When looking at the 10k tools, I saw a little '1' next to the flags and thought I'd go poke at it to see what it was.

It was a very short answer, not more than a poorly formed sentence. But it vaguely tried to answer the question.

Elsequestion - Why is this question not low quality?

The "very low quality" flag is intended for questions that have severe formatting or content problems, that can't be solved by editing and/or commenting. If you can parse the question and understand what it says, it's not a "very low quality" one.

The question is, how should I respond to the automatic flag? As I see it, there are four options:

  1. Dispute it (its not low quality). By the above standards, thats probably true. However, when its a mid to low 70's on that quality meter... I really can't say in good conscious "yea, thats an ok answer"... because its not.
  2. Agree with the flag (that it is low quality). Add another flag to it. However, I like a consistent message on flagging, and that seems to run counter to what is established. People are confused enough with what flags get handled how.
  3. Custom mod flag "Bleh". I prefer "meh", but "Bleh" seems to get results.
  4. Just ignore it and when it shows up in the Low Quality Review Queue, recommend deletion there.

I went with #4. I am just wondering if one of the first three is a better way of handing the automatic low quality flags from the system in a consistent way with how they are handled from flagging from a question (since the mods don't know (I presume) which way a flag came from).

To given some context, the answer as a 10k sees it looks like this:

flag in the 10k queue

The auto flag is the slightly greyed out one. That is the one I'm wondering how to flag or deal with.

2 Answers 2


That particular flag is notoriously ambiguous, the reason it's still called 'very low quality' is that we've yet to come up with a phrase that better defines what it's trying to tell you.

Put simply, that flag means 'toxic waste' - can't be salvaged without a heroic edit, it's gibberish, indecipherable sledge, or something similar. If you would hesitate to just delete the post, then there's a good chance that flag isn't accurate. Posts marked with this flag and subsequently deleted are used in review audits to make sure folks are paying attention.

Unfortunately, because it is rather ambiguous, folks pick this flag instead of better, more descriptive flags such as 'not an answer' or 'other -> explain' - because so much seems to fall into it.

The work flow for this is pretty simple:

  • Can it be edited? Do you mind doing so? Edit it.
  • Is it seemingly from out in left field? Someone saying 'I don't like this' (common) - dispute it.
  • Unsure? Just skip it

Note that the system will raise flags based on the calculated quality score, which we determine when something is posted. This is generally tripped due to the length of the post (way long, very short), ratio of code to text, things about the title, etc. This is a different flag than "very low quality" - it's just the system saying 'this barely scraped by, someone needs to look at it' - but the same workflow generally applies.

  • Some of your Answer seems aimed at human initiated, rather than "automatic" flags. Maybe I've read too much into the wording.
    – hardmath
    Nov 25, 2013 at 15:53
  • 3
    This particular flag raising was from the system generated one. The ambiguity between what the system means and what a human raised flag on the answer. I'm not sure it was toxic, but it was certainly unsalvageable without a heroic effort. I do recommend deleting it (when it hit the VLQ review queue). If I was to say "yes, this needs to be looked at and likely deleted", what flag should I raise on it?
    – user40980
    Nov 25, 2013 at 15:57
  • 2
    @MichaelT Not an answer seems the best one there, if that were a question, or even lower quality than pictured, then you'd go for very low quality. Whichever is most descriptive, they both ultimately indicate your opinion that the post should be deleted.
    – user131
    Nov 26, 2013 at 16:18

I'm not a moderator and don't have 10K rep, but I'm going to go ahead and answer anyway. If I'm completely wrong about this, I'll at least learn something by being corrected.

Both the answer you linked and the description you quoted seem pretty clear to me. An answer is "very low quality" when it is unsalvageable or incomprehensible. It is not just broken, it is so badly broken that it can't be fixed. Perhaps it would be better if the flag were called "unfixable".

An answer like "asdfasdfasdf;lkjasdf;lkjasd;lfjk" or "hlep squink hlorf" or "blup blup blup blup blup" or "thises the with fRom iit do. YEs.!" or "Unicorns are pretty!! :)" is very low quality. The answer you're referring to is not, because you could read it and say that "it vaguely tried to answer the question". I don't think that saying something is not very low quality (in the sense of the flag) is a compliment or another way of saying "yea, thats an ok answer". It's a very low bar.

I don't understand your #3 at all, but it that part of your question isn't "very low quality". If I asked you for a clarification of what you meant, I'm pretty sure you could explain in such a way that it would make some kind of sense. It's unclear (at least to me), but it's fixable.

Your #2 and #4 are not consistent with the definition of what the flag means. I don't like that at all. If we aren't consistent with what we mean by the flag, the flag will become vague and meaningless. We have a definition, and the definition is clear. If the definition is wrong or useless, we should change the definition to something better. If not, we should use it as we have defined it.

I think your #1, possibly with a downvote and an explanatory comment, is the right answer.

  • 1
    Item #3 was more of an inside joke from chat ( chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/21/conversation/… - not entirely serious at all). #4 is perfectly acceptable, I skip handling the flag as a flag. The nature of VLQ means it will also likely show up in the VLQ review queue where it can be handled there (yes, with a comment) - programmers.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/45344 . Its a different mechanism and criteria for the VLQ review queue that doesn't necessitate a moderator or a flag.
    – user40980
    Nov 24, 2013 at 0:04
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    Note that things that show up with the auto-flag for VLQ are (if I remember it right) "This post has been automatically flagged because of length / quality [72] issues". The number means that the post squeaked by the quality filter. Its not a post I can fix though comments (unless the OP helps) or broken markup. There are a number of much better answers in the question. The post looks like a drive by, leave a minimal answer and leave that now sits there as a "broken window" that I'd like to clean up.
    – user40980
    Nov 24, 2013 at 0:10
  • In other conversations with tribal elders, VLQ has been equated with "BURN IT NOW!!!" and should be reserved for ridiculously bad posts. "Unicorns are pretty" is not VLQ. Most likely not-an-answer either, but not VLQ either.
    – user53019
    Nov 25, 2013 at 19:59

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