I am getting sick of repeatedly being blocked from reviewing. I evidently disagree with many other users, including the moderators, about where the cutoff should be drawn for whether response posts are actual answers or not. Every few months, I get a notification that I am leaving too many bad posts on the site because of my reviewing, and I am tired of it.

I think that I am being punished for voting to keep too many of what I feel are bad answers, but answers nonetheless. If other reviewers feel think differently, that is what the community reviewing system is for. However, punishing a user who draws the line for what constitutes an answer somewhat more leniently than average undermines, I believe, the "democratic" nature of the Stack Exchange system.

I want to have a broader discussion of this issue, and I also specifically want to make my case that my reviewing has been, in the vast majority of cases, reasonable. So here is a list of every answer that I voted to leave alone since the beginning of February, along with my thoughts on each post. Given that they ended up in the review queue, these tend not to be particularly good posts, but they typically represent a genuine attempt to answer a question.

Why couldn't Voldemort view the prophecy without Harry's help? (I think this was a reasonable contribution, attempting to answer the question.)
Why did Doc build the Time Train? (This is genuinely not an answer, I cannot say why I did not vote to delete.)
Is this JK Rowling "pocketeded" story true? (It's a minimal answer, but it does have a germ of information that provides an answer about the situation described.)
Why was Marty fired in 2015? (This one is again an answer, although clearly not in the frame intended by the question.)
How is Bumblebee able to use his own voice? (This answer is purely speculation and not very good; however, it has not yet been deleted.)
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/141086 (This is speculation, but it does provide an answer.)
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/141208 (This one is absolutely clearly an answer; it just happens to be almost as obviously wrong.)
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/141370 (This answer says something about what the author has said—without citation, but nonetheless extremely relevant if true.)
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/141416 (This one is quite informative, although I admit that it does not actually represent an answer. However, two other users voted to leave the post.)
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/141409 (This one is only a link to a video; however, the video definitely does answer the question.)
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/141671 (This is is an answer, with some evidence, albeit supplied sarcastically.)
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/141695 (Just because a community wiki answer exists, other uses are not obligated to use it; the information in the post itself is pertinent as an answer.)
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/142033 (This one provides relevant information, including a reference to the source that was used.)
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/142147 (This one is clearly a legitimate attempt to answer, and it has not been deleted.)
https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/low-quality-posts/142281 (This one seems speculative and cites no sources, but it is unquestionably a topical attempt at an answer.)

I count two of them that are truly not answers, and I am not defending my votes in those cases (although of those two, one of them has still not been deleted). Moreover, I am not defending any of the posts I have listed above as good answers; almost uniformly they are not. However, the do represent good-faith attempts to answer the questions. Some of them are wrong, speculative (or otherwise unsupported), or seemingly mistaken about what kind of answer the asker was looking for; but that does not mean that they are not answers. Bad answers are supposed to be downvoted, not merely deleted through the review process.

  • 4
    Given that your opinion about what represents an answer worthy of remaining on the site varies so violently from what most of the other reviewers think is appropriate, have you consider spending your time doing something other than reviewing? As the old saying goes; lead, follow or at least get out of the way. Then at least you wouldn't keep getting frustrated...
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 22:45
  • 3
    Whilst I don’t have time to check the examples cos it’s 2:30am the review ban is there for you to to “stop, look and listen” as the review audits on SO say. It’s to say look you’re not reviewing how the site does maybe you should learn how things are done here. It’s also worth noting that I have no idea on what caused your bans but I believe review bans are review wide so it might not be LQP reviews that are triggering the bans.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 2:34
  • 5
    On a related note to this have you taken the time to try and change your reviewing habits or after each ban do you jump back in and do the same assuming you know better? If you haven’t tried to improve before this meta “question” then its no wonder you’re getting so frustrated.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 3:00
  • 1
    This answer on SO meta by an SO mod has some detail that seems very relevant here: "If I find someone who made the wrong decision, I will hand out a little suspension. In most cases, I see these as serving more of an educational role than a punitive one. It's a way for a moderator to get a reviewer's attention and provide specific guidance on how they can improve." Granted they're talking about something a bit different to what actually happened here but it is relevant in terms of what the bans are for.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 16:55
  • 6
    "Bad answers are supposed to be downvoted, not merely deleted through the review process." Correct. But then why didn't you downvote the bad answers which you reviewed as "No Action Needed"?
    – Null Mod
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 18:24
  • 6
    I don't think you grasp how democracy works.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 20:25

2 Answers 2


There's more than what you've mentioned in your question ...

Most (all?) of the links you've included in this meta post are to Low Quality Posts reviews. However, this time you weren't review-banned for poor reviewing of Low Quality Posts, but for poor reviewing of First Posts and Late Answers. (Those links will work only for you, by the way.) The latter queues are perhaps even more important to review correctly, because a single review there removes the post from the queue, whereas Low Quality Posts usually need several reviews before they complete the process.

In fact, the review ban comes with a quite specific message, which you should see when you try to visit the review page, and which links to specific poor reviews you've made. These were:

  • https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/late-answers/141414 This "answer", to a question about why Albania crops up frequently in the Harry Potter series, informs us that Albania is a country in Europe and is not in Scotland. You marked it as "No Action Needed". (Fortunately, someone else was reviewing simultaneously and the non-answer was quickly flagged and removed.)
  • https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/late-answers/140480 This "answer", to a question about what kind of drills the fictional company Grunnings sells, tells us that there's an Australian company called Bunnings which also sells drills. Again you marked it as "No Action Needed".
  • https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/first-posts/142362 / https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/late-answers/142363 This "answer", to a question about why the character of Mr Morden plays a specific role in an episode, comments that the character of Marcus would have been a better choise. You marked it as "No Action Needed" twice, both in the First Posts and Late Answers review queues. When I (the OP) logged into the site and saw it, I wondered how on earth it had survived without being flagged for deletion. The answer, it turned out, was poor reviewing. I had to delete it myself.

That last example shows why reviewing non-answers properly is important. If people click too much "Looks OK" or "No Action Needed" on such posts which should definitely be removed, it means that trash stays around for longer. This is actively detrimental to the site, and it's why we have the ability to ban people from reviewing.

On democracy and abuse

I think that I am being punished for voting to keep too many of what I feel are bad answers, but answers nonetheless. If other reviewers feel think differently, that is what the community reviewing system is for. However, punishing a user who draws the line for what constitutes an answer somewhat more leniently than average undermines, I believe, the "democratic" nature of the Stack Exchange system.

There is a judgement call to be made here, and a line to be drawn between "this user is making reviews that are objectively wrong and harmful" and "this user disagrees with the majority on what constitutes a low-quality post". We try not to review-ban people for disagreeing with others, only for what appears to be robo-reviewing. Did you actually see the above-linked posts and think "this seems fine, it answers the question", or did you click without thinking? The latter is what we try to look out for and crack down on.

You seem worried that you were review-banned for clicking "Looks OK" on answers which do attempt to answer the question (not NAA) but were considered low quality by other reviewers. But we recognise that "low quality" is subjective, and such reviews would fall under "differences of opinion" as mentioned above. Having different standards isn't usually a cause for review banning; allowing objectively bad content, such as spam or non-answers, is.

(We actually receive a number of flags from stricter reviewers of the form "user X is reviewing wrong", and most commonly these don't lead to review bans, because it's merely a difference in opinion / leniency rather than someone robo-reviewing.)

For the record, I think your reviewing has improved over time: you seem to be reviewing better now than you used to, judging from the mod tools available for monitoring reviewers. That's why your current review ban is only the same length as the previous one, rather than escalating in length as is standard.


I generally agree with you that answers should only be deleted when they do not address the question. If they are bad or wrong but they address the question they should be downvoted. However, the question here is whether these specific examples qualify as addressing the questions. I generally only get involved with stuff on this site, so I will leave the other examples for other users to address. But of the four examples, I think that three of them definitely do not address the question, and the fourth is somewhat arguable but seems to not address the question. Let's go through them one at a time:

Why couldn't Voldemort view the prophecy without Harry's help?

This question asked why Voldemort couldn't retrieve the prophecy himself if he was named in it. Here is the answer:

In the films Hermoine is able to simply knock the prophecies from the shelf. If thats the case you could simply catch the prophecy and avoid the enchantment entirely...

While this might be relevant information that someone could use to construct an answer, in it's current form it is not an answer. It does not tell us why Voldemort couldn't retrieve the prophecy. If anything it strengthens the question because it argues that even someone not named in a prophecy should be able to retrieve it.

Is this JK Rowling "pocketeded" story true?

The essence of the question here is described in the last sentence:

If I recall correctly, there's a video where Fry confirms the main part of this. Is the final sentence true?

The final sentence of the quote that it's referring back to was:

The phrase “Harry pocketed it” appeared in the next four books.

Thus, while the question mentioned more general things, the actual thing that was supposed to be answered was only whether a certain phrase appeared in the next four books. The answer in question says:

FWIW, Fry was recently on the Graham Norton show.

There he perpetuated this urban myth.

While this may be relevant to the underlying theme of the question, it does not attempt to tell us whether the phrase appears in the next four books; it is thus not an answer.


Here the essence of the question is summed up in the last sentence:

What is there in Albania specifically, or about Albania that made it Voldemorts hiding place while he tried to re-coalesce his essence?

The answer under discussion provided no information about what there was in Albania that made it Voldemort's hiding place. The answer posted a discussion about whether Albania is in Scotland or elsewhere in Europe, which might be interesting — and perhaps even relevant — but it doesn't actually address the question.


This one's a close call. The essence of the question is:

Are there any wizarding plants mainly used as ingredients in food, that are specifically magical?

And the answer says:

  1. Gillyweed, which may or may not be used to make gillywater
  2. Derwent Shimpling survived eating an entire Venomous Tentacula, he even became famous for it

I only looked up plants spoken of on the One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi page of the wiki, no further, so there may be better examples, waiting only for someone to find them.

While the answer does attempt to address the question by providing two examples of plants that have been used as food, the issue here is the word "mainly" in the question. As the questioner commented:

I am pretty sure the venemous tentacula is not specifically used for eating, neither is gillyweed. I am asking for one's that are mainly used for food.

The answer does not state that either of these two plants are used mainly for food. For the first one, the answerer even seems unsure whether it is ever used for food, and for the second one the answerer only mentions one unique case where it was used as food.

I also looked at one other example that was not because the problem was a universal problem:


This answer contains no information other than a video link, thus making it a "link-only answer" which is one of the delete reasons.

I don't know what the threshold for getting banned is, and I don't know enough to have an opinion on the other examples, but of the five that I looked at I would have to agree that you allowed answers that are not actually answers. I.e. not that they are wrong answers or bad answers, but that they simply don't address the question.

Of course, this is my analysis and anyone else can feel free to disagree (downvote or post a different answer).

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