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I flagged this deleted answer (unilaterally deleted by a moderator) for reopening, and gave the explanation "This answer is no worse than any others that have been left intact. It should be reinstated as an answer." The flag was declined, with the text, "Why not let's improve or get rid of the worse answers instead."

Here's the thing: I've been trying to get rid of worse answers, by flagging them to be burninated. And yet, those flags get declined because "flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention".

I'm having trouble reconciling both sets of declined flags. Should moderators be deleting poor-quality answers, or not?

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The deleted answer to which you link is really just a link to an off site resource and we have a long standing requirement for answers to contain content not just pointers to content. A précis of the remote content with a link for details is acceptable.

As an answer it was little more than a comment and that's what it is now. For all we know someone else may have flagged the answer and requested it be converted to a comment.

Should moderators be deleting poor-quality answers, or not?

No, the community has the tools to deal with these sorts of things - viz down voting, commenting to get the OP to improve, editing etc. A sufficiently downvoted answer becomes eligible for deletion too.

Moderators are meant to be exception handlers dealing with things the community can't handle themselves.

Also bear in mind that moderators, whilst acting for the good of the site are independent agents. In general they moderate in broad agreement but occasionally you might find one accepts a flag that another would decline etc.

  • 3
    The answer is "use winrm", and then there's a link to more information. If the link hadn't been provided, the answer would still have had value. Not much value, sure, but enough to be worth keeping as an answer. – womble Aug 24 '15 at 23:34
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This kind of thing happens when you have more than one person doing the moderating. As it happens, the question you linked to was converted to a comment, so the content was preserved.

As it happens, we've had long standing differences in the moditorial staff on exactly where the line sits between not-an-answer: burninate and crap-answer: dowvote lives. I definitely have done the 'decline flag, drop a downvote on it' workflow many times.

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I've not deleted the answer, but converted it into a comment. This is what I always do for answers that are essentially links to external resources.

In my view, flags should be used to make us aware of

  • spam
  • complete nonsense
  • Link-only answers (to convert them to a comment)
  • answers that are really comments or should be edits by the OP
  • answers including really dangerous advice

I don't think "normal" bad quality answers need to be flagged. Comment on them, improve if possible and if you feel so inclined and downvote if necessary, or even vote to delete. Unilateral deleting is the only thing we can do about a bad answer that you can't do and I am hesitant to do this as a regular action.

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I declined this flag. This is why:

So-called link-only answers have long been discussed on the network. Nobody really likes them, as they divert people off-site which is frustrating to them, and the links go bad which is doubly frustrating. They should be expanded into proper answers, converted to comments, or deleted altogether.

The post, being a link-only answer, had already been converted to a comment, so no visible information was lost. Undeleting the answer would not have made anything new visible or restored anything to visibility. It also would not have helped the asker, as it was he who posted the non-answer in the first place.

To be clear, the post has some small value, but to be a full answer it really ought to say something more than "set up a scheduled task using winrm".


As for "very low quality" flags on answers, I expect to see these very rarely. There are generally better things to do, for instance:

Wrong answers should simply be downvoted. Don't worry about losing your fake internet points or making the other guy feel bad. (But flag dangerous or malicious answers, such as those that contain an obfuscated rm -rf /; we will remove those.)

"Answers" which don't even attempt to answer the question given should be flagged as "not an answer". For instance, someone didn't understand the question before answering, posted their answer to the wrong question, etc.

Here's an example of "not an answer".

Not an answer answer

Spam should be flagged as spam.

And, finally, a "very low quality" answer looks like this. Flag as very low quality when it isn't spam, not an answer or a wrong answer, and deleting the answer is the only thing to do.

Very low quality answer

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