The very low quality flag is intended to mark posts that are unsalvageable and need to be removed as fast as possible. In the past these flags also had an automatic downvote from the Community user. (source: https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/93606/364003)

Red flags are flags for spam/rude or abusive posts. These posts should be deleted as fast as possible. Any red flag comes with an automatic downvote from the Community user and if a post is flagged six times it is automatically deleted. (source: What are the “spam” and “rude or abusive” (offensive) flags, and how do they work?)

Some of the bigger sites (especially Stack Overflow) have a quality problem. Users unaware of the rules use the site as their personal help desk. The question block filter is quite good in preventing them from doing long-term harm but in order for this block to work, the users posts need to be downvoted and deleted.

Users suggested different solutions to solve this problem. The latest proposal is from Shog9 who proposes to allow tag badge holders to delete a question until it is edited.

Unfortunately most of these proposals take a lot of time to implement. That is why I am proposing a short-term solution/workaround that will help the community to quickly get rid of very low quality questions:

Sites can decide whether they want this feature enabled or not. If the feature is enabled, the very low quality flag would two things:

  • enqueue the post in the low quality review (triage on Stack Overflow) – Current behaviour
  • act as red flags, i.e. every flag includes an automatic downvote, six flags of this type would automatically delete the post and give the owner an reputation penalty of -100.

The reputation penalty is something that is not necessary but I think it would make the implementation easier. Additionally one might consider changing the VLQ flag description on these sites to something like this:

This question has severe formatting or content problems. This question is not salvageable through editing, and needs to be removed.

This flag should not include an IP-ban as the spam flag. It should be more like the rude or abusive flag because I think someone using an SE site as their personal help desk is on a same level as rude or abusive because they use the system in a way it is not designed for and they expect others to do the work without doing some on their own.

The current red flags show a post notice This post was deleted as spam/offensive. I think in the case of a VLQ-deletion this text should be changed to something more explanatory.


1 Answer 1


TL;DR: I oppose this. This only brings marginal benefits, which do not outweigh the huge potential damage if the flag is used incorrectly – which will inevitably happen.

First of all note that it takes five 3 k users to close a question already and one flag plus six 2 k users or three 20 k users to delete an answer. So, your suggestion mainly changes the following things:

  1. After being closed, questions flagged as VLQ get deleted immediately instead of being roombaed after nine days.

    The only potential advantage I see in this is if somebody answers such questions in the comments. However, in this case, the people posting such answers are a problem you want to address anyway, since even with your proposal deleting cannot be so quick. Apart from that, the question is closed and does not even appear on most listings, so no damage can be done.

    A big problem with this are false positives: If an asker actually improves their question, they have to deal with the additional hurdle of getting it undeleted.

  2. Users asking such questions receive a −100 reputation penalty. I don’t think this scares anybody off. Most askers of bad questions have no reputation to lose, so they won’t care. True help vampires won’t care either.

    On the other hand, if a regular user receives such a penalty from a false positive, this can be really putting them off and discouraging them from participating positively in the site.

  3. It only requires 15 reputation instead of 2k/3k to participate in the game. This may speed up things a bit, but I am not convinced that this is a lot. You would have to look at statistics how many (proper) flags are cast by such users. Most importantly, this has a huge potential for abuse and problems caused by people misunderstanding the site. There is a reason you need some reputation to cast close or delete votes – you may argue about how much reputation this is, but I see no point in selectively lowering this reputation for this case.

  4. Flags on answers count like a review action (for questions they do this already). I made a similar feature request, but I see no need to implement this via the red-flag mechanism.

Another big problem is that people will use this flag differently than intended. Nobody knows what the point of the VLQ flag is in its current state and it gets mostly used arbitrarily or as a super downvote (both of which is not good). If anything, you would have to give your proposed flag a totally new name to at least give it a chance to be used as intended. But even then, I expect that it will be used wrongly with negative effects. The only reason the red-flag mechanism works in its current form is that there is a clear line between red-flaggable posts and everything else. No matter how you define low quality, there won’t be this clarity and you will automatically get users who apply it to all posts they don’t like.

  • The "it takes less users"-thing is intended. This is something even SE staff wants: meta.stackoverflow.com/a/368890/8263546
    – MEE
    Jan 6, 2019 at 14:59
  • I said in my question that I am not sure whether the rep penalty is necessary, but it would make the implemenation easier. This is the main reason for this post. There are probably thousand better implementation ideas, but they need longer to be implemented. I want to provide a temporary fix for the next 6 to 8 weeks.
    – MEE
    Jan 6, 2019 at 15:03
  • @MEE: My point is that it does not take less users to handle a post, except for what I mention in point 4. You need five users to close a question (be it via the VLQ queue or otherwise); you need six users to delete an answer. Also, if you want it to take less users, you could just as well reduce the thresholds for closing/deleting.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 6, 2019 at 15:03
  • 1
    IMHO we should rename the VLQ flag to Trash: This post is garbage and needs to be deleted immediately! Jan 7, 2019 at 13:28
  • @RobertColumbia: And what problem would that solve?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 7, 2019 at 14:36
  • @Wrzlprmft people raising it on content that can be improved, or at least should not be subject to immediate deletion. Jan 7, 2019 at 14:37
  • @RobertColumbia: I do not think that trash helps to resolve any interpretation issues as there are vast differences as to what people call trash. There have already been proposals to rename it to delete, which is at least purely about the mechanism and might at least push some people to ask themselves what should be deleted in the first place.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 7, 2019 at 14:41
  • "Flag as delete" doesn't sound quite right. Now, "flag as trash" makes a lot more sense. Jan 7, 2019 at 14:44
  • @RobertColumbia: I was referring to this feature request.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jan 7, 2019 at 15:04

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