Lately, I've seen a bunch of poor answers flagged as "not an answer" (NAA) in the flag review list.

Such flags seem to be controversial, even among reviewers. For example, at the moment:

  1. this answer has two "very low quality" flags, one "not an answer" flag, one automatic "low answer quality score" flag and three dispute flags, while

  2. this answer has one "very low quality" flag, one "not an answer" flag, one automatic "low answer quality score" flag and five dispute ("invalid flags") flags.

Thus, I'd like to request the community's opinion on this, and hopefully establish some kind of clear guideline on the appropriate use of these flags.

I assume that we all agree that "answers" that don't even try or claim to solve the challenge in any way, such as comments, new challenges or xkcd comics posted as answers, qualify for the NAA flag. However, the answers I mentioned earlier are somewhat less obvious cases — they seem to have been intended as solutions to the challenge, even if they miss that target pretty badly

Is flagging as "not an answer" appropriate for answers that:

  1. solve the wrong challenge, as in the first example above (where the task is to check whether a number is a power of two, while the flagged answer checks whether it is even), or

  2. fail to meet the criteria for the type of challenge, as in the second example above, which is a non-golfed solution to a challenge?

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about answers that merely solve the challenge poorly or fail to work in some edge cases, as long as they seem at least potentially salvageable. What I'm talking about are answers where no amount of editing or bugfixing (short of throwing the answer away and starting from scratch) could possibly turn them into valid solutions to the challenge. Should such "answers" be flagged as "not an answer", or should we just downvote them?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ One complicating factor here is that I don't think there's any way of knowing in which order the flags were raised, and in particular which flags are disputed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 11:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor: Good point. Generally, AIUI, one should not use the "it has invalid flags" option unless one disagrees with all the flags on the post (since doing so automatically marks all the flags as disputed) and believes it shouldn't have been flagged at all, but that's not very well explained on the page, and some 10k'ers might not know it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 13:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would say that both case 1 and case 2 qualify for a flag, and such posts should be removed. But I say this on my own, not having consulted with the other moderators yet. Maybe they have their own views on this. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 11, 2014 at 6:28

1 Answer 1


"Not an Answer" flags are for posts that make no attempt to answer the question. They are usually things like:

  • I have the same problem
  • Have you seen my glasses?
  • Check out this great new product!

Neither of your examples qualifies as "Not an Answer." If you believe the answer is hurting the site, cast a custom moderator flag instead, and explain in your own words why the answer is harmful to the site, and should be removed.

For your two specific examples, it's probably better just to downvote.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .