# How to deal with users consistently posting low quality answers

There are a few users on this site (which I will refrain from mentioning here) who constantly posts low quality answers. Even after several comments on their answers they do nothing. The answers can either be completely wrong, not helpful at all or a direct copy from a CAS (computer assisted system).

Is there anything that can be done with such users, and if so what?

• One of these users is a doctor...
– k170
Dec 26 '14 at 17:01
• This might be considered a duplicate: meta.math.stackexchange.com/q/11165/43351 Dec 26 '14 at 17:04
• @Iuʇǝƃɹɐʇoɹ: Sometimes. It is always wise to know what sort of fun you can have where, and when.
– Asaf Karagila Mod
Dec 26 '14 at 17:20
• @Meelo, the question is not directed at new users, but old users whom should knows their way around the site. The mentioned doctor has 15 000 low quality posts at Aops (www.theartofproblemsolving.com). And others at this site has a similar bad track record. Dec 26 '14 at 17:33
• one part of the problem is that [rep system is designed in such a way that] even with constant stream of downvotes reputation of [at least some of] these users continues to grow steadily... Dec 26 '14 at 21:24
• Would it be possible for moderators to contact the Doctor in question? I've reviewed some of his answers both here and on AoPS. The problem may be that he fundamentally doesn't understand what constitutes a good answer. Maybe talking with him would help...
– Newb
Dec 27 '14 at 14:57
• This sort of behavior on AoPS is tolerated by their moderators, but the content and quality of that site is nowhere near as good as it is here, and a large part of the reason for that is because they don't have higher standards for contributions. Let that be a warning to those who have a laissez-faire attitude. In reference to this particular user, I think they should be banned and blocked permanently. Dec 31 '14 at 7:41
• CAS is short for computer algebra system. (Sorry, not enough rep to edit). Jan 2 '15 at 13:05
• One such user has managed to cause hundreds of flags. A moderator adviced them about the problem. The said user is under a magnifying glass, and naturally we hope that things will improve. Digging out their OLD answers and flagging them is IMHO not the most helpful thing at this time. Surely we want to see if the user complies with the moderator's request, and our attention is on the most recent posts. Jan 4 '15 at 7:12
• @JyrkiLahtonen Hmmm, there might have been a misunderstanding. Personally, I have no hope that said users "get the message across". My question was about what is to be done now that this first phase (persuasion, if you wish) is over. Your answer seems to indicate that we will stay forever in this first phase since the mods and/or a significant part of the community, in contradiction to "hundreds of flags", refuse to adopt any effective action to cure the plague. .../...
– Did
Jul 19 '15 at 12:13
• I hope the said Doctor is not a PhD in mathematics. And I really hope we do something soon! Now that he's crossed the 10K mark, he should be one of the most trusted and valuable users of our community with new users implicitly looking to him as a model. Jul 19 '15 at 15:57
• @SimonS Exactly. Insiders know that many of these answers are crap, but others may be fooled. And the bad news is that the problem is on the table for a loooong time, with no effective solution in view.
– Did
Jul 19 '15 at 22:15
• Not sure if this has been pointed out already but the said user will just delete bad answers which receive downvotes and thus never takes the deserved reputation hit. (There is another example from a couple of hours ago where he made a high school level error and received four downvotes; answer now deleted.) This represents a failure in the reputation system. Moderators: please take action! Surely part of the reason we have people who can take overriding actions is to catch failures in the automated system. Jul 22 '15 at 15:28
• @SimonS A stunning news is that, on the page you refer to, the guy apparently deleted their own question. This would be an unprecedented move on their part. However, I fully concur with your admonestation that mods should take action. (As far as I am concerned, they should have for a long time, but there seems to be a kind of laissez-faire ideology at work here, that I really fail to understand.)
– Did
Jul 22 '15 at 17:40
• going for $\bf{30k}$...ridiculous Mar 30 '17 at 0:18

Downvoting bad answers is the first important defense. A low score can lead to deletion of the answer by the community or the author. A user with too many low-scored answers and few to no good answers can also be blocked automatically by the system.

This automatic system is a rather blunt instrument, you have to post pretty terrible stuff to actually get blocked. In more ambiguous situations the moderators can suspend users for continued low quality contributions. You can use a custom flag to inform the moderators about users with a persistent pattern of low quality posts.

• Usually the custom flags don't do anything, as I detailed at meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/17512/…. Almost surely I get a response saying that flags are not to be used for wrong answers! I hope moderators in the future will do something about these users though. Dec 31 '14 at 8:43
• @user21820 I cannot give detailed information, but be sure that users that consistently post low quality answers/questions, be it in good or bad faith, are reminded of the quality standards the community looks for.
– Pedro Tamaroff Mod
Jan 1 '15 at 3:39
• @PedroTamaroff: Okay that's great to hear! =) Jan 1 '15 at 4:55
• @PedroTamaroff Unfortunately, some "users that consistently post low quality answers" have already been "reminded" multiple times "of the quality standards the community looks for" by users and, according to what you say, by mods (your careful phrasing is duly noted). Since some of these users continue unabated, how this community wants "to deal with users consistently posting low quality answers" fully remains. To me, the fact that these users can continue is first pointing at a defect of moderation, which, in turn, most probably points itself at some kind of misled ethos shared .../...
– Did
Jul 19 '15 at 9:20
• .../... by at least some parts of this community (but far from being universally shared by other SE sites).
– Did
Jul 19 '15 at 9:20
• @MadScientist What kind of action for non-moderators do you suggest when the moderators have been informed "about users with a persistent pattern of low quality posts", for a long time, multiple times, but the stream of low quality posts continues?
– Did
Jul 22 '15 at 17:48
• @Did Contacting SE using the link in the footer is probably the best way then. You'll have to make a good and concise argument on how the user's behaviour is harmful to the site. I would not expect SE to override the mods in such a situation, but they'll likely talk to the mods about this if they agree that there is a real issue here.
– user9733
Jul 22 '15 at 17:54
• Thanks. I am not yet used to the idea that it would be necessary to "jump over" the mods by going "one stair higher". Equivalent formulation of my puzzlement: is this really a major case? Originally, I viewed it as completely minor, clear-cut, easy to solve, but since things are not going according to the way I thought they would, I must miss some aspects of the situation. Anyway, thanks again for the expertise.
– Did
Jul 22 '15 at 18:03
• @Did Contacting SE can be used to appeal to a higher authority, but it doesn't have to be used in this way. I'm mostly suggesting this as a way to get a third party to take a look at the issue. Most other possible options don't work in this case as only mods or SE employees can see deleted posts in user profiles as well as previous contacts between the mods and the user, regular users can't easily evaluate the situation.
– user9733
Jul 22 '15 at 18:19