When a poor question is asked, people are still trying their best to answer - but many times their answer/comment is also poor, mainly as a derivative of the question...

When I have the feeling that they are just "shooting without aiming" I will definitely flag the answer/comment, but sometimes I feel they were really trying their best to help the asker which makes me hesitate, and that leads me to the following question:
Is there any kind of guideline/convention in SO in regards to such a comments/answers ?

  • 3
    Answers and comments are almost completely different, so lumping them together confuses the issue. Answers that guess what the question is shouldn't be flagged unless they aren't an answer. If the answerer has guessed wrong, that means the answer is technically incorrect, and mods aren't responsible for judging whether or not an answer is correct.
    – user1228
    Feb 24, 2012 at 16:01
  • Do you have an example? Feb 29, 2012 at 1:40
  • @AdamRackis There are plenty, next time I'll run into one - I'll post it here.
    – Nir Alfasi
    Feb 29, 2012 at 1:42
  • @AdamRackis took me 30 secs to find an example: stackoverflow.com/questions/9492145/…
    – Nir Alfasi
    Feb 29, 2012 at 1:44
  • @alfasin - what the...I'm not sure what to make of this nonsense. Feb 29, 2012 at 1:45
  • @AdamRackis that's exactly my point! :)
    – Nir Alfasi
    Feb 29, 2012 at 1:47
  • 1
    If you see nonsense like that, just flag it asap. Don't worry about comments or answers thereto, just flag the whole question so a mod like @won't can wipe it from the earth Feb 29, 2012 at 1:50
  • @AdamRackis okay - now it's already been deleted, but the answer that was there (I'm not talking about the comments) - looked fine, but still.. usually I vote for good questions and answers - but in such cases I'm not really sure if I should vote for the answer or not.
    – Nir Alfasi
    Feb 29, 2012 at 1:52

1 Answer 1


If a question is of the type that attracts poor answers, then it is generally the question at fault, not the answer, and the question should be closed (In my experience, such questions are mostly NARQ, and sometimes NC).

So, first you check if the question is any good. If you feel it merits closing, flag/VTC it.

If the question is OK enough, then downvote the answer (preferably with a comment explaining how it is poor and how it can be improved) -- don't flag it.

If the "answer" doesn't answer the question, though, you can flag it a Not An Answer. There's the Very Low Quality flag for extremely poor answers as well.

Regarding comments, only flag them if the fall in these self-explaining reasons:

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('other' for special cases).

Never be afraid to flag, though--if a few flags get declined nothing bad's going to happen. Just learn from it when it's declined :)

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