This is a request for the proper way to do things as a reviewer on code review. The question and answer can be found at Modularised Document Construction.

I just downvoted an answer that in the first line said it wasn't an answer but a comment and the comment field wasn't large enough. I didn't put a comment for the downvote, because I didn't know what to reason to quote, but I know code review really isn't a place for opinions. The poster is new to code review but has a decent reputation on stackoverflow.

I ask partially because I lost a reputation point, but mostly because I really wanted to comment and I couldn't think of what the proper response was. The answer seemed like a knowledgeable rant rather than anything else.

Should I have just left it alone, flagged it for moderation or ???


2 Answers 2


I'll quote Shog9's MSE answer here:

Forget about answers. Think about apples instead:

apples and answers

Answers are just like that, but less tasty in pies.

You did the right thing - downvoting an answer you deemed partial or low-quality. Despite it explicitly saying “this is more of a long comment”, and even “merely my personal preferences”, from my moderator's point of view this isn't “not an answer”, because it…

  • directly relates to the code in the OP
  • points out a potential flaw in the OP's design
  • explains why OP's design is potentially problematic
  • suggests an alternative solution

Which is exactly what CR answers do.

Granted, it's not a stellar answer, but flagging as NAA / “not an answer” would have been inappropriate, and I would have declined the flag.

Note that votes are personal, and anonymous; you're always free to up or down vote anything (or even not vote!), with or without an explanatory comment.

PS - don't worry about that “lost reputation point”; downvoting answers costs 1 rep, and 1 rep is literally nothing - you'll make it up in no time. Protip: you can use that -1 to satisfy your OCD and level your rep score to a nice round number.. see, you're now at 535, which is a much nicer score to have than 536. …that's not just me, right? RIGHT? ;-)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes it is a nice round number for the moment. \$\endgroup\$
    – pacmaninbw Mod
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 22:08

but I know code review really isn't a place for opinions

It isn't? Aren't reviews simply the opinions of the reviewer? Especially when it comes to stylistic points in reviews, answers are one person's opinion on what should be done to the code to make it better.

Honestly, in this case, I'd say that the answer is in fact an answer. The reviewer is sharing his/her personal opinions about the code/solution in the question; they are offering advice.

So, for this answer, I disagree with your opinion that it is not an answer. And others may disagree with me. This is why we have flags and the review queue. If you come across a question that you believe is not an answer, then you can flag it as such and other users with enough reputation will review your flag and either approve or disapprove it.

As for a comment, you can very simply state that the answer is not a real answer, and then you can go into more specifics about what it is. The comment could start like this... (don't use the first sentence if the user is not new)

Welcome to Code Review! Sorry, but this answer is not a proper answer for Code Review.

And then go to one of these:

  • This is an entirely new question, so please instead using the "ask a question" feature.
  • This should be a comment. [Please wait until you have enough reputation to comment, and do not abuse answers for comments.]

  • This should be an edit on your original question.

In conclusion, the steps to do when you come across an answer that is NAA:

  1. Down-vote
  2. Comment
  3. Flag

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