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If an answer is along the lines of...

This doesn't relate to {what you asked about} but in your code the line {code snippet} probably doesn't do what you think it does because {language feature}.

Should it be flagged as not-an-answer? I'm asking with respect to this answer - the question is pretty much "why am I looping infinitely" and the answer in question isn't about the loop at all.

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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

No, that doesn't directly answer the question - It's helpful, but only to someone who has the exact same code as the OP and should be a comment. Comments don't permit that kind of expansion (though, formatting does work), which leaves some to post unrelated but poignant critique as an answer.

If you see these, please flag them. We'd much rather folks use services like codepad / pastebin / jsfiddle / etc to illustrate stuff like this, and then leave links to that in a comment instead.

Note, if the post looks remarkably like an answer but isn't, it's best to use the 'other' flag and be as specific as possible. If it begins with 'Unrelated but important', or something else that makes it obvious, 'not an answer' is sufficient.

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I don't agree with this at all. Its still requires domain knowledge to determine if the answer is not actually relevant to the problem outlined in the question. Who says that the answer, though awkwardly phrased, isn't part of the problem that the OP faces? Oh, I know who--people who understand what's going on in the question. No. Definitely not. This is something for the community to handle. –  Won't Feb 1 '13 at 15:09
    
@Won't Ideally the community does handle this when they can (will the post in question ever get enough eyeballs?), and you don't have to take action on flags if you aren't sure. I feel these are exceptions that human exception handlers (aka us) should at least take a look at. –  Tim Post Feb 2 '13 at 3:12
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Sure. That should be a comment on the question. It's not an answer. Leave the answerer a comment to that effect, and if they don't delete the answer and leave a comment after a few hours, flag it as not an answer.

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I've had many cases where I want to show a user how to clean up his code by implementing using blocks, doing proper exception handling, etc.

Are you really saying that I need to create a blog post about those, then post the link to the post in a comment? I've been leaving CW answers, instead.

Alternatively, I'd be pleased enough with "super comments", which might start off as normal comments, but would have a "click here to see some comments-with-formatting that don't answer your question, but which may make your life a better place".

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Disagreed. An "answer" must actually be an attempt to directly answer the OP's actual question or problem. If you find that something is particularly serious, Ask another question, and Answer it; you can then link to your question in a comment; plus, you can link to it whenever you come across the same problem in the future. –  Jeffrey Kemp Feb 1 '13 at 4:38
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That said, I've often added short footnotes to my answers but marked them up so it's obvious where my answer ends and my strong suggestions start - e.g. "The reason why your code gets that error is because of bla, bla, bla. ... (Note: it's bad practice to do xxx - it's better if you do yyy, because zzz)" –  Jeffrey Kemp Feb 1 '13 at 4:41
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