Everyone has already agreed if this site is going to work we need to have really high quality questions and answers (especially the answers).

This leads to the question, how are we going to moderate low quality answers?

I mean:

  • When should we delete answers?

  • When should we downvote?

  • When is an answer considered not an answer (NAA)?

Since every answer is going to suggest some software, where do we draw the line between answer and comment or discussion.


4 Answers 4


Deletions and not an answer (NAA)

Once the discussion that sets the minimum required quality level for answers has been agreed upon, basically any answer below that threshold will be commented upon asking for improvements, and then deleted if it fails to improve.

This includes:

  • Link only answers
  • Not an answer
  • Discussions
  • Spam
  • Answers that do not provide enough detail to be considered "high quality"


Downvotes are to be used to determine that an actual answer that does meet the quality requirements is not a good fit for the list of requirements specified by the asker. You could of course downvote spam and discussions but since the intention is that these will probably be deleted, you'll get refunded for those anyway.


We've seen many low-quality answers on this site, and on questions of the type we accept on other Stack Exchange sites. During the private beta, we've had some limited success at quality control by requesting that people improve their answer or using downvotes and the low quality queue to get rid of the worst answers. We can't hope to maintain this forever; in particular, upvotes for a tool's popularity defeat the quality control that we might do on suitability.

Answers that only list a tool without demonstrating how this tool answers the question are at best no better than a web search, and at worst indistinguishable from spam.

Therefore I propose the following policy:


Answers must be tailored to the question. Any answer that consists solely of generic elements shall be summarily deleted. Generic elements are, for example, the application name, ad copy, subjective praise, or other general description. These elements are not sufficient to make a proper answer. A proper answer must demonstrate how the recommended tool meets the stated purpose and fulfills the requirements of the question.

Answers that obviously do not fulfill critical criteria (for example, recommending an expensive tool when the question requested a free one, or recommending a tool in the correct general category that clearly does not meet a necessary requirement) shall similarly be summarily deleted.

Preferably, comment on the answer pointing to this policy and to our tips on writing quality answers. However, note that the commenting is intended in addition to deletion, not as a substitute. Users who encounter such answers are encouraged to flag answers (as “very low quality” or “not an answer” for obvious one-liners, with a custom flag after leaving a comment for longer answers that e.g. consist solely of ad copy).

  • A really good acid test would be "Does this answer engage the question?" Good answers on this site will reiterate the requirements and constraints stated in the question as the answer goes on.
    – Tim Post
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 12:30
  • 1
    @TimPost Are you making a difference between “answers must be tailored to the question” and “answers must engage the question”? Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 13:52


  • When it is spam.
  • When it is Not a Answer, Eg it is a comment.
  • When it is not a suitable answer, Eg in This question, someone miss interpreted the question as being about Plots (line graphs), when the question is about Linked Graphs (the Generalisation of Trees)/


  • When it is a poor tool for the Job
  • When the answer is written poorly. (Editing, and suggesting edits is a good alternative, if you have the expertise)

The duality on the down voting is concerning, but that is how things are shaping up here.

  • And what about answers with no feedback or which looks like a software list rather to a software recommendation? Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 8:11
  • @Fractaliste: Pending, see meta.softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/55/… and discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/12822/… I don't have a good answer Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 8:23
  • On the longer term, what should we do for outdated answers? For example, if (accepted/highest scoring) answer suggests iOS app that is no longer available. This happens from time to time, as developer have to pay developer license each year, or apps will be removed from the App Store.
    – Olli
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 12:10
  • 3
    I think the 'best way' for that would be to comment that it is outdated - the old link might still be useful for someone looking for alternatives. Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 0:29
  • Eg when it is a comment When is an answer a comment? When it is just a link? Basically, I'm mainly talking about those answers because we are going to get a lot of them.
    – Seth
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 0:31
  • Why is the duality on downvoting concerning? That's how it always works on Stack Exchange, and I don't see why this site should be different. Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 0:39
  • 2
    I disagree with relying solely on downvoting for crap answers. Experience shows that we're bound to get one-liner answers that are upvoted because they mention a popular application. I'm for summarily deleting these (with a comment pointing to our policy that we delete crap answers and our answer writing tips). Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 0:40
  • I believe this kind of forum alike answers should be deleted too. Its completely missed point if on stack exchange kind services users post answers like in a regular forum
    – danijelc
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 21:31

I think it will not be easy.

While having discussion with some of you here, one week ago, some interesting topic were faced. For sure this website needs rules for the purpose of avoiding to become like Yahoo Answers. And it should offer something different from websites likes AlternativeTo. But this allows still for an immense range of kind of questions.

In my opinion the answer is very pragmatical: if I get useful information from a question / answer then it should never been closed, because it's a good answer. Whenever one question couldn't be answered easily with google it worths to be published.

Many here are trying to narrow and narrow the kind of questions allowed. I think it will become a sensible topic when people will start to ask here and see their question closed.

Today I was looking at some old questions on Stack Overflow.. Very useful. But today they would be against the rules.

This section, dealing with recommendations, is on the edge. When I committed for it I was thinking in something more flexible of extremely good quality.

When I saw many questions here closed as too broad (while they were very narrow imho). Or because opinionable or since the usage of the word "best", "good", "some", "list", "one" in the title. I thought what makes a question or an answer a good / useful?

If I ask for any Forensic Image Analysis software I guess no one here can answer.
For me the question is good enough to stay open.. if you see 200 answers then I was wrong :-) but I guess 100€ I will not see. So it's really silly, imho, to ask people to narrow it more.

You can narrow one question if it's really needed. Not because you think it's better. Better for what? We should always keep this in mind. Better for who? Better for doing what? Which is the final objective?

If one question is usefull and it's against the rules then the rule should be modified for allowing that kind of answer.

It's not the answers which should fit the rule, but the rule which should push people towards making a good community. Always keeping in mind that good is not perfection. Trying to pushing people towards the perfection could also be a bad choice. Because it could lead to many annoyed guys which doesn't understand what we are trying to do..

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