A while ago, I flagged an answer as "not an answer", because I believed that it was not actually addressing what I believed to be the OP's main concern (i.e. the difference between the various words for "today"). The response I finally got more than two weeks after the flag submission was:

declined - flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer

This appears to be a misunderstanding of why I flagged in the first place, but that's a bit beside the point. Similarly, when I flagged a different answer for the same reasons, I received a response of:

declined - a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it

This reads more like an automatic message, but that's a bit beside the point. (This flag I submitted because it only gave a general explanation that didn't fully address the problems presented in the question.)

If these flags were rejected, then when am I actually supposed to use "not an answer"? Clearly answers that are actually meant to be updates to the question should be rejected, as well as responses to others' posts. Similarly, answers that are downright wrong or that don't do anything beyond "This is wrong, and you must have misread the text you are quoting in the question." should simply be downvoted, since technically speaking they do give an answer.

But this doesn't deal with the issue of answers that don't really engage with the problems of the question (and in this sense, are slightly different from partial answers). Nor does this strike me as simply "missing a detail" in the answer, where more lenient flagging might be justified (see here) -- in the second case, nothing related to the OP's question seems resolved (although a gloss is provided, which could be useful).

Is "not an answer" also meant to be used in such cases? If not, this would seem to differ from the practice I've seen on other sites (e.g. where link-only type answers tend to be removed, or where answers tend to be removed if the detail they contain is so limited that they fail to really resolve any issues).

1 Answer 1


Those are both automatic messages. :) But they are chosen by the moderator that declines the flag. If none of the set messages is appropriate, we'll write our own.

The first answer was answering, technically speaking, so that explains why the flag was declined. However, it was spammy, so I deleted it. Usually in such cases, I would accept the flag, but act on the answer by myself. The second answer is poor, but it does address the question, from what I see.

You should use this train of thought:

  • If it addresses the question, but it's wrong: don't flag it. Downvote and/or leave a comment, instead.
  • If it doesn't address the question: flag, although you can alternatively comment if you want to help the user fix his answer.
  • If it addresses a point in the question: don't flag, comment pointing out the missing information.
  • Thanks, this makes sense. To be fair, the treatment of borderline "doesn't address the actual problem" answers is a bit ambiguous on other sites as well, but due to higher user participation in the review queues (and the fact that such answers have gotten deleted in the past anyway), I'm more likely to chalk it up to differences in what "not an answer" means to people (which matters less to me when the reviewers aren't mods).
    – user5714
    Aug 16, 2015 at 15:54
  • While I'm here, how I get some solution to the issues re: tagging that I wrote about in another post? I've resolved the most obvious issues (that didn't require further knowledge of what tags are for -- but even in this case, I sometimes had to rely on some intuition as to what the best use of a tag would be for), but others would definitely require community input or clarification. Unfortunately, the only response I got to that was two upvotes ... But I feel like it's best if such issues are resolved, since things like searching the site otherwise become needlessly difficult.
    – user5714
    Aug 16, 2015 at 16:22
  • @Maroon Is that a question you have asked on Meta? If yes, I'd prefer answering there for future reference. :D And to be sure: you're asking how to use tags in questions? Or how to link to a previous answer of your own in another post?
    – Alenanno
    Aug 16, 2015 at 16:24
  • Here's the question. The issue was more with tag usage on the main site that I felt was done improperly / that needed clarification. I tried correcting some of it via editing, but there are still some issues that have yet to be resolved, and I'm slightly worried I might have misinterpreted something. Anyways, I guess you'll get a better picture at the link itself.
    – user5714
    Aug 16, 2015 at 16:26

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