I was reviewing a bit and ran into a bad answer. Usually I open the question to see it within context (I know this is not the supposed course of action) and so I did.
The bad answer I was reviewing wasn't there anymore, it apparently had been deleted. I went back to the review page and tried to edit the answer to make sure it was deleted, and I got a blank page saying it was a deleted post.

In view of all this I clicked 'no action needed' as no action was needed.

And I got the following message:

STOP! Look and Listen.

This was an audit, designed to see if you were paying attention. You didn't pass. This post was of very poor quality, and needed significant improvements to be useful – passing over such posts hurts the ability of others to find and answer good questions. Please try to fix such posts by editing, downvoting, closing, or flagging as "very low quality".

Don't worry, we've already handled this post appropriately – but please take a minute to look it over closely, keeping in mind the guidance above.

Am I incurring any sort of penalty with what just happened? In my opinion I reviewed correctly. No action was needed.

I find this a bit offensive, to be honest. I am reasonably careful while reviewing and most of my reviews are actually 'skip'.

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    $\begingroup$ Robots browbeating volunteers to work harder for the increase of SE's IPO value! $\endgroup$
    – zyx
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ The issue of poorly constructed audit examples is just below the surface of this Meta SO post, but I try to put a somewhat constructive spin on things. If there were something to "stop, look, and listen" in such a Review Audit, I'm all for having a human being take the time to explain what I failed to comprehend. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ If it's a review audit - and when you went to the question page and found the answer to be already deleted, you know that it is - then act as if the post were publicly visible still. "No action needed" doesn't mean "This post was already appropriately handled, so nothing more needs to be done with it", it means "this post is okay as is and keeping it visible doesn't hurt the site" as far as the audit system is concerned. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 22:59
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    $\begingroup$ It would be nice if there was someone to reply to when you get messages like this... $\endgroup$
    – copper.hat
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Daniel Fischer: Of course, I would naturally think "no action needed" includes "the problem is already fixed, so no action is needed from me". $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ @CarlMummert Yes, that's a natural interpretation. But the audit system is not human. And it works on the assumption that the reviewer doesn't know that the post is already deleted. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ This is a normal SO text! For Math.SE may be inappropriate/abnormal. $\endgroup$
    – user79193
    Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 6:55
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    $\begingroup$ I don't really have a problem with this, but I've gotten about 3 of these this weekend. I would prefer less frequent audits. $\endgroup$
    – Potato
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 5:54
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    $\begingroup$ IMHO, this "STOP! Look and Listen" test is getting way too frequent and become more and more a insult to the intelligence who attempt to review thing seriously. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 0:58
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    $\begingroup$ This test is really stupid. In my case I was told that closing question about genral relationship between $\int f(x)dx$ and $\int 1/f(x)dx$ for the reason "primarily opinion based" is wrong! What the hell! I do think this question is based on naive belief, and and hence opinion based. What is more I just can't disagree. I had to agree and press "I understand" button. What a shame! $\endgroup$
    – Norbert
    Commented Sep 25, 2013 at 15:55

3 Answers 3


Regardless of the practical consequences (or lack thereof) of your actions, there's one part of your complaint that I agree with:

I find this a bit offensive, to be honest.

It is! It's an unnecessarily sanctimonious phrasing in a message from a system that is known to have false positives on a semi-regular basis. The context in which this message is presented is basically, "that thing I just asked you to do for the good of the community out of a mutual trust and understanding? Yeah, that thing was actually a complete waste of your time, and not only that, you wasted your time incorrectly".

It wouldn't do any harm to phrase the subsequent complaint on the presumption of innocence: the guilty users know they are guilty, and the innocent users already have the timewasting and mistrust to be affronted by without also heaping injustice and hurt pride on top of that.

(Sorry that this is a bit off-topic, but I felt the need to help legitimise your personal response, because it does kind of sound like you've been insulted here.)

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your support. However my issue is with the fact that, in my opinion, I reviewed correctly and yet was punished for it. I have no problem with bad reviews being penalized, otherwise people might abuse the system to get extra badges, (unfortunately it seems that badges do matter to some people). $\endgroup$
    – Git Gud
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ I have no problem with them being penalised, but you can penalise someone without being rude about it, and moreover you can penalise someone while admitting you might be doing so incorrectly. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough.${}$ $\endgroup$
    – Git Gud
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ I'm also less concerned about a possibly unfair "penalty" than about improved messaging. It seems the sweet spot here (maximum benefit from a modest code change) is to have a less obnoxious phrasing. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 16:17

The only consequences of failed audits can be a temporary and short-lived review ban if this happens multiple times within a short duration. Even if this does happen, you can still vote to close questions you find elsewhere.

As you have just noticed, the system isn't perfect hence why the penalty is so small. It's just to prevent people from mindlessly racing through the audits to get a badge.

It's really nothing to worry about and it happens to lots of people all the time for various reasons.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. May I ask what is the source of this knowledge? Where did you get that from? $\endgroup$
    – Git Gud
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ @GitGud As already mentioned, I asked a similar question n meta.SE. Either follow the link to the duplicated question or read the comments on my question. $\endgroup$
    – kba
    Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 0:20

I have seen one such test edit. It was so obvious to reject it. May be they can one day train their SW to send less and less obviously bad edits? May be the software can eventually do good edits? When that happens!

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    $\begingroup$ Ha, I knew what that comic was about before I followed the link. Really, SE is pretty close to 'mission accomplished' as far as popular websites go. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 13:39

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