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I recently had a NAA flag declined on this answer, which consists entirely of the text:

This might help:

How to Enable Dashboard Features in macOS Catalina

where the second line is a link to an article that I presume is relevant to the question (I haven't looked).

It's not clear to me how this is an attempt to answer. However, while looking through Meta, it appears there are several posts indicating a much higher tolerance for what would be considered an answer on AD, relative to what is normally considered an answer on the rest of the SE network.

In particular, I came upon this answer on Meta, explaining why a NAA flag on a similar answer was declined. In comments, I asked the moderator who wrote the answer for clarification on the policy, and the response was that the answer I flagged is considered an "attempt to answer".

This is fine, in that individual sites can decide what passes for an answer, but this policy is not at all clear to someone who is only familiar with other sites on the network. e.g. the help page on why some answers are deleted is the same as the rest of the network, and says:

Answer posts that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed. This includes answers that are:

...

  • barely more than a link to an external site (i.e. the actual answer is not included in the post)

which seems to apply clearly to the answer I linked above. Ok, customizing help pages per site isn't really a feasible option, but even the FAQ post Why was my flag for "not an answer" declined? says that the bar for link-only answers is the same as that covered in Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer? which is what pretty much the rest of the network uses as well. (This link was added quite recently, in Revision 9).

This guidance is quite misleading for users coming to the site, as it's contrary to how most of the network operates. At the very least, the FAQ on this topic should make it much clearer what the policy is regarding such flags. I don't have concrete proposals for the wording, but at the moment a user could very reasonably expect that the linked MSE post can be used as a reference, while that doesn't seem to be the case at all. If there's some additional way of making the current policy more obvious to new users, that would be great as well.


P.S. While I personally think this policy on not deleting link-only answers isn't useful, I don't have much interaction with this site, and I'm not trying to suggest the policy be changed here. I do think a conversation about that is worth having, but is beyond the scope of this question.

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Both the first and the last paragraph of this answer to Why was my flag for "not an answer" declined? sum it up pretty nicely

TL;DR - moderators generally don't delete posts until they have several down votes or constructive comments if there's even a hint of an answer contained in the post.

We'd like to avoid patterns of flagging things as NAA without performing any moderation of the posts in question. Try to not load the flag queue with things that you can start to resolve if the community has given you enough reputation to start moderating these posts via vote, comment and edit privileges

This is valid for any kind of answer, be it just hard to understand or simply just a link which somehow seems to be within the context of the question. Why not comment with "Can you summarize the relevant part of the linked page directly in your answer to make it easier for future readers?" to give the poster a chance to improve their answer? This seems on the long run much more valuable than flagging answers for mod attention (because all mods can do in such case is either delete them right away or add the same comment the flagger already could have).

But I agree that there is some confusion with the reference to the castle post, I've reworded that part.

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  • That edit does help, thank you. There might be other ways to make the guidance clearer, but this is definitely an improvement. BTW, in the edit you made, "klink" -> "link" in the parentheses. (I can't make an edit myself).
    – cigien
    May 17 at 15:29
  • @cigien Thanks, fixed.
    – nohillside Mod
    May 17 at 16:16

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