The 'Not an Answer' Flag has the text

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.

If the answer you wish to flag is an answer, but only in a 'general problem solving' sense rather than an answer involving interpersonal skills, is the 'not an Answer' flag still the correct one to use or should one use a custom flag?

We seem to get so many 'general problem solving' answers with no IPS element that it may be helpful to capture that explicitly in a standard flag. This could help to underline that difference, which some posters struggle with and act an an aide memoire for reviewers.

I can see that we wouldn't want an ever-expanding list of standard flags so perhaps it doesn't need a separate flag, perhaps the flag could be adapted to say

This was posted as an answer, but does not present an Interpersonal Skills based solution. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether.

So effectively I'm asking:

  • Can we amend the 'Not an Answer flag text?

if not,

  • should one use the 'Not an Answer' flag for answers which don't involve interpersonal Skills, or use a custom flag and spell it out each time?
  • FWIW: facing the same problem/dilemma, with many NAA flags that aged away, were disputed or declined, I started to use the VLQ flag and it's now much better...
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 14:04
  • @OldPadawan The only problem with VLQ is that it's available only when the answer has negative rep... Which is a bit constraining.
    – avazula
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 14:23
  • 5
    VLQ is not designed for bad answers. It's designed for unintelligible ones that are beyond editing.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 14:58
  • @Catija : that's clear enough, no problem, what's less is where (to me, at least) we draw the line. Sometimes, a VLQ is also kind of NAA, that's where I personally struggle : which flag is appropriate?
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 17:44
  • 2
    Related: interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1383/…
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 3:00
  • It´s not quite clear to me: Do you want to know what qualifies as "not an answer", Do you want to know how to deal with what you already know are non-answers? Or do you want to propose a new feature?
    – user6109
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 14:14
  • 1
    @Daniel I’m asking if the existing NAA flag can have its wording amended, and if it can’t, can the community either express, or point me towards where it has already expressed, a definitive view on whether the NAA flag is appropriate for responses that do attempt to answer the question, just not using IP skills.
    – user9837
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 15:35
  • Related on meta.se Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer?
    – user10085
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 8:17

2 Answers 2


Here is what happens when you flag something as "Not an Answer":

  • It goes through the Low-Quality Posts review queue.

  • The community reviews it.

  • Depending on the result of the review, the answer is deleted or not.

Now, if you flag something using a custom mod flag:

  • It doesn't go through the review queue.

  • The community doesn't get the chance to review it.

  • The moderators have to decide, all on their own, if the answer is good enough or not.

So, by using a custom mod flag instead of an "NAA" one, we can see that:

  • It gives more work to the mod team.

  • All the power of decision lie on the mods (and not the community).

As I'm not a moderator, I don't really mind giving more work to them, but it doesn't sound really fair (especially since they are just volunteers) and it will probably cause other (important) flags to handle more slowly.

Also, making decisions can be stressful and exhausting, so leaving this part in the hands of the community sound like a better idea (especially if you believe in "The Wisdom of Crowds").

So (in my opinion), the only positive side of using a custom mod flag is that you have to explain why you are flagging. However, you can keep this positive side by commenting on the answer you just flagged.

In fact, a great plus side of commenting is that:

  1. It allows the answerer to better understand what we are looking for in an answer.

  2. It gives them an opportunity to edit and improve their answers.

I, personally, have witnessed some bad answers turn into really great ones thanks to comments.


So, to answer the question:

  • If an answer doesn't meet our quality criteria flag it as "Not An Answer" and leave a comment explaining what the answer is lacking (it's also recommended to point the answerer to the relevant section of our faq).

  • Only use a custom flag if there is a specific issue with the answer that needs moderator intervention.

  • 1
    "As I'm not a moderator, I don't really mind giving more work to them" heeey! :P But more seriously, a side effect you would probably notice is that flags would take a lot more time to process if we had to personally handle all of them ;) Also, a small suggestion/addition - in lieu of custom flag text, it's helpful to leave a comment (usually there's a relevant link in the answer FAQ) so reviewers can see the reasoning (especially people who might be new to the queues or not active on our meta).
    – Em C
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 14:31
  • Thanks for the great suggestion @EmC, I added the relevant section. Also, I feel that this question+answer could be useful in our faq (we just need to remove the "feature-request" tag). What do you think?
    – Ael
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 15:48

I agree.

In my opinion, valid answers offer practical and structured methods in the likes of try this, you might encounter X response, prepare to deal with Y, and consider Z subjective views or feelings are part of the strategy instead of the reason on why to act or not to act.

I've noticed many "answers" that expand extensively on discussion about why to do or not to do something which is the same as if the person asking had asked "what should I do" which is the main reason many questions get closed in the first place.

Amending the flag you mention would help the goals of this SE site.

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