(Original "thoughts" replaced by facts and references)

EDIT: I found that this is by design; it's a new network-wide feature added to SE on 21/6/2016.

2016-06-21: VLQ flag is no longer available on posts older than 7 days. This does not impact low-quality auto-flagging.

From the linked article:

So as of about 24 hours ago, the VLQ flag is no longer available on posts older than 7 days (the precise value may change, but 7 seems reasonable). We'll be monitoring flags (especially NAA and "Other") to ensure this doesn't cause problems; feel free to voice any concerns here on meta as well.

In case we decide to voice our concerns over at Meta SE, this ELU meta discussion could be used as reference.


  1. Is it a good decision? What are your thoughts on this new feature?
  2. What about the 7-day rule? Should this be changed?
  • 3
    When it comes to trolls such as this one meta.english.stackexchange.com/a/8123/44619 flag the post for mod intervention. Or flag for being abusive.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2016 at 9:14
  • @Mari-LouA Do you see "very low quality" in your flagging options? I don't. I haven't realized it is gone. +1 for this question.
    – user140086
    Jun 30, 2016 at 9:23
  • @Rathony I think nowadays we can't flag as "VLQ" for posts that are not recent.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 30, 2016 at 9:25
  • Wait a minute. Do you mean you can't flag the two answers in the question as very low quality, english.stackexchange.com/questions/334172/… if you want? I see "very low quality" flag option.
    – user140086
    Jun 30, 2016 at 9:37
  • @Rathony In that linked article, I can see a VLQ flag option. Let me check with something a little older than 6 days.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 30, 2016 at 9:38
  • I'm digging through meta stack exchange for information regarding this.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 30, 2016 at 9:39
  • Have you looked for a discussion on this on meta.SE? It's a site-wide feature, right?
    – Mitch
    Jun 30, 2016 at 13:00
  • @Mitch It is a site-wide feature. But I'm asking the people of ELU for their opinions on this. I am looking into some MSE posts.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jun 30, 2016 at 13:08
  • 1
    I don't think it is a good idea to raise the issue on Meta SE. ELU and other SE sites are different. We can have our own way of dealing with things. It doesn't need to be site-wide.
    – user140086
    Jul 1, 2016 at 6:07

2 Answers 2


You want my opinion? It is: Grrr! Snarl!

Seven days is a much too short a statute of limitations (SoL) on a VLQ answer. I don't know what the ideal length of the SoL would be, but 3 months seems reasonable.

For example, see A simple word or phrase that describes a non-conflict "day in the life" story introduction

This question was resurrected by Community. It has the kernels of two good answers in the comments, and two answers which are both non-referenced laundry lists. But they are too old to flag as VLQ (one of them is less than a month old and the other is 2 months old), and they don't really fit as Not an Answer, because they both contain words that could be answers. (As can any laundry list, if it is long enough.) Both of the responders have enough rep to know the norms of the site.

I flagged them as Not an Answer because, really!

  • @Rathony IMHO, a lot of high-rep users have abandoned ELU or they do not visit any review queues and hence the workload for mods has increased.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jul 1, 2016 at 5:55
  • 4
    I think the statute of limitations on VLQ answers should be 1 year; 6 months at a minimum. I'm not going to hunt VLQ answers, but when they are shoved in my face because the Q is revived by Community or a unregistered new user, I want to do a cleanup.
    – ab2
    Jul 1, 2016 at 6:12
  • @ab2 Another example that we need a longer statute of limitation. english.stackexchange.com/questions/244789/…. I don't understand how Jessica Holmes' answer has survived for more than a year.
    – user140086
    Jul 1, 2016 at 6:34
  • @Rathony It is now part of the NAS experiment. And the answer with the coolective [sic] noun has been flagged VLQ.
    – ab2
    Jul 1, 2016 at 6:39
  • I think your posting the link and flagging the answers worked. The question was closed and two answers deleted.
    – user140086
    Jul 3, 2016 at 8:30

Short answer:

  1. Is it a good decision? What are your thoughts on this new feature?

I don't think the decision was made without considering other side or negative effects. But SE decided so and we have to follow it. The question is not whether it is good or bad. The real question is how English Language and Usage Stack Exchange (ELU) will cope with it.

What about the 7-day rule? Should this be changed?

No. It doesn't need to be changed as long as we take care of Very Low Quality (VLQ) answers within 7 days and we figure out how to deal with old VLQs. We need more active involvement of high-reputation users (including moderators) to take care of VLQ answers.

Long Answer:

That decision seems to affect all Stack Exchange sites. I don't think it affects ELU that much as long as ELU can establish its own way of dealing with low-quality answers.

I know ELU has three sets of opinions in terms of dealing with low-quality answers.

  1. Progressive Party:

Some might call it aggressive, but users including myself in this party think that all one-liners should be downvoted, flagged and ultimately deleted regardless of whether a post answers a question.

  1. Centrist (Moderate) Party:

They maintain middle ground. They don't voice their opinion on the issue.

  1. Conservative Party:

They think, as long as a post answers a question, one-liner should not be flagged and deleted. They know it is not encouraged, but it is wrong to persecute the OP just because (s)he didn't spend time to expand their answers with a dictionary link, proper reference or essential part of a link.

Let's take a look at the following question: A word for something that is both useful and beautiful

There's a total of 13 answers, two of which were deleted. Out of 13, seven answers are one liners as follows:

  1. The most upvoted answer: Could it be described as an elegant solution or an engineering marvel?

The above sentence reads more like a comment than an answer as it ends with a question mark. However, this answer has at least two links for "elegant" and "marvel", but it doesn't include essential part of the links, nor is it explaining why it could answer the question.

  1. I think neat could work as well. (It even has one upvote).
  2. The best answer that comes to my mind is the word nifty.
  3. Exquisite, polished or "exquisitely polished".
  4. Ergonomic could possibly be an answer, it is the appropriate word that can help improve your ability to work with the area around you.
  5. Amazing, exquisite, marvy, simple, outstanding, fine, neat, inventive
  6. (Deleted) I would like to use the word "Admirable"

Under the circumstances where we can't flag any of the above answers as "VLQ", the remaining questions are

  1. Can we flag such answers as "Not An Answer (NAA)"?

I think those one-liners should be flagged as NAA.

  1. Are we going to continue to allow users to post one-liners?

No. We should post a comment to encourage them to include a link with essential part and proper reference. If a poster doesn't respond, we should flag it as NAA and vote to delete them.

It's about time we had firm policy on one-liners no matter when they were posted asking ourselves this question, "What good do those answers do to ELU?"

I copy and paste one of @DanBron's comments:

Welcome to EL&U. Please note that Stack Exchange seeks to build a library of definitive answers, those which not only supply a quick response, but which provide full explanations behind the response, including suitable examples and references. I strongly encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center for a better understanding of our standards and guidelines, and then edit this answer to expand it.

  • 5
    For clarity and in fairness: Some users believe that some one-line-answers should be deleted. Not every one-line answer is wrong, bad, or riddled with grammar, punctuation, and/or spelling errors. An upvoted answer (2+) that was posted three or more years ago should probably be left alone, even if it consists of one or two mere sentences.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2016 at 15:25
  • @Mari-LouA Then, what's the purpose of policing answers that will be OK in three or more years later? When I joined this forum, I remember I told one user to f**k off as there are many other answers that don't have proper reference. What difference do the upvotes make when we know some of them are all jokes. Do you mean "I think neat could work as well" should be left on ELU if it gets one more upvote? I disagree. This one should be deleted first out of the seven listed above.
    – user140086
    Jun 30, 2016 at 15:30
  • Because three and more years ago there wasn't ELL, so questions that were basic grammar and English language questions were more tolerated, not all, but many. There were more "expert" native speakers answering four years ago than today. There is one user in particular whose answers are famously concise, many are just one liners. These answers must remain because in many cases they are simply brilliant, in many cases they are 100% accurate,
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2016 at 15:39
  • And finally, I consider the user to be a walking compendium so their answers do not require references because the author is extremely learned and professional. (NB. Not every answer consisted of one line) There will always be exceptions, to every rule and guideline. That particular user, and others, belong to the "exceptions". And I have no problem with their short answers, they are the real experts. We need more of them.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2016 at 15:41
  • 1
    1. I am talking about SWRs. 2. I know who you are referring to. Who spoiled him in the first place? 3. Couldn't he have expanded his answer by typing couple of more words or linking whatever readily available on the internet? 4. I can't answer one-liner because I am not as brilliant as him? I could be depending on context. 5. Rule should be applied to everyone equally. We can discuss we give some leeway to grammar questions (I believe he was not a fan of SWRs). 6 I believe another user has excellent knowledge about grammar and English, but you post a comment asking him to expand. It's not fair
    – user140086
    Jun 30, 2016 at 15:45
  • 1
    If it comforts you, the user I am thinking of, hasn't posted an answer in nearly three years. To reclarify: An upvoted answer (2+) that was posted three or more years ago should probably be left alone
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 30, 2016 at 15:50
  • I know. I don't care. People come and go. A,P is gone. Biscuitboy is gone. But we have many others who are more committed than them. I will be gone, too soon.
    – user140086
    Jun 30, 2016 at 15:55
  • 4
    I'm a member of the aggressive party, except I grant amnesty to old posts which aren't in my face and are unlikely to ever see he light of day again. I don't go looking for problems, but I deal very decisively for problems which find me.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 30, 2016 at 16:30
  • 2
    @DanBron Well, that could be very practical. One thing is I haven't tried to find the question in the answer. It came to my attention unexpectedly. Then, I can't leave them alone. I am not saying we search all the answers from question No. 1 to question No. 72,000. We take care of those who come to our attention step by step. That's my suggestion.
    – user140086
    Jun 30, 2016 at 17:04
  • I think 7 days is an excessively short statute of limitations. I am a member of the Aggressive Party, but I think old answers even if bad, have an historical value. Deleting very old answers is a little like Victorians deleting portions of their ancestors' letters that offended them.
    – ab2
    Jun 30, 2016 at 21:23
  • 1
    Now that I have read all those answers, (neat, nifty, marvy etc) maybe the Victorians were right after all.
    – ab2
    Jun 30, 2016 at 21:51
  • @DanBron What's it called when a person says the word they are thinking of but shouldn't have said. Is it a Freudian slip? Re. Your allegiance to the aggressive party. Quote: I'm a member of the aggressive party... I hope you were only joking! :P
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 1, 2016 at 14:20
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA It wasn't a slip; I meant I'm aggressive about close-voting, downvoting, flagging, etc, new questions / answers which don't meet our standards. Typically I do this in conjunction with offering OP some guidance in the comments: civil by default, upbeat if the post was an earnest and helpful attempt, cold if the post is silly or vacuous, damning if the post is lazy. I act quickly and consistently. But I don't go through old posts, I don't see the point in it. I suppose I should have capitalized Aggressive Party as ab2 did, instead of italicizing.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 1, 2016 at 19:20
  • @DanBron thanks for the clarification.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 1, 2016 at 19:21
  • 1
    @Rathony It's not that I "rely" on the front page, it's that's where I want to spend my time; its why I'm on the site. To ask and answer questions about English, because I find the topic interesting, and I want to learn more about it. But whip in hanging out there, I also see a lot of crap that interferes with that objective, and so incidentally (to my primary goal of learning more about English and enjoying my time here), I closevote, flag, etc. But I don't care that there's 30K crap questions in the log; I'm focused on the present (and future).
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 2, 2016 at 12:16

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