A few days ago, I flagged answers in SuperUser as NAA, and got my flag declined. Here is the meta post.

One of the moderator quoted the description of NAA flag:

This was posted as an answer, but it does not attempt to answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether.

Basically, I am reminded that NAA flag should not be used to flag wrong answer, but only post that does not attempt to answer the question.

Wrong answer? Downvote.
Partial answer? It's okay. Vote as needed.

We have discussed before that we want answers to be backed up, either by experience or citation or whatever. However, should we use NAA flag to delete answers that are not backed up?

Arguably, those answers are a valid attempt to answer the question, so it's not NAA.

We are not SuperUser, so we can decide if we want to keep deleting attempts to answer with no back up, or we stop deleting and start downvoting instead.

*I think using the latter will help people to start being comfortable to downvote more, but this is just a guess.

What do you think?

  • 2
    What do you mean by "not backed up"? Do you have any examples of answers that you would consider to be not backed up?
    – user8960
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 18:25
  • 3
    Answers that are very clearly lacking in explanation (so no explanation of 'how to do that' and 'why that works' aren't necessarily NAA. Leave a comment explaining what's wrong, downvote and flag as Very Low Quality
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


Questions lacking explanation, justification and other 'requirements' might be considered partial answers. They do make an attempt at answering the question, but they are clearly not complete.

Generally, partial questions are fine. After all, they can be useful to the question and it is better to have them as an answer than as a comment.

However, a trend we see here is that following these standards, all answers are practically partial answers. The entire 'try this' style of answers could be seen as such. And that's what I think is the problem here. It's not a lone partial answer, but the fact that the majority of the posts (especially on HNQ questions) are partial answers.

@EnglishStudent's answer suggests more downvoting on NAA answers, but that's a tricky thing to get done. The message of the answer might be acceptable after all, the answer just is not complete. Downvotes could be an incentive for the answerer to expand they answer to comply to the broader expectations of answers, but as it stands these downvotes get drowned out by the upvotes.

The problem with flagging them as VLQ (which should be done in my opinion if the post isn't improved) is that in the queue many users interpret it as if it's flagged as NAA, look at the answer and see that it does (partially) adress the question. This is a distinction that needs to be made very clear and requires a strong mandate from the site's users (at least the reviewers) to work. If too large a portion of users is not on board with this interpretation, the VLQ queue won't suffice as a reliable manner of enforcing these policies.


'Not an answer' is probably inaccurate here, as you rightly noted yourself. Let us assume the member is actually suggesting a good IPS solution without proper explanation of why it is a good solution. Then our aim is to make the person back up the answer with evidence or experience, which is necessary to make a 'good suggestion' into a 'good answer' for IPS.SE -- so we might follow these steps in sequence:

Step 1: downvote and leave a comment asking the answerer to back up their suggestion with experience or references.

Step 2: if the author is not doing it after a reasonable time (as in 1 - 2 days) you can flag it as a low quality answer as suggested by @Tinkeringbell in comments.

Step 3: if you are convinced it is a very low quality answer, or if OP is not responding to comments to back up their answer, you can skip flagging and directly vote to delete. Maybe that will work only if the post has a negative score? In all other cases flagging as very low quality is the standard option.

Your point about downvote more, delete less is well taken. However, if the authors of such answers fail to back it up inspite of our prompting, and if we don't delete, then we are left with many low quality answers that provide good solutions without explanation, when a few good answers that comprehensively answer the question is what we really need. The "why" of it is extremely important when it comes to interpersonal skills so answers that only give the "how" may dilute the quality of this website and also set bad examples for future users. That is why I favor the "downvote - comment - flag - delete" sequence when OP fails provide the "why" of their answer.

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