Feedback Guidance

angussidney edited this page Sep 7, 2018 · 17 revisions

Some aspects of feedback to SmokeDetector have historically caused confusion. This page is intended to address some of those confusions.

Generic Guidance

In very general terms, the litmus test for whether you should use k or f is this:

If SmokeDetector was implemented as a system-level block, would we want to catch this type of activity?

If the answer to that question is yes, you should mark the post k. Otherwise, a f or n repsonse may be more appropriate.

If it's not obvious which type of feedback was appropriate for a post, it's recommended that you leave a comment on the post - this is generally useful for others looking at the post, and makes invalidating any conflicting feedbacks in the future much easier.

There are a few types of activity we have specific feedback guidelines for, as outlined below.

Disclosed affiliation

It's fine to promote your own product or service on Stack Exchange, as long as:

  • you're not doing it excessively
  • you disclose your affiliation
  • you only do so where relevant

If all of those conditions are true, then self-promotion is not spam and therefore f and not k (unless it doesn't answer the question, in which case it's n). If any of them are false, self-promotion is k.


Self-vandalism is where a user vandalises their own post by replacing all its useful content with something like "xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx", or "deleted deleted deleted". For self-vandalism, use tp- (or one of its aliases, such as v, vand or vandalism). At a system level, we'd want to catch and block people doing this, but it's not worth blacklisting the user because it's usually a one-time incident. Most users, when warned, don't do it again.

Foreign-language posts on English sites (or vice versa)

Treat these as you would an English post. If it's spam, offensive, etc., then mark it as k; otherwise use f or n. Particularly, answers in the wrong language for the target site are NAA, so n. Being in the wrong language for the site alone doesn't make a post k-able.


Plagiarism — copying without attribution from another source such as someone else's answer or another website — is not always easy to spot. If you do spot it in an answer, then mark it as k — you may wish to explain to other users in the chatroom why you've done that, to avoid arguments about what the feedback should be.

If you get to a post before it's deleted, an easy way to spot plagiarism is to check the other posts on the same page for similar content.

However, while plagiarism should be marked as k, the !!/report command shouldn't be used to report plagiarism — catching plagiarism is a bonus if we do, but we're not aiming to catch it.

Repairable offensive posts

Some people think that f*cking is a synonym for very, and so they use it to provide emphasis when writing their post. These posts usually can be salvaged by editing out the inappropriate language and leaving a comment. Therefore the appropriate feedback is f as we don't want a system-level block preventing these kind of posts.

However, if a post is edited by the author in a way which is mostly offensive, then the appropriate feedback is tp- as we would've wanted that edit to be blocked by the system.

NAA feedback

NAA feedback has sometimes been a little confusing. Using n as your feedback should, in general, be done if:

  • the post is not spam, abusive, offensive etc. (use k)
  • you would flag the post as Not An Answer on the site itself

Bad questions

The NAA feedback is disabled on questions, as questions are, in fact, not answers. But what if the question is VLQ, off-topic, too broad, or otherwise considered 'bad' by SE's quality standards? Often, it's not entirely clear whether the tp- or fp- feedbacks are appropriate.

In these cases, it's recommended that you pick the feedback type that feels most appropriate (if you're still unsure, err on the side of caution and choose f). Then, leave a comment on the post indicating what is wrong with it, and why you chose that feedback.

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