I flagged this one as "not an answer":

My flag got declined:

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

Can anyone explain why (for this particular case)?

It is clearly a link-only answer, and the answerer did not provide any information to why this would be useful to the OP. I would understand if they said at least something, that makes it relevant to the question. Then it would be arguable.

Is it just a moderator's error? I am pretty sure to have voted the same way in >100 of other different cases, and they were all accepted.

  • 7
    @mhlester No, an answer that just says “your answer is over there” is not an answer. There's been a lot of hemming and hawing on meta on the topic, but it's now official: non-answers are not answers. Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 21:56
  • 2
    @MartijnPieters meta.stackexchange.com/questions/183603/… (which amounts to “there's no consensus”) is no longer applicable; now there is an official policy. Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 21:59
  • @Gilles, you're right. sorry. Cleaning up my misleading comments
    – mhlester
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:01
  • @mhlester: So the bottom line is - I should keep flagging those kind of answers? Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:03
  • yes. but they'll get declined often because moderator's actions seem to be still catching up with the new consensus (which was only reached last month). See @Gilles' link
    – mhlester
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:07
  • @Neolisk bottom line is that it is an answer, just happens to be bad/link only. Proper course of action is downvote, 20K+ users delete votes and as last resort flag as Other and explain it's link only (e.g. if it's upvoted thus can't be deleted by ordinary users). But NAA flag is not valid. Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:07
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    @ShadowWizard: So, are link-only answers ever supposed to be flagged as NAA? In other words, am I supposed to go through that link every time, study 100 pages of discussion (let's suppose that) to figure out? Regarding downvoting them, suppose I have 80 flags per day, suppose all of the answers I was about to flag, are link-only. Do you think it's fair for me to lose 80 rep on downvoting them? Per day? Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:11
  • @Neolisk no. Link only answers are answers, so NAA flag is not valid. It's used for things like "Thanks, it helped" or "Hello, I'm Josh how are you?" etc. In general, answer that attempts to answer or be helpful shouldn't be flagged at all, just downvoted. (in case it's bad) Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:15
  • 1
    @ShadowWizard: What about reputation lost by downvoting? Is it fair to lose reputation for helping StackOverflow be a cleaner place? Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:18
  • It's just 1 point. You've got 10,000. Besides, if the answer is deleted, you get the point back. But consider it a small sacrifice as part of your civic duty.
    – mhlester
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:21
  • 1
    I agree with @Gilles and the post he linked to. That's exactly the kind of response that Shog9 explicitly called out as a non-answer with his "i think you should take The tutorial HERE! This will help you a lot" example. I've now deleted the post that you flagged. Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:21
  • @Shadow In the VLQ queue, I get a link only option. So what should I do to communicate to others that this answer should be deleted because it's a link? (and possibly vote on getting it deleted without insane amounts of rep)
    – bjb568
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:21
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    The moderator who acted on that will have to comment on what they saw, but I should point out that this will probably be moot going forward, as "not an answer" and "very low quality" flags are now being fed into the Low Quality Posts review queues. Moderators typically don't see these any more, and the community can decide to delete or reject the flags via a vote. Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:22
  • @Neolisk the one rep loss is really minor and yes, I find it fair. Even link only answer might still be useful, though bad due to link rot and the requirement to have full standalone answer. As mentioned here and I forgot, many of those answers end up in the VLQ review where 6 low rep users can delete it, without any rep loss. :) Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 22:23

1 Answer 1


I'm the one who declined.

The post seemed like an attempt to answer to me when I encountered that flag. The comments above reference some changes in nuance here regarding this sort of thing lately, and I'll admit I'm a little bit behind on those adjustments.

Historically, I very much agree posts like this are not answers. In fact, looking at it now, I think I probably made a mistake, referencing Shog9's recent meta post. It's been deleted now by another mod.


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