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What should I do if I see an answer that has absolutely nothing to do with the question, but could be an answer to a different question. Is flagging as "not an answer" appropriate in those cases? Or should I just comment and/or downvote?

The answer that promted me to ask this: http://stackoverflow.com/a/14829187/857760 (Yes I know it would have been a bad answer even if it was on the right question, but nothing flagworthy)

Sorry, if this has been asked before (as I don't think I'm the first to think about that), but I couldn't find anything.

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The answer has been deleted. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 12 '13 at 14:44

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Ah, no wonder I received a random upvote on my answer to the same question — someone had posted a new answer!

Yes, this looks like an obvious candidate for deletion:

  • Totally irrelevant to the question, as you've correctly observed (except maybe the & character)
  • New answer to old and already thoroughly-answered question
  • Low quality content overall

You can either flag it as "very low quality" or, even better, flag it with a custom message and explain that it's a late answer that doesn't relate to the question at all. I'll leave it to another moderator to handle the flag, as I try not to delete competing answers when I know I've answered the same question myself, otherwise it makes me look bad.

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Make it two random upvotes now ;-) –  Shadow Wizard Feb 12 '13 at 9:59
    
Point one, no flag. Points two and three, low quality flag. –  Won't Feb 12 '13 at 15:47

The first thing I'd do in such cases is check the revision history of the question. Sometimes the OP will substantially edit their question to radically change what they're asking. If the answer once answered the question but the question was changed, then the edit to the question should be reverted and a comment left for the OP to post a new question rather than editing an existing one.

If the answer doesn't, and never did, have anything to do with the question and is clearly answering something entirely different than what the OP is asking for, then it's "not an answer". I'd suggest flagging it as NAN, but past experience has told me that when the answer, by itself, looks fine, and only is wrong in the context of the question, those flags will be declined since the flag queue only shows the post, not the related question. Instead flag the question using the "other" flag and state that the post is "not an answer" because the question is asking something entirely different than what is being answered; this will prompt the mod reviewing the flag to go to the question itself and judge if the answer actually attempts to answer the question. They will delete it if it doesn't.

If you have 20k reputation you could also just vote to delete it.

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