46

Here's the original answer:

Thank you guys for all your help, it seems that the error was on the gridview1.rows(i).cells(4), it was hidden that is why there was nothing to compare to.

anyways, i appreciate all the help!

Your typical run-of-the-mill "something doesn't seem right so I'ma flag this" answer.

Except it received 50 flags in the span of a single hour. Mostly "not an answer" flags, and a small handful of disputes. Before I could handle the flags the answer got deleted by vote and all the flags were marked helpful (in spite of the dispute flags).

Two questions:

  1. How did so many users discover this answer? I've searched meta, chat.SO and chat.meta but haven't been able to find any links to it. The median number of "not an answer" flags on a single post usually stays below 10 before it gets handled even if it remains around for 24 hours.

    (For the sake of posterity, here's the link now.)

  2. Other than the boilerplate "Thank you guys" and "i appreciate all the help", can you please tell me how this qualifies as "not an answer"?

    A significant portion of users who flagged this as not an answer were users who usually exercise pretty good judgment in flagging non-answers. Personally, I'm appalled. In fact, I'm really hoping this is a bug and 50 of you didn't actually pile on this while collectively failing to see the part of it that answered the question.

  • 7
    "can you please tell me how this qualifies as "not an answer"" ... no, because it doesn't. Say "The error was that .... That is why there was nothing to compare to" and you have a clean answer. – Bart Dec 16 '13 at 5:44
  • @animuson: To be honest, I don't actually know if the counter counts disputes into its total. I was accounting for those though. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 16 '13 at 5:46
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    I'm wondering if there's (still) the idea that answering your own questions is somehow wrong? – Bart Dec 16 '13 at 5:50
  • 1
    @Bart: I'd bet. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 16 '13 at 5:51
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    I didn't flag because he answered his own question. It really looked like nothing more than "thanks guys" to me. Yes, I did fail to see the piece that did answer the question. Now, think about that the next time you're composing an answer, do you ask yourself, "is my answer clear and concise?" Probably not, because you (and I) have been here long enough to know that an unclear answer will not be productive. And it matters a bit if it is unclear because of muddled ideas or improper formatting, but not enough. Clear is clear. – Matthew Lundberg Dec 16 '13 at 5:54
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    Agreed that the answer did not deserve to be deleted like that, but then, there are 2 things to be noted about this. The first that the answer started with Thank you guys for all your help, and concluded with anyways, i appreciate all the help!. This really isn't how an answer should be. Secondly, the actual answer was encapsulated within the above 2 thank you quotes and unfortunately, it was the OP who self answered. These are the 2 probably most important things which were taken into consideration by the community when the decision was to be taken, but that doesn't make them right tho'. – SudoRahul Dec 16 '13 at 6:04
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    I had to do a double take, but it sure didn't read like "not an answer". They answered their own question. Don't see any reason to call it "not an answer". It may have been due to the shiny, new orange notification appearing, and fifty users may have seen it during that time. – Makoto Dec 16 '13 at 6:04
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    My point is, 50 of you flagged it and not one of you cared enough to do anything except highlight a piece of code inline? – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 16 '13 at 6:05
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    Honestly, we've seen have such incidents happen a bit more often these days and that's why the theory of moderation of SO is so great. If the moderator makes a mistake, the community can take care of it and vice versa, which is what has happened in this case. And that why everybody loves SE and Unicorns ;) – SudoRahul Dec 16 '13 at 6:06
  • @Makoto: But why only this answer? Why not others? Thousands of potential non-answers get posted every day. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 16 '13 at 6:08
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn - Actually Praveen Jeganathan did do that, but it was a lost cause by then. It had already accumulated a lot of flags of destruction :( – SudoRahul Dec 16 '13 at 6:08
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn I didn't notice the piece of code that was inline. If that piece of code were made more prominent, the post would not have garnered 50 flags. So who to blame? – Matthew Lundberg Dec 16 '13 at 6:08
  • @R.J: I said "except highlight a piece of code inline" which was what he did, but that did nothing to make it any clearer that it was an answer. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 16 '13 at 6:09
  • I'm actually noticing a strange trend of these flags now. One of them (and I closed the tab it was in, that was smart...) didn't make any sense as to why it was flagged. Something is going on with the review tools. – Makoto Dec 16 '13 at 6:09
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    Well, if reviewers didn't see an answer in it, there is a pretty neat chance future readers would fail to see it, too. Maybe "very low quality" would be better? Because if we would remove everything that's not an answer in it, there hardly is enough text to post at all. Exactly one line from "the error was" to "compare to." – Mołot Dec 19 '13 at 7:19
34

The flagging queue is pretty empty today. I suspect the hats. There's at least 2 hats you can get by flagging. And this post stayed in the queue pretty long for some reason (maybe because it was disputed).

And the post almost looked like not-an-answer. Perfect feast for our robo-flaggers hungry for more hats.

  • 4
    If you get a hat for flagging something, that will definitely do it. During last year's Winter Bash, I got a couple of free repcaps because there was a hat that was given out for casting a vote on certain day. – Mysticial Dec 16 '13 at 6:39
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    Shame on all the so-called "trusted users" who gamed the system for this, then. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 16 '13 at 6:45
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    Oh well. Time to go on a disputing spree, I guess. – John Dvorak Dec 16 '13 at 7:34
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    You might get a hat for that @jan. :p – Bart Dec 16 '13 at 8:20
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    @BoltClock'saUnicorn as annoying as it is, Stack Exchange can't try and make question and answers into a videogame and not expect people to go looking for cheat codes... – Rob Moir Dec 16 '13 at 9:18
  • This is most likely it. I got the "Defender of the Realm" hat, but my flags were made before I knew it existed, and I don't actually try to earn hats - I investigate what they were for after I've gotten them. :-) – Ken White Dec 19 '13 at 3:42
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    It was not any hats that led me to flag this post. It was that the tiny, non-formatted code block was lost by being bracketed by "thank you for the answer." And I suspect that a lot of others felt the same way. – Matthew Lundberg Dec 19 '13 at 5:33
  • +1 for Perfect feast for our robo-flaggers hungry for more hats. – user219322 Feb 18 '14 at 21:32
9

The reason for the 50 votes is probably that we now get this big attention-grabbing orange-on-black alert whenever there are any flags to review (which, on SO, is most of the time):

Screenshot

(I don't think this needs a freehand circle — if you can't spot the big bright orange thingy on the black background, a circle ain't gonna help you.)

I assume this is a new thing; certainly I can't recall seeing it before. The old top bar did have something similar, but it wasn't nearly as attention-grabbing on the old light bluish-gray background. I certainly find myself clicking it a lot more often than before, just because it's a lot harder to ignore. The only way it could be more attention-grabbing was if it blinked.

As for the answer... yeah, I'm pretty sure I would've flagged it too. At least when seen out of context — as the flag review page shows answers by default — it looks exactly like a typical "Thanks guys, your advice was helpful, I solved it now!" non-answer.

I fact, even after looking at the edited answer in context, I'm still not quite sure how it's supposed to answer the question. Then again, I'm not even sure there is an answerable question in the question — and it seems at least five other people think so too, since the question was closed as "unclear what you're asking".

Maybe I'm missing something obvious because I'm not a VB / ASP programmer, but to me, it looks like the OP had some unspecified bug or typo in their code, posted a dump of more or less relevant code, and later found the problem on their own and posted a non-answer to essentially say "Hey guys, nevermind, I solved it myself!" If so, the answer should be deleted — and so should the question, too, since it's not going to be useful to anyone in the future.

  • Good answer, and including an image contributes. PS. The new background is terrible in my opinion. – Cilan Dec 19 '13 at 20:25
  • The average number of NAA flags per answer has been 10 or fewer forever. Still doesn't explain why so many users piled on this one answer and not others. And I don't see why the answer needs to be deleted independently of the question - it does its job answering the question, even if the question sucks. If the problem lies in the question, moderate the question, not the answer. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 20 '13 at 2:57
4

You are correct. The formatting threw me off.

FWIW, it ended up in the flag queue.

  • That's OK. As for the review queue, answers don't usually receive such a high volume of flags even if they ended up there. (And did somebody seriously flag this answer as "very low quality", really?) – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 16 '13 at 5:47
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    @BoltClock'saUnicorn It's all winter bash thingy which encourages users to go rouge.. – Mr. Alien Dec 16 '13 at 6:02
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    And rogue as well @Mr.Alien – Bart Dec 16 '13 at 6:31
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn I can't say why someone would flag for anything other than "not an answer" as I did not. I mis-typed above, it was in the flag queue, which is very visible. I'll edit. – Matthew Lundberg Dec 19 '13 at 5:34
  • 1
    how ironic... someone flagged this as NAA – Doorknob Dec 19 '13 at 20:40
2

It was probably the first search result for "thank you" help is:answer or some variation thereof. Such a search will return a high proportion of non-answer answers.

  • Oh dear Gods, just skimming the first page of that search made my skin crawl. – Billy Mailman Dec 19 '13 at 3:44
  • 2
    Get some thick latex gloves and wade in! – Michael Hampton Dec 19 '13 at 3:46
  • It was in the flag queue, which is going to guarantee wide visibility. – Matthew Lundberg Dec 19 '13 at 5:36
  • Wow that's a lot of results. Kinda sad that it could've been a bit smaller, had some of those editors actually made complete edits. – Jamal Dec 19 '13 at 20:29

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