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Let's go through a typical First Answers review of a non-answer from the perspective of a new reviewer.

Here's what you see in the queue:

Screenshot of review interface, with "Looks OK", "Edit", "Share feedback", and "Other action" as primary actions.  A row of small links, "Share Edit Follow Flag" is below the post.

It looks to me like I should pick one of those actions on the right. It could certainly use a helpful comment. Let's pick "Share feedback":

Dialog with the following contents:
Share feedback on this new user answer
We will post your selected feedback anonymously. If you want to leave a comment under your own username, use the standard comment link.
Answer is unclear
As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please [edit] to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
Answer needs supporting information
Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please [edit] to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.

Hmmm, those don't seem right. Let's click "Learn more" up at the top:

Dialog with the following content:
How to use the First answers queue
Awarded at 500 reputation
The purpose of this queue is to give special attention to posts submitted by new users whose answers are more likely to need improvement.
How to work through this queue:
Edit or share feedback on answers that are good, but could use some help.
Choose Looks OK if the post is fine as-is.
Be sure to upvote good posts to encourage new users.
Skip the task if you aren't sure which action to take.
Read more about this queue in our help center.

Hmmm, no, those don't apply at all. Okay, last try: let's click that "Read more" link at the bottom.

Check that the post author attempts to provide a focused answer, and not a simple comment or new question.

Aha! That's relevant! But...it doesn't say what to do with a simple comment or new question. So I guess I'll share feedback. It could certainly use additional details and some supporting information to make it answer the question, so either option works, really.


Okay, back to my own perspective. You and I know, because we've been around a while, that the correct answer is to click that little grey "Flag" link below the question, select "Not an answer", and submit the review as "Other action". But I have no idea how anyone is supposed to figure this out from looking at the queue interface.

And this isn't a hypothetical: Stack Overflow gets a constant stream of non-answers. We have an entire queue for them. But they're not going to end up there if people don't flag them. This one here (screenshot for those without 10k on Stack Overflow) stuck around for a week before anyone finally noticed, despite the reviewer clearly noticing something was wrong (they appear to have followed the process I described above). The asker even left a comment containing useful information about their question that will be lost upon deleting it (fortunately, it was also edited into the question, but this doesn't always happen).

Please provide clearer handling for these. Ideally, there'd be something that provides feedback to the poster and sends it over to the Low-quality Answers queue. But any improvement would be great.

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  • 3
    Note: This problem also applies to handling spam, which also needs to be flagged.
    – Ryan M
    Sep 23 at 11:45
  • 1
    A note for those unaware; the functionality of dealing with non-answers in FA queue was addressed already by adding the "Other action" option (as mentioned in the post above). But the messaging is indeed still really unclear, and the UI in the queue really doesn't give you any hints of how a reviewer should deal with non-answers. Improvement is needed here, for sure.
    – zcoop98
    Sep 23 at 15:04

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