I just got a failed review audit on https://serverfault.com/review/late-answers/215455 -- it states that the answer at issue was, in fact, very low quality, and I should have done something about it. The problem is that I don't know what the review system wants me to do with it.

I agree that the answer wasn't great, but it did at least try to answer the question. The problem is, there really isn't anything valuable that can be done about it:

  • Downvoting is ineffective, and kinda just feels like kicking a puppy.
  • Adding a comment is unlikely to get a significant improvement.
  • I have no edits to make that would improve the answer without fundamentally rewriting it.
  • From experience, I'm pretty confident that flagging for the mods will just get declined with "flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer" (even though the flag reason description is "This answer has severe formatting or content problems" (emphasis added). I've got plenty of declined flags for answers just as bad, or worse, than this one.

The button should have really been labelled "No Action Possible", not "No Action Needed" -- I wanted to do something about it, but there's nothing useful to do with it.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to deal with this, other than putting more load on the mods by being more aggressive with flags that I know will get declined, just to satisfy the system? Sorry, mods.

I have read several other meta questions, both on MSF and MSE, talking about the review system and how less-than-entirely-wonderful it is (this, this one, and this one, amongst others). This isn't a question about the deficiencies of review, so much as it is a question about what to do with marginal, though not entirely awful, answers, given that flagging for mod attention isn't effective.

  • 1
    Unfortunately there's absolutely nothing we (moderators) can do about it. Audits are selected more or less randomly. There's a full discussion in the duplicate. Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 23:38
  • I should have mentioned, I read that question, as well as several others, especially this one, and didn't find them helpful to my question. I'm asking what to do with "questionable" answers like the one I failed the review of, not asking about how to appeal a stupid review, nor how to game the review system.
    – womble Mod
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 23:54
  • This one ought to have been instantly recognizable as an audit, given the content of the comment from a moderator (who would have nuked the answer at the same time). Barring that I would have downvoted it or voted to delete it. Remember that you're meant to downvote wrong answers and crap. Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 23:58
  • 3
    The mod comment wasn't in the review, it only appeared after I failed it. I also can't vote to delete answers -- there's no option for it anywhere I can find.
    – womble Mod
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 0:01

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure if this is a useful answer, but it is a way to deal with the marginal cases that audits present.

For virtually all the reviewing I do, I click through and look at the actual question and answers. I find that the information presented on a review page often isn't enough to for me to decide, so I look at the "real" page and decide based on everything there - the question, all the answers, comments, votes.

Since I mostly do close and reopen reviews, I also take the opportunity to vote on the question being reviewed. Then I go back to the review page and pick whatever option makes sense.

A side effect of this is that I never* fail review audits, because you see the difference between the real post and the modified version the audit shows you.

*(Almost never, sometimes I click the wrong button.)

  • I occasionally click through to the original page when I feel that more context would be appropriate, but I don't make a habit of it and I'm not keen to "game" the review system by doing it universally.
    – womble Mod
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 6:05
  • I actually do this quite often as well. And often the way I treat a given answer is very dependent on the other answers (to give a recent example). However it has also given me the bad habit of then acting in the opened question, closing the window and skipping the review... Which makes my review count seem lower than it is. Regardless, it's the action of reviewing that's important, not the little bar filling up, so I skip a lot.
    – Reaces
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 7:00

If you are unsure what to do then move right along. Like all things SE, as a volunteer, you're not required to do anything, leave it to the next person(s).


What Ward and Reaces said. When in doubt I click through, and almost never fail any more. (Although I do back arrow to the queue before I click, haha, or open the actual post in a new window.)

That said, I also just plain disagree with the reviews sometimes, because they're automatically generated. If I flunk a review I disagree with, I'm okay with that. It doesn't happen enough that anyone's going to do anything to me about it, I don't think, so the worst thing that happens is I get the annoying "WAIT! STOP! LOOK! BAD DOG! Sit here and think about the bad thing you did for ten seconds!" text.

(However, clicking though does prevent that, yes.)

  • So your opinion is that the review system wants us to identify audits and treat them differently from a legitimate review?
    – womble Mod
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 21:56
  • 2
    The purpose of the review audits is to ensure that people are reviewing carefully. If you go to the trouble on a review to click through to the question and evaluate the post there, that's pretty much the definition of the most careful you can be. So the fact that most audits become obvious when you click through isn't sidestepping the system, and I'm sure (though I havent' looked for them just now) there are posts on meta.SE saying it's ok. Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 22:16
  • What @Ward said. My understanding is that they're in place because some folks used to farm for badges by clicking the same thing over and over again. But it's not a perfect system, because sometimes an answer that might have something about it that might make you want to comment might have a high rep, or a marginal question might have been soundly panned. Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 3:31

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