I just did a flag on following answers

But from the moderator i got message like declined - flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer.

As per my opinion they could be comment more than a answer.

Am I correct ?

  • downvotes on meta work differently - "Please don't be concerned if you receive downvotes...". What flag did you use for these "answers"?
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 5:36
  • I already mentioned that those answers are more like comments.
    – Lucifer
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 5:38
  • 2
    Do you call this an answer ? @gnat
    – Lucifer
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 6:01
  • 1
  • 1
    So should I flag it too @gnat ?
    – Lucifer
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 6:20
  • 1) you are not required to flag 2) the "Hashtable" answer deserves a flag imNSho 3) there is always a risk that mod disagrees 4) there is always a risk that mod declines 5) there are (not too strongly enforced) guidelines for mods wrt flag declines in September 2011 Newsletter of SE Community Moderator Blog
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 6:27
  • ok Thanks for it. @gnat
    – Lucifer
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 6:35
  • 1
    I think some of these examples deserve down votes. I DV'ed the Hashtable answer and almost flagged it. However, the question is really the problem there, IMO. I DV'ed this question because I disagree with "require second opinion for flagged answer" Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 6:40
  • @AndrewBarber question doesn't look terrible to me. Most of guys I worked with who came to Java ME from Java SE, had issues like that. It's really hard to believe how much java.util shrinks when one moves like that
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 6:54
  • @gnat I didn't mean the question looked terrible; just that the question was the problem, in that it basically asked for an extremely simple answer. Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 6:55
  • 1
    and how about this answer ? @gnat
    – Lucifer
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 8:44
  • @Lucifer I believe question quality wouldn't suffer if this answer was converted to comments (yes I noticed who is the answerer). Actually, I think question would become better with such a conversion
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 8:55
  • 1
    "not an answer" as they are very short in desccription and no link , no code, just like a suggestion. so i think they should be a comment. and you see, only one of them is vote uped. so I felt like they are more like suggestion then answer
    – Lucifer
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 12:37
  • 1
    @TimPost per my reading of the question text, forcing second opinions is not its point. OP asks concrete question about concrete five declined flags listed in text, not proposing a feature like mandatory double-review of flags in the queue. As far as I can tell, "require" here means something like "looking for", I've seen non-native English speakers using it that way pretty often.
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 10:33
  • 1
    Yes, gnat said right, those review has been done in less than a minute time period. This is the reason that I asked for second opnion @TimPost
    – Lucifer
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 13:21

5 Answers 5


As far as I can tell, all five answers you listed look worth converting to comments.

  • Typical one-liners of fairly limited / questionable value. Converting such answers would preserve all the info that is there (if any), plus it will fix broken windows. Plus, it will help future visitors avoid false impression that answer sufficiently addresses the question - oh hashtable is covered in another answer OMG this answer is accepted, no need to explain further - yeah sure.

Another thing I noticed is none of the answers you flagged would qualify as clarifying comment.

  • What is "clarifying comment"? Imagine question and answer like "- why my flag was declined? - what flag did you use?" You see, second is a clarifying comment, not an answer, not even intended to be an answer. Simply removing it would be wrong - because clarifying things is really important, but converting to comment is just what doctor ordered. I've seen this kind "answers" eg from users with insufficient privileges or from those who just don't understand how SO works.

Now, let's look at the flag you used. At a first glance, it looks like good fit doesn't it. Description says, "should possibly be... a comment" - are we there yet? Actually, this is wrong way - and to understand why, one needs to check previous statement in description: "it does not answer the question" - but the answers you flagged really were intended to answer the question.

If you connect two pieces of this puzzle, you'll find out that flag description really fits clarifying comments - these just exactly 1) do not intend to answer and 2) should be comments.

As for the one-liners you listed, the way to flag these would be to use "Other" flag with suggestion to convert to comments and appropriate explanation. There is no predefined flag with canned message.

Safer way to read not an answer flag description could be like:

This was posted as an answer, but it does not intend to answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a clarifying comment, another question, or deleted altogether.

One willing to be a heavyweight flagger would better learn nuances like above.

Side note - if you feel discouraged with downvotes you received, thing worth taking into account is that per my observations, MSO community tends to negatively meet discussions like that. This is likely a matter of subjective preferences because for example, SU Meta guys appear to be more open to this kind topics. Negative attitude may be the reason why slippery flag description lives its long counter-productive life. Why worry about improving it when complaints are dumbvoted into oblivion.


I looked at all 5 of your examples and they are all answers to their questions. They may not be the best answer (didn't evaluate that part), but they are honest answer-attempts, nonetheless.

As the decline-reason states, bad answers are not usually a flag-able offense. See "When should the “Not an Answer” flag be used?"... Although, I have had some luck flagging link-only answers.

When in doubt, give the poster the benefit of the doubt. Post a comment asking for clarification, or edit the post to make it more like a proper answer, if you can see a way to do that (and feel up to it).

Finally, the flagging system is usually pretty backlogged, we don't need to be adding unnecessarily to the moderator's job by requiring a second opinion. I don't agree with every call, and sometimes bad calls are reversed after posting on Meta, but bad flag calls are now infrequent enough that I, personally, just take my lumps and never flag again! soldier-on, bravely ;).

  • my experience with not an answer flagging of link-only answers was opposite to "luck"
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 5:39
  • I feel you, @gnat, but I usually flagged as "other" with a explanation, not as "not an answer". And usually, only for links to other SO answers or that were not salvageable. Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 5:51
  • "other" with explanation I see. Agree, this one has been proven to work great to me too
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 6:12


Are there any free or cheap tools that can display XML schemas as diagrams and allow visual editing?


VS.NET Express (not sure about visual editing)

Well, that does answer the question. It's not a very detailed answer, and you might not even consider it helpful, but the proper action for answers that are not helpful is downvoting, not flagging.

After all, the text for flagging as not an answer reads:

This was posted as an answer, but it does not answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether.

Again, it answers the question, so it is an answer.


I'm writing a simple web server. I'd like to let the user set the port the server listen to, but how could I know if the port the user input is already in use or not?(if I know it's already in use, I can tell them to input another one.)


Just another approach :p try to connect to that port on localhost. (comments and down-votes are cooooomiiiiiiing...)

That is just plain wrong (and somehow should edit the last part out), but as the moderator said:

[...] flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer.

Wrong answers aren't potential edits, comments or other questions. Just wrong answers.

The other answers, I don't understand. I know little to nothing about Eclipse, mySQL and Java.

But it looks like they fall in the same category as the first two: bad answers (but answers after all).

  • ok, partially agree, and how about the other answers ? what is your opinion for them ?
    – Lucifer
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 4:04


Flags are for slightly more serious things. Don't flag anything for an action that you have the privilege to carry out (there may be exceptions, but this is not one of them).

Not an answer is for posts that weren't intended to be answers. Not an answer != Not a correct answer

If you feel that the answer is misleading, incorrect, or incomplete, downvote and comment. Even ranty questions should be downvoted and commented, flag only if they are too offensive.

Also, if the question answers a different (related) question, it still should not get flagged--it was intended to be an answer. Just downvote and comment. Hopefully the answerer will read it and revamp the answer. Such answers don't need to be deleted--so the flag won't change much.

Here is the Not An Answer text:

This was posted as an answer, but it does not answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether

Note that it does not answer the question does not mean it is a wrong answer.

See also: When should the "Not an Answer" flag be used?

  • -1 "posts, not intended" is all good as well, but Not an answer text explicitly says: "...It should possibly be an edit, a comment etc..." - if OP used it to signal a convert-to-comment, this looks like a reasonable match doesn't it
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 12:07
  • @gnat I don't quite get you--are you asking me to add the fact that NAA is for edits/comments? Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 12:16
  • "NAA is for edits/comments" I wouldn't be comfortable with that, simply because NAA is wider than that. Why don't you just quote the full flag text so that reader could make their own judgement? "This was posted as an answer, but it does not answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether."
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 12:20
  • 1
    @gnat: Because anyone can bend "it does not answer this question" to accommodate wrong answers--which are NOT flag-worthy. That's exactly the OP's issue. I'll edit it in anyway. Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 12:24
  • in other words, you consider it harmful to quote full official flag description in your answer? feel free to correct if I misunderstood
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 12:34
  • 1
    @gnat: No, I knew that the OP had already read the official description (its kinda hard to miss if you've flagged five questions), and misinterpreted it. He already knew that (and everyone does). No need to add it. Though I did add it now, with a clarification. Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 12:38
  • fair enough (I revoked downvote)
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 16:39

Quoting from SU meta When is an answer eligible to be flagged as “not an answer”? What to do?:

Here is an unmodified TL;DR summary of the important bits of the ♦ answers:

  1. So, to get this cleared up, in which cases should we flag "not an answer" answers?

    If the post makes an effort to answer the question (even if it does a bad job of it) then it is an answer and this particular flag doesn't apply.

  2. How should we flag eligible answers? What do we put as the close reason to be clear?

    Just flag them as not an answer. If you feel they're an odd case then flag them as other stating "not an answer; because x y z" or something similar.

  3. What do we do when the answer is ineligbile for flagging, but isn't a good answer?

    Add a comment explaining the problem (or upvote any comment that has already done so). If it's particularly bad for some reason then downvote the post.

We need to remember that moderators are human exception handlers.

  • Hi, mostly i do not flag an answer which has atleast 1 voteup or "accepted" because it illustrate that, it was useful. but in my links you can see that there are other answer were get accepted and voteup too , except the link i gave. I flag them after all that observations.
    – Lucifer
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 9:04
  • You ought to add a bit about where 2 and 3 are applicable. It sounds wrong when you read 1 "don't flag", and immediately switch to 2 "just flag it". Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 9:07
  • @Manishearth: Forgot to copy the questions, fixed now. Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 9:28
  • @Lucifer: The point our moderator made was that we shouldn't flag it when it does answer the question (for example, your first link links to an answer that does), in that case a downvote (because it is bad) and a comment (to ask to expand hi sanswer) are more appropriate than a flag for removal. Flags should be used for exceptional situations, not for every singe answer that the community dislikes... Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 9:30
  • @Tom +1 . I hope you mean "eligible to be flagged" in point 2. Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 9:31
  • @Lucifer if its an accepted wrong answer, downvote, comment on the answer, and let the OP(asker) know that the answer is wrong. Add your own answer if you wish. Flagging is for more serious stuff (see top of my answer above) Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 9:33

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