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There is a significant number of answers flagged «not an answer» and/or «very low quality».

What exactly do flaggers expect from those flags?

I have deleted some answers which were flagged in that way when they were barely comprehensible or not actually related to the question—extreme situations, let us say— but I will not start deleting posts (much less editing/"fixing" them...) because others think they are of very low quality. Deleting posts because I think they are of low quality would sort of make sense, but deleting posts because someone else does seems a peculiarly odd thing to do!

I don't think moderators to be editors or referees of the site.

In many cases, the way I handled the flags was by adding a comment suggesting the poster of the flagged item either expand his ideas, be more verbose, &c. But that is something that the flagger himself could have done and, in fact, would be best done by the flagger!

Maybe we can agree on a policy of some sort, at least among regular users, on this point.

One option is the following: let downvoting be the way to express what in lots of cases is being channeled right now through «very low quality»-flags, ideally accompanied with an explanatory comment explaining to the author of the problematic question/answer what the problem is, and sometimes suggesting that the downvote could be cleared if the post did get fixed, or something.

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    $\begingroup$ I often find such posts with a downvote so with flagging I also vote to delete. There are only a handful of trusted users on the site, so it's not very often that an answer is deleted by users. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 23 '12 at 7:58
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    $\begingroup$ While I agree with your comments on "very low quality" flags, I don't understand the premise of the question with regards to the "not an answer" flag. In my experience in this site, it is quite common to find comments posted as answers (and in many cases, these are posted by the OP because they lack the required 50 reputation points). Is it ok to flag such posts as not answers? $\endgroup$ – Srivatsan Jan 23 '12 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Srivatsan: well, I don't understand what you mean by premise really... :) As I tried to make clear, what I am asking is: what do you expect that we mods do when you flag something as "not an answer"? That mods remove the flagged post? That mods engage the author of the post into trying to make it a better post and, failing that, remove it? The one thing is can see as a premise in what I wrote is that I will not be doing editing in the site, and that more generally I do not think moderators should do any editing. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Jan 23 '12 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ I guess I was reading too much into the "extreme situations" bit when I wrote "premise". I wanted to point out that non-answers posted as answers is a common scenario, and not really extreme; that's all. [Perhaps it is best if you please ignore the word "premise"; sorry about the noise.] But my query still stands: if I see a comment posted as an answer, is it ok to flag it? I assume it is, but it might be good to clarify it anyway. $\endgroup$ – Srivatsan Jan 23 '12 at 19:17
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I'll answer as someone who has used both types of flags.

  • "Not an answer": For these my intent is usually to draw the attention of moderators in case they think it is a good idea to delete the answer and perhaps convert it to a comment. I sometimes also comment on the non-answer. I generally do not use this flag if the answer adds something relevant and of substance to the thread, even if it isn't strictly an answer. For those who can see deleted answers, here is an example.

  • "Very low quality": I have used these sparingly, and I admit that I am not sure when they are appropriate. When I do use this flag, I also downvote, and vote to close if it is a question. I guess I use the flag when for some reason downvoting doesn't seem like enough, and commenting to suggest improvements seems futile. The following links show examples (three of the four are deleted): one, two(not deleted), three, four.

I'd be happy to hear suggestions for more helpful flagging or nonflagging.

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    $\begingroup$ since you are 20K+, in the second situation you can also vote to delete, no? $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jan 23 '12 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ (+1) I occasionally flag as "not an answer". Almost always it is because they should be comments under either the question or someone else's answer. $\endgroup$ – cardinal Jan 23 '12 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Willie: Yes, and I have done so for the one I linked to that is not deleted. For three of the four examples I linked to I did not have 20K at the time. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Jan 23 '12 at 17:44

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