Since the upgrade to MO2.0 there are some new flags, among others it is now possible to flag an answer as "not an answer."

I believe this notifies the moderators only (as opposed to having any effect upon multiple users doing it); if this is wrong please correct me.

Yesterday, or at least recently, I used this flag twice. One got approved, yet the other declined. So, I would like to get some better understanding of the views, especially of those of the moderators (in particular if this should only be a flag for them), when to flag something as not an answer.

This is the official description:

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.

Here is a thread on meta.SO on the subject though I am not sure how relevant this is or should be.

Also, for context let me give my two flags as examples.

  1. The approved one (answer got deleted, only 10k+ visible).

  2. The declined one.

I flagged the former, since the information given did in no way address the question, but rather talked about something else entirely (only loosely related). I flagged the latter, since it seemed like a comment given as an answer, for lack of rep to comment, in accordance with the official description. (In particular, I was under the vague impression that now answers can be turned into comments by moderators, but perhaps this is wrong, aagain corrections welcome)

(To avoid a potential misunderstanding this is definitely not to complain about my flag being declined, but since this is a new feature I thought it would be better to discuss this here, rather than that everybody figures out by trial-and-error, which type of flagging is helpful and which is declined.)

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    $\begingroup$ Moderators can convert answers into comments, you're right about that. $\endgroup$
    – user35354
    Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ This is best answered by 10K and Mods on MO (of which group I do not belong). But it maybe useful to see my perspective when the same question came up in Math.SE. At the end of the day, there's a certain degree of subjective ambiguity as to whether a post should or should not be a comment instead. It is almost inevitable that sometimes someone will see things differently from the moderator who happened to end up dealing with the flag. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ @WillieWong: thank you for the perspective. Could I ask you (or anybody who knows) a technical question related to this: I was under vague impression that there are three options to handle a flag: a) follow what is recommened by flag, b) decline, and this is the unclear part c) do not follow what is flagged but still mark as helpful. Does this c) exist? And, if so, do you use this, or decline in the ambigous cases where you disagree? $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, (c) exists. I don't entirely agree with your characterisation of the split, I think of (a) more as "certain actions automatically cause a flag to be marked as helpful". This page may help. As to your final question: I generally only decline when I strongly disagree with the flag (sometimes for technical reasons like "this is something that can be dealt with by the community through votes, and not something that a moderator needs to interfere".) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 14:17
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    $\begingroup$ If I find a flag ambiguous I usually leave it be for other moderators to look at (as in, I neither mark as helpful nor decline it). One of the advantages of having multiple moderators is that one person doesn't have to deal with all the flags. In fact, moderators can open "moderator-only chatrooms" to discuss how to handle more ambiguous or potentially controversial issues. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ @WillieWong: This page seems very detailed, thank you; I send a virtual +1 to those having written it. I agree your characterization of a) seems better. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 14:26

1 Answer 1


See also: When is an answer not an answer?

Firstly, it is seen to 10k users as well, under /tools/flagged (I suggest you check out /tools in general, there are quite a few goodies there)

It should basically be used when it's not an answer to the question. Such posts are either separate questions or comments. Note that a short answer is not necessarily NAA, as long as it is worded as an answer or addresses at least one of the questions in the question; it's an answer. Also, wrong answers are not NAA.

In particular, I was under the vague impression that now answers can be turned into comments by moderators, but perhaps this is wrong, again corrections welcome

This is true, in fact they get a convenient convert-to-comment button (instead of having to navigate the mod menu) on posts that have been flagged.

Regarding your specific case, it looks flaggable to me, but I'm not a regular so I can't be sure.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the information. I was not aware this flag was also visible under tools, I should have checked. (I was used to having there only spam/offensive from the old MO.) I think this makes even more relevant to have a discussion about the subject, as more people (mods and 10k+) can disagree with or support this type of flag. $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 11:03

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