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Require Second Opinion for Flagged Answers

Please see, Why is the Scarlet Letter so popular in school? (originally on Literature SE). This was the first version of the answer I flagged:

The University of Wisconsin explains this as:

"The Scarlet Letter attained an immediate and lasting success because it addressed spiritual and moral issues from a uniquely American standpoint. In 1850, adultery was an extremely risque subject, but because Hawthorne had the support of the New England literary establishment, it passed easily into the realm of appropriate reading..."

Basically, It contains a timeless, yet distinctly american view of the 1850's.

This answer was entirely sourced from a quote from the University of Wisconsin. It contains ONE sentence of original content which is factually incorrect, grossly so, by a difference of 200 years! The Scarlet Letter was set in 1640, but written in 1850. This is not subjective! It is a fact and a rather important and relevant one for this question. I flagged it:

This answer is wrong! The Scarlet Letter is not about America in the 1850's! It was written in that time period by Nathaniel Hawthorne, but the book takes place in the days of Puritan New England. This needs to be changed, particularly since the question includes comments like "everyone has to read this book in school"!
– Sep 22 '11 at 21:20

The flag was declined, because it would have been a more appropriate thing to make a comment about the answer, not flag it.

declined - Hey, this would have done more use as a comment ON the answer...

I didn't want to do that initially, because I didn't want to seem rude. Next, the answer was changed:

The University of Wisconsin explains this as:

The Scarlet Letter attained an immediate and lasting success because it addressed spiritual and moral issues from a uniquely American standpoint. In 1650, adultery was an extremely risque subject, but because Hawthorne had the support of the New England literary establishment, it passed easily into the realm of appropriate reading.

Basically, It contains a timeless, yet distinctly american view of the 1850's.

Note that the respondent altered the quote itself, from 1850 to 1650! The source, which is a decent one, still says 1850. The source is correct! It is the respondent on Literature Stack Exchange who is misinterpreting the meaning of the quotation. The original content, the single sentence, is STILL incorrect, as it should be 1650's, not 1850's. Also, any nationality, American or otherwise, should have a capital letter.

I decided to answer the question myself. However, the other answer remained the selected "best choice". This was the final version which further edits the quoted source:

The University of Wisconsin explains this as:

The Scarlet Letter attained an immediate and lasting success because it addressed spiritual and moral issues from a uniquely American view of the 1650's. As it was written around 1850, adultery was an extremely risque subject, but because Hawthorne had the support of the New England literary establishment, it passed easily into the realm of appropriate reading.

Basically, It contains a timeless, yet distinctly american view of the 1650's as seem through the lens of the 1850's.

The single sentence of original content STILL has errors (although, finally, the correct date for the novel's setting was given!), "American" and "seen", not "seem". These aren't picky little details, as the venue is Literature StackExchange. Meanwhile, my answer is the one that was marked as Community. Why wasn't the other answer corrected by Community? What is the appropriate course of action?

The source document is available for comparison.

* Puritan New England was a time period in the 1600's, not the 1800's! The Scarlet Letter was written in the 1850's, but took place between 1640 and 1645. Hawthorne says that is when it was set. The historical context is consistent with that time period.

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marked as duplicate by Manishearth, Andrew Barber, Yi Jiang, Lorem Ipsum, Cody Gray Apr 21 '12 at 23:59

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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@Manishearth Guess what inspired my question? But no, this is not a duplicate of that question. That question is PERHAPS an approach to user discontent with the flagging system, as implemented by SOME (but not all) moderators, on SOME (but not all) SE sites. I don't believe that second opinions for flagged answers should be necessary, if moderation is done appropriately. On most SE sites, moderation does seem to be appropriately implemented. –  Ellie Kesselman Apr 21 '12 at 11:28
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the question may be different, but the answers are the same and are applicable here as well. –  Manishearth Apr 21 '12 at 11:31
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@Manishearth In that case, it would be more accurate to say, see answers to "Require Second Opinion for Flagged Answers", no? –  Ellie Kesselman Apr 21 '12 at 11:44
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Not really, "close as dupe" refers to the answers more than the questions--if the answers will obviously be the same, its a dupe. –  Manishearth Apr 21 '12 at 11:48
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I don't think THAT is true: "Close as dupe" refers to the answers more than the questions?! The protocol is to flag duplicate questions. I don't have ANY complaints about the flag system in general on SE. I have a specific inquiry about a particular situation, with a lot of question-specific detail. I don't want to debate whether a duplicate question is equivalent to a duplicate answer. I already TOLD you, right from the beginning, YOU ARE 100% CORRECT (as far as my reasoning for asking this question to begin with, I smiled at that, because you followed my thoughts so easily). –  Ellie Kesselman Apr 21 '12 at 11:56
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No need to get worked up about it :). I'm just saying that while that question was slightly aggressive towards SE policy, the answers are applicable here. Looks like you'd already seen that one, though :) –  Manishearth Apr 21 '12 at 12:00
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Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/122534/… –  Flexo Apr 21 '12 at 13:35
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@Manishearth I AM NOT WORKED UP ABOUT IT!!! –  Ellie Kesselman Apr 21 '12 at 17:39
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Thank you @awoodland that was very helpful. I have saved for future reference. –  Ellie Kesselman Apr 21 '12 at 17:39
    
What was wrong with leaving a comment, again? –  Cody Gray Apr 22 '12 at 0:00
    
FWIW: I declined your flag with that reason back in September, but didn't suggest anything else because you had already posted your own answer - indicating the problems with the other one publicly (and politely) could have helped the asker make a better choice when accepting. –  Shog9 Apr 22 '12 at 0:55

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

What to do when you see errors or inaccuracies in Stack Exchange content:

  • Ideally, directly edit the content to fix the error or inaccuracy. Even anonymous users can submit edits by clicking "improve this post" which submits the edit for peer approval; users with 2k+ rep can edit posts directly, with no need for any peer approval.

  • If you are for some reason uncomfortable making an edit, and have the 50 reputation necessary to make a comment, leave a comment indicating what the error/inaccuracy is and what your proposed change is to correct it, ideally with links or citations.

  • If you are unable to comment and also unwilling to directly edit, and the error is severe enough that you believe it's actively causing harm to the site, then flag it for moderator attention. Please do not do this lightly. Moderator time is precious and intended for urgent-ish matters; flags shouldn't generally be used for things that the greater community can easily address themselves.

Although, after writing this, I now wonder if we should add another FAQ section to all FAQs, e.g.

http://literature.stackexchange.com/faq

titled

I see errors or inaccuracies, what should I do?

With basically the above info in it. It is kinda-sorta buried in the "Be honest" section of etiquette but probably deserves escalation to a top-level FAQ entry, I think. Editing is important, it is a core family value here at Stack Exchange and it never hurts to emphasize it even more than we already do.

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Suggested edits for fixing inaccuracies in content are more often than not rejected for being "radical change" unless it is blatantly obvious... –  Lorem Ipsum Apr 21 '12 at 20:01
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@yoda: that's probably a better reason to be explicit about this in the FAQ; a lot of folks know it's possible and encouraged, but somehow think it's just for fixing typos. –  Shog9 Apr 22 '12 at 0:57

The first reason on the decline flag dialog is:

flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer

So your flag should have been declined.

Moderator flags should only be used for situation where you, as a regular user, can't do anything. This includes, for example:

  • Spam (though you can edit it out)
  • Personal details in post - though again you should edit out and then flag for moderator attention so that they can alert the developers to remove the details from the database.
  • etc.

In this case you have the tools available to sort out the answer yourself - just click that "edit" link.

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2  
I just did as you suggested, Chris. Thank you. In the future, I will much more aggressively initiate changes to SE site content. –  Ellie Kesselman Apr 21 '12 at 11:14

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