Alright, I have taken both this and this question into account. Both of these questions have been answered by stating that these link-only answers should be custom flagged with a clear description of what is wrong with the answer.
I have taken these things in consideration and I believe that when you take another common issue in the flag queue into account that this is a topic worth revisiting.
Two of the most common answers in the flag queue are
- Posts that would be of too low quality without the link
- Posts that are a question veiled as a proposal
I believe both of these answers can be resolved by providing a flag as such:
It is not an answer
This was posted as an answer but does not meet the standards we impose on answers. It is valid comment however and should be converted to one.
One of the main benefits here is clarity: by explicitly mentioning that this will be converted to a comment, you will lose the uncertainty of what will happen with it.
I have seen plenty of answers that are just a link get deleted after the flood of NAA flags has passed. I don't have any exact numbers obviously but I don't expect the number of conversions to a comment to be very high. Just because I don't want to see something as an answer doesn't mean it is not a good comment.
I expect answers to be self contained: the answer should directly explain what is wrong, what the solution is and possibly links to another resource for more information. These links are very valuable as background information but that's what they are: background information.
No value will be lost but the content is more structured according to its importance.
Likewise this will directly impact the other kind of common flag: the question veiled as a proposal ("Have you tried X?").
These are questions asking for clarification and are more suited as a comment. They can be a good part of the diagnostic process but the diagnosing should be done in the comment section so the answer section isn't cluttered for future browsers.
With this flag option you will again not lose any content and it's a matter of structuring the content according to its importance.
"Why? We can already do a custom reason, why should this have its own reason?"
Yes, but why not? These two types of flags encompass a large part of the flag queue so a targetted flag makes sense because it saves reviewers from having to type a custom reason and it brings a lot more clarity to how these should be handled (and it also demonstrates the probable outcome of such a flag).
Aside from that: is a link-only answer really that different from any other reason to flag a post (aside from spam/offensive language) that it warrants specific moderation attention? In the end all types of flags are often handled by a moderator but I don't see why this is so much more important that it actually needs a moderator to look at.
"What about the remaining reasons we use the NAA flag?
I agree that there are some other - minor - usecases for the NAA flag that are hereby overlooked (should be an edit, another question or deleted altogether).
Let me first say that there is no difference between 'deleted altogether' and the VLQ flag: both result in a deletion and if something should be deleted then it is Very Low Quality per definition.
What remains is 'edit' and 'another question'. These are also fairly common and in my opinion it would be a good idea to split up the NAA flags in three reasons: 'Should be a comment', 'Should be an edit' and 'Should be another question'.
Having these three subcategories allow for easier (and unambiguous) handling of flags by both reviewers and moderators. Moderators can get a 'convert to comment', 'add to question as edit' or 'leave a comment' (standard comment that explains how Q&A works and points at ).
Ultimately this will result in a lot more targetted flag handling, less deletion and less ambiguity.
I'm not saying that all of this isn't possible with the current tools moderators have at their disposal but I do think that it will be easier to work with and that these tools aren't always used in their current format.
I didn't go into this in detail because it would be a result of changing the interpretation of the NAA flag so in order to implement these sub-reasons, you'd have to do this first.
It sounds like you want to remove all answers that are barely more than a link.
Yes, that is exactly what I want except that they shouldn't be removed but converted to a comment. An answer with a link is not a bad thing at all but it becomes a bad thing when it is just that link.
If you're linking to documentation: add the method signature. Add the method description.
If you're linking to a sample: include the relevant portion.
If you're linking to a guide: include the necessary steps.
Yes, we as reviewers can take the time to edit the post ourselves to include these things and I do try to do so but there are a great many of them and it is not fair either to present us with the option: "change it yourself or it will be removed".
The flag options have been changed not too long ago, is this already a time we should look at changing it again?
I believe it goes without saying that this is a topic that requires quite some discussion both in the community and in the moderation team to decide how these things should be handled, it is never too early to voice your opinion.
I'm not expecting to see new flag reasons when I wake up tomorrow, there could be many months before/if anything changes.
Where do you draw the line between what is an answer and what is veiled at an answer?
This will be a subjective call that has to be made but this won't differ from how we currently have to flag it either as 'Not an answer' or 'Invalid flag'.
If anything, this will now be an easier tradeoff to make because previously we'd practically choose between 'leave it as an answer' or 'delete it'. Now we can choose between 'leave it as an answer', 'turn it into a comment' and 'delete it'.