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While many answers on SE sites are of great value, sometimes some answers are also wrong. This is dangerous since this misleads readers and hurts the network’s credibility.

It seems there are two major ways to deal with wrong answers:

  1. The right one: Leave a comment explaining why it is wrong, hopefully it’s author fixes it. If not, let the community downvote it.

This path is great, but only provided it works. It doesn’t have to. It | also | happens | that | wrong answers are highly upvoted or accepted for a long time. While I have no evidence, to my intuition the “post a comment and downvote” solution is bound to be relatively ineffective on high-traffic sites like StackOverflow, just because few members of the community look at old thread or try to clean them up, partially because there are so unhandleably many of them, and partially because of the constant stream of new questions requiring attention. So, one person may post a comment and downvote, but no one notices it and the wrong answer remains at the top.

  1. The wrong one: Delete the wrong answer by a moderator, or flag it. This is frowned | upon.

I’m suggesting a third way:

Allow answers to be marked as wrong by users with enough reputation. A user, marking an answer as incorrect, will have to elaborate themselves why do they think so. Answers marked as wrong will be put in a separate review queue, therefore bringing their wrongness to the attention of the community (mitigating the problem of no one noticing that a comment was posted explaining the falseness of an answer). If the answer gathers enough anti-support of users allowed to vote in such a queue, it automatically gets deleted. The mechanism here could be similar to that of casting delete votes. However, the ‘wrong answer’ button would be distinct from the ‘delete’ button, following the different purposes of both mechanisms (I’m not suggesting to cast delete votes on wrong answers).

It is important to note that my proposed mechanism should only be used against answers that are blatantly false. It should not be used against technically correct answers that yet promote “bad practises” or are “inelegant” or something; these are opinion-based, subjective issues, and therefore they can be left to the usual judgement by the community by upvotes or downvotes. What I’m trying to fight here, and what I think should be fought much more vigorously here, are answers that are objectively, factually, provably false. Therefore, I’m not suggesting the mechanism to all sites in the network. Opinion-based sites, like Writers or Worldbuilding or Parenting or Programmers or CodeGolf could have this queue disabled; but sites like StackOverflow or Mathematics or Skeptics should definitely have it enabled.

EDIT

If the mechanics proposed above are too harsh or too similar to the delete votes or low quality review queue, my other proposal is that any answers marked as false by reviewers of this suggested new queue would be moved to the bottom, greyed out regardless of their votes and have a visible warning put near them like “According to the community, this answer contains false information”.

  • If the end result is that the answer is deleted by users other than the poster, I don't see much difference (other than semantics) between a "delete" vote and a "wrong answer" vote. While I agree that answers that are technically wrong in every way, should not be on the site... I'm not sure this is the best solution. Can you explain the difference? – Catija Jan 28 '16 at 23:17
  • I agree, the difference would mostly be semantic. Different queues would help people to make distinction between an answer that is offensive, and an answer that is blatantly wrong. But OK, I'm adding another, less harsh option how could this work. – gaazkam Jan 28 '16 at 23:25
  • There's already a delete list so this is just pointlessly repeating everything delete votes already do. Downvoted answers are already greyed out. – Robert Longson Jan 28 '16 at 23:28
  • @Catija See my edited question. – gaazkam Jan 28 '16 at 23:29
  • @RobertLongson No, because delete votes are not to be used on answers that are wrong, only on those that are offensive and against the polices. – gaazkam Jan 28 '16 at 23:29
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    Downvotes are used on answers that are wrong, enough downvotes greys them out. So we've just replicated downvotes in a different way. Moderators won't delete stuff but the rest of the 20K lot are quite free to do so and do exercise that right. – Robert Longson Jan 28 '16 at 23:30
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    Downvotes indicate wrongness. If anything you should be arguing for a) down-votes to be more visible (e.g. everyone has access to the score breadown or even display the post score as +4/-2 all the time) and b) down-votes on answers to be free of the 1 point rep penalty. – ChrisF Jan 28 '16 at 23:32
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    ' It should not be used against technically correct answers that yet promote “bad practises”' -- those are one of the best use cases for this, since something that flat doesn't work is easier to catch than something that appears to work, but has a hidden flaw. Leaving those out doesn't leave much good to work with. – Nathan Tuggy Jan 29 '16 at 0:05
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    @RobertLongson Mods could vote for an answer's wrongness as any other user, but could not arbitrarily hammer the answer. This is a major difference. – gaazkam Jan 29 '16 at 8:12
  • Sounds like a great deal of work, to keep an answer that is inherently poor ( because its wrong ), what benefit do we get from this as a community? – Ramhound Jan 29 '16 at 12:23
  • @gaazkam - Moderators should stay impartial as much as possible. They are moderators to deal with the things everyone else can't deal with and then normal users second. The problem is a vote to delete or close is unilateral, which is the reason, they should only deal with worst offenders. Your suggestion makes them more involved which mean they are unilaterally deciding. – Ramhound Jan 29 '16 at 12:27
  • Mods are janitors. And they have different skillsets. If a mod is a C# developer and has no experience in PHP, why should they have the power to mark a PHP answer incorrect? Downvoting and commenting is sufficient imho. – user1228 Jan 29 '16 at 14:02
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    @Catija Actually I do see a difference with the downvotes. Here, the focus is shifted, from just saying "this is wrong" to "this is wrong because of this. Do others agree?" (the proposal states that the vote will have to be justified with a short comment and put into a review queue). In a way, this seem yet another effect of the ongoing "explain downvote" debate. – BlueSoul Jan 29 '16 at 18:58
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Why change what already works? A downvote on an answer usually represent disagreement on how accurate the answer is. If it's mostly incorrect, it will get a downvote.

When you downvote a question, and if it hits a certain amount of downvotes, not only will it get pushed far below the rest of the answers (which if correct, will naturally rise to the top), but will fade out. Even the tour states this, that good answers by the community will go to the top (and by association, the bad ones drift to the bottom)

enter image description here

So the current system already has a way to deal with "wrong" answers. But one key point you're forgetting, is that the solution a particular answer brings to the OP is up to the OP themselves to decide, what works for them best.

That's why you can't dispute the OP's choice of an accepted answer because it's up to them to pick a solution that worked for them best, not necessarily one that works the rest of others out there.

Not to mention, what may work for you may not work for others, and vice versa, so deleting answers that may be perceived as "wrong" could be detrimental.

In some cases, completely wrong answers are deleted by moderators usually because they are posted as jokes, and it is upvoted despite the actual correctness of it. Here's an example from gaming.stackexchange.com, regarding a Minecraft question. The answer, posted by GnomeSlice (now deleted, only 10k users can see it), was a joke answer that somehow got upvotes perhaps due to how funny it was. enter image description here

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    Why change what already works? Because it doesn’t already flawlessly work. I provided an array of meta posts complaining about highly upvoted yet incorrect answers. But one key point you're forgetting, is that the solution a particular answer brings to the OP is up to the OP themselves to decide, what works for them best. and what may work for you may not work for others, and vice versa, so deleting answers that may be perceived as "wrong" could be detrimental. One key point you’re forgetting is that factual accuracy can be objectively disproved and is not relative regarding users. – gaazkam Jan 30 '16 at 21:24
  • There is a difference between an answer that is objectively false and an answer that is technically correct yet not necessarily providing the "best" solution or an answer whose correctness is relative regarding how useful it is to particular people. And I’m only trying to combat this first kind. – gaazkam Jan 30 '16 at 21:27
  • So the first kind get downvoted, sent to the bottom of the pile of partially faded out as a visual indicator. I'm not sure if there's really anything else worth adding? – yuritsuki Jan 30 '16 at 22:09
  • So the first kind get downvoted, sent to the bottom of the pile of partially faded out as a visual indicator. Again and again: If this does happen indeed, then right – this is enough. But I’m trying to combat situations when this does not happen. And I think I provided examples of complaints of highly upvoted answers that are false? – gaazkam Jan 30 '16 at 22:45
  • @gaazkam Is this a common, widespread issue? If you have examples I'd like to see them, since this isn't common enough to warrant a full on change to deal with wrong answers, unless it's as common as you presume it is – yuritsuki Jan 31 '16 at 23:34

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