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This question is an attempt to clear up the following part of a related question:

Do not use this flag when a user posts:

  • An answer to a (slightly) different question

in the case of an answer to an entirely different question. It boils down to "Where do we draw the line" because any affirmative sentence is an answer to some question and any affirmative sentence with a programming context is a possible answer to a possible question on StackOverflow.


The background here is the linked answer to https://stackoverflow.com/questions/22185002/what-exactly-do-these-lines-say/22185141#22185141

This answer has nothing to do with the question, but merely gives information the answerer believes could help the asker in a general sense. If you read the question, you see that it's about a specific syntax element in jQuery (it's properly tagged as well).

The answer doesn't address that in any way, but rather gives (possibly helpful) advice in a different direction, maybe referring to the asker's obvious lack of background knowledge as a whole.

While the answer might be helpful, I think it's appropriate to flag it as "Not an answer" because it's an answer to an entirely different question than the one it was posted to. But my flag was declined, so I'm unsure if I understand the concept correctly and would like to understand the thought process behind the decline.
The decline message is declined - a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it.

A related case where I didn't flag because I wasn't sure it was appropriate (but would flag for the same reason) is this question. The first comment to the question was originally an answer and I commented it to point out it's helpful advice, but not answering the question. Obviously, the author agreed.

marked as duplicate by hims056, Martijn Pieters, Mick MacCallum Mar 10 '14 at 13:38

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    No. An incorrect answer isn't the same as not an answer. – devnull Mar 10 '14 at 13:06
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    No, it's still an answer, even if wrong. – Martijn Pieters Mar 10 '14 at 13:06
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    You might chose to downvote it, though. – devnull Mar 10 '14 at 13:07
  • Use Not an answer for new questions, for I have this problem too posts, for Thanks, you saved my career!, etc. Posts that are not answers. – Martijn Pieters Mar 10 '14 at 13:07
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    It's not an incorrect answer, it's an answer to a totally different question. – scenia Mar 10 '14 at 13:08
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    @scenia But it is an answer nonetheless, which is all that it needs to be. Incorrect, relevant, or not. – Michael Irigoyen Mar 10 '14 at 13:10
  • This answer from one of the questions brought up as possible duplicates says "unrelated to the question". This is the case here. The answer is entirely unrelated to the question. It's like someone answering the question "How do I bake a cake?" with "If you want to cook meat, you should wash it first". While certainly helpful advice, it has nothing to do with the question. Shouldn't "Not an answer" apply to things that are an answer, but not an answer to the question? – scenia Mar 10 '14 at 13:14
  • Added the decline text. The issue is not technical inaccuracies. – scenia Mar 10 '14 at 13:17
  • And one more time: "Do not use this flag when a user posts: [...] A wrong or inaccurate answer" – Michael Irigoyen Mar 10 '14 at 13:23
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    Again, it's neither wrong nor inaccurate. And it's not an answer to a (slightly) different question. It's an answer to an entirely different question. It's not like I don't want to understand what you're telling me, I fully understand bad or wrong answers are still answers. But this is not about bad or wrong, it's about not answering the question at all. – scenia Mar 10 '14 at 13:26
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    The informations provided for using Not an answer flag should be rewritten to remove the does not attempt to answer the question as the answer provided falls right in that category. It doesn't attempt to answer but simply provide some informations that might be revelant but doesn't answer the question. – Jonathan Drapeau Mar 10 '14 at 13:31
  • @Michael: What I was referring to earlier is the paragraph right after the one you just quoted: The "not an answer" flag is for posts that are either completely unrelated to the question, (...) etc. -Anna Lear♦ – scenia Mar 10 '14 at 13:31
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    Do moderators see the questions for flags? I'm not asking you to judge whether it is right or wrong because it's neither. It's just unrelated. I also added a comment pointing this out. The only reason this is not suited as a comment is its length, which comes mainly from the (totally unrelated) code example. Cutting that example code out, I am 100% positive this should be a comment. Isn't NAA for things that should be something different? – scenia Mar 10 '14 at 13:50
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    I like how this was dupe-closed to a question that it explicitly asked to clarify. – reirab May 2 '15 at 4:46

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