How should I report answers which are pure noise? Thus, answers which actually needs to be completely removed rather than edited. Here's an excellent example. It basically contains only the following:

Thanks Jeremy Stein

This actually belongs in a comment, but users with that low reps cannot post comments in others' questions yet. I checked the flag option, but none of the options suit the reason to remove the answer, e.g. "cruft", "noise", "not relevant", etc. Should I flag "Requires moderator attention"? Wouldn't that involve too lot moderator work, those kind of answers come along pretty regularly and will be growing as much as Stackoverflow arrives more and more in top of Google results.


Flag it as spam!

  • +(int)(π/3.0f). This is what I do. Plus it gets a downvote when you do so which takes it out of the good answers. – HAL 9000 Mar 12 '10 at 18:22
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    And if enough people agree, it gets deleted. This is the most effective way to deal with noise in the answers. – Sinan Ünür Mar 12 '10 at 20:16
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    Spam is noise, but noise does not need to be spam. You are misusing the system, tststs. – Ladybug Killer Mar 12 '10 at 21:58
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    @John: perhaps I am misinterpreting the term "spam" (it has a few different interpretations), but IMO the intended meaning should probably be included in the flag dialog box. – Ether Mar 12 '10 at 23:12
  • I've a different interpretation of "spam". However, I would flag that if the moderators agree with this approach --and preferably also states it a bit more explicit somewhere (faq? flag option list?). At the moment it's all a bit unclear. I wouldn't waste a "real" downvote to it, the intent of the answerer is not that bad, it would only scare him. I usually would comment on such an answer, but I would have said "please post comments as comments" and this is not applicable here as the user has a too low rep. Do I have to be more harsh? "Sorry you are not supposed to post answers like that"? – BalusC Mar 13 '10 at 1:52
  • @Ether: Spam tries to sell/promote something (with intent). This looks like an (unintentionally) misuse of posts used as comments. – Ladybug Killer Mar 13 '10 at 13:37
  • Since no one moderator responds here to complain and since no one has complained as well after flagging noise as spam at SO for several weeks, I'll consider this answer as accepted. – BalusC Mar 30 '10 at 14:44

How should I report answers which are pure noise?

I'd downvote it, and ask the poster to remove it.

That said, I've seen such answers myself and thought to myself, "if only I could delete that."

Maybe allowing "reviewed deletion" (i.e. deletion decisions are presented to moderators for review) for 10k+ users would be an idea? It would keep deletions under moderators' control but distribute the work more evenly across the community. Just a thought. I imagine moderators have enough stuff to clean up as it is.

On the other hand, in the tags I'm active in, this doesn't happen very often. Maybe it's different elsewhere.

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    The problem with downvoting and asking to remove is that those are (probably) often drive-by visitors who see "just another forum" where they post their "Thank You", but never come back to notice (or care about) the downvotes and comments. – balpha Mar 12 '10 at 12:33
  • @balpha, downvoting in this case is not to indicate to the user that the "thank you" post was not needed, but to make the post flow to the bottom, where it will get less attention. – b.roth Mar 12 '10 at 13:16
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    @Bruno Rothgiesser: Good point, I agree. But a deleted post is still less noise than a post on the bottom. – balpha Mar 12 '10 at 13:24
  • Mark it as spam if you can. That way, if enough people agree, the non-answer answer gets deleted automatically. – Sinan Ünür Mar 12 '10 at 20:18

In general, I'd downvote it to make it flow to the bottom.


I typically leave a comment trying to explain that Stack Overflow is not a traditional forum, and ask them to remove their comment. If it's still there after several hours, I remove it.

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    The question is, what should people do who can't delete? Should we cry for the likes of you? – balpha Mar 12 '10 at 13:28
  • please don't cry – juan Mar 12 '10 at 13:35
  • @balpha I don't mind if you flag it. – Sampson Mar 12 '10 at 14:12

If it is being used by a user who doesn't have the rep to comment then downvoting would only reduce their rep more (if possible), continuing the problem.

Perhaps there should be a feature that could transfer it (by mod if need be) to a comment without penalty?

  • You can always comment on your own question/answers to your own questions. – Tyler Carter Mar 12 '10 at 18:38

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