Sometimes when I ask a question, I get an answer which is very weird or even blatantly false (at least I think so).

On one hand, it should probably go in the red as it may lead some users astray (especially who are not an old hand at the given topic).

On the other hand, we all make mistakes from time to time and I try not to be judgemental in such cases. I reckon -1s to be a way to go hard, so I always discuss the answer in the comments first (at the end of the day, it might be me who is in the wrong). What is the best strategy for such communication? I like adding something among the lines of "I might have just misunderstood your answer (that is probably the case). Can you add a bit more explanation, please?" after going over the points I find to be wrong, yet it does seem a bit like the so-called noise.

What is the best way to react without being judgemental or whatnot?


The best way to react is to be judgemental. We're using the wisdom of crowds here and you're part of the crowd.

Remember that you're helping everyone by doing that. Why waste the time of all the people who might try the answer and find it leads them astray.

Your power is a single downvote per post, if there are others that disagree, your downvote is easily cancelled out by other people's upvotes.

Comment if you want but voting is the strongest signal we have here.

  • Aren't we all here to learn? If the answerer was not simply drunk or something when writing and made a genuine mistake, being judgemental totally would not help them (or even might hurt them). There are different people all over the web and I've always reckoned Stack Exchange to be the place where one shall feel comfortable. If one wants to be judged for no good reason, they would have probably gone to 4chan's /sci/, not here. – Zhiltsoff Igor Aug 29 '20 at 8:34
  • Don't get me wrong - I do not oppose downvoting. This question is just about some other ways to approach this. – Zhiltsoff Igor Aug 29 '20 at 8:36
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    You need to think of the many (the people reading the post) and not the one (the poster). The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, so I've heard. The poster can always delete or rewrite their post when they sober up and if they delete it, the downvote is cancelled too. – Robert Longson Aug 29 '20 at 8:36
  • You might be right. I +1ed your answer, yet I would still leave my question open in case someone would like to add something else to the discussion if I may. – Zhiltsoff Igor Aug 29 '20 at 8:38
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    @ZhiltsoffIgor "Aren't we all here to learn?" No. We're all here to build a FAQ like repository of questions and answers. The judgement goes for the content (not the person) and it is inevitable to ensure quality in the long term. If you see bad content (either wrong or badly written), downvote it, if you see good content, that you think is useful for future visitors upvote it. Leave all (mistaken) empathy for the authors of content beyond the judgement of the quality. Comment to ask about clarifications to give the OPs a chance to improve. If you see minor mistakes like typos, edit. – πάντα ῥεῖ Aug 29 '20 at 8:59

Well, they're both reasonable approaches.

Its worth remembering that you can undo a downvote after an edit (personally) and downvotes are less than an upvote (which can be good and bad). You're also investing some of your reputation for the betterment of the site in some cases since answer downvotes incur a penalty. Both deletion and undoing of a downvote restore some reputation to both parties, and if a user has a pattern of deletion he may be banned from that kind of post (with a chance of posting after 6 months). The user would, however, hopefully learn before then.

Downvotes tend to let an answer sink down (and encourage/enable deletion). Comments let the poster and others know exactly what was wrong. Both approaches to trying to correct a user have merit. While some consider it a harsh way to teach, this is a way to teach a user the correct ways of the site.

"I might have just misunderstood your answer (that is probably the case). Can you add a bit more explanation, please?"

This is exactly the point of the humble comment. You are requesting clarification. Once it has served its purpose, it can be deleted, either by you, or by another user. Its service forgotten, its results immortalised (assuming the answer is fixed). This is precisely what you should do, and not worry about noise.


A downvote and/or a polite comment as you describe are both good methods to deal with such answers. The consensus on the technical and non-technical sites on SE is leaning towards downvotes as the main method. Adding a comment is often needed when the reasons may not be obvious to all users.

A less frequently used method is to add your own answer. There you can refer to the nonsensical answer as an aside and briefly mention why it is bad. Things such as using an eval without a good reason deserve such a side remark. This helps the inexperienced users navigate among the answers.

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