Sometimes we get very short low-quality answers which I think should be deleted. These answers are characterised by

  • a lack of references

  • a short, Twitter-like message

  • containing a popular opinion that people like to upvote

  • unwillingness from the author to improve, for example by adding references

Given the above, I think these message may be more suitable to Twitter than as answers on this site. In particular, they are unlikely to help those who found the question to look into a subject.

Furthermore, since these are often posted under popular questions, they are what potential new users (who are often familiar with the SE network already) see on this site when they visit for the first time. I think this problem may even have the effect that potential new users who have a more professional background relating to politics are deterred from contributing. After all, it may look like this is some place where people can further their partisan politics by using cheap rhetoric.

The obvious solution is to flag these answer as low-quality so that established users can vote to delete them. That sometimes fails as upvotes seem to count as a looks ok votes in that queue.

I'm not going to point fingers in this post, but established users can visit the low-quality queue and see what answers survive despite many delete votes in that queue.

In this question, I'm asking whether this is something other users perceive as a problem as well. If so, then I'm open to suggestions on how to deal with this. Please keep it realistic, it's extremely unlikely that Stack Exchange will implement bespoke features on this small site.

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  • This is the same questions as I posed in meta under "We have a problem on our hands" – K Dog Oct 1 '19 at 13:31
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    @KDog it's very similar indeed. Yours is aimed at a specific question leading to a general case. I thought it might be useful to lay out the general case with an emphasis on these characteristics. I think this has yielded a better answer for the general case already, which is to have post-specific meta posts. Ideally, we make a sort of template that we can use to bring attention to each case as we stumble upon them as there may be quite a few out there and it's a hassle to write a good meta post from scratch every time. – JJJ Oct 1 '19 at 13:51
  • That's the same answer we arrived at. Also it's helpful to alert the mods to get the question off the hot network questions sidebar. – K Dog Oct 1 '19 at 13:54
  • @KDog that's a bit of a hacky solution I think. By that logic bad actors can purposefully post bad answers just to have the question removed from HNQ. If the question is good but some answer isn't, we shouldn't punish the asker and good-faith answerers for someone else misbehaving. – JJJ Oct 1 '19 at 16:14
  • Have you tried adding a comment to the answer about why it's problematic, or upvoting any such comments? – Andrew Grimm Oct 5 '19 at 5:32
  • @AndrewGrimm looking back at the post that originally got me to write this meta post, I don't see any comments of mine but I think there were more when I came across it in the LQQ. Of course a more notorious meta subject had the author even rolling back grammatical edits, as explained here, it's still around, with the grammatical error. – JJJ Oct 5 '19 at 10:39

There are two possible solutions, but in my experience, all roads lead to Meta.

Solution 1 is to raise a Meta question, like this one, asking whether the answer should be deleted or not. This can spark further partisan arguments, but there will eventually come some sort of consensus on whether the community at large wants that answer or not - in the case of the question I linked, the consensus was that the answer it pertained to should stay.

Solution 2 is to raise a custom mod flag explaining why you believe the answer should be deleted. Moderators can delete answers regardless of vote count, even if they've been accepted. However, either the mod will agree with you and delete the answer, which would likely lead to someone posting on Meta to dispute the deletion, or they will disagree and decline the flag, which would likely lead to you posting on Meta to dispute the declined flag.

And so you end up back at Solution 1: post on Meta. While some people do undoubtedly vote along partisan lines, in a general sense, you can't assume the intentions of upvoters any more than you can assume the intentions of downvoters. As shown by my first linked Meta post, it's possible that what you perceive to be a low-quality answer actually has merit and deserves to stay on the site, though not necessarily in its current form.

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  • That seems a reasonable solution. Do you think this should be done on a case by case basis (one question for each such post) or in a general (community wiki) post where everyone can post and answer or add to a post? I guess the latter would be quite a hassle as well? – JJJ Oct 1 '19 at 12:34
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    I'd say case-by-case basis. It's easier to make arguments for or against if you can do so in an answer, rather than in the comments of someone else's answer. – F1Krazy Oct 1 '19 at 13:08
  • It should be fairly easy to create a specific meta case with a link to a general one to strongly support deletion of this sort of post. That would probably mean stickying the general case to make it easy to find. – Jontia Oct 2 '19 at 12:43

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