Upon review of the moderation queues, I found this answer flagged because of its length and content.

The problem with this answer is that it does not answer the question (at least not exactly: OP asks for advice on how to tell their friend that their actions are harmful and the question insists on the gravity of OP's friend's actions), but it also raises a very important concern to me, for it warns about the danger this behavior induces. This is mentioned nowhere else, be it in the post or the other answers.

My question therefore is: how should we deal with this not-relevant but of valuable-information answer?


Generally I err on the side of discouraging "answers" that don't answer the question. We have enough of a problem with people attempting to use this site as their personal soapbox that I'm not comfortable creating exceptions to that policy.

Since I feel that we shouldn't be creating exceptions to our answer policy I think we should handle it like any other NAA answer, either flag it as NAA, or edit it so that it answers the OP's question. If we decide to flag a post we should leave a comment clearly expressing that there is value in the post and encouraging the poster to edit the post so that won't be removed.


Eh... I'm of two minds about this.

There's the technically correct Stack Exchange thing to do, and then there's the deep down right thing to do. Probably something that everyone has to check their own personal moral compass on, but I tend to think that's a good thing sometimes.

Interpersonal skills aren't as cut and dry as most subjects. One of the really interesting things about the topic, but also one of the things that make the topic difficult in this format.

Probably a hertical opinion, but perhaps in some cases, some things should be weighed a little differently. Rather than "does this content meet the strict rules of SE?" it may be worth taking a little more time to think about whether this content is likely to be useful to the OP and future readers.

I know that the SE model hates gray areas. We'll preform some interesting mental gymnastics in order to try to avoid them or make rules and edit things to try to avoid the appearance of them, but... if we're really honest they're always going to be there.

And... As much as I hate to admit it, we need some structure. Too much gray area and we begin to allow people to post errant nonsense that isn't likely to help anyone.

I would like to suggest that, on the hopefully rare occasion, we would be a little more willing to accept a little gray here and there, when it looks like adhering to the cut and dry rules deprives the site, and the community, of honestly helpful content.

When the choice comes down to doing the right thing, vs following the rules, have a little courage and do the right thing.

Well-behaved women seldom make history.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

Or perhaps for our purposes:

Well-behaved folks seldom make history.

  • 6
    I agree. I've never had the guts to post an answer in this stack because of the overwhelming learning curve required in order to do so. It seems every one is constantly trying to police this site and enforce all of these rules. Why not tolerate a bit more "grey" and have the voting system work itself out? Flag inappropriate or offensive answers, but useful ones that may lie outside some of the current IPS Answer Laws could remain and be what they are: helpful responses to a question. – maxathousand Aug 3 '18 at 17:49

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