I must say Biology is quite critical and not many poor questions survive. However, I still wish to ask the question - suppose there is a poor question that survives reviews, perhaps only barely, and subsequently receives a poor answer. As of now, personally, I leave poor answers to poor questions pretty much alone. In other words, I will not bother flagging it, as a poor question asks for a poor answer. However, if that same low-quality answer was put forward to a high-quality question, I would flag it for deletion. Somehow this is not fair play.

Should we allow poor answers to poor questions? Can we expect high-quality answers to poor questions? Personally, I am not quite keen on putting a lot of research effort in a question where the OP might not have put sufficient effort in writing up a decent question.

EDIT: the suspected duplicate "Flagging incorrect answers" deals with what flags are and when to use them. This question is on specific use of flags in a very specific case. My question is not answered by it.

EDIT2: I define "poor" questions primarily as borderline homework (badly researched), borderline opinion-based, or a question being "formulated in such a way that it very likely will lure new users to post opinion-based answers". A certain fraction of questions is just borderline OK, and my question is on these cases. Poor answers basically follow these conventions here, i.e. borderline research etc etc.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This question has pretty much been asked before under the guise should bad answers be flagged. See here $\endgroup$
    – dustin
    Mar 16, 2015 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ I think we should close bad questions either when they are asked or later, if we spot them. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Mar 17, 2015 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris - obviously - I'm talking borderline cases. Should I look for an example perhaps? I posed a similar question at Cognitive Sciences Meta with an example question that illustrates my point there pretty well I think. One of the mods there jumped on it. Although the atmosphere at CogSci is very different from Bio, it did get a helpful answer that perhaps may help me / us at Bio too: meta.cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/953/… $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Mar 17, 2015 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD I think this answer has it all. And I think it's a good guideline here as well. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Mar 17, 2015 at 9:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris - I was still editing this comment. Are you referring to my linked question at CogSci ? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Mar 17, 2015 at 9:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AliceD Yes, I do. And obviously I was too fast answering this comment :-) $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Mar 17, 2015 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris - nono - I was being slow haha - I will paste the link into my question here as well $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Mar 17, 2015 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ wish to refer to an answer by one of the mods at Cognitive Sciences where I posted a similar question: What comes around - poor questions with poor answers - meta.cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/953/… $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Mar 17, 2015 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ And why the downvote? I have made several edits so it would help a lot to leave a comment with the downvote to improve this question. Isn't meta to discuss things? What is wrong? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Mar 18, 2015 at 1:06

1 Answer 1


My answer here on Flagging incorrect answers mentions a community wiki answer on How does deleting work .... In this answer, it address how to handle low quality (poor answers).

What are the criteria for deletion?

For questions, a post that no longer adds anything to the site should be deleted. Basically, this includes most closed questions that cannot be improved and reopened. However, it may be beneficial to keep duplicates to aid future users in finding the canonical question.

For answers, any post that is not an answer (should be a comment, doesn't answer the question, etc.) should be deleted. Answers that are wrong or that dispense poor advice should be downvoted, not deleted.

In the final paragraph, it states how to address low quality answers. Additionally, in the comments to first link post, I wrote

Just comment and downvote. That is the only advice giving see the last sentence of the last paragraph of my post. On math, we have a chat room dedicated to delete, close, duplicate, and reopen. Users can link posts in there stating what they think. If other users agree, you pick up votes or in this case downvotes. A 20k user can vote to delete when the score is -1. Maybe bio needs a specialized chat room to make other users aware of situations like this. If no one agrees, you wont be able to pick up the downvotes and deletion votes though.

I also may be worth noting when one shouldn't flag an answer which again was in my post here

Do not use this flag when:

  • The user posts a partial answer
  • The answer is wrong or inaccurate, or you disagree with it
  • You have to consider the question, other answers, or even the comments on the answer itself in order to determine if an answer is not-an-answer

This is an excerpt from Robert Harvey's answer on How do I properly use the "Not an Answer" flag?


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .