While reviewing first posts, I came across this answer, which uses C++ code to attempt answering a C# question.

Clearly, this is not a correct answer, since the code won't compile in C#. However, it's also clearly a good faith attempt at answering the question. Aside: the upvotes came from review queue upvoting robots.

Other than downvoting, commenting, and posting here (all of which I've done), in the general case for this sort of situation, what action should be taken?

The posted code might be mungeable in to a C# answer without changing its spirit, but that would involve more substantive changes than I feel is appropriate for an edit.

I don't think "not an answer" flag is justified, since it is an answer, albeit a severely misguided one. Seems like a custom moderator attention flag would be appropriate, but I decided to ask here, to get more robust feedback than I would from the flag response.

  • 5
    Side issue: sometimes the author will tag a question with the language they are working in, but the question is in some sense language agnostic. I once answered such a question when I didn't know [language] using pseudo-code to make the point. Certainly it would have been silly to use some other language. Dec 7, 2012 at 17:48

4 Answers 4


It is an answer, so flagging it as "not an answer" would be inappropriate.

The proper course of action is to downvote it1 and, perhaps, leave a comment to alert the author to what's wrong with it. No Moderation is necessary.

1 I'd suggest that posting an answer in the wrong programming language is the very definition of "not helpful".


I'd downvote and comment, as you did. No other action is required, really.

Usually these answers are from someone who genuinely didn't realize it was the wrong programming language they used, or from someone new eager to provide an answer.


As far as answers go, correctness is more important than effort.

Especially if the question is about language features, such as that, then yes, you should downvote, and leave a comment, and then the answer can either edit his answer to be more correct or he might choose to delete it considering that there are other answers.

It is a very common pattern for

  • someone to post a partially-correct but not fully-correct answer,

  • that answer gets downvoted,

  • the answerer corrects his answer,

  • and the downvoters recinds their downvote(and maybe even up-votes it).


You should just downvote it and move on. 'Moderation' is not needed for every little transgression.

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