Are one-line answers merely bad answers (presumably meant to be down-voted or commented upon to suggest improvement) or are they actively against the rules for posted answers (beyond salvation and presumably meant to be deleted)?

I often see answers that include a "mic drop"-style assertion of a sentence or so in length followed by a block of text quoted from some game rules, without any commentary explaining why the quote justifies the assertion or solves the querent's problem. I'm not interested in naming names or listing examples, but I think these sorts of answers can be identified quite easily. I see them across multiple game system tags. Obviously, they're not literally one line, because the quote constitutes added text and there's usually even a citation, but the so-called expert advice part of the post is negligible.

As a teacher, they really catch my eye (read: piss me off) because they do a poor job of actually educating the querent.I generally down-vote and/or suggest improvements for these sorts of answers, but I'm unsure on any guidance about whether they should be deleted.

Is there a consensus or clear policy on this matter?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have links to any examples? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unrelated: Please don't drop microphones. They're delicate instruments. You will make the sound engineer cry. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @inthemanual I do, but I'm not sharing them publicly. They're almost always from very high rep users with a penchant for reacting aggressively to constructive criticism, and I don't have the patience to waste my personal time on those reactions. If a diamond mod is interested in my examples, they can invite me to a private chat and I'll share a few (or they can instruct me to flag them in a particular fashion). \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can call myself out for the sake of clarity here: Is this the kind of answer you're asking about? It matches the description in your question, but I don't think it reads as any sort of dig at the asker - it just doesn't include extra explanation because I couldn't see any possible ambiguity in how the quoted rules text answers the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – A_S00
    Mar 8, 2019 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Note that I'm not saying my answer is perfect - the accepted answer is better than mine because it contains additional valuable info that I didn't think to include, and I've upvoted it accordingly; if we hadn't been posting at the same time, I wouldn't have bothered posting mine. But I don't think one-line-plus-citation answers like mine are "in need of moderation" bad, just "not as deserving of upvotes as a more complete answer would be." Are we on the same page here?) \$\endgroup\$
    – A_S00
    Mar 8, 2019 at 21:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @A_S00 I hadn't seen your post, but it includes a citation with an explanation of where to find it (link), you emphasized (bold) the relevant portion, and you put effort into the formatting. You obviously tried to answer the question in a way that would educate the querent. I'm not talking about that kind of answer. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 21:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ If they're only quoting a lengthy text without explaining it, then feel free to reference this help center, particularly "Do not copy the complete text of external sources; instead, use their words and ideas to support your own." \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrew T.
    Mar 9, 2019 at 3:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don’t use this meta as “something to go look for and flag.” Use it as “there’s an answer I think is curt and demeaning and I would flag it but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to... Oh right I can.” \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Mar 9, 2019 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


I’m going to make a distinction between one-line answers and “mic-drop” answers. I think there are different “rules” involved in each.

One-line answers are emergently discouraged but not against the rules: Exercise personal and collective judgement

As far as I know they’re not actively against a rule, but a lot of the site is more about process than rules. That is to say, there are things deliberately en/discouraged by how our processes work, and a hard (and brittle) rule doesn’t exist because it’s unnecessary.

Low-quality answers are one of those areas. We don’t really want them. But there’s no rule against them, because no rule could be written that would work for all cases it would need to, so we have processes that are more robust and nuanced instead.

For example, it’s theoretically possible for a one-line or one-line-plus-cite answer to be good quality. It’s unlikely, but over the course of many years the unlikely tends to come up in occasion. A rule would get in the way of getting that good answer. We’d also get people attempting to rules-lawyer such a rule, anyway.

But they’re still discouraged, so we have processes that encourage users to consider whether a given answer is low-quality enough to need action. And we have a variety of actions available (comments, editing, voting, VLQ flags, delete votes, workshopping on meta or chat, moderator-added notices, leaving as an example what not to answer, etc.), so that we can respond to a post’s individual needs for improvement or action. Sometimes a quick downvote is enough; on the far other end of the spectrum, sometimes nothing short of deletion is appropriate.

“Mic-drop” is another layer: Answers belittling the asker or question break Be Nice

“Mic-drop” answers aren’t quite 1:1 equivalent to one-line answers. At least, not the way I’ve used the term. It’s a term the mod team has used in our own discussions to mean a short answer that is written with… something… that shows disrespect to the asker. They’re often short, but not always a single line (with or without cite).

There are many ways an answer can be a “mic drop”, but the unifying element is that it conveys disdain for the question’s existence. Whether intended or not, since effect of writing is what matters and what we collectively judge with all the site’s systems.

“Mic-drop” answers are a subtle way to violate the Code of Conduct without it being blatant. They can fly under the radar, but they’re still going to hit their intended targets: askers and readers who are vulnerable to being made to feel stupid for having the question involved.

We aren’t here to make people feel stupid, and it would actively work against the site’s mission, so we have rules against that, and answers that are written so that they convey that it’s stupid to have a question are against those rules.

(If one feels like a question is stupid, it’s probably a good idea to avoid answering it. Even with the best of intentions it can leak through the writing — and when in a bad mood, it can be hard to not put it in there on purpose. Someone else will do a better job without accidentally “scoring points” on some unsuspecting stranger.)

That said, though “mic-drop” describes short, mean answers, an answer doesn’t need to be short to be mean.

All mean answers are against the rules, even if they’re not short enough to be mean because they feel like the writer just performed a mic drop to declare intellectual victory over the asker.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you think it is worth mentioning explicitly the Very Low Quality flag as a specific action/tool that we have to combat an answer that crosses whatever quality line you have? I know you mention actions in general and that VLQ is a very squishy tool, but I feel like it might be worth mentioning just because it is tailor made to combat this issue. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 18:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd add to that first section: even if an answer is bad, we don't necessarily nuke it, because having bad heavily downvoted answers present can be instructive: it's a very clear “don't do this” signal. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 18:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ If it helps, the only answers I'm talking about are the ones you're defining as "mic drop" answers. So I guess I'm specifically asking about those. Like I said in a comment on the question itself, I'm not sharing examples publicly, but if you have a private means (chat/flagging) I'll do so, if it's something you are interested in investigating. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder It sounds like it's already on our radar then. If you see something that's troubling please feel free to flag it for us to review. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 19:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ I get paranoid about having a flag declined as unhelpful for simply misunderstanding the application of the policies, but okay, I'll flag when I see it. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 19:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've flagged the most egregious instance in recent memory. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 19:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder Thanks, received. That one isn't what we've considered mic drop, it's in the first section and it looks like one of those occasions that one quote has been fine. You may request details from it though. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 19:41

There isn't a rule prohibiting someone from writing them

(that I can find)

As SSD said in their answer, we don't have rules for every harmful or negative thing that can happen on the site. The site does provide us with tools and processes that are used to combat negative actions/behaviors/results.

Such answers are often Low Quality answers

Very few questions can be answered with a simple quote and no explanatory text. Even the questions that can be answered this way would be better with a longer explanation instead. I'm not saying that answers have to be long or that longer is better, but we are trying to solve a problem. A static quote almost never explicitly, directly, and concretely solves a problem and thus a good high quality answer will have at least a line or two of explanatory text showing how the quote supports their thesis and how the thesis solves their problem. Answers that don't do this are partial answers at best and insulting/rude non-answers at worst.

Throwing a quote and a one-liner as an answer, most often, isn't helping a querent in a way that befits an expert — it is throwing the book at them and asking them to solve it themselves. A quality answer connects the dots and offers a complete solution to a question.

Take action against such answers when you see them

We as a community are responsible for upholding the quality of the content on this site. That includes acting when we see something wrong.

Obviously I would recommend commenting on such answers with specific suggestions for improvement and downvoting if you see fit. We should not be upvoting these types of answers even if they are "correct". Another useful tool is flagging them as Very Low Quality if you feel that they are particularly irredeemable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ “A quality answer connects the dots and offer a complete solution to an answer.” This can’t be repeated often enough. It’s rare that leaving some part of an answer as “an exercise for the reader” is helpful. It happens, but more often the answer just isn’t finishing the thought or is just assuming something is obvious to all when it’s not. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 20:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie But that seems to conflict with the last comment on your answer from doppelgreener. Re: the flagging. At least, in my eyes. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 20:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder I wouldn’t say that failing to connect the dots rises to VLQ flagging territory. I feel like it’s something too many answer-writers overlook as important to do, but I’d just downvote that sort of thing. (Even a VLQ flag doesn’t equal deletion. A VLQ flag can be resolved by improvements too.) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2019 at 22:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note my comment was inviting you to flag "mic-drop" answers, which is to say, flag answers that are somewhere within or dangerously close to the realm of rude/abusive. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 9, 2019 at 10:25

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