposed change would remove the necessity for this policy (if the deletion reason is visible to both, reviewers and moderators).

  • The confusion caused by the very-low-quality flag is gone. Should any answers exists that can only be flagged VLQ other can be used for them.

  • It addresses the problem that the canned comments from the low-quality queue are not directly available to flaggers and moderators, which makes communicating what is wrong with the post unnecessarily tedious in standard situations.

  • Authors receive guidance as early as possible.

  • With a bit more extra work, this addresses the problem that delete votes and deletion flags are separate.

  • It probably alleviates the issue that reviewers leave misleading canned comments because they feel they have to, as they will most likely agree with the initial flagger and can choose other, if they feel that nothing fits.

  • It solves the confusion as to how link-only answers should be flagged, to which neither the wording of NAA nor VLQ clearly applies.

Old proposals

I am aware that there are some old proposals suggesting something similar (e.g., this one), but they were made when the system for handling flags and reviews was quite different or they only address tools for moderators.

¹ For some sites, it would make sense to have custom reasons (e.g., answers without citation on Skeptics or for single-word-requests on English Language & Usage).

  • 1
    Please, please, please don't forget that users should be down-voting incorrect answers. This sends a clear signal to other users that the answer is wrong, alerts the poster that their answer is wrong, opens the "delete" option for > 20k users to delete the post. Without this signal, flagging merely adds to the moderator's workload.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Sep 11, 2017 at 16:25
  • 2
    @ChrisF: I fail to see what you are aiming at. NAA/VLQ/deletion flags should not be used for (merely) incorrect answers anyway. Uniting delete votes and review decisions is part of the proposal. And those flags can be handled by non-moderators – otherwise most reasons why we need this would be irrelevant anyway.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 11, 2017 at 16:52
  • the problem is that people do use them for that purpose, so any proposal has to take that into account.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Sep 11, 2017 at 18:05
  • 1
    @ChrisF: Well, you could always implement that proposal that adds an option this answer is wrong which does nothing when selected except adding a downvote on the flagger’s behalf (I can’t find it right now). That being said, you cannot avoid people totally misusing flags, but I don’t see how my proposal would make this worse. On the contrary, with the highly ambiguous VLQ flag gone, people could get a better idea on how to use the respective flag.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Sep 11, 2017 at 19:17
  • Perhaps I'm being overcautious. If you think that you've got it covered then I'm OK with that. I'll re-read the proposal when I've got a bit more time.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Sep 11, 2017 at 20:21
  • @Ano: That proposal comes from a time when the low-quality queue was a month old (IIUC) after which things underwent a lot of changes. For example, I would guess that the canned comments in the queue didn’t exist as they are not mentioned. Moreover it only addresses the situation for moderators.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Feb 11, 2018 at 7:58