If I provide examples, I'll be violating some sort of privacy, so let me just start by saying Thank you, to people who flag posts routinely, you are the reason the site exists!

But, sometimes flagging posts puts moderators in a pickle. I see "Low Quality Answer" or "Not an Answer" on a question that actually attracts that kind of an answer, specifically by being a question that does not meet the current scoping guidelines.

Usually, I'll see one or close votes on it, but because of the fact that flags pop up quickly and close queues empty a bit slower, there's a bit of churn and people might be less apt to see why an innocuous question is a bad fit for the site because we've already deleted the bad answer (unless you can see the deleted device).

So, what might be a better way to handle this situation?

2 Answers 2


I think the approach I'd recommend is similar to yours, but perhaps my reasoning will be helpful to share.

In general, we have the same problems with new-user answers on off-topic questions as we do on on-topic ones. They come in three types:

  • Not an answer
    • Doesn't address the question
    • Doesn't attempt to represent the viewpoint requested
    • "Thank you" only
    • etc.
  • "Bad" answer. Addresses the question, but:
    • Strays off the subject
    • Reads like a rant
    • Is difficult to read due to formatting or grammar
    • Gives no sources
    • Is simply wrong
    • etc.
  • Good answer

Generally speaking, we tend to quickly delete the first group (NAA) but not the second group (though these too can face deletion in the long run if they are not fixed).

Normally, it is fairly easy to evaluate which bucket an answer falls into, particularly when the question is clear and focused. The challenge arises when the question is broad, opinion-based, or otherwise veering into "off-topic" territory. Then it can become difficult to distinguish between "NAA" and "Bad." In such cases, I suggest:

  1. Vote to close the question (or flag it, if you have less than 3,000 rep)
  2. Comment on the answer, saying that while we appreciate the effort, the question may be closed due to its off-topic nature
  3. Take appropriate action on the answer itself.
    • If it includes a good-faith attempt to directly answer the question as written (even though it's too broad/opinion-based!), it's not NAA. Downvote and/or edit, or even manually flag for a "citation needed" post notice, but don't flag expecting that a moderator is going to immediately delete it.
    • If it doesn't include a good-faith attempt to directly answer the question as written, go ahead and flag for deletion (NAA or VLQ).

Thus, according to this approach, an answer saying "this is what my tradition teaches" will usually be NAA (and immediately deleteable) if it is posted on an on-topic question. But it will not be NAA if the question does not specify which tradition's viewpoint is desired. In that case, it may still be deleted eventually, especially if the question itself is edited or deleted.

Also important: Don't skip the first two steps! If off-topic questions don't get closed, then they can continue to give new users the wrong idea about how this site works. And if answerers aren't told that the question they've answered isn't a good fit, they won't understand why their similar answers to on-topic questions are deleted.


In this case, I'd prefer that the question was flagged and not necessarily the answer. I don't see the point in deleting every new users answer. People who answer questions are a bit more likely to register and become valuable contributors.

That's not to say no answers should be deleted, but if someone can reasonably interpret a broad question, or a question that we've said invites opinion, it stands to reason that the answer is consistent with the question.

That is to say, personal Biblical interpretation is "OK" in the sense that is it a reasonable way to attack a question that we don't want lying around anyway. And we should actually thank this answerer for bringing to light one of the 1000's of old questions that we may have missed in an attempt to purge broken windows from the site.

There's no legitimate reason to delete it, merely because it is a late answer and the most reasonable thing you can do is fix the formatting, greet the new user, and let them know that the question might be closed as off topic.

Spam and vitriolic hate should be flagged and deleted, and those usually get flagged appropriately. I think people generally do a good job of considering those over-ridding factors when deciding whether something is Not and Answer or a Low Quality answer.

  • 1
    I agree. I'd suggest that spam and hate is always deleted however.
    – user3961
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 20:06
  • If this question is, for example, unscoped to any denomination or tradition, and it gets answers which present personal opinions, those answers aren't NAA. If someone actually posts a real NAA that doesn't match the perspective of the question, then the answer needs to be deleted, even if the question is about to be closed. It is important that new users learn our primary rule that answers match the perspective asked about.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Apr 5, 2017 at 0:58

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