41

As I hang out on ServerFault more I'm noticing lots of questions that get only "Yes" or "No". I think this is a worthless, rep-grab answer. They are especially worthless when they were able to post "No" first, get voted to the top, and bury the nice paragraph answer on why its "No" that's posted hours later.

While I agree that sometimes a simple "Yes" or "No" does completely answer the question, 90% of the time it simply answers a question with more questions.

Even once it was because the answerer thought the question was low effort, therefore deserved a worthless answer. I disagreed with the question being worthless, but it also makes his answer worthless for anyone else that tries to go to the question for more information. For reference someone else posted a very detailed answer which shows that yes, this question is really more than a yes or no question

The issue though is that several times the people doing it have over 10k rep, which makes me hesitant to flag. I also don't want to burn through my flags and clog the flag queue if mods are just going to ignore it.

Should I flag answers consisting only of "No" or "Yes"?

  • 4
    Should I ask simple "Yes" or "No" questions? – Josh Lee Oct 24 '11 at 15:43
  • 4
    Yes​​​​​​​​​​​​ – The Guy with The Hat Apr 17 '14 at 14:56
63

Yes.

...that wasn't very helpful in answering your question, was it? If someone asks a yes/no question there's always an implied "and why" even if they don't ask for it.

Even if the original asker only wanted one data point with no reasoning behind it, showing the reason for a yes/no answer makes the answer useful to more than just the single asker, which is the whole point of Stack Exchange.

  • 18
    +1 for the last sentence. I knew I should have mentioned it. – BalusC Oct 24 '11 at 16:19
  • No, there is no need for a flag. Downvote if you want, but why flag? – Yakk Oct 6 '15 at 13:51
  • 1
    "wasn't very helpful in answering your question, was it?" It's only unhelpful to answer with "Yes" if yes is the wrong answer. Well-posed questions may have binary answers. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 9:03
  • @AnonymousPhysicist I would say that if "Yes" is the answer, and answers the question completely; it at very least shows an issue with the question. I'm having trouble coming up with circumstances where a question both should be answered, and an answer of "yes" or "no" would be sufficient. I can't think of any SE sites where yes/no questions that don't (at least implicitly) ask for any explanation would actually be on topic. – JMac Mar 25 at 19:28
  • @JMac Yet in my experience many of the answers on this site are filled with unnecessary explanations, and often the yes or no is forgotten. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 23:44
9

No, not necessarily, if it actually answers the question, then it shouldn't be flagged.

A lot actually depends on the question. Was it a yes/no question? If it wasn't, then the answer might not be a real answer. If it was, but you don't think in that case it's adequate then just encourage them to add more content, edit some in, or downvote it.

3

No.

Flagging should be for things that can't otherwise be managed. A simple one-word answer with no other explanation might be accurate, but I doubt it is helpful. Sure, maybe that's all the original Asker needed, but our answers are supposed to be helpful for future readers, too. Downvote it.

And, if the question is in such a state that a simple one-word answer is all that's needed, it's probably not a very good question.

-5

Yes, and in most cases, the flag should be rude or abusive.

For the vast majority of questions, it is clear that the asker wants to hear more than a yes or no, for example the why or the namely. This particularly applies even if the asker is explicitly soliciting a yes or no as an answer. Answering a question simply with yes or no implies that an explanation is not necessary. This in turn implies usually that the question is not necessary either and was only asked because the asker is lazy, stupid, self-absorbed or whatever. It is like saying:

Hahaha, you are so stupid; how could you not come up with the answer to that question yourself?

You or your question do not deserve any better answer than this.

We can also apply the standard litmus test that “a reasonable person would find this content inappropriate for respectful discourse”: Imagine you are asking a teacher, mentor, or similar an honest question¹, and they just answer with yes or no and then actively end the conversation². That would be rude. Sure, we sometimes answer questions with a plain yes or no as a joke or rhetoric device, but that only works with tone or in immediate dialogue, not on Stack Exchange.

Beware that there are some exceptions, where a rude or abusive flag should not be used, for example:

  • The asker explicitly demands that no explanation is given.

  • The question contains an explicit, long, and correct self-answer, ending with: “Am I right?”.

In such cases, something should still be done about the situation, usually an edit to the question, but at least answering with yes or no is not rude.


¹ that could be asked on Stack Exchange, so things like “Do you like my new haircut?”, “Can you pass me the salt?”, or “What is your favourite prog-rock band?” do not qualify.
² and without being obviously in a hurry or similar.

  • 2
    I don't think we should support this position because it violates the "assume good intentions" policy. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 9:02
  • @AnonymousPhysicist: The last paragraph addresses the cases, where good intentions can indeed be assumed. Apart from such cases, I do not think that somebody posts such answers with good intentions. And even if, we also delete rude content if posted with good intentions (though usually, we can edit that; which doesn’t apply here). – Wrzlprmft Mar 25 at 9:27
  • Apparently assume good intentions is no longer policy. I might have been confused on that point. But calling an answer rude or abusive simply because it is one word is certainly a personal attack on the answerer. I don't care if you only do it some of the time. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 9:33
  • Lance Roberts is correct. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 25 at 9:33
  • 2
    We can be certain that we are approaching peak sensitivity when one can argue with a straight face that the single word "yes" is most usually abusive. – AlexP Mar 26 at 16:35

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