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Today, I received this comment about an answered I flagged:

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

Now, it doesn't matter what the answer was, but the answer is very incorrect, to the point where it is, as the comment states, an "altogether wrong answer". Now, it's obvious that mods aren't going to do anything about this horrible answer, so what can we, the users of Stack Exchange do to this answer other then down vote it and hope that it's not seen?

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Downvote

One of the main reasons to downvote is to indicate a wrong answer.

Other than that, you can comment on it, pointing out why it is incorrect.

See Blatantly wrong accepted answer for more info.

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    Well then why do we have to sacrifice 1 of our reps for that (I'm not saying 1 is a lot, but hey, think about all the wrong answers on every site)? – user188031 Jun 29 '13 at 0:18
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    @jeffreylin_ Think of it this way: If you can pressure the post owner to delete the post with enough downvotes, then you get that -1 back. :) – Mysticial Jun 29 '13 at 0:19
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    @Mysticial 90% of them don't come back. – user188031 Jun 29 '13 at 0:29
  • @jeffreylin_ Their loss. Some of them do, however, come back and delete. I usually write in my comment something like, "just to let you know, deleting this answer will increase your reputation, since it has a negative score". – Danny Beckett Jun 29 '13 at 0:34
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    @jeffreylin_ flags should not take the place of voting. They are used for completely separate purposes. – George Stocker Jun 29 '13 at 0:36
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    Just think of it this way, @jeffreylin_: you've traded a tiny amount of artificial status to make it slightly easier for countless future readers to avoid being misled. In some small way, you've made the world a better place - and isn't that worth 1 point of rep? – Shog9 Jun 29 '13 at 0:58
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    @jeffreylin_: If the answer is wrong, downvote. If the answer is that bad, it won't last long before it's downvoted and eventually deleted (whether the poster comes back or not,it'll be deleted by other users), and you'll get that rep back. Downvoting is the proper way to handle this situation. – Ken White Jun 29 '13 at 2:01
  • @jeffreylin_ I don't understand your last comment. If the answer has a negative score, by deleting it, the user gets the rep they lost back. – Danny Beckett Jun 29 '13 at 2:09
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tl;dr:

I personally think users should be able to flag answers that have technical inaccuracies (controversial as that might be). Then we should have expert reviews of flagged answers, and if the answer is incorrect it should be noted at the top of the answer by the expert reviewer so people can vote it down.


Why? Well it has to do with how SE is changing. Back in the good old days of SO, most of the people who were active on the site were technically competent individuals who worked as programmers and sys admins. They had direct experience with the questions at hand, and could upvote because they had used the answer before and it worked for them.

Fastforward to today.

The site I'm mostly active in is Aviation.SE (though there are dozens of very similar sites at this point), where you have a core of knowledgable individuals who have worked in the Aviation Industry and then you have hundreds of people who are "enthusiasts", who range from private pilots all the way down to people with only simulator experience (yeah, that'd me in that last group there.) So a lot of the people voting on that site may not have direct experience with many of the questions being asked.

But, I'll be darned if it stops any of them from voting.

This is how "urban legends" are started, right? A group of semi-knowledgeable people get together and come up with a reasonable explanation for a phenomena, they all nod their heads a lot and, rather democratically, decide they must know how it works.

Of course the problem with this is that physical laws don't really care what you think. If one person knows the right answer, and everyone else believes a different answer, you're going to get that wrong answer voted up and the right answer will be snubbed.

This is a huge problem facing SE sites these days. Let's face it, back in the SO days you could just pop open a terminal (generally) and figure out "real quick" if an answer was true or not. But the ability to explain the answer to "How does a wing generate lift" can take years of schooling to get a grip on.

Speaking of which, "How does a wing generate lift" is a great example of what I'm talking about. Most people who are aviation enthusiasts think lift is generated by Bernoulli's' Principle, when in reality that is a fairly innacruate oversimplification. We've mostly gotten lucky with that question on Aviation.SE, but I worry that other questions (that could be moderated by a normal user) are slipping through the cracks.


Solution: I think that in communities where "group thinking" may end up giving us the wrong answer, there should be an ability for people to ask for an "expert review". Over on Aviation.SE, most of the regulars trust Peter Kampf or fooot (as examples) to know the physics behind how a plane actually works. It would be awesome if we could flag an answer for their review, so that their sizable knowledge can be used to see through the mists of "common knowledge".

If one of the experts (who probably ought to be elected) decides the answer is wrong then they would flag it as such, along with a brief explanation as to why. Preferably near the top of the answer, or at least in a place where it's easy for people who are reading the answer to notice.

Now, I like democracy, so I personally think that at this point we could just leave it be and let people vote the answer down themselves.


As a final note: Some of you may say "well, that's what the second and third answers are for, aren't they?" Well, no. Two reasons. Firstly, answers are not supposed to be replys to other questions. Secondly, well, it goes back to group think. If the first answer is highly popular (even if it's wrong) and it sounds reasonable, people will often vote it up without even reading the second response...

Anyway. This whole thing is open for discussion, I'm just tossing the idea out there is all.

  • Oof. Too many things wrong with this proposal to list in a comment. If you seriously believe this is a good suggestion, please submit it as a new feature request, or discussion question so it can be adequately discussed. – Adam Davis Jun 23 '15 at 16:59
  • @AdamDavis I seriously believe it enough to seriously have written it down. But I will admit, it's more intended to spark a discussion than be a solution, so where should I put it for that? – Jay Carr Jun 23 '15 at 17:12
  • This has been discussed at length in the past - consider reading the questions linked from this answer: meta.stackexchange.com/a/78441/2915 - but your solution appears to be unique, so I'd suggest submitting a new question with the tag [discussion] to spark a new discussion about the severity of the problem, why a better solution is required, and what your solution might do to resolve it. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/ask – Adam Davis Jun 23 '15 at 17:18
  • @AdamDavis Well, that went over like a lead zepplin...but that's life for you. Thanks for the feedback regardless :) – Jay Carr Jun 23 '15 at 18:12
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    You're welcome. Keep thinking about ways to improve the user experience, though, and participate in discussions here on meta - we need people to keep questioning the status quo. – Adam Davis Jun 23 '15 at 18:26

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