14

I came across a low quality answer today on a certain exchange, so I downvoted and flagged it as VLQ, then moved on. The next question I saw on the same site also had a low quality answer by the same user, so I downvoted/flagged that one too. Since I came across them both naturally, I am confident that's ok.

However, I noticed both answers had been given within the last few hours. This made me curious if this user was on an active spree of low quality answers. So I checked their profile to see if that was the case, and sure enough they had 6 answers within the last hour, all negative.

6 rapidly posted and poorly received answers are a pretty good sign a moderator might need to get involved. To see if that was the case, I pulled them all up in separate tabs, and found none of them were spam or abusive; they were all just low quality answers. No need for moderator intervention then.

So I downvoted/flagged one of them, then realized this exactly fits the definition of serial voting/flagging. That's precisely what it is.

The problem is, I was looking at 6 answers which all deserved to be flagged (in my opinion). However, since I'd more or less targeted this user, I feel I can't take any actions about it. Is that the case? Once you go to a user's profile, should you effectively recuse yourself from their posts?

What's the correct course of action after discovering many low quality but well intentioned answers from a single user?

  • 1
    Move on, you found two organically. Others will find the rest over time and vote accordingly. – Robert Longson Sep 7 '18 at 15:47
  • 1
    I was going to post an answer roughly saying serial voting is bad, but I realised I don't really know our stance on serial flagging (my intuition says serial flagging is less of a problem, but the arguments for and against serial voting and flagging aren't all that different, except when it's like spam or otherwise abusive). – Dukeling Sep 7 '18 at 15:57
  • 1
    Don't visit their profile. – Kevin B Sep 7 '18 at 18:32
4

You can either use one custom moderator flag, or flag all posts as VLQ. In case of the former, they can choose to send a templated moderator message about consistent low quality posts; the latter will probably cause the posts being deleted via the Low Quality Posts review queue, which (together with the downvotes) contribute to a post ban for the user.

Both procedures don't involve serial downvoting and I'd opt to not do that. One is probably enough (they might notice the reputation decrease) but leaving a comment works better to get their attention.

  • 3
    I was under the impression serial flagging was just as problematic as serial voting. Is that not the case? – Lord Farquaad Sep 7 '18 at 15:51
  • 2
    Not really, because flags aren't publicly visible. – Glorfindel Sep 7 '18 at 15:52
  • 4
    You wouldn't be serially flagging, though @LordFarquaad ... you'd flag one post for moderator attention and reference the others. – Catija Sep 7 '18 at 15:54
1

Your first option if you feel up to it should be to try to communicate with the user! Comment on their post and point out where this post is failing. Guide them in how to answer a question well. Is there a great meta post on the site that guides users in how to answer? Use that. If not, link to the site's How to Answer page in the Help Center.

If there are specific pointers you can give that will improve the quality, give them. Feel free to say

Hey, it looks like you're writing a bunch of answers really quickly. We appreciate the answers but it'd be great if you could invest a bit more time in each of them to really make them answer the question completely.

If you don't feel like doing this, use a custom flag and report it to the moderators.

While we don't have a default mod message for low quality answers, there is one for low quality questions, and both are valid reasons for a moderator to mod message a user and give them some guidance about the quality of content expected on a site.

I'd be careful about using VLQ flags for this. If the answer is intelligible and is actually answering the question, then the flag is very debatably appropriate. The interpretation surrounding when to use this flag has been debated for years and each site interprets it slightly differently.

  • 1
    I just use a custom moderator flag. I have found VLQ/NAA often a dice roll if the flag is accepted or not. – Ramhound Sep 7 '18 at 19:37
  • 2
    Communicating with a poster who is repeatedly posting low quality posts is likely to get you branded as "unwelcoming" or even "abusive". Such posters probably don't have the self reflection or maturity to recognise their posts are bad, or they would not have posted them in the first place. So they probably won't take well the mild "criticism" of an attempt to help. – Raedwald Sep 8 '18 at 8:24
  • 1
    @Raedwald Not at all! If you write a constructive comment that offers advice in an open and friendly way, there's no problem. Flags are reviewed by moderators for validity and will be declined if they are wrong. We don't want you to avoid helping users improve their posts! The quality of the content on the network is still extremely important, we just need to be certain that help is written kindly. – Catija Sep 8 '18 at 12:56
  • @Catija Sadly, the facts say otherwise: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/373801/… – Raedwald Sep 8 '18 at 13:52
  • 1
    @Raedwald That doesn't really say anything. You're not seeing any of the content of those flags, only the volume. Additionally, many users are flagging very old comments that they're finding by searching SEDE for keywords that indicate rudeness. More flags != everything you say is rude. Here's some actually useful data: stackoverflow.blog/2018/07/10/… 92% of comments are fine. – Catija Sep 8 '18 at 13:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .