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I'm curious as to how strict we should be with the flagging feature.

For example, I see a lot of answers that misunderstand what the question intended. While the information provided in the answer may be valuable, it is not relevant to the asker. Should these be flagged?

Examples:
This answer was deleted by the owner while I wrote this question
This answer
This answer

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Flagging is for

  • a post (or comment) that needs immediate attention by a moderator: for when the post (or comment) should not be on the site longer than absolutely necessary. E.g., an insulting post, an advertisement. Also, it's for
  • something in no way reworkable into a possibly valid answer. E.g., gibberish, something totally off-topic.

IMO, an answer that doesn't address the question doesn't necessarily fit that bill; and, in particular, the three you link to don't fit it. However,

  • if you have enough rep, you can comment on the answer, advising how it might be improved;
  • if you have enough rep, you can downvote the answer; and
  • if you enough rep and the answer has a net downvote, then you can vote to delete it. Enough delete votes, and the answer's deleted, even if a moderator doesn't get involved.

Note, though, that this is my own opinion. It's not an official response; perhaps one of the SE employees can provide that.

  • So what's the "Not an answer" option for? – HodofHod Nov 28 '11 at 0:44
  • @HodofHod, good point. :-) To clarify (for those who can't see it), one of the flags (for answers) is "not an answer", with the following detail: "This was posted as an answer, but it does not answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether." Somehow, I think of that flag as appropriate for things that have no redeeming value (as answers), but maybe I'm wrong/alone. – msh210 Nov 28 '11 at 0:54
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    Not an Answer --> "Thanks.", "I have the same problem.", "Anybody knows the answer?", asking questions in answers, comments posted as answers. Things like that. – Robert Harvey Nov 28 '11 at 3:54
  • @RobertHarvey So if you ask "Why is the sky blue?", and I answer "grass is green because....", how would that be flagged? How about if I answer "the sky is not always blue, sometimes it can be other colors such as red, or green, or grey."? – HodofHod Nov 28 '11 at 5:40
  • @HodofHod: Moderators do not evaluate the technical merit of an answer. An answer is still an answer, even if it's wrong. That's what downvotes are for. – Robert Harvey Nov 28 '11 at 5:48
  • @RobertHarvey That would be true if I had answered "the sky is blue because it is populated by blue pixies". However, the two examples I gave don't even address the question. I am not asking if moderators should decide on correct answers. I am suggesting that answers that don't address the question should be flagged and deleted. – HodofHod Nov 28 '11 at 5:56
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    For your examples, leaving a flag with a custom explanation is better. It makes it easier for the moderator to figure out what is going on. "Not an Answer" is reserved for the kind of examples I stated before. There are too many people that abuse the "Not an Answer" flag by using it as a synonym for "I don't like the answer." – Robert Harvey Nov 28 '11 at 6:32
  • @RobertHarvey ok, it appears I've been misusing the "not an answer" option. I've been using it for answers that obviously misunderstood the question, and therefore answered a totally different question. Strange that they all have been marked helpful and most have been deleted. I suppose I'll do it differently from now on. Thanks for the clarification. – HodofHod Nov 28 '11 at 8:43
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    @HodofHod: Although the ideal situation is for each flag type to be used for its intended purpose, moderators would rather see an inaccurate flag that points out some other problem than no flag at all. See moderator.stackexchange.com/2011/09/september-2011-newsletter under "Flags too Often Marked [Declined]" for a more detailed explanation of this. – Robert Harvey Nov 28 '11 at 15:50
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The beauty of a flag is that you don't have to make the decision. The moderator who sees it will (that's by the way, what they're there for).

Obviously you shouldn't go flooding, but flagging is for the questionable much like it is for the obvious.

And at worst, you were being too stringent, and the mod will simply ignore it.

Also see: the faq section on flagging...

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