I've recently flagged the following answer, which I got in the flag queue.

The answer does not seem to attempt to address the question at all. It looks like a comment on one of the other answers (probably Luca's).

It got rejected with the following reason:

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

I did not flag this because I thought it was wrong, I flagged it because I didn't think it was an attempt to answer the question. For what it's worth, I don't get what the guy who provided that answer even tried to say.

Was I wrong to flag it? If so why?

  • 4
    The great overlords felt that your flag was incorrect. That's why it was. – Cole Johnson Jul 7 '13 at 23:14
  • To someone who doesn't know OpenGL, that looks like a valid answer. – Danny Beckett Jul 7 '13 at 23:14
  • 2
    The answer needs one more delete vote before it is gonebuger. Mission achieved. – slugster Jul 8 '13 at 0:27

In general, when flagging, you have to realize that the moderator who deals with the flag may not be familiar with the technologies that are referenced in the question, so what might look like a non-answer to an expert, might look like a bad answer (or at least a reasonable attempt at one) to someone else. As a guideline, if an answer even appears as if it is trying to answer the question, then a flag would likely be declined.

For this specific question, there are 2 things that should have jumped out at you before flagging.

  • The answer is ~3 years old
  • The answer has had 4 downvotes since 2010 (the 5th was picked up this year)

When you have a heavily downvoted, old answer (or non-answer), the chances are it has been flagged many times before, so the likelihood of declined flags increases.

I'm not saying you should haven't have flagged it because old garbage is missed all the time, but when you run into an old post and decide to cast a flag, you have to be prepared for it to be declined. When you in into a similar post, if you truly feel like it is absolutely not an answer, a custom flag explaining why might be a better choice than flagging as "not an answer". This way you can explain why you think it is not an answer so the moderator who handles your flag understands your motivations.

Alternatively (as suggested by @jmort), you could have left a comment explaining why you did not think it was an answer and how it could be improved, and then flagged with a regular Not An Answer flag. In doing this way, you allow a 10K or 20K user to handle the flag instead of a moderator (if for no reason than to ease the burden on the moderators).

  • 2
    +1 for explaining that it's cool, everybody gets a flag declined sometimes. – Ernest Friedman-Hill Jul 8 '13 at 0:07
  • Instead of a custom flag, where 10k and 20k users won't see it, consider leaving a comment that describes the problem and what the op could do to fix it. Then flag as not an answer. Not only will the comment help the moderator see what's going on, but there's also a chance some 20kers might come along and cast some delete votes, making it less likely one person will accidentally and unilaterally overlook the issue. Of course, if the op is still around, he might actually fix the post too, which yields much better results. :) – jmort253 Jul 8 '13 at 0:11
  • @jmort253 fair point, but as I understand it the flag queue does not show comments, just the first few lines of the question, so a comment doesn't help much in this case. Do 20K and 10K get to see more of the post when reviewing those flags? – psubsee2003 Jul 8 '13 at 0:24
  • @psubsee2003 - When in list view, yes, but moderators can view them in their entirety and navigate through them using a toolbar at the bottom of the screen. Aside from that, as a 10k/20k user, I'm not required to handle flags, so I spend a lot more time looking at the post than a busy SO mod might. I've always thought the point of 10k/20k users being able to view flags was to help the moderators make faster decisions by using own flags and comments to either resolve the issue ourselves as a collective or to help make it more clear to the moderator what action to take. Hope this helps! :) – jmort253 Jul 8 '13 at 1:44
  • @jmort253 Ah ok. Makes sense. I incorporated that alterantive into the answer. – psubsee2003 Jul 8 '13 at 9:31

I can only guess at the motivation of whoever declined your flag, but if it were up to me I would have declined it too. The answer is written in a very conversational tone but I believe that it is actually an attempt to answer the question. It is, in fact, utterly and completely wrong; but that is beside the point here.

  • 5
    I am the one who declined, and you have explained exactly why. – Andrew Barber Jul 7 '13 at 23:48
  • Thanks for the helpful answer. I guess this is what happened. I'm accepting the other one since it gives me more practical advice on how to flag better in the future. @AndrewBarber thanks for clarifying. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Jul 8 '13 at 1:01

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