I am a bit confused about how to use the VLQ flag. I saw this one-line answer and thus left a comment asking the OP to elaborate and at the same time flagged it as a VLQ answer, because the info of VLQ flag states that:

Very Low Quality: This answer has severe formatting or content problems. This answer is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed.

And the answer I flagged definitely has some content problems. After a quick search of VLQ flag questions on Meta, I found this line by dmckee in his answer:

...These are usually very short or consisting mainly of a link.

Although this line is meant for automatic flags, but it implies that it is perfectly fine to manually flag such posts as VLQ.

But, to my surprise, that flag was declined (which means a mod handled the flag and declined it). And the reason given for declining the flag was:

declined - flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer

And when I flagged the post, I was just too lazy to read the whole question and figure out the correct answer and then flag it due to its correctness. I raised the flag only due to the quality, the correctness of the content was secondary.

So was this a fluke (on the mod's part), or are VLQ flags not supposed to be used for such answers? If the reason is the latter option, then please explain what should I do with such one-line answers.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a good question. Of course there's always the option of downvoting. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero But downvoting correct answers seems a bit unfair to me. And in the above case I didn't have the willingness to figure out whether it was correct or not. But if I do figure out that it's wrong, then I would surely downvote it. $\endgroup$
    – user258881
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ the answer doesn't need to be wrong to downvote. It just needs to meet the much lower threshold of not being terribly help in your opinion. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ There are many questions for which a correct and concise one-line answer should suffice. Brevity is a virtue. I find it frustrating that “Yes” and “No” are not allowed as answers, when the question does not ask for any explanation but merely a yes-no answer. $\endgroup$
    – G. Smith
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 20:36
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    $\begingroup$ Very relevant mother meta post: meta.stackexchange.com/q/225370/263383 $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 23:13

1 Answer 1


No, VLQ flags are not supposed to be used for such answers. I can refer you to our big post on flagging guidance, which gives the following example of a post that would be suitable for a VLQ flag:

jaafjajrefaseoifjaeijfoaisnsdoj ajfauenwofjasndifnaowjnefoaijw3oeiosafaw3efnaso aksdj vaosjdfoa dfoajw efjas

(Yes, people do occasionally make posts like that on the site, although it's quite rare.)

Now, a post doesn't have to reach quite that level of gibberish to qualify for a VLQ flag. Things like incoherent rants would probably also qualify, even though they are made up of English words and are probably somewhat grammatical too. But the point is, a VLQ flag is for situations where it's essentially impossible to extract any meaning from the post. That is not the case for the answer you're asking about, which says in its entirety:

Yes it remains the same electric field only change when you move away from the sheet

It's fairly clear what that means, and in fact what it's saying could easily be an answer to a question. (Like you, I didn't check in detail what the question is actually asking, since it's kind of hard to read, but I don't think it's particularly relevant to what you're asking here.)

The length of a post is not a reason to cast a VLQ flag. There is a short minimum length for answers which is checked by the system, something like 10 or 15 characters if I remember correctly, but as long as the answer meets that criterion, from the point of view of the moderators it's fine, and length should not factor into your decision to cast a flag. What you can do, if you feel that a post doesn't include enough detail, is downvote it and/or leave a comment to suggest that the author expand on it.

As an aside:

Although this line is meant for automatic flags, but it implies that it is perfectly fine to manually flag such posts as VLQ.

I think you're inferring an implication that was not meant to be there. I mean, dmckee was talking about the criteria that the system uses to cast automatic flags, but those criteria are entirely unrelated to the criteria that you should use to cast manual flags.

  • $\begingroup$ Response to your last paragraph: If the system has been programmed to cast such automatic flags, then I see no reason why one manually shouldn't. Am I wrong? $\endgroup$
    – user258881
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ Honestly, yes, I would argue that you are wrong. System flags use a very crude heuristic; the goal is just to identify posts that have a chance of needing some kind of moderation (deleting, editing, voting, etc.) and bring them to the attention of humans. Many of the automatic flags wind up being invalid. But human flaggers don't have to use crude heuristics like "short or includes a link". We expect you to use your judgment to determine whether a post is likely to be low quality before flagging it. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ Why is a link-only answer not listed as a reason to raise a VLQ flag on an answer on the flagging meta post you link to? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 20:33

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