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  • What is the "Not an Answer" flag?
  • What is the purpose of this flag?
  • When should I use this flag?
  • When should I not use this flag?

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What is an acceptable answer?

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What is the Not an Answer Flag?

The Not an Answer flag is a moderator flag that community users can use to notify moderators that a posted answer is not an answer, and should be deleted.

What is the purpose of the Not an Answer flag?

To identify attempts by community members to use answers for any purpose other than answering questions.

When should I use this flag?

Use this flag when an answer is being used to:

  • Ask a new question
  • Clarify the existing question
  • Communicate with another user
  • Say "thanks," or confirm that another posted answer worked for him.
  • "Bump" the question, as in "I have the same problem, have you found a solution?"

When should I not use this flag?

Do not use this flag when:

  • The user posts a partial answer
  • The answer is wrong or inaccurate, or you disagree with it
  • You have to consider the question, other answers, or even the comments on the answer itself in order to determine if an answer is not-an-answer

But I'm still not sure if I'm using the flag correctly ...

Then cast a moderator flag using the custom option instead, and explain why you think the answer is harmful to the site, and should be removed.

Rule of Thumb: If you can't determine whether or not it's an answer without looking at the question it supposedly answers, use a custom flag.

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"Do not use this flag when a user posts: [...] An answer to a (slightly) different question". What if it's an entirely different question? Like advice about handling strings for a question about image-processing? – scenia Mar 10 '14 at 13:20
See also… – scenia Mar 10 '14 at 13:54
@JasonC: I made some updates. – Robert Harvey Mar 19 '14 at 20:34
@RobertHarvey This may still be overly restrictive; the specific case in that link may arguably fall under "communicate with another user," but it's not a good fit. Perhaps another bullet item should be "Discuss the topic at hand without actually providing an answer", or something? – Kyle Strand Mar 23 '15 at 17:42
@KyleStrand: Is there the smallest of doubts? If there is, use a custom flag instead. Don't use NAA unless it is crystal-clear. – Robert Harvey Mar 23 '15 at 18:20
@RobertHarvey Personally, I have (literally) no doubt that the example in the linked meta question was not an answer, and was therefore appropriately flagged as such, but obviously some reviewers disagree, and it's unclear (to me) why that is. – Kyle Strand Mar 23 '15 at 18:33
@KyleStrand: Can you look at that "answer" and evaluate whether or not it is an answer without looking at the question? – Robert Harvey Mar 23 '15 at 18:52
@KyleStrand: That said, I can see why it was flagged NAA, although you do have to squint a bit. Sometimes mods get it wrong; you'll never get one hundred percent accuracy, especially on a flag that people where argued about its meaning for literally years. – Robert Harvey Mar 23 '15 at 19:20
@RobertHarvey Without looking at the question, you can tell that either it's not an answer, or the question itself is off-topic for SO, because the only question I can imagine for which that "answer" is an answer would be something like "why doesn't the API for [some Apple product or OS] provide volume control that fits [some specific need]?" That's more of a discussion question than a solve-this-programming-problem question. – Kyle Strand Mar 23 '15 at 19:49
I guess I've been implicitly assuming that when evaluating flags on answers, one should assume that the answer itself is probably on-topic, but I realize that might not be a good assumption. – Kyle Strand Mar 23 '15 at 19:51
@KyleStrand: If you really need an absolute barometer, then fall back on the things that are specifically identified as Not an Answer: an attempt to communicate with another user, an attempt to ask a new question, an attempt to bump the existing question, a clarification made by the OP that belongs in the question itself, or a statement like "Thanks" or "This worked for me." If it's not one of those things, then really it's better to explain the problem to the moderator specifically, in a custom flag. – Robert Harvey Mar 23 '15 at 19:52
Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Kyle Strand Mar 23 '15 at 19:57

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protected by Robert Harvey Jun 19 '13 at 16:31

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