I flagged an original version of a link-only answer as "not an answer" as I have done for hundreds of similar posts on other SE sites. My flag was declined. Then I explained my reasoning and asked about moderator's. This was their response:

In this case, no flag at all :-) It clearly is an answer, and salvageable by editing, so what would you expect a mod to do here which you can't do yourself?

The first part is debatable. It was discussed in numerous meta posts on other sites and the consensus seems to be on the side of "do flag link-only answers as a non-answers" with this nice infographic as an example.

I am puzzled with the latter part of the response:

So far I thought moderators' attention is required when flagging a post for moderator's attention, as a spam, or as rude-or-offensive (with the latter two flags causing deletion also by majority of votes).

However I had an impression that flagging as low quality or flagging as a non-answer directed such posts to the Low Quality Posts review queue where >2000 rep. users could vote for deletion and publish an automatic comment explaining the rules. On all sites on which I have access to these queues, there is an explicit option "this is a link-only answer and not spam" which is not available when flagging.

I thought that by flagging an answer as non-answer or low-quality, I am bringing it to the attention of the community (which gives opportunity to post predefined suggestions, give author time and put an answer subject to democratic voting) not moderators (at least not in the first place).

Is it different on Ask Different?

Why a moderator here suggests that by flagging this post I might have had any expectations of them ("what would you expect a mod to do here")?

  • I have had this before as well. If the answer gets into the low quality queue we can close it but getting it into the queue is random - some moderators reject it
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 11:06
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of How do I delete an answer which is link only?
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 12:11
  • @Mark Come on! I ask about the internal mechanisms behind flagging and why moderator feels obliged to respond, not how to deal with link-only answer.
    – techraf
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 12:14
  • As a side note, on SuperUser recently there was an audit: the question was "from where can I download drivers for ...", the answer was "check this link ...". I pressed "Looks OK" and failed, the post was deleted as link-only. :)
    – techraf
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 12:23
  • @techraf Yes on other sites link only answers are usually removed here we have at least one mod who does not and rejects VLQ flags for link only even though the VLQ has the option close as link only
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 11:06
  • Then I think the last comment answers the question. It is different and the reason for that is ..., even though mechanisms are the same across SE sites.
    – techraf
    Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 11:17

1 Answer 1


I can't speak for how other sites handle link only flags - but the post you mentioned doesn't seem to meet our standards for general flagging.

If you read https://apple.stackexchange.com/help/flagging it explains that the primary reason to flag is when you see something bad.

I see no guidance on the site help here where link only answers are prohibited - just as we don't prohibit wrong answers. Those sort of things are designed to be handled through two processes:

  1. Reputation limits make people participate in ways that others will vote and comment when their initial efforts are outside the site norms or objectively not useful.
  2. Closure and voting and peer moderation handle almost all the cases of people figuring out how to contribute when they don't read the help center on how to make a good question or how to show research. Answers live and die by votes and good questions usually have a handful of thoughtful, useful answers to rise above the rest.

Specifically on Ask Different, we've tried to explain how NAA flags are moderated in this thread:

Going over that, I would expect the moderator looked a the question (if needed) - it looks decent enough to me. The initial text of the answer is certainly not link only. It also appears to be helpful and relevant to the issue at hand. Best of all, it was a new user that got constructive feedback, took that to heart and there's a pretty decent answer now.

Hopefully this makes sense to your question here.

  • Well, my question was if by flagging a post as low quality or flagging a post as a non-answer I am putting burden on moderators or am I bringing it up for community review, because my understanding was that flagging puts the post in review queue. This answer deals with the example question and refers to guidelines on flagging. Basically it looks like you stopped reading the question after first two paragraphs and decided you must respond to a complaint about declined flag and defend mod's decision.
    – techraf
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 13:02
  • Or I was trying to help, @techraf - I was focused on your final question: "Is it different on Ask Different?" The beginning of your post wasn't what I was trying to address, but if my post wasn't helpful, I offer a money back guarantee. Perhaps another user will have better advice?
    – bmike Mod
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 18:48

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