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In this thread, there is a discussion on how to handle users who consistently post low-quality answers. In the comments, a moderator mentions that one such user is "under a magnifying glass", yet there are a couple users who continue to routinely show up in the 'low-quality post' review queue.

Is there anything further that has been done to limit this behaviour? (For example, have temporary bans been issued? What is the policy if this persists after a ban?)

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    $\begingroup$ I remember seeing one of these users suspended for a week, although I believe the stated reason was to "cool down". Both this old network Meta post and the answer to the previous thread state that "low-quality contributions" is one of the possible suspension reasons. I'm also interested in knowing whether the moderators see it as an option for these users. $\endgroup$ – epimorphic Jul 14 '15 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ In this context, frankly I do not know how to understand the statement on the other page 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". One can imagine a whole spectrum of such "reminders", with variable efficacies. $\endgroup$ – Did Jul 14 '15 at 16:48
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    $\begingroup$ FYI: Moderators are discussing the case, and thinking about the best way to explain the problem to the user in question. We consulted a community manager about our options. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 15 '15 at 8:10
  • $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen Thanks for this piece of information. (To me: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/99338) $\endgroup$ – Did Jul 15 '15 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Did what i meant was, are you sure it's right to be making an example of him in public? $\endgroup$ – man and laptop Jul 22 '15 at 20:59
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    $\begingroup$ @NaN Finding who the user is, is not difficult, to say the least. However, I understand that my recent comment to Jyrki (rather positive about the user in question, as you noted) could be used as an excuse by others to divert the discussion about the absence of (visible) effective action undertaken by the mods to stop the pollution of the site by this user, into irrelevant etiquette details. To avoid such an undesirable (to me) outcome, I prefer to delete the comment. (And no, this does not answer your question.) $\endgroup$ – Did Jul 22 '15 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ @NaN And now I can answer your question: yes I am sure. $\endgroup$ – Did Jul 22 '15 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ Ok. The user has not done anything worthy of a suspension, so that kind of action is not an option. Bans are results of several answers getting deleted and downvoted into oblivion. But for a 10k user to get that low is (presumably) very difficult. NAA flags are misplaced because these posts make an attempt to answer the question. VLQ? May be, but I'm unhappy about that, too. Read for example this discussion. That leaves "not helpful". $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 24 '15 at 6:08
  • $\begingroup$ (cont'd) Community moderation is one way to get rid of content you don't want to see. Downvote and vote to delete. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 24 '15 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ That a comment by some user is deleted, presumably by its author, why not? But that one of my comments is silently and almost instantly deleted for no reason that I can imagine other than that it was inquiring about the first, now disappeared, comment... this does not smell good. (And this leaves us still with no answer to the question asked.) $\endgroup$ – Did Jul 24 '15 at 13:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Did Where? Here I see only one deleted comment by you, and that one you deleted yourself. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Jul 26 '15 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer Jyrki posted two comments (one paragraph too long for being one comment) delineating diverse options to deal with the case (and his opinion on them). I asked about this strange event in a comment, now disappeared although I did not delete it. $\endgroup$ – Did Jul 26 '15 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Did Well, I can't see that. After Jyrki's deleted comments, I see only our conversation here. Nor do I see any trace of such a comment in your recent history. Strange. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Jul 26 '15 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer Don't lose your sleep over this. More interesting (to me) would be to know why Jyrki's (double) comment was deleted since after its disappearance we are back at the promise in the comment from Jul 15 at 8:10, not fulfilled yet. $\endgroup$ – Did Jul 26 '15 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen "FYI: Moderators are discussing the case, and thinking about the best way to explain the problem to the user in question. We consulted a community manager about our options." Any news about what the community manager suggested? $\endgroup$ – Did Aug 28 '15 at 11:11
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We (=moderators) asked CMs whether specific restrictions can be placed on this (or in general a specific) user. The answer was "No". The user has not done anything worthy of suspension. My comments above (now undeleted) describe my sentiment (not necessarily shared by other moderators) that none of the flags are great fits either.

Moderators are traditionally very reluctant to cast their immediately binding delete vote - for a good reason. I have voted to delete a few of the posts that I believe were flagged for reasons related to this thread. In those cases I would have voted to delete as a regular user, and there were already other delete votes in place, so I like to think this was not in violation of the tradition. You be the judge.

That leaves community moderation. If you see material that you think should not be on the site, the tools you have at your disposal are to downvote and vote to close/delete. This does mean that you need to put your reputation where your mouth is (doesn't apply to Did who, judging from his comments, is not shy about using these tools).

Of course, using downvotes for such purposes is not without risks. If done without caution it can lead to attempts at ostracism. I want you to keep in mind that

  • Your displeasure should be directed at actions - not at a person.
  • The goal is to educate about what is unwanted. Some may need a clue-by-four. Ideally a less violent method will do.

Of course, a problem we then face is where exactly to draw the line. I don't expect us to reach a consensus, and you should not expect one either. Our community is self-steering in this kind of matters. And we already have accumulated quite a bit of material to judge what is ok and what is not. Meta is the place to discuss refinements to cases not already covered.

Flagging may or may not work well here. Unless the review queue reaches a near unanimous verdict, a moderator (at least this moderator) will be extra cautious. For my part I probably can disclose that I will delete a post if the review task gives me something like a 5-2 mandate to do so (or thereabouts). Below that is a grey area, where inaction becomes more and more likely. I can use my own judgement, but that is not always as impartial as I would like it to be. Many a flag putting a post into review queue results in a wishy-washy 2-2 vote, and any action will be on my own whim - no good.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm not proud of my actions here. May be I should "man up", and use the power given to me by the voters who think I judge things like this well in general? $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Aug 28 '15 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ Just wondering, suppose a review queue progresses to 2-2; but additional flags are piled. Say, three more flags. Would you consider this as a 5-2 scenario? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 28 '15 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: That is something I would take into account. But then we also need a mechanism to, roughly, "flag in favor of not deleting this post". That can only be a comment (or an upvote on one already existing). It probably wouldn't hurt for me to study the mechanics of review queues: how many votes are needed for the task to be completed? how many days?... $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Aug 28 '15 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ All: Mind you, I do act on a 2-2 vote every now and then. So I'm not just painfully procrastinating :-). Furthermore, I have yet to see such an action contested. What I am concerned about are cases like those discussed in this thread, when several posts from the same user have been flagged and reviewed. I cannot pretend that I would not have developed preconceived ideas (a prejudice even) of how trustworthy I find the flaggers as well as the target of the flags. Such history makes me uncertain whether I am judging each case on its own merits. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Aug 28 '15 at 13:43
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    $\begingroup$ Just my 2¢, but when a "disputed low quality" flag comes up on an answer that is clearly not nonsense and is clearly not not-an-answer, but has received no downvotes I worry that the community is taking to removing disagreeable content too quickly without using the simplest means to judge/rate content first. Sure, that 1 rep hit for downvoting a bad answer might hurt... no, wait a minute: it doesn't hurt at all. It's all imaginary internet points! $\endgroup$ – user642796 Aug 28 '15 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ @ArthurFischer Phantomschmerz hurts worst of all. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Aug 28 '15 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Arthur: You can never know when the economy is going to collapse, and imaginary internet point become the new basis for economy! $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 28 '15 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Arthur, in response to your concern about community behavior with answers that have received flags but no downvotes: I have recently downvoted and flagged several answers. My downvotes were reversed but the flags were allowed to remain. It seems that my downvotes were not welcome, and from now on that I am encouraged to flag and not downvote. $\endgroup$ – Antonio Vargas Aug 29 '15 at 4:00
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    $\begingroup$ @AntonioVargas Looking at your last number of flags, it appears that most of those answers have since been deleted (by non-mod users). When an answer that you have downvoted is deleted, the 1 rep "cost" is "refunded". I see that numerous of these answers have been downvoted, but by whom I cannot tell. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Aug 29 '15 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ @AntonioVargas I see what happened now. One thing that you should not do is serially go through a user's posts to flag and/or downvote them. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Aug 29 '15 at 4:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Arthur, if I come across an answer which should be deleted I often check that user's profile to see their other answers. If other answers on there should be deleted, then I flag them. Is there something else I should do? $\endgroup$ – Antonio Vargas Aug 29 '15 at 4:48
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    $\begingroup$ @AntonioVargas Just be aware that if you are downvoting a number of a single user's posts within a short period of time, it is possible that the system will see this as serial (down)voting, and later will be automatically reversed. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Aug 29 '15 at 6:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Arthur, Yes, I am aware of that. I only wanted to bring to your attention a reason why someone would flag but not downvote a post. Cheers! $\endgroup$ – Antonio Vargas Aug 29 '15 at 6:51

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