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OK, so this guy answers with one line, which doesn't answer the question, and is totally off topic. I flag this answer with the option:

This was posted as an answer, but it does not answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether.

And then I get the $title of this question as an answer and -20 flag weight. When I "dared" to post a link as an answer to a question, my answer was converted to a comment, I got downvoted, flamed, etc. When someone posts a single line without any helpful information e.g. "RTFM", this is considered a good answer? Seriously?

Can someone explain to me how is an answer supposed to be removed if not by flagging?

These are links to two of such answers:

  • first case: Note that question is edited to be in its current form. It was a line before.
  • second example: This remained one line.
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Could you provide a link to the question? – Jeremy Banks Dec 2 '11 at 18:37
@JeremyBanks Done. – FailedDev Dec 2 '11 at 18:41
ahhhh ninja edits... can't live with them, can't live with(out?) them. – amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A Dec 2 '11 at 18:43
I agree that this doesn't answer the OP's question. However, it's not as bad as some other "comments that should have been answers" I've seen. You can always downvote the answer though. – Xeon06 Dec 2 '11 at 19:01
@Xeon06 I don't know if it's bad or not, but it's not an answer, thus I used the flag which subsequently led to my losing 20 points of flag weight. This doesn't make sense to me. – FailedDev Dec 2 '11 at 19:04
WOOP!! Not me!! – Won't Dec 2 '11 at 19:07
This answer must make you really crazy then. It disputes the question and then answers with a link and earned the answerer a gold badge – Some Helpful Commenter Dec 2 '11 at 22:07
@ConradFrix LOL.. What can I say :) I love this site :) – FailedDev Dec 2 '11 at 22:10
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Not an Answer is reserved for things like "Thanks", "I am having the same problem," questions posted as answers, comments posted as answers, and the like; answers that are not really answers, but are something else.

If you use "Not an Answer" to flag answers that really are answers (no matter how bad or how wrong the answer is), you risk getting your flag declined, in part because moderators do not moderate answers based on their technical accuracy. So the mod may look at your flag, see that it really is an answer (albeit a crappy one), and decline your flag.

That said, mods are generally supposed to clear flags as helpful if they are cast in good faith and really do point out some problem with the post. But we're trying to encourage people to use these flags correctly, because doing so makes life easier for the mods.

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So maybe the flag answer description should be changed to better reflect what's its actual use really is. – FailedDev Dec 2 '11 at 20:03
How do you get any clearer than "Not An Answer"? – Robert Harvey Dec 2 '11 at 20:04
OK maybe the use of english language is not my strongest points but how is "an altogether wrong answer" different from "not an answer"? And why did I get "punished" for it? – FailedDev Dec 2 '11 at 20:07
The extended description in the flag dialog didn't help? "This was posted as an answer, but it does not answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether." – Robert Harvey Dec 2 '11 at 20:10
@FailedDev say I ask for "the numbers between 3 and 5". Some people may answer 4, others 3, 4, and 5 because I wasn't clear. Some might even answer 7, which is wrong but is trying to answer. Don't use NaA on that. Use it on "buttterflies", "inclusive or exclusive?" and "wow I was wondering that too". A wrong answer is, by definition, an answer. Just vote it down for being wrong. – Kate Gregory Dec 2 '11 at 20:13
In this case though, I'd say it really wasn't an answer and should have been a comment. OP asked "how to format this using this regex" and the guy answered "Regexes aren't for formatting". That's not an answer in my book. – Xeon06 Dec 2 '11 at 20:38
@Xeon06 Yeah exactly my point. And before the edit it wasn't even that. – FailedDev Dec 2 '11 at 21:29
what about if question answerer gives some answer and then he states himself that his answer was incorrect? shouldn't it be deleted? and more surprisingly that answer has 3 upvotes – Templar Jan 2 '13 at 3:43

Bad, off-topic answers are still answers. If they weren't answers, we could not call them bad, off-topic answers. The action that should be taken for them is to down-vote and comment appropriately.

Links, on the other hand, are not answers - they are links to answers, perhaps... but they are not, themselves, an answer. Answers should be self-contained, not relying on some external site to maintain the link forever. Links can be included in an answer for reference, but they are not an answer all alone.

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