156

I don't totally agree on your statement that a single sentence with a link to another resource is an answer in most cases. When the questions are lacking any effort I agree this could be a decent answer, but probably it is better to close the question anyway. In my opinion an answer must qualify to the same rule as questions do: Answers need to have ...


97

I'm assuming that's not what "abusive" in this reason is referring to Abusive means what it says. Don't overthink this. Look... The problem folks have with these is that they see the pile of nonsense and try to extract meaning from it. "Surely if I can determine what the author's intent was," you might imagine them saying to themselves, "...I can then pick ...


64

Strip the markup We could experiment with disabling link markup and hiding clickable URLs in new answers during the 5-minute grace period, then enabling them again after the grace period (to prevent ninja edits and whatnot from circumventing that). If in the first 5 minutes you cannot tell the gist of an answer because there are no functioning links or ...


59

Hmm... Lots of good discussion here already, but to answer the question you actually asked... NO. No, you can't have consensus on what flag you should use for "link only answers", because as Tim notes you shouldn't always be flagging them, as George notes there's no "one size fits all" flag reason for them, and as Anna notes they're ...


42

I think Mike's answer misses the mark because people don't read instructions. The issue with adding a little phrase to the end of the existing text is that the people doing this regularly already have this behavior ingrained, and probably won't re-read the instructions. This means it will prevent the growth of these flags, but not solve the existing issue. ...


38

I have two major problems with link only answers. First - Stack Overflow is supposed to be the site where opening new tabs to finally find your answer stops. Granted, some answers basically refer you to specific documentation that is housed elsewhere, but all answers can at least summarize the linked resource in a way that: Someone looking for the ...


35

The flagging queue is pretty empty today. I suspect the hats. There's at least 2 hats you can get by flagging. And this post stayed in the queue pretty long for some reason (maybe because it was disputed). And the post almost looked like not-an-answer. Perfect feast for our robo-flaggers hungry for more hats.


33

Ok, Kev asked me to chime in here, but before I get started let's have a quick sanity check: Moderators can delete any post at any time at their own discretion. Moderators are expected to exercise discretion when doing so, but ultimately the choice and the responsibility is theirs. Your flag does not place any additional responsibility upon the responding ...


29

It definitely needs clarifying. Even I had a bit of trouble figuring out the true intended use of the not-an-answer flag when I first started out as a moderator, being confused by the exact phrase "it does not answer the question" (my same emphasis on "the"). Oddly enough, now that I've understood what the flag is meant for, I'm seeing ...


28

What is the not an answer flag? The not an answer flag (NAA) is a flag to indicate that someone used the "answer the question" box to post something that isn't really an answer. It usually pushes an answer to the low-quality queue, where its fate is decided by reviewers. If it stays there for too long, the answer is also shown to diamond moderators in their ...


26

They still aren't answers, since they don't make any attempt at answering the original question. They should be flagged as such.


23

There is a pretty big difference between LVQ and NAA. Very low quality is for actual answers that have severe content or formatting problems. Example: lol u just have 2 use console.log(err) jquery ftw Not an answer means that the post doesn't attempt to answer the question. This flag is appropriate for "answers" that ask for clarification, ask another ...


22

Question In a C# public method, what does the int indicate apart from the type integer? Answer It is the type of the return value. That does answer the question. Unless you know what a return value is, you might not consider it very helpful, but that's what downvotes are for, not flags. After all, the not an answer flag text reads: This was posted as an ...


21

I wrote that post - and threw together that collage - to try to establish a shared baseline understanding for answer flagging, a set of things that hopefully we could all agree on. Because... Of course there are a great many things that we won't all agree on. Some sites have extremely strict standards for answers; others allow questions that are almost ...


20

You could always down-vote instead of insisting that moderators delete them, since - as @KatieK pointed out - they are still answers (they become useless when the link dies, but are still answers while the link is alive). There's nothing wrong with flagging them, just be aware that moderators are people and some feel differently about which link-only answers ...


19

If that's all your answer contained...yes. There's a close vote reason to the tune of, "Needs more focus" which covers this exact case. If you want to commentate on a question's topicality, flagging/voting for closure is the best way to do it.


18

I think this is not only a good idea, but it's the community supported one. Perhaps there was grounds for significant debate in 2011 when this question was posted, but as of today (2013) when performing review tasks one option for "low quality" posts is to mark it for deletion, in the possible reasons we see a non-spam, link only answer. If it's acceptable ...


18

We have adjusted the flag to: This was posted as an answer, but it does not attempt to answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether.  


18

Humor and silliness are more welcome on meta than main, but posts that don't even attempt to answer the question aren't answers. This one is blatant; it ignores the question and responds to the unrelated text of a now-ended bounty. That answer is not making the site even a little better. Because it is upvoted, users with the "trusted user" privilege cannot ...


17

Am I wrong in my conclusion about the answer's quality? Am I missing some facts here? No. It's a couple hundred words that could have been put into something infinitely more useful, like an article at The Onion. Even if I'm right about the quality, am I wrong to have attempted to guess that this was meant as sarcasm and not as useful information? No. In ...


17

I declined the first flag you showed, it was on this answer. The answer was pointing out the question was a duplicate (and where to find the answer), and there (over time) were nine total flags on that answer, and all of them pointed out that it was 'not an answer'. Yet none of those that flagged the answer did anything about the question. So, in this ...


17

First of all... This isn't a "Stack Overflow vs. The Network" issue. Yes, Stack Overflow gets a tremendous number of non-answers, and associated flags, and has to handle them efficiently somehow... ...But so does Super User. So does Ask Ubuntu. So do Web Apps, Electrical Engineering, Arqade... Any site that has (or appears to have) popular appeal and ...


16

I won't speak to your specific situation, but this does bring up an issue. On some posts, there will be two contradictory flags: "blahblablabla" - OP flagging as not an answer -- NotTheOp 8/4/2012 flagging because another individual is insulting me in the comments here. can you do something? -- OP 8/4/2012 As a moderator, there are situations where one ...


16

The description for the flag reads, This was posted as an answer, but it does not attempt to answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether. Emphasis mine. If a post clearly makes an honest attempt to answer, even if it fails to do so, then NaA does not apply. Yes, this requires you to judge intent - ...


16

That looks like a probable mis-click by the mod who declined the flag. That's definitely a request for feedback, so your flags were correct. I converted that answer to a comment. Sorry about the mix-up.


15

Wouldn't you agree that rhetorical questions can also answer questions, but rather suck as answers, as they are no answers and should be downvoted instead?


15

That's as borderline a case as I can remember ever seeing. I definitely see why the first "not an answer" flag was declined. Even after your second flag explaining that the code is just a work-around, I was still on the fence. If you stand way back and squint it kind of still looks like an answer. It wasn't until I read the comments where the answerer ...


15

Not really. It doesn't answer the question... It does makes a great comment, however. For it to be an answer, you need to detail what could cause the issue, not that you can't reproduce it. You can explain that the different versions are not the issue.


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