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I am concerned about some of the answers we've received recently. We have a post on high quality answer guidelines and it doesn't seem the community is enforcing these. Alternatively, I'm rather strict in my opinion of high quality.

Taking a quote from Robert's recent meta post, I feel that we have not been eliminating the answers that fall into this:

Except that many questions I see here quite broad, soliciting a random list of brand preference that are being answered by virtue of who happens to be reading the post. Answers could offer dozens (sometimes hundreds) of different answers with no grounds but personal preference for choosing between them; that's not good. That's not a Stack Exchange site, and soliciting requirements like "it has to be cheap" or "must have USB port" doesn't generally mitigate that.

We have answers that are lists of products, single paragraphs and little more than someone mentioning that a product looks good. I am not a fan of these types of answers, and certainly not a fan of these when compared to several of the high quality answers we were receiving just a month or so ago.

Before I continue, I am not calling out certain users. I have selected answers, not users, that I feel reflect a pattern of low quality that I've been seeing. If a specific user appears in this list, I sincerly appologize. This is a sampling of questions from our most recent questions that are not closed.



I am rather frustrated by the low quality that I've seen in the last few weeks. I agree with Robert's comment above too. Many of our recent answers are personal preferences and have little supporting data behind the recommendation. This isn't helpful to anyone other than a user that is asking what to buy. We should be striving to provide details about why this product is being recommended. What can this GPU do that another can't? What can this laptop do that another can't? Does an answer provide anything to anyone other than the original poster?

Am I out in left field when saying our quality has dropped? If not, we need more people down voting these types of answers. Up votes to these types of answers encourage more link only, single paragraph, low quality answers.

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    For what it's worth, it doesn't look like there were ever flags on any of these. That'd be my first recommendation to everyone - flag bad stuff. – Undo Nov 25 '15 at 0:53
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Adam's answer is spot on, and I'd just like to augment it a little.

For questions: there's closing. Or rather, putting on hold. That's the method we have to send a signal that "this post isn't currently up to scratch, but it can be made good". However, I think that when closing, it's incredibly important that we have a comment left along those lines: that while this may currently not be OK for us, it can be, and the "hold" is temporary.

For answers, we don't have anything quite like closing. However, it is still important - as Adam says - that answers are given a chance to improve. Unless answers are really obviously bad (spam, irrelevant, should be a comment, etc), we should comment and leave a while for edits. If they don't happen, then deletion is the way to go.

And a request, from me to everyone - please please please flag stuff. On questions, if they're not up to scratch, flag for closure (not VLQ, because that sends it to the Low Quality queue, whereas a close flag sends it to the close queue, which is where it should be). On answers, if they're not up to scratch, comment, flag as VLQ, and we'll come along and take a look, comment, and mark it for review a few days later.


I've just gone through the list in your question, and taken what I think are appropriate actions on all of the posts you've listed. However - I can't pick up on every answer that comes in, so if you see any more please flag them.

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    Better leave a comment and delete on bad answers. Do explain in the comment that the user may post a new answer or may edit their existing answer and flag. If you “leave a while for edits”, there's always a bunch of bad answers on the site, especially on questions listed on the front page (due to said recent bad answer). In addition to that, most of the time nobody gets around to deleting the answer. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 24 '15 at 22:33
  • @Gilles fair point. There's a balance to be struck between not intimidating new, potentially useful users, and keeping quality high. Any insights you can share about doing that from your experience on SR would be welcome. – ArtOfCode Nov 24 '15 at 22:39
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    @ArtOfCode We tried the comment-and-wait-then-delete scheme on SR for a little bit, but it got unmaintainable quickly. I do think the comment-and-immediately-delete path is the way to go - especially with the low numbers of people improving their answers that I see. – Undo Nov 25 '15 at 0:54
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You absolutely aren't by yourself with this opinion (or fact, rather). Lately, I've been noticing a lot of patterns in question and answer quality, what types of questions get more answers, etc. These answers should definitely be downvoted, flagged, and/or deleted. However, I have a little problem with flagging and deleting in this situation.

As I discussed in another meta post recently, low-quality posts (questions and answers alike) are usually a result of the user not understanding or knowing how Stack Exchange works and what is expected. As such, acting harshly towards these users' attempts to contribute can and will push them away quickly. So in the case of these low-quality answers, it is important to accurately vote on them as needed and flag them for attention when necessary, but deletion is not the way to go in my opinion.

With most low-quality posts, it is easy to leave a comment to let the author know what is wrong and how to fix it, also citing the relevant quality guidelines. We need to be giving low-quality posts breathing room to improve. Without this, posts will immediately be removed and the users will shy away as I also mentioned in my other post.

So to me this really comes down to how we're handling these posts rather than the quality itself. With a site like this — one that is ambiguous by definition to most people — these posts should be expected, and they should be met with constructive criticism instead of destructive criticism.

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    Your answer is contradictory. If you want answer quality to improve, you need to delete the bad ones. Describing deletion as “destructive” is a word game. Keeping bad answers around destroys the site by reducing its appeal. Constructive quality maintenance comes from deleting bad answers after leaving a comment explaining how to improve them. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Nov 24 '15 at 22:21
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    @Gilles Right. My wording makes my point somewhat unclear, but what I'm saying is immediate deletion has negative affects on users. Those users won't come back to edit their answers if they're pushed away by the deletion. – Adam Nov 24 '15 at 23:08

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