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Recently I have observed a trend where experienced users are simply posting one-two liners as answers. Basically those are comments posted as answers and obviously they are low quality as answers.

Some new users, who do not have privileges to post comments, often end up doing the same mistake, but here the answers were posted intentionally and not by mistake.

Users, who have sufficient privileges of posting a comment, are posting such answers for some unknown reasons.

I had flagged few such answers previously using custom reasons but the flags kept pending and pending. So, I assume that I have made the jobs of the moderators difficult by probably choosing wrong reasons?

  • Shall we be flagging such answers as simply low quality? Or what should be the correct flag reason here?
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  • The length of the answer can't be the criteria while flagging. It depends on what the question and answer and address of the question. We can only say if there is an example. General reason for Low quality is "written in gibberish language with poor formatting, Non English, Comments (as per help center only), link only". – Sarvabhouma Oct 27 '18 at 7:23
  • When you flag answer as "low quality", it is dragged to review queue by system so-that community can review. So, when mods see "low quality" flags, they don't take action soon (if there's no big problem with answer) and let community to decide through review queue. That may be the reason why your flag remain pending for sometimes. – Pandya Oct 27 '18 at 10:44
  • Btw, if you feel that appropriate action is not taken, you can flag with explaining reason or you can also raise one meta question - though better to give an example :) – Pandya Oct 27 '18 at 10:57
  • @Pandya I had actually used custom reasons for the flags which were pending for long. Eventually the flags are marked as helpful so I have no complaints. My question is whether using custom flags a wrong thing to do in such cases. Can we simply flag them as low quality instead. – Rickross Oct 27 '18 at 17:05
  • @Rickross Yes, if there's no special clarification or attention required, using "low quality" flag is fine as it automatically drags to the review queue :) – Pandya Oct 27 '18 at 17:15
  • @Pandya But flagging immediately without giving time for addition of sources is also a bad thing to do. According to site's policy, 15 days is the limit. We have already discussed on Anniversary meta post that there should be some patience in flagging. Flagging answers without sources as VLQ is a bad idea. Reviews by users can't be reversed. So, VLQ is not the right option when there are no sources. One liner/ two liners.. it is dependent on the question and answer.. isn't it? – Sarvabhouma Oct 28 '18 at 16:41
  • @Pandya sv raises an imp point. If the answers are highly upvoted VLQ option isn't available while flagging.. so, then there is no other option but to use a custom reason. – Rickross Oct 30 '18 at 4:19
  • @Rickross looks fine. – Pandya Oct 30 '18 at 6:36
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Well, as not particular example is being discussed, I'm providing generic answer:

First of all, one-liner answers are discouraged. On the Stack Exchange, we emphasize on quality answers. So, whenever we see one-liner answer, we should put comment linking How do I write a good answer? If such answers are upvoted and if question reached HNQ, this would be problematicr1 as visitors get wrong idea that one-liner answers are well accepted (users aren't taking time & effort to write good answers). So, we should not upvote them regardless answer is correct or not.

Now, talking about flagging, You can flag them as VLQ but as pointed out VLQ flag may not be available if answer is upvoted or old (This again indicates that such answers shouldn't be upvoted.) To discourage we can downvote them and also cast delete vote if it is feasible.

Worth to note that here mostly such answers would be unsourced. As titled " flagging one/two liner answers which are without any sources?" Considering the policy of citing sources, you can always flag them with custom reason saying no sources/references are cited and requires to put "Citation needed" post notice.

Note that as I mentioned in comment moderators usually don't take an action on VLQ flags since that is mostly handled by community through review queue. Otherwise you can flag them with custom reason indicating the problem that is answer sounds like comment (you may use flag Not and Answer for that) or the post doesn't provide sufficient explanation or unsourced.

We've couple of suitable post notice which will be added by moderators:

  • insufficient explanation

    We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • citation needed

    Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

By the way, if your flags keep pending and you feel urgent action is required, you can ping us on moderation room.


Special/exception case What to do with those type of questions whose answers are simple yes or no?

r1 if one-liner answer is working then there should be problem with question. We expect question should be clear and detailed so-that it gets quality answers.

Ref: Should we be more strict about one-line answers?

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  • The question is "Should we flag immediately?" when the answer is short? If that is a yes, that becomes against previous meta posts and discussions (some written by you and other mods). We are advised not to flag immediately. If unsourced answers are VLQ, what are Non Hindi, gibberish, comments? Unsourced should not be flagged as VLQ. I suspect your answer will be misunderstood and unsourced will be flagged as VLQ. Some might even flag wrong answers too. VLQ has a different purpose. That should b made clear. – Sarvabhouma Oct 30 '18 at 8:32
  • "I suspect your answer will be misunderstood and unsourced will be flagged as VLQ. Some might even flag wrong answers too" I've not said to flag unsourced answer as VLQ. That's for one-liner answer. For unsourced answers, I've told to flag with custom reason. And wrong answer is different issue see this post for how to deal with wrong answer. – Pandya Oct 30 '18 at 9:25
  • if one-liner answer is working then there should be problem with question -- No that is not necessary the case always. Some valid questions can have even a No or a Yes as the answer. @Pandya – Rickross Oct 30 '18 at 11:47
  • @Rickross Well that exceptional case is covered (mentioned/linked) in the answer - check it. – Pandya Oct 30 '18 at 12:18
  • @Pandya even if the answer is a simple "Yes" we still need to explain how/why it is so.. and in doing so we will be required to write more than just 2 lines.. plus we will have to cite some sources too.. so one/two liner answers will either come from new users or from experienced users who want to make a mockery of the act of answering. Strange thing is there are some users who are even upvoting such answers. – Rickross Oct 30 '18 at 13:06
  • @Rickross Agree. For questions that can be answered as yes or no, sources needs to be cited with "yes". "Strange thing is there are some users who are even upvoting such answers" Yes, that's why I emphasized that such answered shouldn't be upvoted – Pandya Oct 30 '18 at 15:56
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This is the custom reason I used recently to flag a 2-line answer with zero references:

no references, sounds like a personal opinion; should be deleted or be converted to a comment

It was deleted after a couple of days although I felt the mods should have acted on it quickly.


Here, the main problem appears to be the few users on the site who will upvote anything as long as it agrees with their views. To these users, references used in support of the answers (e.g., Wikipedia, Quora, some random blog or statements made solely from authority or reputation gained on this site) do not matter. So before you get to read and flag them as very low quality (VLQ), these 1- and 2-line answers with 0 references have already garnered 4-5 upvotes. With so many upvotes the system will not let you flag them as low quality as it's been duped into thinking these are really high-quality answers. Since VLQ is no longer available on these answers, you are left with these other flag options:

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If you flag them as not an answer (NAA) which IMO is the next best thing to do, either by mistake, or on purpose hoping other reviewers see them as 'low quality' and vote them down or delete, there are other users who will argue that NAA is not the correct flag reason to use because the answer is "technically correct" but simply lacking references. These users will dispute your flag.

And now you are left with the last option which is to flag for moderator intervention which comes with its own risks. But if you care for the quality of the site, you should continue flagging such answers irrespective of the votes it has received or your flags potentially getting rejected by mods. You do this by providing long explanations which makes it really tough for mods to reject your flags outright.

Also, instead of flagging, sometimes you can also use the vote to delete option available to high-rep users (4k+). Note that your own downvote can make the delete (or the VLQ flag) option appear on the answer. But if you have taken an oath to not downvote VLQ answers, this option won't work for you.

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  • Yes I too have used somewhat similar a custom flag reason. Flag remained pending for many days although I thought mods shd have acted as soon as they have seen it.. Yes you're right - one of the answers I flagged was heavily upvoted for just two lines in it. No one can verify whether it was true or not (probably not). And, such upvotes are encouraging the users to write more such answers. And, I had to flag yet another answer (which was again an 1 and 1/2 liner) from the same user. Probably the trend started when they have found that even answers like "..yes..." have some supporters here. – Rickross Oct 30 '18 at 4:17
  • Yes, the main problem appears to be mods not nipping these answers in the bud. Not sure why we need someone to flag to take these down. It's also unfair to other users when incomplete and low-quality answers get a high no. of votes @Rickross – sv. Nov 1 '18 at 17:53
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    Not sure why we need someone to flag to take these down. - Yes that's why I thought that it shd be the easiest job for the Mods to delete the answer or convert to comment but when the flags remained pending for so many days I thought Ok let's get some clarifications from Meta. It's also unfair to other users when incomplete and low-quality answers get a high no. of votes - Absolutely. These answers are making a joke of answering itself and obviously by allowing these answers to stay for sufficient time for obtaining 4 upvotes is an insult to those users ... – Rickross Nov 2 '18 at 5:24
  • who work hard for compiling their answers. – Rickross Nov 2 '18 at 5:25

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