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First off, I am not here to argue nor to complain. I know this issue has been discussed many times. I am posting this seeking advice/clarification/guidance in order to help keeping SO tidy, rather than burdening users/mods.

I have been given the privilege to access moderator tools and I am eager to utilize this privilege in an appropriate way.

I was reviewing not an answer queue and flagged one post as not an answer. It was only a link with no further explanation. Based on not an answer description, that answer falls under comment.

not an answer

The flag was declined, so I checked the answer again and it was deleted. I flagged the same answer again inquiring, why the flag was declined, yet the answer is converted into a comment? I assumed that my flag was correct when it was converted into a comment.

declined flag

In the future, when I encounter such posts:

  • Edit them by adding some information/details from the posted link?
  • Flag moderator with explanation why this post should be deleted or converted into a comment?
  • Down-vote the answer and inform OP to add more details?
  • 3
    The second declined reason blows my mind: "The link was converted to a comment because it was included in the other answer which has more details." REALLY? Now answers can be deleted if another answer is better? – chappjc Mar 14 '14 at 17:52
3

You can always edit a mediocre post to improve it; whether that's a good use of your time is up to you.

But if you're not gonna fix it, and its current state is too bad to allow it to remain, be sure you're describing the problem when flagging.

Not an Answer means one thing and one thing only: this answer did not even attempt to answer the question. The presence or absence of links is as irrelevant as the presence or absence of italic formatting - either there's information that directly addresses the question, or it isn't an answer.

See: Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer?

6

I personally agree that they should be considered NAA because they are more of an assist. In basketball, for example, you don't get credit for points when you pass the ball to the scorer. However, it's not up to me and as you said this has been discussed plenty on meta. However, these are my suggestions to your thoughts on what to do in the future.

Edit them by adding some information/details from the posted link?

I would recommend against this action because that is not really what the edit tool is for. You would then be changing a large amount of the content (basically all of it) and it is likely to be rolled back.

Flag moderator with explanation why this post should be deleted or converted into a comment?

Bothering the mods for something like this is probably not necessary when there are several other things you could do first. These can be flagged as VLQ, however, since they are considered an answer. But, as I've seen written on here many times, why flag when a little commentary with the person may go even further.

Down-vote the answer and inform OP to add more details?

Obviously, how you use your votes is entirely up to you but this is certainly an option. Typically, what I will do is leave a comment suggesting that it be a comment or that they should add more details to the answer. I think letting them know why they should add details (link could become broken, answers with information besides links are more attractive, they help users get a quick idea of what's going on without needing to follow a link, etc...) is a good idea. Sometimes I will downvote right away (especially if they seem to be experienced on SO) and sometimes I give them time to add to their answer.

Whatever you do, I suggest leave a comment along with any other action you decide to take. Sure, many people don't care about your comments but I have gotten a lot of good responses from people who I left a comment for and they just didn't realize that what they were doing was bad practice.

  • That's exactly what the edit tool is for. If you're not editing to make the post significantly better, you might as well not edit at all. – Shog9 Mar 14 '14 at 16:45
  • @Shog9 but then aren't you changing the content of the post? If there is no content besides a link then you have no idea what the person answering means so you could very well be changing the meaning. At that point, I think you are much better off just adding your own answer (link included if you wish). – codeMagic Mar 14 '14 at 16:49
  • That's your call. You can do both if you want. – Shog9 Mar 14 '14 at 16:50
  • @Shog9 Ok, I just think adding content to a literal link-only answer is/could be changing too much of the meaning since there is nothing to go off of so it could be an invalid edit. Maybe that's a grey area and preference? Any insight on that? – codeMagic Mar 14 '14 at 16:52
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    If you don't want to edit, then don't edit. Simple as that. When I can make a positive difference, I edit. – Shog9 Mar 14 '14 at 16:54
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    Not to mention it could become a habit for link-only-posters to post links and wait for others to enhance there answers. – Omar Mar 14 '14 at 17:06
  • @Omar That's a great point. Perhaps if such answers could be converted to community wiki right away, then this would disincentivize half answers while allowing the community to improve the content rather than trashing it. – chappjc Mar 14 '14 at 20:14

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