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I went through the 10K mod tool flag queue and flag this link only answer as not an answer, which got rejected.

  • Answer text (full) is:

    For those wondering, here is another website showing a way to do it.

The answer that is flagged is voted +2/0. The question only has 2 answers, and both are link only answers.

Well, in this meta post, Should I flag answers which contain only a link as "not an answer"?, the stance is to keep them if they are relevant and encourage the poster to post a summary via comment. Well, summary is usually not done since such answer is usually posted by new user (relative to time of posting). At the same time, a large number of link only answers keep coming in every day.

In another meta post: Is it forbidden to use "Other" flag for link-only answers?, the answer by gnat kinda summarize the current situation for link only answer: either flag with Other flag, which increase the workload of community moderators, or have some chance of being rejected with Not An Answer flag, or edit the post (provided that one wants to spend a lot of effort improving a bad answer of another user).

I don't have a problem with one or two flag rejected once in a while. However, at the very least, I would like to know the reason why it is rejected (it is rejected with the usual "a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it") without any action taken upon. I would also like to have some clarification on how link only answer should be handled, since there are slightly conflicting opinion. Currently, I would flag all link only answer, with some exception.

share|improve this question
Yet another case of a post that should be in the review queue as low quality getting multiple upvotes instead of action being taken. I'm not sure that this would decline your flag, though. If it did decline the flag, well... I will be displeased. – Charles Dec 14 '12 at 6:59
By the way, no one noticed the question is off topic for Stack Overflow? :) – slhck Dec 14 '12 at 7:19
Maybe just for clarification: What did you expect the moderator to do with that post when you flagged it? – slhck Dec 14 '12 at 7:28
@ʞɔɥls: I expect them to delete it. I used to use custom flag to ask for conversion to comment, but I no longer do that since it ends up being deleted anyway. Also, the new argument about NAA vs. Other makes me switch from using Other to NAA... – nhahtdh Dec 14 '12 at 7:36
I am wondering if it is a good idea to add another option to the flagging mechanism and convert all link only answers to comments by default. – nhahtdh Dec 14 '12 at 7:55

Well, summary is usually not done since such answer is usually posted by new user (relative to time of posting)

Even if that were the case, that still doesn't prevent you from kindly asking the poster to include a summary instead of deleting their post right away. If they were asked to add information and don't come back in months or so – and a much better answer is posted that contains everything we need to know – then the link-only post could be deleted. Or converted to a comment.

This post has only been around for five hours and nobody explained the kid that we don't even like link-only posts. So rather than using moderators as your proxy for deleting something that obviously is useful in some way, please just go ahead and ask them nicely to paraphrase what the site they linked to says.

From the question you linked to:

So long as the links are answering the question, I don't think flagging as "not an answer" is appropriate.

This is exactly the case here, so I don't quite see why you'd expect your flag to be marked as "helpful". Given the circumstances I would have rejected it as well.

All in all, rather than obnoxiously trying to delete everything on sight, why not fix it? By deleting (possibly) useful content right away, you deter people from participating, and more often than not, new users don't know that answers consisting only of links are not encouraged.

If you want to be lazy, I'd suggest you to install the AutoReviewComments script and drop a simple comment on the post. If you have the time to spare, you could try and extract the relevant parts of the linked page yourself, quote them properly, and leave a comment. This is even encouraged because it shows new users "how it's done".

share|improve this answer
I edited the question to reflect my original intention that is lost while writing the long question, but your answer still holds, so no need to edit. – nhahtdh Dec 14 '12 at 6:43
Writing a comment might not be too much effort, but checking back requires keeping the link. Rewriting the thing, effort aside, requires some background knowledge to understand what the link says to match with the question. Rather than editing, writing a new answer is more rewarding. – nhahtdh Dec 14 '12 at 7:12
Yes, checking back requires keeping the link, but please explain what harm is done by doing so. Do you rather want to have all possibly helpful information deleted? Note that I don't like link-only answers myself, but give those people a chance. – slhck Dec 14 '12 at 7:18
This is exactly the case here, so I don't quite see why you'd expect your flag to be marked as "helpful". Given the circumstances I would have rejected it as well. The mods can delay handling the flag, but they outright decline it without doing anything (comment or deletion), which comes to be as a bit unusual. I don't mind a reject with reason + action, though. – nhahtdh Dec 14 '12 at 7:22
If I act on a post I'd normally not reject the flag, unless I had to do something the flagger could have done themselves. I didn't handle the flag, I can just tell you I'd probably have done the same. – slhck Dec 14 '12 at 7:24
What irks me here is that this answer got two upvotes, and nobody bothered to drop a comment or (substantially) edit the post. I wouldn't blame a moderator for rejecting that flag of yours, but rather the community for failing to handle this case on its own. – slhck Dec 14 '12 at 7:26
By the way, community benefits of removing (more precisely, converting to comments) link-only answers are eloquently presented here: " is especially important to delete it (converting to a comment if the link isn't broken yet)... the community should not be penalized for that answerer or asker's failing." – gnat Dec 14 '12 at 7:29
@gnat Okay, now we're talking about converting to a comment, which would be a possible way to resolve this, but in these cases I'd flag with a custom message like you did, not Not an answer, because the post does answer the question – it only does it quite badly. – slhck Dec 14 '12 at 7:32
(I didn't downvote you, actually I agree with the reasons in your post, but the resolution requires the effort that not everyone wants to put forth). I used to flag link-only answer and ask mod to convert them into comment, but mod usually delete it without doing so. – nhahtdh Dec 14 '12 at 7:33
@nhahtdh It probably really depends on who handles the flags, their mood, the age of the post, maybe even the other answers. In this case, there was already another link-only answer which pretty much encourages visitors to do the same and post yet another link. I'm afraid I can't comment on this issue any further. Better to be safe though and explicitly ask for conversion to a comment. The more explicit the flags, the better. – slhck Dec 14 '12 at 7:35
Hi nhahtdh, actually, you don't need to save the link if you leave a comment and come back and check. There are a lot of other users who are capable of recognizing problematic answers. So if you leave a comment, then 5 days later another knowledgeable SO user happens upon the link only answer and sees your ignored comment, then that user can flag the post. Remember, the community moderation here is crowdsourced. – jmort253 Dec 14 '12 at 7:36
Actually, I disagree with using the "other" option for NAA flags. Moderators are more likely to decline these because we should be exhausting other means of fixing the answer first. Any user with 50 reputation can leave a comment, and anyone and everyone can suggest an edit. What's more, a NAA flag is visible to 10K users, so it's possible one of them can fix the post if you're not able to. Additionally, if it is delete worthy, 3 20K users can remove it before it ever hits the desk of a moderator. – jmort253 Dec 14 '12 at 7:38
Consider that your actions, commenting and editing, can easily take the place of the "other" text, since the moderator and 10K users can read your comment and/or see your edits, which helps them figure out why you flagged it in the first place. – jmort253 Dec 14 '12 at 7:39
@ʞɔɥls well, sure, it's always flagger's fault. :) "No matter what flag you use, there can always be a feasible explanation that it was wrong. Explanation will of course depend on the flag... one shouldn't expect answers like your flag was right and decline was wrong..." (flagger's guide to link only answers) – gnat Dec 14 '12 at 7:44
@jmort253 Yeah, what I meant is using the "other" option only when there's no other action left to do. That's why I repeatedly talked about leaving a comment first, editing the post, et cetera. – slhck Dec 14 '12 at 7:45

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