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I flagged a short (two-line) one-sentence post as "not an answer" because it failed to address the OP's question, instead attempting to reason (incorrectly in my view) that the question itself was moot.

My flag was disputed with the comment "flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer", which in my view is a misunderstanding on the part of the reviewer.

What is the correct form in such situations? Should one re-flag the post, or accept that the community's view differs from one's own?

Here is the answer, for context.

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One way would be to bring the issue up on Met... oh, wait! ;P (link to the answer would be helpful) – Yannis Oct 17 '12 at 18:17
NAA flags are handled by a single diamond moderator, not the entire community. Disputed means that a 10k user flagged your post with invalid flag. Whether the moderator agrees with you or with the other user, the outcome will always be disputed for both. – Dennis Oct 17 '12 at 18:19
@YannisRizos: This is the answer (I wanted to avoid name-and-shame, whilst hoping the answers would be sufficiently generic to be applicable to others/future situations too). See my comment. – eggyal Oct 17 '12 at 18:19
That's the classical "Not an answer" misunderstanding. "Thanks for that" or "I have the same problem" is not an answer. What you have flagged is (possibly) a wrong answer. That does not deserve a flag. – Bart Oct 17 '12 at 18:21
@Dennis: How does one know if/when a moderator has reviewed the dispute? – eggyal Oct 17 '12 at 18:26
The flag shows up as disputed as soon as it is reviewed. – Dennis Oct 17 '12 at 18:27
As a case study, I flagged this as not an answer and it was declined:… – Alex W Oct 9 '13 at 13:17
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Two options:

  • Accept that it was disputed or declined, and forget about it.
  • If you really feel it is not an answer and should be deleted/converted to comment, flag again using the "other" flag, and enter a brief explanation.

I've found that sometimes flags on "answers" I think are not answers get rejected because at first glance they seem ok, but when comparing closely to the question are seen not to be. This second flag encourages a more thorough check than a brief "does this look like an answer?" glance, and, if rejected, typically has a custom reason that provides more meaningful feedback than the typical canned responses.

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Keep in mind there are two separate negative actions that can be taken on a flag:

  • disputed - This means a 10K+ regular user saw your flag and disagrees with it. He/she cannot leave any messages to you unless it's in a comment. Diamond moderators must still review the flag.

  • declined - This means a moderator reviewed your flag and found no reason to support it. Moderators can optionally leave a message.

In this case, I'd say it's borderline. I personally despise really short answers, not because they're short, but because they don't explain anything, which sort of makes them fit the requirements of not being an answer but not enough to warrant their removal.

However, in this case, if I were an SO mod, I'd either decline the flag, or at least mark it as helpful and try some editing, then leave you an @ping comment so that both you and the poster can see that the correct course of action is to edit, not flag as not an answer.

Additionally, in the comments, it's clear that you and the answerer are debating the technical merits of the answer. You claim he should talk about X, and he says it doesn't matter in this case. That sounds more like a technical problem with the answer than it being not an answer. If you were only flagging it because of technical issues, then the correct course of action would of course be to decline the flag.

One thing you could do, which would probably work better if you agreed with his answer, is take any information from the comments and edit it into the answer. For instance, take the explanation about the optimizer bypassing the index and place that in the answer.

The other thing I don't like about short answers is that the information that supports the answer ends up spread out in lengthy comments. The answerer, or a skilled editor, should take anything the poster said in the comments and add it to the answer, if it's actually part of the answer.

If you think about it, that's another reason to decline the "not an answer" flag. If the answer can be improved, then it most likely shouldn't be flagged. Moderators should only be flagged when there is no other community recourse or action that a regular user can perform.

So no, don't flag it again, not unless you want another declined flag. Instead, try an edit, or just downvote the answer and move on. :)

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@JoshCaswell - Operation completed successfully. – jmort253 Oct 17 '12 at 19:15
All good points, taken on board. In your statement "You claim he should talk about X, and he says it doesn't matter in this case", I completely agree that the discussion over whether "it matters in this case" was a difference of technical opinion; but "X" was the OP's actual question and nobody disputes that the post did not address it. Do I take away that any post that contains technical content related to a question is an acceptable "answer" even if it does not attempt to address the question? – eggyal Oct 17 '12 at 19:52
Well, personally, I think the answer should still address the "how to make it use the index" part. The FAQ says it's okay to suggest other alternatives, but the answer he posted assumes that the guy still doesn't need it to use the index. I'm not sure you can convince the mods that it's not an answer. Typically, comments as answers or questions as answers are more likely to get mod attention. It also depends on what mod comes across the flag. Your question is a tough one to answer, because attempting to answer a question is considered a valid answer, even if incorrect. – jmort253 Oct 17 '12 at 21:25
Good move posting the bounty, by the way... – jmort253 Oct 17 '12 at 21:28
@eggyal A good rough guideline to use when deciding to flag as "not an answer" is: Does a moderator need to read the actual question to decide whether this is an answer or not? If he can't decide without reading the question, don't flag it as "not an answer". – Bart Oct 17 '12 at 21:46
Thanks @Bart, that's certainly a useful guideline. – eggyal Oct 17 '12 at 22:59

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