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Me again. I've been in the VLQ queue (also again), and I've seen a rash of answers which are posted without anything to back them up. That's to be expected. The backing up policy is relatively new; it's going to take some time for that to become standard behavior.

Except I've noticed that many of these answers had been posted within 1 or 2 hours of me seeing it. Since then, someone had left a comment asking them to back it up, and presumably flagged it as low quality (or someone else did).

I feel like this doesn't give a very big windows for users to edit their answers. As I just said, "the backing up policy is relatively new; it's going to take some time for that to become standard behavior".

It seems that while we're working this policy out, there's going to be high volume of users who post answers they thought were ok, only to come back a few hours later and see it deleted. That would discourage me.

Is there any merit in trying, as a community, to hold off for a few hours before closing an answer on the basis that it isn't backed up?

I assume there would be headaches in cracking down on it even further down the road ("Can we start quickly enforcing the 'back it up' policy"), but there are also headaches in removing answers that a user was ready to improve.

Thoughts?

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Is there any merit in trying, as a community, to hold off for a few hours before closing an answer on the basis that it isn't backed up?

There are absolutely merits in deleting these answers quickly, one being pointed out in your question:

the backing up policy is relatively new; it's going to take some time for that to become standard behavior

(Emphasis added)

How is it ever going to become standard behavior if every user who falls afoul of the policy can point to the dozen other answers to the question that weren't deleted yet?

Or worse, they maintain the idea that unsupported answers are the norm, because that's what they see more of, and want to pick a fight about policy every time it's mentioned...

Deletion doesn't prevent the user from improving their answer, it just reduces visibility and eliminates voting while we wait for improvements. Eliminating voting is really important here, it both prevents the much more discouraging experiences of being continually downvoted into a hole, and the confusion created when an unsupported answer gets +100 upvotes and is later deleted.

Basically waiting to delete offers little incentive to improve and sets the user up for more aggravation later. We shouldn't want that.

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  • To add to this, there have already been people attempting to dispute the policy in exactly the way apaul describes. – Cronax Jun 6 '18 at 9:42
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In an ideal world we'd have a perfect AI that would suggest how to edit a post before it was submitted. That way people would never need to worry about posts getting flagged, closed or deleted.

Since we're not living in a fantasy world we're left with the human alternative. A human has to flag a post, a human has to leave a comment suggesting how to improve it. The sooner someone is notified that their post needs to be improved the sooner they can make the necessary changes to it. The ideas are fresher in their head and it's likelier that they are still on the site.

From a more pragmatic standpoint. If we don't flag content when we discover it we'd need to remember it and revisit it later once a sufficient amount of time has passed. This creates two problems. Less content (that should be flagged) will get flagged because people will need to remember how to get back to it later. People are also less receptive to being told that they need to fix a question or it will be deleted after it's received a number of upvotes. The common response I've seen is some variation on "All these other people thought it was good." In this statement is an implication that if there was a problem people would have acted on it sooner. If we're not starting the review process right away it will be much harder to reason with such people. If they don't edit they'll be a lot more upset once their post is deleted or put on hold.

The best thing for us to do is to leave clear messages explaining what the problem is, and suggestions about how to fix it and start the review process right away.

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