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I have noticed answers that I see are either blatantly wrong or low quality but I know those shouldn't necessarily be flagged (for "not an answer" atleast). Then there are answers that I have flagged because they really weren't answers but rather discussions.

This leads to my current question, what about answers that seem to fall in the grey area between comments and answers? It potentially could solve the OP's problem, though not exactly the question.

An example I just came upon is this: http://stackoverflow.com/a/11121343/938695 I am going to go ahead and flag it as "not an answer" but I wanted some feedback for future predicaments.

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"me too". I see this a lot... and do this alot. If I believe my comment can result into a solution (or I want to paste sample code), I make it an answer instead. –  user188035 Jun 20 '12 at 23:50

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's more of a comment than an answer, so you have three options:

  1. Post a comment asking the answerer to either expand their answer or delete it and post it as a comment,
  2. Flag it as not an answer, or
  3. Flag it for moderation attention and ask for it to be converted to a comment.

Both options 2 & 3 involve a moderator, and between the two I'd go with the custom flag if I really wanted the answer to be converted to a comment. If not, the NAN flag would be fine. The moderator handling the flag may decide to just delete the answer even if you ask for it to be converted to a comment, or convert it to a comment if you flag as a NAN, or even do nothing, flags are just hints, but I think this answer is clearly not an answer. As for option 1, you should comment even if you decide to flag, you'll save the moderator the trouble of explaining what's wrong with the answer.

Finally, don't forget to down vote the answer. Regardless of whether it's an answer or a comment or anything, you've already identified it as not really helpful, so the first thing to do is down vote.

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Why didn't you downvote that answer? Surely that's the first action, especially in the sort of ambiguous situation you describe.

In the case of that particular answer, I'd say you were wrong to flag it as not an answer.
It might be phrased in a conversational way, but it's definitely a potential solution to the problem. Just being a short response doesn't necessitate commenting instead of answering, especially if the answer is straightforward.

You will also get feedback from the mods based on the treatment of your flag:

  • marked helpful and answer deleted: righteous flag
  • marked helpful but answer remains: the resolving moderator didn't think it was actionable, but could see your point of view and didn't want to ding you any flag weight (not that people care as much about it these days)
  • declined: not a good flag

That can be an easy way to get feedback short of posting on meta.

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My flag was deemed helpful. –  Austin Henley Jun 21 '12 at 1:19
    
And the answer was deleted. I guess moderator opinion differed from mine. Good flag. –  blahdiblah Jun 21 '12 at 5:14

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