Recently, a few answers came up in the low-quality-posts review queue, which technically answered a question but did not back up their answer with any explanations, references or otherwise. Here is an example.

To some of these the following moderator notice has been attached:

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Now, according to my understanding, it is site-specific whether such answers should be deleted or kept, e.g., on Skeptics they are deleted but on some other sites they are just downvoted. What is our stance on such answers?


  • This is not about cases in which the question does not even implicitly require explanations, e.g., a question asking for a good way to express something(e.g., this one).
  • There is no doubt that such answers are bad and should be commented on, downvoted and not encouraged. This question is just about their deletion.
  • This is not about:
    • answers, which do not even attempt to answer the question (“not an answer”)
    • comments posted as answers
    • link-only answers
    • spam and other really bad stuff

2 Answers 2


After some consideration, I think we should not delete such answers for the following reasons:

  • They are not causing much harm. For the deletion of an answer to be at issue, at least one person must have spotted it and this person can also downvote it (and is very likely to have done so). Moreover delete votes can only be cast on answers with a negative score. This makes it very likely that the answer we are talking about has a negative score. As our community has the tendency to leave no question unanswered, a better answer will almost certainly arise in this case and thus the asker and every reader of the question will not be left alone with this answer only. Also, most people are capable of correctly interpreting negative scores.

  • Should a blatantly unreferenced post get many upvotes despite the above, we can still equip it with a moderator notice.

  • Deleting an answer early deprives the answerer of the opportunity to amend it. Deleting an answer late does not really work as soon as this answer gets into the low-quality-posts review queue (which it may very well do automatically) – because we cannot organise ourselves to ignore the question in the queue until we are certain it will not be amended.

  • We avoid unecessary discussion on where to draw the line between unreferenced and referenced answers and questions requiring referenced answers and those who don’t.

Thus, if you encounter an answer that blatantly lacks any backing-up (and is otherwise acceptable):

  • Leave a comment asking for what is missing or upvote an existing comment doing this.
  • Downvote it (and explain this to new users in addition to the above comment).
  • If you are in the low-quality-posts review queue, select Looks OK (and yes, the help text is very misleading).
  • Amend the answer, if you can (in particular if it is by a new user).
  • Do not flag it.

Poor post should not stay. We are here to provide good content for users to learn, and to find answers to their questions.

How bad is a single-liner?

Of course as you had already mentioned we can not draw a clear line when a single-liner is sufficient to answer a question or when not. A robot pointing to answers possibly having a "very low quality (auto)" helps a lot as it puts these posts in the review queue. Any of these posts need a human review before we take further action.

What should we try before deleting?

If the reviewing community members agreed that the post is of such poor quality that it should not stay it will be deleted. We should not take this lightly. Sometimes, especially if we had a new user not yet familiar with our quality standards it may help more in the long run to politely ask them for more details to improve it. We can also edit in what was missing ourselves. It would be for the site's health!

Only if they had abandoned their post (which could also be because of too many people downvoting it!) or if the post was obviously "not an answer" we may take a step further and delete it.

What if there was a disputed review?

In case only some community members disagreed on deleting a post a flag for moderator's attention will be risen. This is almost always a sign of better keeping a post. Because from the affected users's sight a post deletion may not be understood and will lead to very bad feelings about us and this site. In addition even very little information can sometimes be enough to help people who may come here later.

The example:

In the post you mentioned (and many more recently BTW) exactly this happened. There was community disagreement on further action, and a "disputed low quality review (auto)" flag was risen. That's when I added the post notice to give the OP a chance for an edit. At this time, and even now 15 hours after they posted their answer the OP did not yet come back to our site so they did not have a chance to take actions on our comments and notes.

We should at least wait until the OP comes back before we swing the brush.

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