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Sometimes I see answers that are really just comments. I have yet to flag these because the hover text says

flag this post for serious problems or moderator attention

I get caught up on the first half "serious problems" and leave the answer alone.

Should I be flagging these as not really answers?

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1  
Yes, you should. –  joran Jan 13 '12 at 21:45
4  
Click one step deeper, it won't flag yet. You'll see the option :not an answer: 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. –  Wesley Murch Jan 13 '12 at 21:57
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

“Serious problem” is relative to the post, not to the whole site. If an answer should not be on the site at all, then it's a pretty serious problem with the answer. Flag away.

There is admittedly something amiss with the wording, so you should read the text that you see after selecting the “not an answer” option and before clicking “Submit”. “Not an answer” flags are for posts that:

  • contain no information at all;
  • or are evidently (even to a non-expert) wholly unrelated with the question (not just relevant material with a long digression, or a subtle misunderstanding of the question);
  • or should be an edit to the question or to another answer;
  • or should be a comment on the question or another answer (if the comment should be on another answer and it's not immediately apparent which one, use a custom flag to indicate that).

On the other hand, if the post is relevant but wrong, this may be a serious problem, but it is not a cause for moderator action. Downvote, but don't flag.

Also, if the post is spam, there's a separate flag for that.

For guidelines as to what should be an answer, see What is an acceptable answer?

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Think of it in programming terms:

if (is_serious_problem() || needs_moderator_attention()) flag_post();

In your case, is_serious_problem() returns false, but needs_moderator_attention() returns true, false || true evaluates to true, so you should flag_post(). :)

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This is redundant because needs_moderator_attention() returns a global variable that's set to true whenever is_serious_problem() is called. It could be shortened up to if(needs_moderator_attention()) flag_post(); –  Wesley Murch Jan 13 '12 at 21:59
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@Madmartigan Not necessarily: people shouldn't flag a question for moderator attention just because they urgently need an answer as the question describes a serious problem (which happens far too often than it should). –  user149432 Jan 13 '12 at 22:20
    
@MarkTrapp: The context here is flagging answers so I'm confused by your comment, but - What? People really flag questions because they urgently need an answer to it? That's a different kind of "serious problem" altogether (a problem with the flagger's brain) –  Wesley Murch Jan 13 '12 at 22:26
    
@Madmartigan Yeah: my best guess is that some people conflate "moderator" with "tier 2 tech support". While the background of the question is flagging answers that should be comments, the concern is over the wording of the flag feature, which is applicable for all posts. –  user149432 Jan 13 '12 at 22:30
    
@MarkTrapp: That is too funny! As in: "If this is a serious problem for you, flag this post and a Moderator will give you their attention." That's great :) Maybe it should be reworded then? –  Wesley Murch Jan 13 '12 at 22:33
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@MarkTrapp: Wow, I would have never thought about something like that. Maybe they should just completely remove the "serious problem" part and stick with needs moderator attention. :P –  animuson Jan 13 '12 at 22:55
    
@MarkTrapp I thought to ask this question because I was considering flagging an answer to a question that I had no activity on. I saw the answer as being constructive, but really only suggesting the OP post some code. –  Maudicus Jan 13 '12 at 22:56
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