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Following on from a similar question I posted the other day - I've had a bunch of Helpful Flags and some which were Declined. I've also two which are Disputed. They were raised against answers by other users for being low quality, but I disputed them as the description for answers like that is:

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

The first was for this post and the second for a low quality answer on this post. I chose to dispute them as I felt that even though the answers were very low quality, they could be salvaged. But is there/should there be a grace period on this?

These are both relatively recent answers. A month from now, if there is no further updates to them, then I would have no hesitation flagging them up as being far too low quality.

What exactly are the guidelines for when an answer is "low quality"? Should any awful answer that in some way (even if it's heavily opinionated) provides some form of answer be left open, given that it could be improved? Currently, that's what I'm trying to do, leaving a comment (and if not a new user a downvote), but I'd love some opinions on this.

  • I for myself think that the "low quality" flag is a bit of a strange citizen anyway and far less definite than say "not an answer" (and even those have some room for interpretation). In fact if an answer is low quality, but nevertheless a valid answer, that's what downvotes are for. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 18 '14 at 21:57
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Low quality means that an answer is unsalvageable ..... barely legible garbage to my understanding.

You gain a disputed flag when another user with access to the moderation tools doesn't agree with your flag. Doesn't mean it was declined yet as that needs several users (or one mod) to reject it.

You can however also gain a disputed flag where a post marked as low quality is edited - as this shows that perhaps its not as unsalvageable as you may have indicated. There's more information on this here:

What is a disputed flag?

Again, you are doing the right thing in my opinion - very low quality is probably lower than you imagine. We make a very unfriendly place if we delete other people's posts because they don't fall into our high standards. We should reward and up-vote excellence, not delete marginally bad answers.

There are some great guidelines on Meta StackOverflow when you should edit or delete an answer, and the bar for deletion is surprisingly high (reprinted here):

  • If the post is rude or offensive [possibly flag]
  • [QUES] If the question has been closed for a while
  • [ANS] If the answer asks another question
  • [ANS] If an answer is actually a comment (such as asking for more info, thanks!, etc.) [possibly flag]
  • [ANS] If the answer is incomprehensible and you are at least a bit familiar with the subject.
  • [ANS] If the answer duplicates another, better answer to the same question (e.g. a link-only answer where another answer provides the same link with an explanation).
  • [ANS] Is obvious spam (tries to sell you cheap sunglasses) [possibly flag].
  • [ANS] Note that wrong answers should not be deleted: deletion is for answers that “aren't even wrong”.

I would also add, that as a site we have very low Answer-to-Question-Ratio - and I think this is partially due to a culture of flagging and deleting answers that are perhaps not as good as others. I'm not saying we should be encouraging any old answers, but I do this we should be allowing the best to rise to the top by voting up the good.

  • Yeah, in fact deletion is very (very very) rarely ever needed. If anything is absolutely wrong and it isn't a valid answer at all, just flag it, delete-voting right-away seems like hopping over a significant step in the processing chain. I've seen quite some delete votes on answers that were, well, actual answers recently. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 18 '14 at 22:01
  • And thanks for this post about "disputed flags". I wondered why some of my "invalid flag"-flags were listed as "disputed" while the answer was not deleted and the "invalid flag"-flag thus deemed valid. But this seems by-design. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 18 '14 at 22:04
  • @NapoleonWilson - I have been pushing back on this tendency (to quickly flag as either 'not an answer' or 'low quality'). Having read the posts I've included here from MSO, I'm going to move move the line even closer to keeping the post. – iandotkelly Mar 18 '14 at 22:07
  • And another +1 for the last paragraph. Seems like a rather recent trend to me, there are few days when I don't need an "invalid flags"-flag. – Napoleon Wilson Mar 28 '14 at 9:21

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