This question already has an answer here:

Take a look at this answer: https://stackoverflow.com/a/11898022/1709587

It doesn't seem like any kind of attempt to answer the question, and it's hard to guess at how it came into being at all. The answerer has copied the non-working code from the question, made a couple of irrelevant cosmetic changes to it, and shoved in the words 'enter code here' at the end of a line, making it into a syntax error. (I just figured out that those words come from clicking the 'code sample' button on the StackOverflow UI.) Since the answerer has provided some genuine and coherent answers to other questions, he is clearly not a troll or bot, so I really don't know how this answer came into being - but regardless, it is effectively gibberish.

Since it doesn't make any attempt to answer the question, I flagged it as not an answer. My flag was declined, with the message

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

Not totally surprising, I thought - I could easily imagine a mod glancing at this answer, seeing code, assuming that it was a genuine attempt to answer the question, and declining the flag. So I tried again, this time with the following custom message, to make sure that the mod reviewing the flag would actually look at the question, compare the code block there to the answer, and realize that this was a gibberish answer:

I flagged this as not an answer before, but it was rejected for some reason. Seriously, it's not an answer, nor does it look remotely like one if you read the question. It's just a copy of the code in the question (including a line of pseudocode, that the asker was requesting a real implementation of), with no changes besides removing a comment, adding an explicit return at the end of a void function, and adding some random bullshit on line 5 that makes the whole block into a big syntax error.

This was again declined, with the message

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

I'm now starting to wonder if I'm insane, or if everyone else is. Is there any way I'm missing that this answer can be interpreted as an attempt to answer the question? Why are these flags getting declined? Was there a more appropriate flag to use? I was expecting the answer to get nuked on the first flag, and can't make any sense of these two rejections. What's going on?

marked as duplicate by LittleBobbyTables, Lance Roberts, Toon Krijthe, Some Helpful Commenter, Bo Persson Apr 4 '13 at 21:24

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    This reminds me of stack overflow: the trivia game forget whether or not anyone will actually glean some utility from your post. So-long as you post a technically correct "answer" to the question, you get +rep – Sam I am Apr 4 '13 at 19:59
  • @SamIam wow that should have been a comment (the linked answer). Can not believe people upvoted that – Hugo Dozois Apr 4 '13 at 20:02
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    Downvote. Comment why the answer is bad. This is an answer, just a bad one. Actually I think this is honest attempt to answer, it doesn't deserve to get deleted by moderator or by other users. – Shadow Wizard Apr 4 '13 at 20:04
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    @ShaWizDowArd I don't see how this can even be an inept but honest attempt to answer the question when none of the changes even relate to selecting the option element, which is what the question is about. The only comment I could offer up is "This doesn't even try to answer the question, and makes a bunch of random, totally unrelated changes to the code, some of which have no effect on its meaning." I'll post that if the answer isn't ultimately deleted, but surely the very fact that that is what's wrong with the answer means it's NAA and should be deleted? – Mark Amery Apr 4 '13 at 20:09
  • @Mark the answer author got confused, thinking the OP meant to ask how to select the same value that is selected in other drop down. Nothing really random there, but since it doesn't answer the actual question it's indeed utterly wrong. – Shadow Wizard Apr 4 '13 at 20:16
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    @MarkAmery most NAA flags are used for stuff like "Me too", "Questions as answers", "Link only" or "Should have been an edit". Anything more subtle than that and the custom flag message is the way to go from the start. It's clearly the right language and posted on the right question though which is about as technical/subject specific as flag handling usually gets. – Flexo Apr 4 '13 at 20:17
  • Guess who is going to get a new "Peer Pressure" badge – Hugo Dozois Apr 4 '13 at 20:17
  • @SamIam I thought that link was going to go to the the Not A real question game – Some Helpful Commenter Apr 4 '13 at 20:58

As a non-jQuery-user (I know, I know, I'll stand still for a moment so you can aim your rotten tomatoes...

...done? Okay), the addition of the second line and change to the var cat line make it seem like this is potentially a good faith if horribly inept attempt to answer the question. I would have declined your flags, too.

Remember, mods aren't elected based on which language(s) they know, so your best bet with NAA flags is sticking to "galsiuefo;zisjezsef" or "hai i has same problm ne answer yet???" posts.

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    One never knows when galsiuefo;zisjezsef might be a legitimate answer to a question. – TRiG is Timothy Richard Green Apr 4 '13 at 20:05
  • Huh, I somehow didn't even see those two changes. I must be blind. FWIW, those two changes are just as irrelevant to the question asked as removing the comment and adding the return at the end of the void function - but that does change things slightly. +1 to this. – Mark Amery Apr 4 '13 at 20:05
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    @TRiG Looks like awesome obfuscated code! – Hugo Dozois Apr 4 '13 at 20:06
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    I wasn't involved in either of the flags, but I too don't really know enough about jQuery to make a call one way or the other about the technical merits of that answer. To me it looks like a (possibly lame and definitely missing any kind of words to explain it) attempt at answering the question. If it's "probably a genuine attempt at an answer" having it handled by the community (voting etc.) is by far the preferred option. – Flexo Apr 4 '13 at 20:08
  • I do know a bit jQuery, and it does look like a genuine although horribly misguided answer. My interpretation is that the poster has removed all the lines he doesn't understand and tried to solve the issue by adding the return line to break the loop. Even after fixing all the syntax errors it would never work, but I don't see why it should be deleted. Isn't this exactly what downvoting is for? – JJJ Apr 4 '13 at 20:18
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    @Flexo Now that I notice the two changes I missed, I can see how this answer isn't obviously nonsense to someone who doesn't know jQuery, which makes me understand the flag rejections. As someone who does know jQuery, though, I can assure you it's all still total nonsense. The first of the changes mentioned here puts all the previously existing logic in a blur (loss of focus) handler for absolutely no reason. The second refers to a plugin called jqurl which is totally unrelated to the question, and also breaks existing code. Neither addresses the line where the asker requested help. – Mark Amery Apr 4 '13 at 20:18
  • Basically, I still find it difficult to conceive how this could have been posted as a genuine attempt to solve the problem. – Mark Amery Apr 4 '13 at 20:20
  • Oh, I've seen much worse. – JJJ Apr 4 '13 at 20:21
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    @TRiG galsiuefo;zisjezsef depends on semicolon insertion and should not be depended on in a Production enviornment – Ben Brocka Apr 4 '13 at 21:35

Use the Not an Answer flag for things like:

  • I have the same problem, any update?
  • Try this pill
  • I like turtles

Your second flag was rejected by a different mod; it reads:

I flagged this as not an answer before, but it was rejected for some reason. Seriously, it's not an answer, nor does it look remotely like one if you read the question. It's just a copy of the code in the question (including a line of pseudocode, that the asker was requesting a real implementation of), with no changes besides removing a comment, adding an explicit return at the end of a void function, and adding some random bullshit on line 5 that makes the whole block into a big syntax error.

Your flag explanation seems to suggest that we moderate based on a post's technical merit; we don't. That's what downvotes are for.

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    Kinda missing the point. Yes, I flagged this as NAA first, which was - I see now - a mistake, but then I did precisely as you suggest here and the flag was still rejected. – Mark Amery Apr 4 '13 at 20:28
  • Alright, I'll update my answer. – Robert Harvey Apr 4 '13 at 20:29
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    Alright, undid the -1, but I still think the post misses the point. It wasn't about the post's lack of merit, but it's lack of relevance; it didn't even try to address the question. The line of what was effectively pseudocode (calling a select() method to make the option be selected), marked as requiring a real implementation by the question asker, was left in its original form. Yes, this requires looking at the technical content, but we're looking at it to see whether it's relevant, not whether it's good or correct. Surely that's a legit reason for a flag, or do I misunderstand? – Mark Amery Apr 4 '13 at 20:35
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    As a more straightforward example case: suppose I post some sample code that's throwing an exception under certain circumstances, and I don't know why, and my question is why the exception is happening and how to prevent it. Somebody comes along and posts an 'answer' telling me how to optimise an unrelated piece of my code, without attempting to answer the actual question. I had always thought this counted as NAA, and should be deleted (although might need flagging with a custom message to explain properly to the mods). Have I misunderstood something? – Mark Amery Apr 4 '13 at 20:38
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    The answer was rotten enough to attract six downvotes and three delete votes by the community. That's how we like it; the community handles it themselves, where possible. If kittens are being killed, obviously you might want to let a moderator know. But mods are here generally to handle the exceptions, not the ordinary cases. If a question is clearly off-topic, but so uninteresting that it never gets close velocity, then flag it. But we only remove answers that are actively harmful, and we're not expected to decipher code to do that. – Robert Harvey Apr 4 '13 at 20:41
  • As to answers that are answering a different question, by all means flag them and explain why you think it is harmful for them to stay on the site, and we will evaluate them. But don't expect us to parse code to figure that out. – Robert Harvey Apr 4 '13 at 20:42
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    Thanks for offering some clarification on off topic answers. So is a good rule of thumb "flag off-topic answers as long as you can clearly explain why they're off-topic in a way that is clearly understandable to the mod without requiring code parsing or subject knowledge"? Additionally and unimportantly, in response to your point about community moderation: the answer was sitting happily on 0 score until I posted here. – Mark Amery Apr 4 '13 at 20:45
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    Pretty much. The ones I want to point my gun at are the ones where people are clearly interacting with the site in improper ways. If your flag had said "All this guy did was copy/paste the OP's code and make it more borken," I probably would have accepted it. But honestly your flag is kinda tl;dr... on Stack Overflow, I'm generally faced with a queue of about 400 or 500 flags with maybe a half hour to work on them, so if I can't figure out your answer flag in about 5 or 6 seconds, I'm likely to dismiss it without taking any action. – Robert Harvey Apr 4 '13 at 20:49
  • Useful and clear. Thank you. – Mark Amery Apr 4 '13 at 20:50
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    Hm, "try this pill" is a perfectly valid answer to quite a few SO questions... And almost every MSO question. – yannis Apr 4 '13 at 21:03

Flag it as Very Low Quality or use a custom flag and explain why it's Very Low Quality rather than Not An Answer. For example if someone asks "can I [something]" and you answer "yes" or "no" (and nothing further, maybe "enter code here" to get around length issues) that is technically an answer. But it's Very Low Quality.


As was mentioned in the comments, this answer actually is an answer. It's just a terrible one.

Not An Answer flags are reserved for those which are fundamentally not answers. Granted, the answer is gibberish, has malformed statements, and has a random enter code here at the end of a line, it's still an answer.

Downvote it because it's a bad answer - however, it's still an answer.

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    I know I'm a broken record here, but: explain how someone could post this believing it was an answer to the question, and I'll accept that this is a 'bad answer' rather than 'not an answer'. It seems vastly more likely to me that this was a product of something like the answerer accidentally hitting the 'Post Answer' button without noticing while playing with some code in the answer box, simply because I don't see how anyone - the answerer included - could interpret this as anything but unintelligible gibberish. – Mark Amery Apr 4 '13 at 20:25
  • It's not our place to judge the likeliness of an unintentional error (except for edits). Here's the litmus test: Is the answer at all relevant to the question? If yes, it's an answer, even if it's a bad one. If no, it's not an answer. – Aza Apr 4 '13 at 20:29
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    In this case, the answer to the question Is the answer at all relevant to the question is "no". That was the point of the flag. – Mark Amery Apr 4 '13 at 20:41

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