What is the Not an Answer Flag and what is its purpose?
The Not an Answer flag is a moderator flag that users can raise to notify moderators1 that a posted answer does not make an attempt to answer the question, and should be deleted.
When should I use this flag?
Use this flag when an answer is being used to:
- Ask a new question
- Clarify the existing question
- Communicate with another user
- Say "thanks" or confirm that another posted answer worked for them
- "Bump" the question, as in "I have the same problem, have you found a solution?"
- Answers that do not address the question asked, or are otherwise off topic of the issues presented in the question
When should I not use this flag?
Do not use this flag when:
- The user posts a partial answer to the issues presented in the question
- The answer makes an attempt to answer the question, even if it is wrong or inaccurate or you disagree with it
- The problem with the answer is subtle and would benefit from additional explanation (see below)
But I'm still not sure if I'm using the flag correctly...
If it seems blatantly obvious to you that what you're looking at isn't an answer, you're probably using the flag correctly.
If the problem is subtle and may not be obvious to whoever reviews your flag, then raise the "in need of moderator intervention" flag instead, and explain in detail why you think the answer violates the site rules and should thus be removed.
An answer is "Not an Answer", but the flag was declined or disputed!
First, verify that the problem wasn't corrected after you raised the flag. If the author or someone else was able to edit the answer and fix the problem, then you did nothing wrong; the problem was simply no longer visible at the time the flag was handled.
If the problem is still visible, then consider that perhaps it isn't as obvious as you thought it was. When reviewing "not an answer" flags, moderators can't see the question or comments in context without clicking further, which they probably won't do unless there's an obvious reason to look for additional context. The same applies to flags handled in review1, which requires reviewers to scroll or click through to view the question or other answers.
As suggested above, subtle problems can be more effectively handled by raising an "in need of moderator intervention" flag, which allows you to explain the problem in detail. If a "not an answer" flag is declined or disputed and a serious problem is still evident, then escalate the issue to the moderator team with a detailed description.
The flag was marked helpful, but the answer wasn't deleted!
There are four possible cases:
- Your flag sent the answer to review (see below), and one of the reviewers opted to edit the answer. This dismissed the review task and marked your flag "helpful"; if the problem wasn't fixed, raise an "in need of moderator intervention" flag and explain the issue.
- The answer was sent to review, where users agreed with you and voted to delete the answer (marking your flag helpful), but the author later undeleted it. If the problem wasn't fixed at the same time, you should raise a moderator intervention flag.
- A moderator found your flag borderline and decided not to delete the answer, but didn't want to penalize you by declining your flag.
- The answer was sent to community review, where others agreed with you and voted to delete (marking your flag helpful), but the answer had a positive score, which means it was forwarded to moderators instead of being deleted.
1 The "not an answer" flag will trigger the answer to be reviewed by ordinary members of the site via the Low Quality Posts review queue if the answer has never been to that queue before.