I flagged this answer (10k only) about Minecraft on a question about Minicraft (I think I explicitly mentioned this in the type-in field, as well as in a comment on the post) and it was declined with the reason

flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer

I seem to recall flagging similar cases before (answers about the wrong game) and have them go through. Sure, I can downvote that post and help bury it because it's "wrong", but why should I sac my rep for something that's totally off-topic?

  • While this question is up, would one of you mods like to weigh in on wat I should do about answers that are clearly trolling/providing actively harmful misinformation? I've flagged these in the past and had mixed results. For example - this answer, which is an obvious fabrication. On Cooking.SE, it would be the equivalent of an answer recommending Drain Cleaner as an exciting new flavor enhancer - it's not just wrong, it's obviously made up with the intention to 'cause harm'. Mar 18, 2012 at 14:39
  • I bring this up because we tend to get a lot of these at Gaming, and while the scale of harm is obviously smaller than said drain cleaner example, the fact is that I don't understand why an answer clearly posted in bad faith does not warrant deletion by a mod, rather than a simple downvote. Mar 18, 2012 at 14:41
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz it is my personal opinion that an answer posted in bad faith warrants not only deletion, but also possibly suspension, especially if it is a repeating offense. But proving "bad faith" as opposed to "incorrect" or "misunderstood the question" is not always easy.
    – Oak
    Mar 18, 2012 at 14:43
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz I'd say delete it too, based on this. Mar 18, 2012 at 18:34
  • @MatthewRead I'd agree. I ask because, as I noted, I've had several such flags declined. Mar 18, 2012 at 18:37
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    @LessPop_MoreFizz There's always room to educate the mods ;) Mar 18, 2012 at 18:39
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    I flagged that answer as well and also had the flag declined
    – Ben Brocka
    Mar 19, 2012 at 1:00

2 Answers 2


If someone leaves an answer on a question to a different question, then the answer should be deleted as "not an answer" because they are not real answers. As @oak said, they might technically be answers, but the important thing is if they are not an answer (wrong or otherwise) to the question.

If someone asked a question asking "How do I level-up smithing in Skyrim?" and then I posted an answer detailing how you beat Level 1-1 of Super Mario Brothers then my answer is not an answer to the question. It is technically an answer, but it is an answer to a different question and should therefore be deleted.

In the end these answers are nothing more than noise, and are, in my opinion, no different than someone posting a "Thanks me too!" post as an answer.

  • That's simply not how an answer is defined from a moderation point of view. The post just has to be formulated as an answer (not a comment / question / etc.) and not otherwise offensive / spammy / etc. in order to be considered an answer. "Not an answer" flags aren't supposed to be used for such posts. Vote them down and leave a comment to educate the poster instead. I don't think your Mario/Skyrim example is the same because I don't believe anyone could honestly confuse the two, and the post would be in bad faith (see the comments above on the question). Mar 18, 2012 at 21:52
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    @Matt, no, that's not an answer, it's some random (useless) fact. An answer is a reply to a question, you can't just arbitrarily switch topics. The degree of segue can vary, but here I'm talking about things that are so far beyond the pale they're utterly, unequivocally useless.
    – Nick T
    Mar 18, 2012 at 22:05
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    @NickT It's fair to argue that the moderation policy should be changed here, but under the current policy it does count as an answer. Like Oak says a mod shouldn't have to know every detail of every game and that's why the degree of wrongness isn't something mods consider when looking at a post. If it's so clearly wrong it will get lots of downvotes and be greyed out and pushed down. That's enough. Wrong information and bad answers aren't things needing mod attention and removal like spam or offensive content. Mar 18, 2012 at 22:17
  • @MatthewRead The point nickt and I are trying to make is that it has nothing to do with the answer being wrong, the answer has nothing to do with the question. It's just noise.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Mar 18, 2012 at 22:18
  • @Wipqozn I agree with what Oak says about the general case -- a mod can't easily evaluate whether an answer here has something to do with the question except when they're familiar with the game. In NickT's example, what if the word "minecraft" wasn't in the question or it was in fact written as "minicraft"? The unrelatedness of the answer wouldn't change at all, it would just be less obvious. It's no different from the answerer honestly thinking that the answer was in fact correct for minicraft. I really think the value of such posts needs to be determined by voters. Mar 18, 2012 at 22:22
  • @Matt, 99% of the questions here (now that ITG is gone) have the game in the tags. In these clear-cut cases, why do we need to bother voting?
    – Nick T
    Mar 18, 2012 at 22:44
  • @NickT Not sure what you're saying -- a vote is quicker than a flag. And why should you dump it on the mods? What exactly is so problematic about these answers compared to normal wrong answers that they need to be expunged? Mar 18, 2012 at 22:58
  • @Matt what's so problematic about a comment-answer?
    – Nick T
    Mar 18, 2012 at 22:58
  • @NickT Comment-answers allowed to remain turn the post into a forum thread, chock full of noise. New users seeing that learn to do it and perpetuate the problem. On the other hand, I can't imagine anyone going "man I love being wrong, I should post about a random game too". Mar 18, 2012 at 23:02
  • @MatthewRead I'm not saying the answers shouldn't be down voted, they should, but they should also be deleted.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Mar 18, 2012 at 23:05
  • Deletion is only needed if they're truly problematic. I really haven't seen anything to indicate that they're more problematic than regular incorrect answers. So unless they significantly impact the signal through their noise, or are in bad faith/dangerous/offense/etc., why delete? Mar 18, 2012 at 23:11

Technically the answer is still an answer, it's just wrong because the answerer did not understand correctly what the answer is about. And wrong = downvoting, not moderator intervention.

However, in practice, I think we can all agree these answers add nothing to the site and could be safely removed in the interest of making the Internet a Better Place. So maybe we need to start removing answers in cases where it's obvious the answerer misunderstood the question completely. The answer you linked is a good example, as is this answer.

Of course, high-rep users can already vote to delete such answers, and longtime users tend to delete their own answers if they see they have misunderstood.

  • It's not an answer at all, it does absolutely nothing to answer the question so right or wrong is just irrelevant. The typical comment-answer is more informative.
    – Nick T
    Mar 18, 2012 at 8:33
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    @NickT well maybe we have different definitions. For me, a good way to distinguish something that requires moderator intervention from something which doesn't, is the question "can a moderator deal with it even with zero knowledge of the game". Answering a question with a question - yes. Arguing in comments - yes. Altogether wrong answers - no. Answers that misunderstand the question - sometimes, but in the case discussed here, no. Flagging for moderator attention here is basically asking the moderator to intervene based on the mod's opinion about the game, which is problematic (but doable).
    – Oak
    Mar 18, 2012 at 8:38
  • @NickT I agree with Oak, this place is meant to be possible to contain many answers (even horridly wrong ones).. Down vote and put in a comment so the original poster can see they answered it wrong. Let them remove it and until then keep down voting.
    – James
    Mar 18, 2012 at 8:40
  • Your "zero-knowledge" criteria passes here with flying colors; the answer explicitly says "Minecraft", while the question says, and is tagged, "Minicraft".
    – Nick T
    Mar 18, 2012 at 8:40
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    @NickT with that I agree, and I'm going to delete that answer. But I'm trying to think of the general case, and explicitly mentioning the wrong game name is not always the case - see the answer I have linked.
    – Oak
    Mar 18, 2012 at 8:43
  • @NickT that's a great example :) Not playing Minecraft nor Skyrim, I wouldn't have known how to deal with a flag on that answer!
    – Oak
    Mar 18, 2012 at 8:49
  • @Oak so Mana shouldn't have deleted that, or it was pure luck that he reviewed it before you? Flagging, plus a comment like "...you know this isn't Skyrim" with dozens of upvotes doesn't hold any sway?
    – Nick T
    Mar 18, 2012 at 8:53
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    @NickT technically - no, that should not have been mod-deleted. I believe it's stackexchange long-running policy that it's not the moderators' job to delete things on the "wrong" ground. I don't have any way to tell that that Skyrim/Minecraft is completely wrong. However, as I have written in my answer above, I do agree with deletion in cases the moderator is certain. Lots of flags and upvotes on the comments can help. Familiarity with the game can also help. A user writing "minecraft" instead of "minicraft" can also help. The combination of your complaint, the flags and downvotes on that...
    – Oak
    Mar 18, 2012 at 9:12
  • ... minicraft answer made me delete it; I was certain. But in the general case we should be very very careful before deleting something on the "wrong" grounds. I have declined such flags before (though I did not decline that minicraft/minecraft flag, by the way).
    – Oak
    Mar 18, 2012 at 9:13
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    @NickT btw Grace also addressed the specific minicraft-answer-to-minecraft-question thing recently, and he also suggests commenting and downvoting, but does not mention flagging or deleting.
    – Oak
    Mar 18, 2012 at 9:16
  • Oak is absolutely right here, mods aren't supposed to delete things that are technically attempts to answer the question, regardless of which part of the question (tags / the game, in this case) they may have ignored. As waffles says here wrong answers are only deleted if "dangerous", such as format c:. Related, we also don't delete dupe answers in general. Mar 18, 2012 at 18:29
  • @MatthewRead deleting dupe answers is a whole other topic, that said, several of my flags have been accepted (and answers deleted) on duplicate, low-quality answers.
    – Nick T
    Mar 18, 2012 at 19:23
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    @NickT I wouldn't deny that there's always room for improvement in moderator consistency. It's probably harder on Gaming given that there's >3 mods. Mar 18, 2012 at 19:26

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