When I flag a question, I'm given a menu of possible reasons. Sometimes there are only three reasons (roughly "Spam", "Offensive" and "Needs Moderator Attention"). Other times there are more (e.g. "Very Low Quality"). What determines this?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Some quick experimenting seems to indicate that the "Very Low Quality" option is only listed for posts with nonpositive score. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 6:03
  • $\begingroup$ It depends on whether or not the post is a question, an answer, if you are the owner of that post, and if it has a positive score. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ Also whether the question is closed/on-hold ("it is a duplicate" and "it should be closed for another reason" make less sense to apply in this case). $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 10:17
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, I think the precise scenario in OP happens only if it is on hold/closed (and by another user) [yet then irrespective of score]. Otherwise for a question (as in OP) there are always the close/dup flags. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 20:33

1 Answer 1


Spam and Offensive are always available, they're like the fire alarm pull box on every floor of every building. They're treated specially, six of either automatically deletes a post and deals the author a 100 rep penalty. Both are given prominent positions in the moderator dash board so that they're seen very quickly and handled. These flags also help to feed our spam and troll filters, so take care to use them only when their literal meaning applies.

"Very low quality" is a somewhat ambiguous flag, as quality is always subjective. It's not available on positively scored posts and should only be used when you think something is so awful that it couldn't possibly be salvaged. As Jeff Atwood puts it, using that flag is like reporting toxic waste spilled on a busy street. If a moderator does anything other than delete the post or make a herculean edit, they should consider declining the flag.

"Other" is also always available, and is the only flag available on deleted posts. It's a direct hotline to the moderators to draw their attention to something specific. You can use this flag not only to point out specific problems about a post, but also specific behaviors that you think should be investigated.

  • $\begingroup$ "they're like the fire alarm pull box on every floor of every building" You're definitely living in a fire-safe neighborhood, then. I can hardly recall any building (sans university buildings) that I have seen with fire alarm pull boxes. :-) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ Here might be a reasonable place to add that a number of MO users seem to have a very broad sense of constitutes 'spam' (often used in place of Very Low Quality). It would be clearer and more useful if we could reserve it for the sense of unsolicited advertising (the original sense had to do with bulk emails, but I'd happily include mentions of one's vixra preprints as part of 'spam' in the present sense). $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 0:40
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble, I noticed Scott M commenting on another Meta post (I think) that he wished the spam flag would be reserved for non-mathematics. I guess I don't flag things that often, I just did an experiment on an old question and did see "should be closed for another reason..." which might be the same as low quality; or might force me to write in a reason. I cancelled before getting that far. $\endgroup$
    – Will Jagy
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 3:34

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