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The help center provides some guidance about deleting answers

Answers that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed. This includes answers that are:

  • commentary on the question or other answers
  • asking another, different question
  • “thanks!” or “me too!” responses
  • exact duplicates of other answers
  • barely more than a link to an external site
  • not even a partial answer to the actual question

One issue is that many low quality answers still have net positive scores preventing high-rep users from casting delete vote. This is particularly true of questions that make the Hot Network Question (HNQ) list. This results in users flagging low quality answers, but often these flags are cast on answers that do not fall clearly into the help center description of why some answers are deleted.

Once the answer is flagged, it goes through a community review process. Every once in a while the review process is inconclusive leading to an auto generated flag for moderator attention where a moderator needs to decide if the answer should be deleted. There have been complaints in the past about moderators reacting to these flags by deleting the answer (e.g., ). The only discussion I can find on deleting answers in general is this old question with a short answer and not a lot of visibility.

How do we want moderators to handle flags on answers that have net positive scores that seem to be poorly researched (i.e., worthy of down votes) and not obviously more than a partial answer to the actual question that have resulted in an inconclusive review?

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    Note that "low quality" flags also put a post into the review queue, where regular users can vote to delete. I prefer to just leave those flags alone (not delete the answer or dismiss the flag) until the review task is completed. – ff524 Jan 3 '18 at 17:22
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As a mod, when I do not feel a post deserves to be deleted unilaterally, my preference is to leave "not an answer" and "low quality post" flags active - that is, not mark the flag as helpful nor dismiss it. The reason is that these flags put posts into the "Low quality posts" review queue, where other users then vote on them. (Marking the flag as helpful or dismissing the flag would remove the post from the review queue prematurely.)

Once the review is completed, one of three things will happen:

  • the post will have been deleted by the community from the review queue. (Or, it was deleted by the owner, or it was fixed, in response to comments from the review queue.)
  • people have weighed in via review, indicating that most find the post worth keeping. In this case I will not delete the post, and I will mark the flag as helpful (if it was a reasonable flag).
  • people have weighed in via review with votes to delete, but not enough to actually remove the post (e.g. it gets five votes to delete, but it needs six). In this case I might add an additional "delete" vote so that the post is deleted, if I feel it's warranted. I will then mark the flag as helpful (if it was a reasonable flag).
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    I edited the question to focus on the 3rd case, because I think that is the case where people get upset. When we cast that extra (or even two or three extra) delete vote, it prevents users from voting to undelete the answer. – StrongBad Jan 3 '18 at 19:25
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As a mod, I only unilaterally delete posts if they are:

  • spam or nonsense,
  • ask a question,
  • are Thanks!-type comments, or
  • are blatantly rude or abusive.

Absent that, I would prefer to wait for flags and reviews, as ff524 suggests in her comment.

  • +1. Only addition - I also use the "convert answer to comment" frequently for posts that should be comments on the original question (or other answers). That does delete the post as well. – eykanal Jan 3 '18 at 18:28
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    Of course. I was just referring to cases where the content is gone, not moved. – aeismail Jan 3 '18 at 19:24
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When should answers be deleted

I believe that answers should not be deleted beyond the reasons given in the help page. If mods want to delete answer beyond the reasons given in the help page, we should expand the list as a community.

How do we want moderators to handle flags on answers that have net positive scores that seem to be poorly researched (i.e., worthy of down votes) and not obviously more than a partial answer to the actual question that have resulted in an inconclusive review?

Downvote, edit or comment. I am not a mod, but I believe that low quality posts (that does not meet the deletion criteria) with mixed reviews should be downvoted, and not deleted. If a mod or a user can see a way to improve the answer, edit it away or comment for the OP to improve. I think we should always strive to improve the answers instead of deleting.

If the post is bad and is barely a partial answer to the question, downvotes will be sufficed to signal the OP that particular answer is not well-received by the community. While going on HNQ list may skew the amount of upvotes and downvotes, if the answer is truly low quality and the downvotes sufficiently justified, it will garner enough downvotes (I may be an optimist here). If it does not, and SE deems it important to address the HNQ upvote issue, SE should introduce a new feature as per the link StrongBad listed in the question. Failure to garner enough downvotes for a low quality answer should not be a reason for deletion.

  • If a mod or a user can see a way to improve the answer, edit it away or comment for the OP to improve. I think we should always strive to improve the answers instead of deleting. – It is the nature of non-answers that they cannot be turned into answers with an edit that does not completely change the answer, i.e., that does not essentially write a non-answer and would be a legitimate edit if coming from a person other than the author. – Wrzlprmft Jan 7 '18 at 20:54
  • @Wrzlprmft I think you are talking about posts that are not even a partial answer to the question. I'm talking about low quality posts that are still partial answer to the question, hence posts that does not fulfill the criteria for deletion as given in the help page. – Hosea Jan 8 '18 at 14:44
  • But then those shouldn’t be deleted anyway. My point is that the distinction between post that should be and shouldn’t be deleted is nothing that can be achieved with an edit (other than by the author). (The one exception may be link-only answers, but that’s something we rarely get oon this site.) – Wrzlprmft Jan 8 '18 at 16:27
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    @Wrzlprmft If I understood you correctly, I think we are in agreement here. Perhaps I have phrased the answer badly, but my point was that we should handle flags on answers that are poorly researched, but is still a partial answer to the actual question by downvoting, editing and commenting. We should only delete answers as specified in the help page. I agree with you that critieria for deletion should not be based on the possibility of edit. – Hosea Jan 8 '18 at 18:28

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