I flagged this single-link answer as not an answer. However I got "declined - flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer" response from the mod.

I don't quite understand the reason to decline the flag: the answer is technically accurate and it's not wrong. In fact the accepted answer is about the same thing. The reason to flag the answer was because it consists only of a single link. In the past I successfully flagged several answers like this, causing them to be either removed or transformed to comments. Where did I go wrong this time?

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    I routinely flag answers like that. That should definitely be removed. Must have been a mistake on the part of the person who declined the flag. Commented May 31, 2012 at 20:46
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    Past MSO discussions suggest that mods often moderate from the flag queue without visiting individual question pages. That lets them handle more flags per unit time, but can lead to occasional errors. To deal with this, I use the "other" reason and write short explanations for most flags I submit.
    – Pops
    Commented May 31, 2012 at 20:54
  • This happens to me all the time when flagging answer from users with high enough reputation (e.g., 150k, 199k, 106k)
    – toraritte
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 13:22

2 Answers 2


Even if all the Meta downvoters come against this, I'll say that it was a mistake of moderator to decline your flag.

In less blatant cases, I prefer to advise on safer ways to flag stuff like that or whine about slippery flag description for not-an-answer. But when I looked at the answer you flagged, I thought WTF, this is slippery? give me a break!

The answer you flagged is link only, pure and simple, it does not even pretend to be anything else:


There is a pretty strong community consensus that "links... should never be the only piece of information in your answer".

How to Answer instructions even have a dedicated section Provide context for links requiring: "...Always quote the most relevant part of an important link..."

That is, the answer you flagged has serious problems and no matter what flag you used, there is a clear guidance in SE Moderator Newsletter to dismiss flags in cases like that as helpful:

...Users are asked to flag posts to help keep the city street clean. Even if you feel the flag was not technically correct, you don’t want to continually send the message that their help is no longer wanted. That is not what the feature is about.

We clarified the guidance for when to dismiss a flags as [helpful] or [declined]:

dismiss flag on this post as…  
[helpful]   the flags have merit but no further action is required  
[declined]  the flags are unhelpful or noise

Given the evident problems with quality of the flagged answer, your flag is neither unhelpful nor noise.

It is perfectly reasonable to expect of moderator to be able to recognise that and act per Mod Newsletter guidance. The fact that this did not happen is a mistake of the moderator who declined your flag.

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    I agree with you gnat, +1, but I think it is worse than I would think at first. For instance, even this negatively scored answer had got a flag which then got removed. Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:13

It's difficult to justify deleting link-only answers that have that much community support (five upvotes). That said, I don't decline flags where the flagger is clearly trying to be helpful.

Note that the question has been closed as "Not Constructive." This is what I generally do in lieu of deleting a link-only answer with five upvotes; eventually, the whole post gets deleted anyway.

  • I see your point. But what about this answer? Deleted despite being previously accepted with 7 upvotes. Commented May 31, 2012 at 20:56
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    Ah, well you're talking about Will. He's like the honey badger of moderators.
    – user102937
    Commented May 31, 2012 at 20:57
  • Also note that the question was closed after this question was posted. ;)
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented May 31, 2012 at 21:00
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    @TomaszNurkiewicz The difference is that the question you flagged, "Good alternative to Windows batch scripts?" is actually answered by "Powershell". The "answer" with 7 upvotes that Will deleted was just a bare URL that conveyed no information on its own. I know it's a fine line, but we do have a lot of things to consider when making judgement calls. If we were just supposed to delete all link-only answers we could just write a script to do it. Commented May 31, 2012 at 22:36
  • @BilltheLizard: +1, your explanation makes sense, would you mind converting it to an answer so I can accept it? Commented Jun 1, 2012 at 6:34
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    @AakashM: Yes..
    – user102937
    Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 20:34
  • @AakashM pretty much
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 21:47
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    -1 I find it difficult to justify decline when the "flags have merit" even though "no further action is required" - and I find it really difficult to justify that flagging blatant link-only answer has no merit
    – gnat
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 8:02
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    @gnat: Quite right; I edited my answer.
    – user102937
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 17:23
  • Sorry, but this does not seem to make sense to me, I am afraid. This answer got flagged as low-quality and it had negative scores. Yet it had been declined by the same reason. It is either "let us kick into Final again because we can", or even negatively scored link-only answer flags are declined like that if it gets into a moderator hand. Of course, it is also possible that it is a human (moderator in this case) mistake, but I am yet to understand all this. Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:09
  • @TomaszNurkiewicz: who cares about 7 upvotes from the past if it is not a good answer anymore?! Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:17

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