# When is a short answer too short?

I recently reviewed this answer that was (likely automatically) flagged as low-quality because of its length:

https://superuser.com/review/low-quality-posts/234462

I feel that this was a good answer because it answered the question, despite being concise. But sometimes I run into answers where I feel there is more information that needs to be included.

What is the best measuring stick when encountering answers like these, besides "it answers the question". How can I arrive at the conclusion "good quality" or "bad quality" simply by length? What more should I take into consideration?

## 6 Answers

Although the others posted good reasons, I look at answers as a few things:

1. Would it stand on its own, if it was the only answer to a question?
2. Does it answer all the parts of the question?
3. Does it include any citation of where the information is from (for risky-looking answers like # sudo rm -rf /)
4. Does it include the instructions for how to accomplish something, or how the conclusion was drawn.

If it includes all that, definitely no reason to flag as VLQ. In that particular answer, I would have not flagged, as it answers the question, can stand on its own, but could definitely use some instructions. Obviously, the user wants to know how to format it, if it's not a "standard" formatting file system option. It would be nice if it also had a citation, as it's something I've not heard of, but the comments help. After seeing the (new) comments, I believe editing it into the answer would make it quite acceptable.

• MAXIMUM PEDANTRY: If you have a # shell, sudo is unnecessary. OTOH, if you have a # in the command, that's a comment, so the command will have no effect. :) – allquixotic Jun 6 '14 at 16:54
• @allquixotic for risky-looking answers – Canadian Luke Apr 15 '15 at 17:40

In my opinion this is a situation that do with a bit more scrutiny. The Low Quality queue seems to be encouraging the deletion of answers like this that, while they may be concise, do actually answer the question.

In this case I believe this is an answer that could bear a little more effort to explain why it is a good solution. It would be nice to include information on how to go about getting the drive formatted as UDF which IIRC is not available by the default Format tool in Windows. It's not quite deletion worthy, but it could benefit from a lot of improvement.

But it does answer the question quite succinctly.

In this case it would be worth commenting to the user and ask if they can provide information on how to go about doing what they suggest and what other benefits and problems there are in doing so.

If they can not or will not provide extra information then so be it.

If you fell that it needs more information, ask for it in a comment! Feeling the need of downvote it, go outside the review and downvote.

Is all too "meh, this looks like a comment" poke here, poke there kind of answer, vote to delete. If you see a bunch of bad answers, maybe is the question fault.

"Does it clearly and accurately answer the question?"

In some cases, the answer quite essentially is a yes or no, with a tiny bit of explanation. If you can read the answer and solve the problem, length matters not. If it doesn't answer the question, doesn't contain sufficient information to completely answer the question or is obviously a case of laziness, its too short.

• A dozen dosen'ts doesn't spell right. – bbaassssiiee May 27 '14 at 15:30

When it doesn't really answer.

• True, but I feel there's more to it. If a question is essentially a yes or no question, simply putting an answer of the word "no" wouldn't cut it. – Moses Jun 5 '14 at 16:55
• @Moses I know. I just couldn't resist giving as short an answer as the 30-character limit would allow, that was still reasonably correct. – Jon Hanna Jun 5 '14 at 16:59
• That said, there have been a few questions on some stackexchange sites, that have really cried out for "yes" or "no" as an answer. – Jon Hanna Jun 5 '14 at 17:00
• Flags as LQA for short length and no explanation :D – Anonymous Penguin Jun 8 '14 at 1:46

At maximum, downvote. Otherwise, it seems to be okay.

• Does it answer the question fully? Yes.
• Is it understandable? Yes.
• Could it be improved? Yes, but it still is an answer. This is a reason for the possible downvote.

One thing that makes it more complex is link only answers. If you remove the link from the post, and it doesn't meet the requirements, then DELETE. If it could be improved, you should just ask for a comment and (maybe) downvote.