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Recently, I flagged an answer as “very low quality” because it essentially repeats an existing answer from over 4 years ago without providing any substantial additional information or reliable sources.

screenshot of decline reason

While I acknowledge that the moderator’s decline reason—"Unlike others from this user, this is at least an answer to the question"—aligns with the guidance from the meta post “How should moderators respond to ‘not an answer’ flags?”, my flag was specifically for “very low quality” rather than “not an answer.” In such cases, I would expect the answer to be sent to the Low Quality Posts review queue for community evaluation, since according to the Help Center guidelines on why some answers are deleted, duplicate answers are subject to deletion.

Why and how are some answers deleted?

Answer posts that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed. This includes answers that are: […]

  • exact duplicates of other answers

screenshot of post

As you can see, the similarity to an answer made more than four years ago is quite evident.

By declining the flag, the moderator effectively removed the answer from the review queue, preventing other users from assessing its quality.

I would appreciate clarification on why my “very low quality” flag was declined with the reason given for incorrect NAA flags. If this was a mistake, I respectfully request that the declined flag status be undone and that the answer be allowed to be reviewed by the community in the LQP review queue.


This situation is reminiscent of another meta post, “Why was this VLQ answer converted to a comment?”—where the OP also expected a VLQ-flagged answer to be deleted.

I looked at Meta Stack Exchange questions to see if this issue has been discussed before, and in "How to flag duplicate answers?," the top-voted answer suggests making a custom flag. Perhaps I should have done that, but I would likely have received the same decline reason as my "very low quality" flag.

Additionally, on our sister site, Arqade, duplicate answers are deleted, as discussed in "How do we handle duplicate answers?:"

  • The user is trying to gain rep by paraphrasing an existing answer.

This appears to be the case with the answer I flagged.

In any of these scenarios, the user is not providing a contribution to the site. The purpose of Arqade is to provide expert answers. The StackExchange network's goal is to improve the Internet. The user's answer does not contribute to either of these goals.

[…] downvoting leaves their answer visible to all. This answer provides no additional value, and by leaving duplicate answers, we are retaining broken windows. Users may not see these due to good answers rising to the top, but the fact is, they're still there.

I kindly request clarification on this matter and guidance on the appropriate course of action when encountering duplicate answers on our site. I don't believe we should allow answers paraphrasing an existing answer, with nothing substantial to add and essentially conveying the same information.

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  • It has different content that shows they have either watched the episode or gained information from other sites. It is not simply rewording the existing answer. Is it a great answer, no. One would hope a new answer written years after the question would bring new content. But I'm not sure its an appropriate reaction to delete it.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented May 18 at 17:08
  • I suggest you open a separate question about the policy of duplicate answers on this site. Because as currently defined I don't believe this answer can be defined as VLQ, and I believe I was correct in rejecting it.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented May 18 at 17:17

3 Answers 3

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I flagged it as VLQ for precisely the same reason.

Simply replicating an existing answer may technically meet the requirement for it being 'an answer' (of a sort), but it certainly doesn't meet the quality standards we should be aiming for.

You can't just repost someone else's answer with slightly different words.

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This is a reply to iandotkelly's (moderator) answer.

Because duplicate answers are allowed

This site, like other StackExhange sites, doesn't ban the same answer expressed differently.

With all due respect, I disagree with this assertion. The Help Center guidelines on why some answers are deleted clearly state that duplicates of other answers are subject to deletion. This policy applies to all Stack Exchange sites, not just Movies & TV SE.

Why and how are some answers deleted?

Answer posts that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed. This includes answers that are: […]

  • exact duplicates of other answers

While I acknowledge that evaluating the degree of duplication can be subjective, in this particular case, the core information in the answer appears to be substantially similar to the existing answer from four years ago, without providing any substantial additional information or reliable sources. 

In my opinion, it does not fundamentally answer the question in a meaningfully different way.

I believe it would have been beneficial to have allowed the community to evaluate the answer's quality via the LQP review queue, rather than unilaterally declining the flag and removing it from the review queue entirely.

Because it doesn't fall in the definition of 'very low quality'

Very low quality means

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

I respectfully disagree with this interpretation of the "very low quality" flag criteria. The relevant keywords here are "content problems." In this case, the content problem is that the answer appears to be a duplicate of an existing answer, conveying essentially the same information without any substantial additions or improvements.

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  • Thank you for the considered response. My main comment is really : if in doubt, what harm is there is leaving content available on the site? We're not exactly flooded with answers to question.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented May 19 at 13:58
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    @iandotkelly - Yes, but if people arrive and see shit, they'll probably leave. At the very least it's better to be a ghost town with streets that are clean rather than ones filled with litter.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 19 at 15:33
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    People will leave if there are no decent answers, not if there are some good and some poor. Like your statement, that is an assertion of opinion rather than data @Valorum. While I have no desire to pander to this particular user who does have a pattern of poor answers, I feel in general that over curating content and deleting answers that do not meet some arbitrary quality standards set by some of the users contributes towards the unfriendly impression this site leaves.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented May 19 at 16:13
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Because duplicate answers are allowed

This site, like other StackExhange sites, doesn't ban the same answer expressed differently.

Because it doesn't fall in the definition of 'very low quality'

Very low quality means

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

Which by no means applies to the answer here. For more information see this answer. You are equating a bad or duplicate answer as 'very low quality' which is incorrect.

Moderation is not for curating the content of the site

That is what voting is for, and I have downvoted other answers by the same user that I consider poor. This answer is not worthy of an upvote in my opinion because it is no better than the existing answer.

Moderation is to address the most egregious content and poor behavior of users of the site. It's not my role to judge edge cases and delete content that I may or may not deem worthy of inclusion.

I judged this an answer that does not have severe formatting or content problems, and declined the flag. I would do so again.

Was it rejected as NAA?

No. That was a throwaway comment about it at least being an answer. I rejected it as not meeting the criteria for VLQ (as I understand the criteria). We don't have a site policy for duplicate answers.

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    The user in question has a number of poor answers. Some are not actually answers to the question, to which I have downvoted and left comments to that effect. This one at least is an answer.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented May 18 at 10:06
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    I don't think this user should get extra consideration because this appalling answer is less appalling than his other efforts
    – Valorum
    Commented May 18 at 15:25
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    For the record, this isn't a 'duplicate answer' (e.g. one posted at essentially the same time, where two or more users may have come to the same conclusion during their research). Something highly similar that has been posted years later doesn't enjoy the same protections.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 18 at 16:08
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    It has different content - the stuff about "biogenic weapons". A moderator can't start deleting answers just because we don't like how the user acts.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented May 18 at 17:01
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    @iandotkelly 'It has different content - the stuff about "biogenic weapons".' I can see where you're coming from. Evaluating the degree of duplication can be subjective. In my opinion, the core information appears to be substantially similar to the existing answer from four years ago. Perhaps we could have benefited by letting the community weigh in on the answer via the LQP review queue. Commented May 19 at 13:16
  • This seems like an oversimplification: “Moderation is not for curating the content of the site”. Or maybe we just have different definitions of “curating”. Commented Jun 13 at 0:38
  • Dealing with cruft of the site - the spam, the sock-puppets, abusive users is relatively easy. The hard stuff is knowing how to help manage the content and when to wield your moderator 'golden close vote'. I read the 'theory of moderation' as generally advice to do as little as possible. Others, including other moderators are generally more likely to intervene than me.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Commented Jun 13 at 4:54

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