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I recently flagged an answer as "Not An Answer" and the flag was rejected with the reason:

declined - flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention

Why is a "Not An Answer" flag being handled by a moderator? Isn't that what in need of moderator intervention flags are for?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Good question. I am wondering as well about the reason. \$\endgroup\$ – Heslacher Feb 13 '18 at 5:18
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All flags raise a warning for moderators in the top bar of the site. The Not An Answer flags behave the same way as all other flags.

The Not An Answer flags could probably be handled by the community. The community already participates in the moderation of such cases, and this can be seen in the linked answer. That is, low quality answers enter the Low Quality queue, and users may downvote it. After a certain number of downvotes, the delete link becomes available for users with high reputation. And then users can delete the answer. Without ever raising any flags for moderator attention.

Indeed, the Not An Answer cause alone without another more important cause such as spam, doesn't call for moderator attention, at all. The community could handle these all by itself. I think this would be a good feature request for the network.


I also would like to take the opportunity to explain why the flag was declined by a moderator.

Here's the relevant part of the timeline (link for those who have the privilege to see it) on that answer:

15 hours ago    flag        AnswerNotAnAnswer   Stephen Rauch   not an answer
15 hours ago                cleared             Simon Forsberg♦ Declined: flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention
17 hours ago    history     notice added        Simon Forsberg♦ Insufficient justification
17 hours ago    comment     added               Toby Speight    Welcome to Code Review! ...
17 hours ago    flag        AnswerNotAnAnswer   Heslacher       not an answer
17 hours ago                cleared             Simon Forsberg♦ Helpful
19 hours ago    history     answered            hallo ihr geilen typen

Let me paraphrase that, along with some extra comments from my side:

  • The answer was posted
  • 2 hours later, Heslacher flagged the post as Not An Answer
  • The flag was handled as Helpful by Simon
  • At around the same time, Toby added a comment, signaling to the user that the answer needs work
  • At around the same time, Simon added a post notice, reinforcing Toby's comment, and signaling to everyone that moderators are aware of the situation
  • 2 hours later, Stephen flagged the post as Not An Answer, and Simon declined it

I agree with the decision to decline the second flag. The post notice clearly indicates that a moderator has seen the issue, and acted on it. There's no need to bring this to a moderator's attention again, when the answer existed for only 4 hours. The issue is hardly urgent, and 4 hours may not be enough for the poster to react in response to the comment.

If you see that a post has been handled, please don't flag it again for the same reason, unless you think the issue needs to be revisited. For example, if the 2nd flag had come 2 days later, I would accept it as Helpful and delete the poor quality answer, thinking that the answerer had plenty of time to react, and didn't, and it's justified to trash the answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Personally I pretty much never delete answers like this, I just down-vote, add a post notice and move on. So if it would have been me that would see the flag two days later, I would probably still have rejected the flag. But a declined flag here and there doesn't hurt anyone. \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Forsberg Feb 13 '18 at 11:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good answer, but possibly on the wrong question. The question wasn't why the flag was declined, but why moderators handle such flags instead of the community. \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Feb 13 '18 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SimonForsberg wait, you down-vote these type of answers, or are you referring to the original question? \$\endgroup\$ – Raystafarian Feb 14 '18 at 7:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Raystafarian Answers like this (10k+ link only unfortunately). I mean, answers with an alternative approach but no pure-english description about changes made, answers that are typically flagged as "Not an answer". \$\endgroup\$ – Simon Forsberg Feb 14 '18 at 11:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Simon ah, right-o. \$\endgroup\$ – Raystafarian Feb 14 '18 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems the timeline is out of order. \$\endgroup\$ – Solomon Ucko Feb 19 '18 at 22:21

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