I'm new to the review queue and I don't know what our policy is on well-intentioned answers that happen to break some of the rules stated in the question. For example, this answer was recently flagged as low-quality for including forbidden characters in the source. This particular answer might be hard to 'fix' to meet the criteria, but it's often not this clear. Are there any guidelines for when to hit 'recommend deletion'?

What should count as "not an answer" here? addresses a similar issue, but doesn't provide any consensus on what to do with posts that miss the mark.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Please see this answer (emphasis mine): "VLQ: for posts that (attempt to) solve the challenge but should be deleted for any other reason, ex. Doesn't follow spec, clearly an attempt to troll, extremely low quality and unsalvageable by editing, etc \$\endgroup\$ – ProgramFOX Apr 17 '14 at 8:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ProgramFOX It should also be noted that not everyone (myself included) agrees with that answer, especially the "doesn't follow spec" part. I'm of the opinion that downvoting (and possibly commenting) is the appropriate action in that case. Note that the question OP linked to was deleted by owner after several DVs, no need to flag. \$\endgroup\$ – Geobits Apr 17 '14 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Geobits: I know that there are mixed opinions on this, but Chris also says that these answers should be removed (without consultation with the other mods, though). Perhaps we better wait until the mods provide a clear consensus about what to do with these answers. \$\endgroup\$ – ProgramFOX Apr 17 '14 at 15:55

I may be in the minority, but I say no. You should downvote it or leave a comment explaining why it breaks the rules.

From Meta.SE:

An answer that is not an answer should be deleted (should be a comment, doesn't answer the question etc...).

Answers that are answers but are factually wrong or are actively bad (say promote SQL Injection) should get downvoted, but not deleted.

I'm of the opinion that answers that don't meet spec are factually wrong. They are absolutely an attempt to answer the question, and they serve as an example of what the community sees as "bad".

If you delete answers that don't meet the spec, you're simply inviting more answers that break the same rules, because nobody can tell it's already been tried and shot down. Showing people that we downvote might discourage that.

Of course, there are exceptions. It's simply not a black/white issue. Many of these answers are a simple slip or misreading of the spec. Some are obviously horrible, but in almost all cases, I believe in downvoting.

Lack of downvoting is something I see as a bit of a problem here. There are tons of answers that break rules, don't meet spec, or simply don't work. I downvote them when I come across them, and I was shocked to recently find out that I am the #1 downvoter here among those with over 100 total votes. That just seems insane to me, because I upvote pretty often, too.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, other users have given more downvotes than you, but your proportion of upvotes is higher. Perhaps this just means you should also upvote more, rather than just others needing to downvote more. \$\endgroup\$ – Joe Z. Apr 21 '14 at 2:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoeZ I upvote as I see fit, as does anyone else. I just see more DV-worthy posts on this site than others. My ratio on other SE sites I participate on is much different. Here, it's just very clear when an answer breaks spec (for the most part). When they do and have a positive score, it just baffles me. \$\endgroup\$ – Geobits Apr 21 '14 at 13:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for summing it all up. One thing to add: We have to be careful about deleting, because the poster may have put a lot of effort into writing their post and not saved it elsewhere. What happens if I hit delete, and it is ME that misinterpreted the rules? The correct thing to do, as you say, is comment (which I do) and downvote (which I don't do enough of.) I believe a downvote should be accompanied by an explanation anyway. Then, leave it on display so others can see. An answer should only be deleted if its main intention is to be offensive, deliberately disruptive, or completely irrelevant. \$\endgroup\$ – Level River St Apr 23 '14 at 20:44

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