Often new users post one-liners with unrelated questions/comments as answers to existing questions where I'd like to vote "close as not a real answer". They come in several flavors:

What to do with these kinds of answers? Just downvote? Flag for moderator attention?


7 Answers 7


About me, I go with an explaining comment which usually goes like:

Hello, welcome to Superuser(SO/SF). Please check the FAQ (http://superuser.com) about the way this site works. This site is not a discussion board, this is a place for questions to be asked and answered.

Then you add the appropriate explanation, depending on situation, like for example

If you want to ask a new question, do it by clicking "Ask Question", to be in a separate question.


If you want to answer to someone else, do it as a comment under his question. Commenting requires 50 reputation, review the FAQ about the reputation system.


And bottom line:

If what you want to write doesn't answer the question, don't post it as an answer.

Keep in mind that the way this site works is not obvious to new people, so I think an educational approach is the preferred way to handle things..

  • Thank you citizen, Ask answer was indeed quite strange ;-)
    – Gnoupi
    Jan 18, 2010 at 19:16
  • +1. +20 if it was possible. This is material for the FAQ. Or perhaps some user guide (for all users). This could save us a ton of time coming up with our own phrases. Jan 18, 2010 at 23:05
  • 3
    In between the edit and the close buttons, we need an 'educate' button which brings down a dialogue a bit like the close one, with a few of these options, which automatically inserts the appropriate comment :)
    – Benjol
    Aug 19, 2010 at 13:07
  • "If you want to answer to someone else, do it as a comment under his question." This doesn't help new users at all, because it's impossible. Jan 17, 2018 at 14:13

In reference to a new user asking his own question:

They can edit the original question and add an additional information section. I try and leave a comment to the OP that this would be a better solution than adding an "answer".

The low reputation OP can leave comments on their own questions, just not other people's questions.

In reference to a new user answering other questions:

It only takes 50 reputation points to comment. You are given the privilege of commenting once you have been on the site for some time and learned some of the rules and procedures.


Downvote, comment and flag for moderator attention.

  • 7
    I don't know why you'd waste down votes on users with 1 rep. Jul 23, 2009 at 1:56
  • @Ian: feedback, i suppose - drive your point home that it's the wrong way. I generally won't bother though.
    – Shog9
    Jul 23, 2009 at 2:07
  • Don't be miserly with downvotes. Jul 23, 2009 at 3:03
  • I probably wouldn't waste the downvote in this case if they only had 1 rep. Jul 23, 2009 at 3:23
  • 13
    The downvote is the quality assurance of the answer, not the user! Downvote the answer, not the user. SO is a Q/A site, no role play game. Jul 23, 2009 at 8:30
  • 3
    Maybe downvotes of answers whose author is a 1-rep user should be free :) Jul 23, 2009 at 12:28
  • 7
    There are two seperate problems with downvoting someone's first answer. 1. Scaring off the user. and 2. Causing sympathy votes which actually reward them for the non-answer. I'd leave it alone.
    – Macha
    Aug 2, 2009 at 21:40

Generally, if a new user posts something that actually helps the question along in some way, even if it should be a comment, I say is fine, since they are trying to help, and have just not been on the site long enough to get the reputation yet. Otherwise, for everything else, inform the new user and if its bad enough, flag, downvote, etc.


On the first category:

Things that should be in comments instead of answers

I do not think these should be routinely deprecated. Users with rep < 50 cannot leave comments. If the comment is germane or seeks to elicit relevant additional information, especially in response to questions that are not, to someone knowledgeable in the field, well-stated and with all the necessary information to allow a good answer, they should allowed, if not encouraged.


The answers that should be comments, are usually people that don't have enough rep to leave comments. If I see one of these, from a user who (now) has enough rep to add comments, I will leave a comment for them to delete that "answer".

  • 1
    +1 for not knowing the site correctly. Maybe we should help them with a comment. Jul 23, 2009 at 8:32

You can't close an answer, unfortunately. Your correct course of action is to just flag the post. If it's rampant on a given question, flag the question itself and inform the mods of the answer issue.

I just had to do that this morning over on StackOverflow, and it was cleaned up within minutes.

  • 1
    Can't vote to delete answers at 10K. Not anymore at least. Flagging is it.
    – Shog9
    Jan 18, 2010 at 18:34
  • Really? Jeez, when did that happen? Updated appropriately.
    – John Rudy
    Jan 18, 2010 at 19:00

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