Here on Biblical Hermeneutics, we love flags. We get excited when we see your flags. We want more of them. This is just an itty bitty tiny gripe pertaining to flags on answers, primarily those raised by >4k users (who, as it happens, constitute most of our flaggers).

What do you mean when you flag something as Not An Answer or Very Low Quality? My understanding is that you mean, "Please delete this for me." If you didn't like it but didn't think it warranted deletion, you would have just downvoted, or commented, or ignored it, or whatever it is that you do when you see things you don't like. When you file your, "Please Delete This For Me" request, I would like to suggest that you also strongly consider:

  1. Downvoting (>125 rep.). This is done surprisingly rarely. I understand — I forget to downvote all the time before taking some mod action. But it's really important for several reasons:

    a. It counts toward the automated answer-bans.

    b. If the answer isn't deleted, it contributes to our crowd-sourced ranking mechanism which is what (well, a part of what) makes SE great.

    c. If the answer is deleted, it testifies to the fact that one rogue mod was not the only person who thought this was crummy content.

    Just in case you're worried about "wasting" your 1 point rep loss on an answer that will be deleted, rest assured: you will be refunded. Never seen a +1 green box pop up at the top of your screen? You're not downvoting enough.

  2. Voting to delete1 (>4000 rep.). Please, pretty please. If you have the privilege, use it! Mods everywhere agree! Some claim that they decline every flag from a high-rep user that comes without a VTD! You may wonder why we care. My delete button works equally well whether or not there's a vote there already.

    a. We get lonely. It's nice to have someone else's name nearby on the "Deleted by..." stamp.

    b. It's the principle of the thing: community moderation, etc. "Delete this for me" is not how highly privileged members of the community should operate.

    c. It is actually possible for the community to delete things without mod intervention (3 votes). I don't mind being involved, but that's there.

    d. Occasionally (very occasionally) we disagree amongst ourselves about whether something should be deleted. As it stands, saying "well, it's sat there for 2 months and there are zero VTDs" means nothing. It should.

  3. Commenting. This is optional. It takes time. I don't mind doing it if you don't feel like it.

By all means, if you don't think something warrants deletion, or aren't sure, or think it should be migrated, or just want a mod to look at it, flag as "other » explanation" and don't VTD. But when you flag as Not An Answer or Very Low Quality, that is intended as a suggestion to delete....right?

1. Users with >4k rep may vote to delete any answer with a score of -1 or less. Your own vote counts. Unless an answer starts with a positive score, you should be able to VTD.

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    (1) Guilty as charged. (Not on all points, though, guv'nor!) (2) +1 (3) Lovely formatting! (Really!) (4) If that's an "itty bitty tiny gripe", I'd be fascinated to see a judiciously medium-sized one. (5) This current penchant for enumerated comments is ever so slightly annoying.
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 7:24
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    [Independent of your numbering scheme]: (1) Meta is different; comment content and structure are not subject to our normal "rules" + cavils. (2) Carefully considered and apposite comments that are best formatted by enumeration are always welcome in my book. (3) Itty bitty tiny in scope, not in verbosity (the latter being largely foreign to SE [well, BH Meta anyway] praxis). (4) In case anybody missed it after all these words + numbers: we love flags!
    – Susan
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 13:31
  • To clarify: let's assume one has DV'ed, VTD'ed (V'edTD?) and commented. Is it then "okay" to flag? or is it preferred that nature take its course (if it does) with the accumulation of !♦ votes?
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 12:00
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    @David I’m more than happy for folks to continue flagging all of these as they have been in order to expedite deletion via ♦︎ action. I’m only advocating that people DV + VTD at the same time when appropriate. (I also went back and forth with title “...VsTD” but decided it looked pretty silly.)
    – Susan
    Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 12:42
  • I'm certainly one of the people guilty of this as well. However - if you're reviewing a Late Answer, for instance, and it has zero voting, when you DV the "Delete" link doesn't seem to appear unless you specifically browse to the answer itself. Or am I doing it wrong?
    – Soldarnal
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 23:58

1 Answer 1


I probably shouldn't be answering this, since I practically never "flag" anything. I tend to downvote at times (especially answers, sometimes questions), and on occasion do VTD. I rarely take the time to comment on questions/answers that need a "major" quality boost or are not an answer, I just downvote (unless I'm feeling really lazy and just pass it by...).

So I'm simply going to offer the answer of how I would distinguish my own use of the two flag reasons (when and if I happen to flag):

  • Not An Answer = "suggestion to delete"
  • Very Low Quality = I would not mean by this as a mere "suggestion to delete," but rather,

    the poster needs encouragement to improve the quality of the answer, but I don't want to take the time to explain what all needs to be done, so maybe someone else may want to take that time.

    So yes, it is a pass-the-buck maneuver (if I were to do it). I would use this reason only if I felt there was "an answer" there, it was just confusing, or a mere assertion (or some form of not showing enough work), plagiarized, etc. The idea being to revisit the answer sometime after someone encourages the poster to make improvement, and if no improvement occurs, then delete (sort of a moderator come back and recheck later call).

Just my 2-cents on how I would use the reasons if I would ever start flagging stuff :-).

  • 2
    Your thoughts are appreciated, insightful, and amusing. Very low quality is a flag with problems of its own. I personally think it should go away since it’s not mod territory unless it’s NAA. (I would replace it with “plagiarism” to encourage people to spot and flag that. But flag reasons are SE-wide and apparently people are mostly not as upset by plagiarism as I am. I will delete immediately -“this is not acceptable.” So if there’s something you’re willing to flag [“other” for now], please consider it if you spot that.)
    – Susan
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 13:32
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    If you do start flagging, you'd be using NAA correctly (assuming you are suggesting it is deleted because it actually doesn't answer the question) but VLQ wrong - there are better ways to pass the buck that involve the community and not just the mods, like posting link in the chat room. Mods tend to process flags straight away and not leave them hanging around as a marker to come back and check (the tools really aren't set up for that workflow), and anyway, they are not necessarily the best people for improving posts and nor should they need to be! Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 17:21
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    @Susan VLQ is supposed to mean something like "complete trash that could not be edited into a useful answer with the best will in the world". A mod shouldn't need to be an expert in the topic to be able to spot VLQ and hit the button. Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 17:24
  • @JackDouglas: Regarding VLQ, thanks for letting me know I would be using it wrong. I think Susan's post was to find out what people are/would be using it for from their perspective. So the question may be is there a link to some Meta post elsewhere that indicates VLQ is supposed to mean "complete trash that could not be edited into a useful answer with the best will in the world"? In my mind, any answer could be edited 100%, and thus any answer could be turned into a "useful" one. Of course, no one but the OP should attempt a 100% revision. Just curious about documentation on VLQ purpose.
    – ScottS
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 17:56
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    @JackDouglas I guess it just seems to me like those would also be NAA by the criteria we use here.
    – Susan
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 17:57
  • @Susan that is true, but VLQ should be the first choice flag for trash - that makes it easier for moderators to be in context when dealing with flags I think. Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 19:19
  • @ScottS this M.SE post is pretty useful. If you edit an answer 100% you aren't so much salvaging as replacing, and I'm sure you'll agree it's better to just answer (and delete the trash) in that case. Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 19:21
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    @ScottS btw apart from helping the mods, I think it's really helpful to involve the community via the chat room for posts that merit any debate or discussion, even if that means just posting them in there and washing your hands of them: it helps us feel part of a team and builds the community bonds that are so essential with a site this small. Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 19:23
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    @Susan VLQ shouldn't go away for users who can't VTD!
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 8:35
  • @curiousdannii My thoughts on this are unrelated to VTD. I just think that if it’s LQ enough to merit flag/deletion, it’s probably also NAA. I (apparently unlike Jack) prefer NAA to VLQ because it’s more of an obviously binary decision that is mod-actionable.
    – Susan
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 8:55
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    @Susan Maybe it's more applicable on other sites, but there are sometimes things which are clearly attempts at answering, but are just terrible quality.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 9:14

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