I flagged as "very low quality" a post. The flag tooltip says

This answer has severe formatting or content problems. This answer is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed.

The refusal says

flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer

My point is that the flag I raised was not raised for technical inaccuracies or because the answer was wrong, but because, like a mod said in the comments to the answer I flagged

Politics.SE is a question and answer community, not a discussion forum. We expect people to back up statements with sources.

and the answer was lacking sources and was barely answering the question, that to me falls squarely under the "severe formatting or content problems" of the tooltip above.

So, please, can someone explain when/how should this flag be used?

  • Can you please tell us what answer you are talking about?
    – Philipp Mod
    Apr 29, 2017 at 21:17
  • @Philipp I wanted to avoid linking the answer, but if needed: politics.stackexchange.com/a/18478/7476
    – Federico
    Apr 29, 2017 at 21:18
  • 1
    I also flagged that answer just now (before I saw this question).
    – user11249
    Apr 29, 2017 at 21:23

2 Answers 2


While this is on Meta.SO, it's really good advice for the LQP in general across SE

SO is a bit more objective in this, while Politics is a bit more subjective. My general view is the same, however

  1. Does the answer at least attempt to answer the question? This review is a prime example of an answer that doesn't answer the question (the user doesn't even address the question).
  2. Does it posit an opinion AND back it up with sources? The problem with opinions here is that people like to rant. Rants (where someone posts unsubstantiated facts and/or incendiary comments) should be deleted. There's some wiggle room here, but a good answer will contain at least some supporting arguments.
  3. Is it only a link/list of links, without any quotes? If so, delete it

When should you NOT flag?

  • You disagree with the question or answer. That's what downvotes are for.
  • The question or answer cites sources you dislike (i.e. Fox News). Sources are sources. You can rebut them in an answer or comment, but don't flag.
  • You don't like the poster. Chain flagging a user is a good way to get banned.

Incidentally, junk answers should be flagged as Rude/Abusive so they get removed from the system.

I think your example here should be deleted as LQP. It rants about the government and then about Congressional policy. It never gets around to making an answer, nor does it support anything it says with facts.


Stackexchange offers several methods of community self-moderation:

  • Users can downvote a bad answer
  • Users can suggest edits to answers to fix problems
  • Users can vote for deletion of an answer (requires 4k reputation on a beta-site like this, 20k on a graduated site)
  • Users can post comments to tell the author what's wrong about their answer and what they should do if they want the downvotes and deletion-votes removed.

That means moderator intervention is only required in situations where an answer is complete unsalvageable nonsense which provides no value whatsoever. As the stackexchange theory of moderation says:

The ideal moderator does as little as possible. But those little actions may be powerful and highly concentrated. Judiciously limiting your use of moderator powers to selectively prune and guide the community — now that’s the true art of moderation.

Is the answer this meta-question is about a good answer? Certainly not. But before I use my mod powers to delete it, I need to ask myself: "is it so bad that it needs to be mod-hammered?". It might be salvageable if the author can find sources which back up their claims. That means it doesn't deserve the mod-hammer just yet. Especially considering that we are talking about a new user who is not yet familiar with the website and might require the guidance of experienced users like you.

When an answer is simply bad, use the self-administration tools listed above. On Stackexchange you don't need to rely only on moderators to get low-quality content off the site.

  • 1
    But moderators don't need to handle VLQ or NAA flags in the first place. When someone flags and answer, it goes to the review queue where the community can take care of it.
    – user11249
    Apr 30, 2017 at 1:02
  • What Carpetsmoker said. plus, if the flag option exists, exactly to flag "simply bad" questions, that need the attention of the community, why should it not be used?
    – Federico
    Apr 30, 2017 at 11:19
  • 1
    Or, said otherwise, I don't raise that flag to have moderator intervention, for that I raise a "moderator only" flag.
    – Federico
    Apr 30, 2017 at 11:44

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