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Greetings enthusiasts,

I've crossed over the 2K reputation mark (which is well back in the rear-view mirror for probably everyone reading this) and now StackExchange is suggesting that I review "Low Quality" posts.

I see one of the options when reviewing is to "Recommend Deletion" ... an moderately aggressive option. I have a question about this.

Ordinarily I would recommend deleting a post (or answer) if it was

  • spam
  • inflammatory
  • off topic
  • etc.

But I'm noticing a lot of posts where the person responding seems to mean well... but falls short.

I'd prefer to suggest the person do things to improve post quality such as:

  • Make the question/answer more specific
  • Cite personal experience
  • Cite specific sources where research has been performed
  • etc.

But some of these ... need a lot of help.

My question is... at what point do you click "Recommend Deletion".

I ask this because, on a completely different StackExchange group, I've provided thoughtful responses to questions, providing an explanation to the OP as to why they were likely running into problems, the "easy" way to fix the problem (buy gear), and the "academic" way to fix the problem (citing articles that walk through how to build the fix yourself). I put some effort into the answer and genuinely thought it was a high quality answer (specific & detailed, offered alternatives, and cited sources to back up the claims). Nobody who downvoted bothered to comment on what they didn't like or how the post could have been improved (I do not see nearly as much of this on the Photography group ... though I did see some of it.)

Usually when I see a low-quality post, my first thoughts are "what would improve this?" But sometimes the post is low-quality because it's low-effort. So while it isn't spam, off-topic, inflammatory/hateful, etc. it doesn't really add to the discussion.

So the question is: At what point do you press the "Recommend Deletion" button?

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This is covered in the instructions on the main meta site:
What are the guidelines for reviewing?

There are many other questions on that site that expand upon the criteria that should be used. Most of which are tagged as duplicates of the one I've linked.

Remember, recommending deletion is a judgement call. Use your own judgement. Don't forget that it takes recommendations from a number of users before the post is deleted by the system.

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  • Thanks! I did a search for this but didn't find this hit. But that was a very useful article. – Tim Campbell Jul 28 at 20:44
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In short:

  • delete non-answers
  • let incorrect/lazy/bad answers stand (but you can still vote, edit, comment, etc.)

The 2nd case shouldn't be voted to delete. A factually incorrect answer is still an answer, and it deserves to be upvoted/downvoted by the community. The voting mechanism (including downvoting, which thankfully doesn't happen very aggressively here very often) is supposed to be the "voice of the community" indicating to a poster whether their contribution is useful or not. Even if downvoters do not comment or suggest why they downvoted (which is their right), that is very much the function of the community voting mechanism. If a poster doesn't like the downvotes, they can improve the answer (or ask what can be improved, hopefully without getting defensive), or delete the post.

Sometimes, even highly-downvoted answers can actually be useful. For instance, the current most-downvoted answer (11, as I write this) is to the question, Does the size of blower matter to clean the sensor of the camera?. In particular, jrista comments,

I would like to keep this answer here. Ironically, even though the recommendation is not a good one, and the reasons why have been well documented, I think it is valuable to keep it around for the reaction and the comments. It is important people who come here from web searches and such know that using canned air with propellants comes with risks.

So oddly enough, even though it is highly down-voted, the answer is a very useful one, as a signpost to not do what was recommended (use canned-air or anything with a propellant when cleaning sensors).

Similarly, the question, How do I remove a signature from a photo?, has been downvoted 18 times (as I write this). This is also a good question to keep around as a strong example of this community's ethics regarding removing an artist's watermark (i.e., enabling somebody to thwart an artist's intent to be credited for their work).

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  • Good point! I hadn't thought about the value of keeping around a "wrong" answer so those in search of a "right" answer still collect info on what not to do. – Tim Campbell Jul 28 at 20:45
  • I come from StackOverflow, and most of the time lazy posts are deleted. I don't know how it works here, though. – 10 Rep Aug 19 at 18:40
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    @10Rep Sometimes lazy posts are deleted here too. It seems to usually depend on whether there are any other answers that cover what the lazy post covers, and if the lazy post is at least minimally correct. – scottbb Aug 20 at 22:41
  • @scottbb For instance, code-only answers are deleted(or at least more people try to delete them). – 10 Rep Aug 20 at 22:52
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    @10Rep Yeah, the number of posts, and active users, here is probably 1/100th that of SO. We tend to have a higher tolerance for low-quality posts. – scottbb Aug 21 at 0:39
  • @scottbb Just as a question, do you guys have review audits? – 10 Rep Aug 21 at 0:40
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    @10Rep I don't know. I don't think so. I just heard about them a couple weeks ago from another comment, but I'm not sure what they are. Edit: I heard about them in the comments to xenoid's answer to this question. Lol. – scottbb Aug 21 at 0:43
  • @scottbb Ok then. – 10 Rep Aug 21 at 0:43
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If the post is low quality or is a totally wrong answer, you can/should down-vote it using your plain-user privileges.

Personally, I have stopped actively reviewing things. You'll find that someday, an innocent looking question shows up in your reviewing queue, so you spend some of your time figuring out what to do with it (because it will often not be a clear-cut case), and when you click on your decision, you get congratulated or scolded by the system because it was a test question to "audit" you. In either case, you just wasted your time. And this doesn't happen once in a blue moon...

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  • Really, SE "audits" reviewers with test deletion cases? I don't recall ever seeing anything like that. – scottbb Jul 28 at 17:17
  • I have been hitting the "skip" button. I hate to read a really low quality post and click "Looks OK". It doesn't look ok ... I just wasn't confident that I should vote to "Recommend Deletion". But I've noticed many of the "skips" come back into the queue again. – Tim Campbell Jul 28 at 20:48
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    @scottbb only some SE sites have review audit, mainly to prevent robo-reviewers, but sometimes there are bad audits since they're automatically selected by the system, resulting in meta posts questioning the audits. Since searching for "audit" on this meta didn't return any result (other than this answer), I believe it's not enabled on this site. – Andrew T. Aug 1 at 2:21
  • @AndrewT. Interesting. I had never heard of that before. Thanks for the info. =) – scottbb Aug 1 at 6:13

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