This is about THIS question. If interpersonal skills are a way to deal with the issue (not even sure about that, though...), the problem lies with the "answers".

How do you know an IPS question has hit the HNQ? => check the # of views, the # of votes, and, unfortunately, the # of low quality throw-your-ideas-or-try-this posts.

At the moment of this writing, 3 "whatever you call it, but not an answer" (out of 4) don't have any backup. In any way. These are mainly "ideas" (did I really used this word?) thrown in the middle. Some "try this". Some "you should do that". Get UV and I'm done, I'm gone...

And the top-voted one links to a wikihow (is this a credible source? never heard of it AFAIC) as a kind of backup, but it seems kind of "thin", even if interesting.

Is this really what we want for IPS?

When you get there, damages have been done. It should be flagged a VLQ. But it's not possible anymore (too late). NAA? those flags are mostly declined (happened to me on some places, so I stopped doing it loooong ago - meta post about it). You can flag only to mod's attention? What for? Not following our policies? What would be the phrasing then?

Seeing that makes me so disappointed that I can't even figure out a proper way to deal with it...

Is this a possible asking for a specific flag or close reason/phrasing?

Related, about answers, policies and moderation:

  1. deleting answers flagged as not an answer
  2. post notice for answers not meeting criteria
  3. what's expected from answers
  • 3
    interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/a/2994/1599 < See the section for users, step 4 ;) Don't be afraid to have your NAA flag declined here: opinions are not answers ;)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 12:50
  • 1
    "NAA? those flags are mostly declined" Are you sure you're talking about IPS? I think I've only had one NAA flag declined in like the last 6 months. I know other sites use them differently, but for us, that'd probably be my go-to option.
    – scohe001
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 13:58
  • @scohe001 : to be clear, I had so many bad experiences across the network that I asked myself if it would be the same here, so the "I'm not sure I'll try again here" part :)
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 14:08
  • Ahh my bad, totally missed that :P
    – scohe001
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 14:25
  • Both NAA and VLQ will kick the post into the LQ queue if the post has never been fully reviewed there. Only if it has been fully reviewed will it go to moderators.
    – gparyani
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 23:58
  • BTW just to respond to your parenthetical - when I checked the wikiHow page, if you scroll to the bottom it says "This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Together, they cited information from 7 references." (with links). So I think that makes it a valid source for backup here.
    – Em C
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 19:28
  • Related: interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/q/3320/21067
    – Ael
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 7:49

2 Answers 2


This post explains how we've been dealing with unsupported answers on IPS. TL;DR, flag as "not an answer" (often shortened to "NAA").

So here's what I'd propose as a strategy for everyone using the site:

  1. See an answer that's unsubstantiated
  2. Post a comment to the effect of... No, y'know what, I had a generic example here but that was a bad idea. Post a comment specific to the answer:

    • point out any claims that aren't supported by evidence of some sort - something the author has experienced, something they've read, anything tangible.
    • explain why you're having trouble accepting these claims without backup
    • politely ask the author to provide supporting evidence for their claims.

    This step is important. I cannot emphasize that enough. This site isn't an informal support forum, but sometimes it sure looks like one - and so you can forgive authors for writing in the style they would on such a forum, and gently guide them towards something a bit more rigorous. If you get into a disagreement, stay polite and ask them to raise the matter for discussion here on meta.

  3. Downvote the answer

  4. Flag the answer as "Not an answer"
  5. Go to review and review posts flagged by other members of the site, voting or recommending deletion in cases where they too fail to provide backup for their assertions.

For NAA flags, upvotes don't stop people from voting "recommend deletion", and if enough people vote that way the mods will get a flag about it so we can manually delete the answer.

If your flag is disputed that means a number of people voted "Looks OK" in review. If it's declined, that means a mod looked at the flag and declined it. (See What is the difference between disputed and declined flags? on main meta.)

If that happens and you still think the answer should go, you could open a meta question about it to understand the reasoning of the voters. Another option for disputed flags is to flag it for moderator attention, with a description of why you think it's clearly not backed up - although ideally that's already in your comment from earlier! (But if it's marked declined that means we already weren't convinced, so better just ask on meta.) Plus, posting it publicly can help educate people who aren't aware of how IPS uses NAA flags and make sure the community is on the same page.


Use Your Downvotes

If you see a bad answer, step 1 is to downvote it. The way to fight bad content is to delete it. The community can only delete posts if they have a negative score. That will only happen if we downvote the bad answers.

Flag things

I typically use the not an answer flag on answers with no backup. That'll kick it into the LQP queue and we can review it.

Ask for help

If you see a bad answer, especially on an HNQ post, don't hesitate to come to chat and ask for someone to look at it. There are several site regulars who hang out in chat and would be happy to go help you downvote and flag bad answers, you need only ask.

  • well, everything you describe here is good, but when I saw the Q, it was far too late (+24 UV already) for my DV to be useful and open for VLQ :/
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 14:10
  • 3
    @OldPadawan your downvote is still useful even if it doesn't allow you to vote to delete. It's fairly common for users to complain that their well liked answer was deleted. If we don't downvote the answers when we flag them, it's harder for the mods to justify the deletion to a user if there are no downvotes on their post.
    – Rainbacon
    Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 19:59

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