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Somebody misread a question today on SU and gave an answer that wasn't applicable because of it. I downvoted and commented on it but know I feel kind of bad about it. I think it would be better just to use a comment to notify the poster about the mistake and then maybe they'll move to delete their own answer.

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I don't see any incorrect answers. They probably got removed in the past 2 hours. – Brad Gilbert Sep 25 '09 at 4:51
up vote 5 down vote accepted

If they misread the question and the question itself is inarticulate, messy or just a plain hot mess, then a comment should do.

But if they answer and totally misread it with a clearly worded and/or well written question, or if the answer is patently not even close to the same track and field as to where the question is, then downvote them as well.

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Agreed. I got lucky today -- I misread an SU question and gave a blatantly wrong answer. (To be fair, this was just as I'd woken up -- no caffeine yet!) Luckily I saw it and corrected it when I got to work. Complete rewrite of the answer. :) – John Rudy Sep 25 '09 at 4:43
There was a question on SU about what Scroll Lock and Caps Lock were for. Someone answered something about Num Lock; when that was pointed out to him, he explained what Caps lock did and just gave 3 links to explanations regarding Scroll Lock (nothing more). That is not what I call a well researched answer! For that they should be downvoted. – alex Sep 25 '09 at 5:57
@alex Saw that question, and the voted up comment at the time was that it was a perfectly reasonable answer given the "low end beginner type" question. Doesn't make not trying in the answer any better. – random Sep 25 '09 at 6:06
The question was poor, in my opinion. But the answer was even worse. We've all been beginners and we've all made mistakes; that's perfectly understandable. But there has to be a way to teach people that even a little research is good. You should be at least happy with your answer! – alex Sep 25 '09 at 6:27

I agree.

I know I've misread a few questions and been punished for it, but I'm learning to read questions much more carefully.

Your suggestion of a comment is fine, but it won't guarantee an inappropriate question is deleted.

Can an inappropriate question be flagged as such, and appear somehow different, or even be hidden like 'excess' comments are?

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If the question isn't clear about it's purpose, edit it. The OP will then get a better quality of answer, than they would otherwise get. After all, good quality questions, generally receive good quality answers.

If the answer is just way out in left field, down-vote or flag, until you are satisfied.

If it is only slightly wrong, edit it until it is correct.

I would comment on the incorrect answers, that they should re-read the question. Regardless of what other actions I have taken.

If all else fails, flag for moderator attention.

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I would add, if you've edited a question to make it correct, leave a comment too saying what you've done. I sometimes come back to my old answers and find they've been improved and I haven't noticed. I prefer folks to leave comments to maximize the chance I'll notice. – MarkJ Sep 25 '09 at 8:21

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