I flagged this answer - it doesn't really answer the question, but talks about a conspiracy theory ("fascist police state, media lockdown, etc."):


My flag as "Very low quality" was disputed earlier today. I still don't feel that the above answer is relevant to the question, and the conspiracy theory content is questionable.

Was it wrong to flag the answer?

3 Answers 3


TL;DR: In my opinion, you were not wrong to flag the comment.

I hear and sympathize with what the moderators are saying, but I want to share a slightly different perspective.

The party line is that it's not ♦-moderators' job to verify the correctness of an answer. I find that entirely valid.

However, I think there's another reason why flagging these kinds of answers as VLQ can be useful. Flagging as VLQ has another purpose that ♦-moderators might not be familiar with: it puts it in a low-quality review queue, which 10K users can view. Thus, flagging as VLQ is one way to bring the answer to the attention of other 10K users, who can then downvote it and vote to delete. Recall that deleting an answer requires multiple "delete" votes from 10K users.

Thus, if we want ordinary users to clean up the site, the challenge with doing that is coordination: we need a way to notify multiple 10K users about the answer, so they can take a look, see if they agree, and if they do, vote to delete. Right now, flagging as VLQ or NAA is one of the few ways to do that, and arguably the best way to do so.

So, flagging as VLQ serves two purposes: (1) to notify ♦-moderators, and (2) to notify 10K users. I can sympathize with ♦-moderators who don't want to be put in a position of being asked to judge the technical accuracy of answers and who feel this is best left up to the community. However, I think there's a case to be made for encouraging "flag-as-VLQ" in this kind of case, because it allows 10K users (regular users) to police the site -- flag-as-VLQ + the VLQ review queue is one of the best tools the community has to police this on their own, without bringing in ♦-moderators.

Therefore, in this kind of situation, there might be a case for having ♦-moderators leave the VLQ flag live and letting 10K users handle it as they see fit.

I'll also point out that the text under the VLQ flag says:

This answer has severe formatting or content problems. This answer is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed.

I think that does accurately characterize this answer: the answer is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and probably needs to be removed. Therefore, I think the VLQ flag was appropriate, and I'm not sure it should have been declined.

In your specific case, I think it would also have been reasonable to flag the answer as NAA (not an answer). The "answer" doesn't even attempt to answer the question -- it consists of disjointed statements, none of which answer the question (as you've already accurately analyzed). As an aside: Ideally, when you flag as NAA, it's helpful to leave a comment explaining why, so that when moderators or 10K users see the flag, they have some justification for why it was flagged, and also so that the user has a chance to understand why their answer was unsuitable and either edit it or do things differently in the future.

So, in this case, I personally feel like both a NAA flag and a VLQ flag are justified. To me, it feels like there are multiple reasons why this answer should be deleted: both because it doesn't attempt to answer the question, and because it has severe content problems and probably can't be salvaged through editing.

So, ultimately, I'm very sympathetic to you: I don't think you were wrong to flag the comment, and I probably would have flagged it, too, if I'd come across it.


TL:DR - this is actually Not an Answer…

I only learned today from the other answers & comments how part of the review queue system works, so this is based on that revelation.

I often find the NAA flag 'difficult'. I see a new post, it's clearly not an answer, but it's not in the VLQ queue, so there's no vote to close option.

So, I stick a canned response on it & hit NAA… which means a mod has to deal with it.

Kind of unfair on the mods, really. Even a truly obvious one takes some time & attention to process.

Based on other answers, it would seem that flagging it as VLQ would allow the 10k users to handle it & leave the mods to deal with more serious issues.

So - & this is the part where it really becomes a new question, but it does feel relevant as part of this thread - would it be better policy for Reviewers to aim more frequently at VLQ than NAA, freeing up Mods' time to do other things?

Case in point - Why is an album in Apple Music marked with an "E" and grayed out? which I flagged as NAA.
What's the consensus on flagging these as VLQ & letting the 10k deal with them instead?

Let me know if you feel I should move this to a new Question.

  • 1
    NAA flags are also handled by the community in the low quality post review queue in the same way as VLQ flags.
    – grg Mod
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 10:35

I declined the flag earlier today, specifically because wrong answers are not a reason for flagging (simply downvote on such cases) and in general because on a user-moderated site like Ask Different (and all the other Stack Exchange sites) quality issues can usually be resolved by higher-rep users directly (in this case probably by removing the conspiracy theory at the end).

See also

  • 8
    Well, to be honest - if you remove the conspiracy theory content, there's not much left of the answer. Take a look at the answer, there's no real content there. Line 1 has "Opaque secret encoded ... Suspect". Line 2 is a copy from the question. Line 3 is not answering the question. Line 4 is ranting. If you clean that up, there's nothing left... That's why I flagged it as "very low quality", it can't be salvaged.
    – nwinkler
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 11:54
  • 6
    What I meant is: It's not a wrong answer - it's not an answer at all...
    – nwinkler
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 11:54
  • 2
    I upvoted both this answer and your comment @nwinkler. This is a pretty interesting edge case. I've edited out the last paragraph of the answer, which makes no attempt to answer the question. The rest could be argued to be an attempt to answer the question, which is all that matters.
    – grg Mod
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 12:11
  • 2
    I'm with patrix - flags are for things that moderators NEED to fix now and can't wait for the normal tools to work. In this case, the criticism is against a state or a government and not a person. Criticism is not only allowed, but it's encouraged. Editing to change the reason of a post is poor form. Much better to constructively criticize the criticism in a polite comment and then down vote the post. In cases where impolite words are used - they can be softened with editing per the site's guidelines. Just a few more down votes will make that post almost invisible to everyone.
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 12:36
  • 2
    I have a slightly different perspective than patrix and @bmike; I'm sympathetic to their view and fully respect it, but I view things a bit differently. I see flags as serving multiple purposes: one purpose is to notify ♦-moderators of problems that need to be fixed and can only be fixed by ♦-moderators, but a second purpose of some kinds of flags is to notify 10K users of problems that they can fix without the assistance of ♦-moderators. I elaborate in my answer.
    – D.W.
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 1:45
  • Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it's not an answer. It's up to you to offer a more enlightened answer. That's what this forum is for. Are you saying that no nefarious forces have made it into the operating system ? We now know conspiracy theory is a lot closer to fact than fiction. Today 2015.
    – user982671
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 21:16

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