In recent discussions there has been an ongoing argument made against removing low-quality content that is otherwise on topic.

Since the crux of most of the objections raised against any changes in policy related to that discussion seem to hinge on the idea that removing low-quality, but otherwise on topic content, is abuse of the system (using close/delete votes as so-called "super down votes"), it seems useful to address that issue outside of the specific context of "adult" content (which is itself difficult to define).

Assuming we could agree on a consistent, objective measure to define it, should low quality content be removed from our site by closure/deletion?

  • 12
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that what the existing "very low quality" flag is for?
    – F1Krazy
    Feb 21, 2018 at 17:05
  • 4
    @F1Krazy Given comments I've seen such as If a question is bad, you downvote it. VTC and delete are not super-downvotes., I think people are questioning whether those flags should be anything more than a call to mass downvote.
    – Beofett
    Feb 21, 2018 at 17:30
  • @F1Krazy - " This question is unlikely to be salvageable through editing". Most of the content discussed in this context does not in any way fit this description of VLQ flag Feb 21, 2018 at 22:49
  • What I find incredibly amazing (in a bad way) is that - having just tested it - SE does not offer any guideline on the "Delete" link of when do use it. Feb 21, 2018 at 22:54
  • @Beofett - can you please clarify how "VTCs are not super downvotes" rule does not answer your question? (with the "be nice or be deleted" caveat) Feb 21, 2018 at 22:54
  • 1
    @DVK-on-Ahch-To Is there such a rule? I have seen it mentioned repeatedly by a small handful of people in comments, but I do not recall seeing an actual rule.
    – Beofett
    Feb 21, 2018 at 22:56
  • @Beofett - it's on main SE meta somewhere. By Shog if I recall correctly, so that's rather canon. Feb 21, 2018 at 23:09
  • @Beofett - here's one such. gaming.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5498/… Feb 21, 2018 at 23:15
  • I believe the "close vote is not a super downvote" idea was first written explicitly in that form at the Arqade Meta post @DVK linked to. It's since been copied to many other metas, including Game Dev, Puzzling, etc., and is AFAIK basically a network-wide policy, despite not having been codified in main meta. (My linked answer on Puzzling attempts to give some common-sense reasoning for the DV-vs-VTC differences.)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Feb 22, 2018 at 1:09

2 Answers 2


Yes, in rare specific mostly objective circumstances.

  • Content that is in violation of "be nice" policy (that can't be edited to remove violation)

  • Content that is in violation of other policies (spam, mostly)

  • NAA answers.

  • Answers that objectively add zero value (not simply low quality, but really can't be fixed). Note that this doesn't apply to questions - first, a question's objective value can be its answer; second, it's far easier for subject matter expert to judge if an answer adds value than a question, from my experience.

  • Content that is unambiguously trolling and thus has no redeeming value. As in, no reasonable user based on evidence would disagree that it's trolling.

    Note that this does not include "some people dislike some types of questions while others don't think it's trolling" situation, which many of the incidents being discussed here fits.

    Politics.SE deletes trollish posts from users suspended for trolling. That seems harsh but somewhat justifiable, at least - the evidence to suspend a user is already pretty much required to be ironclad (unless you're a bad moderator like some unnamed departed SFF ones).

  • Any content Robert Cartiano personally wishes to remove (anecdotally observed from participation in many new SE sites). What his rules are is difficult to figure out, some removed posts make perfect sense and some don't always do. But he's in charge of all new SE sites, so his word is Law and not subject to community Meta decisions, by design.

That's it. Everything else should never be removed if it's ontopic.

  • 1
    I disagree with some of your points, but I'll refrain from voting, as the whole point was to see how much support in the community there is for this position. However, I did have to LOL at the part about Robert, as that was my very first experience with moderation on the SE platform (although in my case he was absolutely right).
    – Beofett
    Feb 21, 2018 at 23:06

This seems to me like a disagreement among the user base that goes beyond how the moderation tools were designed.

As I'm sure you are aware, the moderation tools are reputation based. Reputation is supposed to be a (somewhat limited) gauge on how trusted you are to interact with the site tools. It then takes between 3 and 5 users with moderation tools to remove content.

This whole system is meant to prevent a "rogue" user from disrupting content on the site. If a question or answer has been deleted, you at a minimum 3 user that are "trusted" are in agreement.

However, the current issues arising are that groups of trusted users are in disagreement and so we go through the close, delete, undelete, reopen cycle until the issue is raised on meta and many times a moderator lock put on the post.

So what's this got to do with your question?

I would pose another question back... How many user does it take to reach a consistent, objective measuring system? 5, 10, 100?

We have about 75 "trusted" users, about double that with access to the moderator tools, over 400 users that have direct close/reopen privileges, over 2,000 that limited access to review queues, and close to 5,000 users have earned a minimum amount of reputation.

These numbers are changing all the time. Some of the activity of users with the highest reputation slows down, but new users arrive and contribute and replenish those ranks. Since there isn't a single instant switch from the "old guard" to the "new guard" it is hard to pin down consensus on some of these topics since members within these groups may not even agree. If half of the trusted users feel one way and half feel another how is it ever possible to come to a decision on gray areas like this?

In the end I feel the only way to handle these discussion is like what is being done now. Per post metas. It may be slow, sloppy, and trivial, but it is the only viable way to get a direct answer to a questionable post.

To get to a point...

Yes, low-quality content, even if on-topic, should be removed at the discretion of those with the privileges to do so.

No, there is not a way to make this process consistent or objective in the way you ask it.

Users who abuse their privileges will be dealt with site moderators or community managers.

I feel like this is probably the process that is already in place... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • 2
    I agree with your answer, but to clarify, I'm not suggesting we can have a consistent, objective measure for determining content that should be removed by those with privileges. I'm trying to determine if the community has a significant amount of agreement with statements like From what I've seen the controversy isn't that people like/dislike the questions (as most appear to dislike them) but that they have a problem with using close/delete votes as super downvotes.
    – Beofett
    Feb 21, 2018 at 22:49
  • 4
    If we can establish that yes, there are situations where it is appropriate to delete low-quality content, then perhaps we can get other discussions past the phase of "closing and deleting shouldn't be used as a 'super downvote'" objections and start working towards actual solutions.
    – Beofett
    Feb 21, 2018 at 22:51

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