I've recently earned review low quality posts privledges, and I'm wondering when I should recommend posts for deletion.

Completely off topic, and spam posts are obviouly appropriate.

But for example, this this question: Appropriate word for a young person who behaves like a cynical old person?

these answers were flagged:


Pessimist, depressed, or just brain-washed by an elder.


These are all first posts, and have been downvoted, (probably by first post reviewers).

Now, they are slightly low quality, they could do with better formatting, and perhaps aren't good answers in themselves.

However, I'm of the opinion that they shouldn't be deleted as they are on topic, and provide a good well rounded answer, 'Here are some good answers, here are some bad answers'.

  • I'll probably vote to delete oxymoron if it's still around when I next look at my review queue, but most likely leave the other two for now. Well, most likely they'll all have been deleted before I get there if they keep collecting downvotes. But you make your own decision on a case-by-case basis. Is there really any point in retaining an answer that wasn't good enough to justify your upvote? There's likely to be an awful lot of rubbish on that question (that's why it's already "protected"), so a bit of judicious pruning won't go amiss. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 0:23
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    This is by far the finest question put to this meta site for weeks now. Thank you for asking it: I think it deserves constructive community contemplation and consensus.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 0:29
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    @FumbleFingers I see what you’re saying, but there should be a difference between a downvote and a deletevote.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 0:30
  • @tchrist: Well, we'll just have to see what happens on that question. I've just thrown in the rather frivolous neologism jadette. I don't really care what happens to it - the question is essentially frivolous, imho. But note I'm only saying a non-upvoteable answer should be a candidate for possible deletion if there are lots of obviously better answers. Also, I think it's worth noting that so far as I know, we hi-rep users can't "protect" questions for a day or two - but a mod already stepped in on that one. It'll have plenty of answers. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 0:53
  • @FumbleFingers Non-mods must wait 24h before we can Protect a question from frivolous answers.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 0:58
  • @tchrist: Well, I got in under the radar with my frivolous answer anyway, thanks to having more than 10 rep! :) Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 1:15
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  • Thanks, @tchrist. I'll work those references in when I have a moment.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


Deletion of low quality content is a sticky wicket. I'm not sure that we have any clear guidelines, but your instincts are pretty much exactly what I would recommend.

If content is off-topic, spam, or offensive, you should feel free to vote to delete it. That's clearly content that we don't want on our site.

Unlike that type of content, low quality posts offer some content that could be potentially useful. It may be minimally useful, but our preference is to improve the post rather than delete it. For the examples listed above, improving the formatting, including a dictionary citation and definition, and leaving a comment to ask the poster to explain why they think that answer is a good fit for the question would all be helpful ways to improve the content. Another advantage of improving the posts you have noted here is that it will also help the users learn how to use the site.

In some cases though, you'll encounter some things that are low quality that really aren't worth trying to keep:

  • no sense in trying to salvage an incomprehensible answer if comments had been posted asking for clarification and none had been given although [the user had returned since the comment was left or the comment was left weeks prior]
  • the content is months or years old, the poster hasn't been back since it was posted, and there is significant question about what the intended answer was
  • eliminating all the duplicated parts of an answer leaves not really much of anything else

It is a good idea to encourage users to improve their content, to help them do so, or to just do it yourself (especially for old stuff) in order to improve the content on the site. If a good faith effort has been made in this regard, and the post is still low quality, you should feel free to vote to delete it.

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    Sometimes there's merit in retaining a manifestly invalid answer simply so the fact of it being "rejected" by the community (via downvotes and critical comments) can serve as a warning to others who might be tempted to have thought along those lines. I'm rather inclined to delete "no-hoper" entries to oversubscribed SWR's simply because they start looking like "clutter". But I don't delete very much in other contexts unless it's spam, offensive, etc. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 1:03
  • @FumbleFingers I agree with you there, and at some point I should amend my answer to say so.
    – Kit Z. Fox Mod
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 11:43
  • I'm guessing you mean you agree "retaining incorrect answers so future visitors will know the positions they advance have been considered and rejected" is sometimes acceptable or even desirable. What about the other point - that when there are a large number of fairly useless answers to something like a SWR request, we should be more savage that usual in pruning the distracting "dead wood"? I expect some people will say each answer should be considered on its own merits, and thus not be more liable to deletion just because there are many other "also not particularly good" answers. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 12:36
  • "spam, or offensive" should be handled with flags, not with delete votes.
    – Braiam
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 23:29

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