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While reviewing flags, I was offered to review an answer (10k link) to a question that was flagged as "not an answer." Indeed it is a two-year-old answer by a now high-rep user that is not an answer. It received eight downvotes over the years and was recently deleted by the author.

This surprised me because the post was already deleted and there are it seems flaggable soft-deleted answers on many, many questions. That question itself has six deleted answers alone.

I often see deleted answers by high-rep users that have been sanitized to erase the regretted answer such as "please delete me" or "blah blah blah". These all qualify as "not an answer" even though the original might have been an answer but only a duplicate or the wrong answer.

Is the purpose of such a flag to hard-delete the answer? Should I agree with a correct flag on a deleted answer? Should deleted answers in general be considered for flagging to the same standards as ordinary answers?

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It sounds like an invalid flag to me. Did they leave some explanatory text on the flag? –  Robert Harvey Jul 7 '11 at 1:18
    
@Robert: No. The flag page says not an answer – 3 hours ago × 3 so the flag has been agreed with twice already? –  Rick Sladkey Jul 7 '11 at 1:23
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I think someone's flagging a dead horse! –  Andrew Grimm Dec 13 '11 at 4:37

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I say just let the automatic pruning get it, flagging just increases the burden on those who have to look at flags.

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I agree, but that makes me think I should disagree with the flag, even though it's strictly correct, because agreeing would only encourage more of these flags. –  Rick Sladkey Jul 7 '11 at 1:57

Is the purpose of such a flag to hard-delete the answer?

Why would somebody even flag a deleted answer in the first place? Only the post owner or a comparatively trustworthy user could flag a deleted answer. So it's already deleted and the post owner or a high-rep user is flagging it for some action other than soft deletion. The flag itself should say what action is desired to be taken.

Should I agree with a correct flag on a deleted answer?

You don't need to agree or disagree with a flag on a deleted answer unless you are moderator because since the answer is already deleted, agreeing won't help it get deleted and disagreeing won't help it get undeleted. Ideally a user who is flagging a deleted answer would use the free-form flag. If you are not a moderator, you cannot act on it; it is in effect a personal request from the flagger to a real moderator.

Should deleted answers in general be considered for flagging to the same standards as ordinary answers?

No. Deleted answers are already deleted and so it is not normally necessary to "reflag" them for the same reason they were deleted in the first place. Yes, it's still "not an answer" is not productive flagging.

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I know this is not a big issue but there is always the possibility that those who can see the deleted posts (owner, 10k or mod) could possibly "vandalize" the deleted post and edit in rude, NSFW content or whatever as they please and others may still be able to view them. Sure a rollback would suffice in those situations but we still need a way to properly report that behavior. So I still think flagging them should still be possible, though but only if it had some recent activity since it has been deleted. –  Jeff Mercado Jul 9 '11 at 6:48

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