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I was perusing the flag queue on SO in /Review and noticed that this user has had (at the time of writing) more than 25 answers flagged as "Not An Answer".

Not surprisingly, many are attracting additional flags and down votes.

Here's one example.

I actually agree that nearly all of these answers, being nothing more than a link, are generally of low quality. But somehow this feels more directed at a user rather than at content.

Is it ok to systematically flag the posts of a single user in this manner?

Update This specific incident is also discussed here where a mod notes their preference for flagging as "Other" and writing a note indicating that a large proportion of the user's posts are low quality.

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This answer looks more like a comment to me because it does not offer much besides a link to external resource. –  gnat Jan 31 '12 at 7:45
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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

If it is clear that the user doesn't know how the site works, you can simply flag one post with an explanation, like: "This user is just here to promote his blog; most of his answers are non-answers," and a moderator will evaluate.

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You can also include a search query to crudely indicate which of their answers you picked up on or illustrate the scale of the issue. –  Flexo Jan 31 '12 at 15:57
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I could imagine what happened here is that somebody may have seen several answers of low quality by the user and just decided to check them out. They noticed that there were similar low-quality answers and decided to flag them. Whether or not this is "ok" is up to interpretation. Personally, if the answers really aren't answers then they deserve to be flagged. If all of the user's answers, even the good ones, start getting flagged that might be more cause for concern.

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I guess part of what troubles me is whether after you've flagged several answers from a single user, whether it makes more sense to flag one as "Other" and write a note to the moderator explaining that the user has a high volume of low quality content. But perhaps simply flagging the content is the way to go. –  joran Jan 31 '12 at 6:04
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@joran I could understand the concern; and I guess that would really depend on the moderator's preference. Personally, I think each individual poor answer should be flagged. Will the moderators really dredge through all that muck looking for poor answers? Should leave that to us plebeians. –  cspray Jan 31 '12 at 6:08
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@Joran, you could take an extra step and inform the user by comment that a link on its own is not an answer and allow them some time to clear that up instead of flagging outright and possibly avoid the situation. –  Kortuk Jan 31 '12 at 9:13
    
I have done this before. Noticed two or three bad answers by one user, found a goldmine full of flag weight. That user had good posts, but many were not an answer. –  Daniel Beck Jan 31 '12 at 16:20
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I flagged many of those, though I suspect not all of them, as I also flagged posts from some other users, and still had some flags left for the day.

I had noticed one of the user's answers on a question I was reading, and saw that a Moderator (Kev, perhaps) had left a comment indicating to the user that the post in question should be 'fleshed out' to qualify as a real answer. It appeared that the comment was ignored.

I left a comment on a different, recent post suggesting the same thing; that the answer seemed to be correct, but that unless it had content posted in the body of the answer, it would likely be converted to a comment. In looking at the user's history, I found a number of posts that were basically,

"this took me 5 seconds to Google; here you go:"

I left a comment to one of those saying that "Let me Google that for you" is not an answer, and might be considered rude.

A comment "discussion" between the user and I ensued, and ended with the user telling me I was wrong, and that he was answering the questions, and he was the only one willing to help the people he was answering. I was trying to get across that if he wants to leave links, that is fine, but they should be comments, not Answers.

We agreed to disagree, let's just say.

I flagged numerous posts. The word rampage has been used, however I would note a few things:

  1. The user had 114 answers when I first saw them.
  2. I probably flagged 20-25 posts.
  3. I did not flag some posts that did significantly consist of only a link because in a couple cases, they really did amount to "answers" to the questions. I think in at least one such case, I ended up voting to close the question instead.
  4. I chose individual flagging rather than a single "Other" flag so as not to make some poor Mod have to trudge through the user's posts to find which ones were or were not appropriate. Many of the user's answers are good answers, and some were borderline. I flagged only ones that I felt applied solidly as "Not an Answer" as has been generally accepted.
  5. I did not take votes or accepts into account at all. I know some disagree with that, and counterflagged as a result. Quite alright by me.
  6. I don't think the user is "spamming" at all, nor does he seem to be promoting his own site or anything of that nature; he simply has a habit of posting a link, and often suggesting along with it, "I found this in no time on Google".
  7. I posted a link to one of the "discussions" via Twitter, lamenting that taking time to instruct a user often backfires. That may have resulted in some of the flags/DVs, too.
  8. I also flagged a number of other posts from other users that I came across in the meantime.

I've seen here and in another related question that (at least some) Mods would prefer a single "Other" flag noting the issue, as opposed to a "flood" of flags. In this case, I think that might have been a better thing to do, and I will do that if I ever come across such a situation again.

I understand that the user has been "officially" notified about what we expect from an answer. I expect that to solve the problem, otherwise.

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+1 for your explanatory –  mKorbel Jan 31 '12 at 19:25
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Something else to note: This answer should make it clear that the removal of the display of Flag Weight certainly has not affected my flagging activity! –  Andrew's a Unitato Jan 31 '12 at 19:30
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