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In this answer responding to a user asking about why their Very Low Quality (VLQ) flag was declined on a blatantly off-topic question here on Meta.SE, Tinkeringbell ♦ mentions,

The VLQ flag IS NOT appropriate for blatantly off-topic questions here on MSE.

And not only on MSE, but it's inappropriate across the entire network.

I've been declining them whenever I see them because people should either flag those posts for closure or cast their close-vote, but NOT flag them as Very Low Quality.

From the Usage guide for very low quality link mentioned on the What is flagging from the decline reason:

You should not use it to describe the following, but should be using close votes, down votes and / or edits instead:

... Questions that are clearly off topic

And:

If you vote to close a question that doesn't show any code and flag it as very low quality, a moderator is very likely to decline your flag as lacking evidence prior to closing the question anyway.

This flag, for questions, has been widely contentious over the years (e.g. see It shouldn’t be possible to flag questions as Very Low Quality, Is the "very low quality" flag necessary?, and Is the Very Low Quality flag too ambiguous?).

Even after all of this time, it still doesn't seem clear what the VLQ flag for questions is really for. Could we have some concrete examples of questions for which, if they appeared on Meta.SE, a VLQ flag would be appropriate (questions that are so bad that a moderator will not, or at least should not, decline VLQ flags), but where red flags (Spam or Rude) would not be appropriate? Appropriately redacted examples of real questions would be great, but if not, it would be very helpful to have some made-up examples of terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad questions that clearly qualify as VLQ but do not rise to the level of spam or abuse.

In response to Glorfindel's answer, I'm really looking to find out whether there is a real-world use case for the VLQ flag on questions here on MSE, or whether it is just a honeypot trap for the ignorant flagger.

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I doubt you can find example questions where the VLQ flag is the most appropriate flag. Thus holds for most sites in the network; what the resident moderators do with those flags may vary on their workload, mood, time of day and moon phase. On Stack Overflow, the VLQ feeds the Triage queue (unless it's full already) and the moderators won't even see them.

But some thoughts about Meta Stack Exchange:

  • Questions in another language than English: flag to close as unclear, this will put them in the right queue.
  • The same holds for half-filled bug reports we sometimes get from the mobile apps.
  • 'Civil' rants (not abusive enough for a red flag): if not harmful, close as off-topic ("does not seek input from the community"); if for whatever reason they still need to be deleted quickly, a custom moderator is a better option since it offers room to explain why you're flagging
  • Are you in doubt of something is spam or not? Again, use a custom moderator flag to express your concerns.

So there are no "very bad questions that clearly qualify as VLQ". Hopping into the Tavern and seeking for guidance or a second pair of eyes is also often a better course of action than a flag.

  • If there are no questions for which VLQ is the most appropriate flag, why do we even have it? – Robert Columbia May 29 at 13:42
  • IMHO it doesn't have a function (except maybe on Stack Overflow, where it could be rebranded to 'send to Triage'). But you've already linked to a few questions discussing this ... – Glorfindel May 29 at 13:46
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We don't have honeytraps, landmines or other intentional attempts to entrap people who are flagging with good intent and care.

One of the things I've found over time is with reputation and experience is there's less things to flag since you end up picking up the tools to deal with issues yourself.

It's certainly probably not a great idea to flag as low quality when you have any other options - off topic stuff should be voted or flagged to close as off topic, spam should be flagged as spam and so on.

So a very low quality flag would be for a question that's someohow ontopic, inoffensive, or low quality and/or is unsalvagable, and where downvoting (and eventually community deleting) is insufficient.

It's a very small subset... and when in doubt, there are other flag reasons and mechanics that work just as well.

  • Thanks, but this really doesn't answer the question. I've read enough written definitions of what VLQ is and what it is not, but none of them really make sense. I am told that questions where VLQ is the most appropriate action do exist, but no one seems to be able to show me what they look like. That's the entire purpose of my question - not for another opinion on what the written definition of a VLQ question is or ought to be, but to see some real VLQ questions so that I can truly internalize the concept and see how they are different from off-topic, unclear, rude, etc. – Robert Columbia May 29 at 13:45
  • You specifically mention that "It's a very small subset". Could you post even one example from this subset? Is this subset purely theoretical, or is there a deleted question that you can pull out from somewhere in mod-land and post in redacted form? In some cases I imagine VLQ looking like "OMG puter no work stack sucsks how write c code no cable jesus saves wtf can someone hep me?", but even those questions tend to get closed as unclear and then linger, not summary deleted as VLQ. – Robert Columbia May 29 at 13:46
  • Also, my question VLQ flag accept statistics are all over the place. Flags on clear questions that are off-topic but decent quality (for something that is already off-topic) are frequently marked as helpful (though I have stopped doing so after reading the question I linked to), while flags on questions that look like cat vomit are sometimes declined with stern mod messages to vote to close instead. Such a lack of standards cries out for better standards. – Robert Columbia May 29 at 14:15
  • VLQ is necessarily... Squishy. If you're trying to find a fixed, concrete definition... It's going to be hard. – Journeyman Geek May 29 at 14:24
  • Hard is fine. In fact, if it was easy, I wouldn't be here. – Robert Columbia May 29 at 16:25
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Questions which are on topic, but lack examples and are difficult to understand probably fall in to this category.

“My code is broke when I added a while statement that loops my userPosts variable. Why?”

Without an example, that question would be useless. It could be improved once the code has been shared and an MRE created. However, if the user becomes unresponsive and never posts this update, I’d argue that while it was originally on topic (if not incomplete), it would now be considered as VLQ.

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    On Meta, these should be closed as off-topic. On Stack Overflow too: as lacking an MCVE ... eh ... minreprex... – Glorfindel May 24 at 17:30

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