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In the past two days I have run across two one-line answers that were not in English. One appeared to be in Spanish, the other in Hindi (to the best of my ability to tell; I don't speak either language). I used a custom flag for the first, and "not an answer" for the second to avoid bugging the mods, but I'm wondering if there is a better choice.

Specifically, my guess is that both are actually spam (I can't imagine another reason for such answers), but I can't tell for sure. I know that the consequences for spam flags are higher than for some of the other flags, so I'm reluctant to use it in an unclear situation—but on the other hand, perhaps we want stronger consequences for such posts (assuming they really are spam).

I used the custom flag the first time around so a mod could make the decision, but if this isn't going to be a once-in-a-blue moon situation, I'd rather just know what auto-flag to use (or know that the mods think it's appropriate to use the custom flag).

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I limit use of the "spam" or "abusive" flags to cases where I realize the post is intentionally abusive of the site or the community. These flags have a punitive effect that probably shouldn't be imposed on a well-intentioned person.

I use the "not an answer" flag for answer posts that do not intend to answer the question. In the case of a non-English answer, that can be hard to determine. The output of Google Translate can sometimes be enlightening, when the writing style is not too idiomatic or informal for machine translation.

When a post is indecipherable, so that you can't even determine that one of the flags above applies, a good choice is the "very low quality" flag. VLQ is a rare flag, in theory. VLQ is specifically intended for posts which are indecipherable. It gets abused when people take "very low quality" too broadly. But indecipherable applies pretty clearly to posts that are untranslatable.

You are always welcome to throw a custom flag when you feel the existing flags don't describe the situation accurately.

  • Thanks, I didn't even think to use VLQ. I did run these through Google Translate; the first one said something about "signing up for Achilles" which looks pretty spammy to me, but the one in Hindi was opaque even in translation. – 1006a Jan 10 '18 at 22:55
  • From where can one see the VLQ flag? – ValarMorghulis Jan 11 '18 at 14:17
  • @1006a Currently, V.L.Q. only appears if the answer has a score of zero or less, presumably to prevent it from being used in inappropriate cases like it used to be in the past. – Tonepoet Jan 11 '18 at 17:37
  • @Tonepoet Hmm, then I don't know why I didn't think of it. Maybe because most of the discussion of the flag has been about not over-using it. – 1006a Jan 11 '18 at 17:38
  • @1006a also, VLQ flag option is disabled once a post is 7 days old. – NVZ Jan 11 '18 at 18:42
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    I wish these VLQ and NAA distinction weren't a thing. It would have been much simpler to merge these flags. These posts initially join the same review queues anyway, and does not inform the reviewers what flag was cast. – NVZ Jan 11 '18 at 18:44

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