I was recently reviewing in the Low Quality Posts queue on Stack Overflow, and I encountered an answer that really had nothing to do with the question, but could answer a different question. The question was basically how do I get a value from a widget in framework A. The answer was how to create a widget in framework B. It is an answer. It's not necessarily wrong. But it's not related to the question.

When I encounter this sort of situation and I feel knowledgeable enough to determine that the answer, while technically an answer, does not answer the question, I "Recommend Deletion" as "This is commentary on another post, not an answer":

This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker.

I was recently told by a higher reputation user that this is wrong because it's still an answer. I disagree, but I could be wrong. I "Recommend Deletion" (and down-vote) because I think it does not "provide an answer to the question". What is the proper procedure to handle answers unrelated to a question encountered in the Low Quality Posts review queue? Do I:

  • "Recommend Deletion" as "this is commentary on another post, not an answer", and down-vote?

  • "Recommend Deletion" with "no comment needed", and down-vote?

  • Reluctantly say "looks OK", and still down-vote?

  • Is this site specific?

NOTE: This is related to, but different from When an answer answers the wrong question, is it Not An Answer? because this deals with how to handle answers in the Low Quality Posts queue, not flagging answers as "Not An Answer" with the hopes of putting them there.

  • 1
    Re close vote: while this question is based on SO experience, similar things happen all the time on a lot of different sites. Mar 28, 2016 at 21:29
  • 2
    @NathanTuggy I generally agree... though I find that different sites interpret "NAA" and "VLQ" slightly differently... so it may be better to get advice on SO specifically.
    – Catija
    Mar 28, 2016 at 21:33
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    @Catija: That's fair, but I think leaving the opportunity for someone to make an observation about certain trends that groups of sites share in their treatment is worthwhile. See e.g. my question about 20k deleting for a similar situation. Mar 28, 2016 at 21:42
  • Note that not even wrong has a quasi-technical meaning that's a bit different than its literal meaning. Mar 28, 2016 at 21:56

1 Answer 1


(Assuming that you are confident with your verdict:)

Recommend Deletion and leave a custom comment to explain.

The main decision you make in this review queue is about the appropriate placement of content and whether an answer should be kept or not. There is nothing to be gained from keeping such an answer in this place – in contrast to wrong answers, which, if sufficiently downvoted or properly attacked in the comments, can be informative as to how not to do it. (The other purpose of this queue is to improve content, but does not apply to such an answer.)

Moreover, such answers are noise and if they gather sufficiently many upvotes (which is not that unlikely, because they contain correct information and in particular first-posts and late-answer reviewers may not properly read the question), they can remove a question from the unanswered tab, though it is actually without any reasonable answer. I have several such questions that are not appearing in the unanswered tab because somebody decided to upvote answers that are answering questions that I explicitly excluded in my question.

As for the comment, using the canned “This is commentary on another post, not an answer” is a bad idea, because it suggests that the post would be suited as a comment – which it usually isn’t. Hence, if no respective comment was made already, I prefer to briefly elaborate why I consider the answer to be a non-answer, e.g.:

I fail to see how this addresses the question, which is about inflating balloons and not about fixing punctures.

If the answer is based on an understandable misunderstanding of the question or an answer to a reasonable question, you can also suggest self-answering the respective question.

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