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Not an answer
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.

We are discouraged to use flags as super-downvotes, but this entire option found within the flag mechanic is nothing but a super-downvote.

I think it should be removed entirely.

Agent86 referred to flags in his answer as:

Flag
A question needs closing or deleting fast and/or you can't cast a close/delete vote on it. It is evil, weird, or in any way exceptional and deserving of moderator attention for any reason.

I don't feel the Not an Answer option really fits a description of an action that extreme.

  • 5
    Then how would you alert the mods to answers like "I have this problem too! Someone help meeeeee!" – Coronus Jun 7 '13 at 0:14
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    What does "super-downvote" even mean? If you disagree with a valid answer, flagging it will not get it deleted. Moreover, if you continue to make invalid flags, eventually you'll be flag squelched. This is to let mods know of things which are literally not answers -- either a question posted as an answer, or a comment, or a rant, etc. – allquixotic Jun 7 '13 at 0:16
  • @allquixotic search super downvote on the meta site – Ender Jun 7 '13 at 0:17
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    Also: the quote from agent86 is regarding questions. – Coronus Jun 7 '13 at 0:32
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    Was just about to hit "Add Comment", then the comment by @Coronus popped in so I'll second that; Flagging answers is similar to, but not entirely the same as flagging questions. Often times (new) users will attempt to chime in on the questions to the tune of "me too! help!", or ask a (sometimes vaguely) related question in the answer field. These are not answers and should be flagged as such. – Trent Hawkins Jun 7 '13 at 0:34
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    I'm pretty sure at least 67% of my flags are exclusively this option. It's a critical component of keeping the site clean, pre-delete votes. – Frank Jun 7 '13 at 0:53
  • probably more than 67% to be fair – user27134 Jun 7 '13 at 10:42
  • These are a large majority of my flags as well. One of the main reasons being answers that should be comments. I find the NaA flag better because 1) These are new users who typically can't yet comment 2) Downvoting doesn't make the answer go away, and is a negative experience for the new user 3) Mods have the power to convert answers to comments which is often appropriate. High rep users can merely delete. – EBongo Jun 7 '13 at 11:07
  • @Kalina remember what I said forever ago about my meta posts being butchered? ;-) lol – Ender Jun 7 '13 at 12:20
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    @Ender The downvotes on this simply highlight that people disagree that the first option on the flag answer screen is pointless, it's nothing personal – user27134 Jun 7 '13 at 12:21
  • @Kalina i know, thats what i said forever ago, don't you remember? – Ender Jun 7 '13 at 12:22
  • @Ender I have a memory like a goldfish! – user27134 Jun 9 '13 at 18:52
  • @Kalina meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/a/5177/15095 – Ender Jun 9 '13 at 19:08
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I think you're mixing two concepts here. On the one hand, there is a bad answer, which attempts to answer the question and is either wrong or lacking in information. Such an answer deserves a downvote.

On the other hand, there is a non-answer, where the post doesn't even attempt to address the question at hand. These should not continue to exist on the site in such a state. The "not an answer" flag reason is meant for this category of "answer" that isn't really an answer at all.

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Actually, I find this to be basically the most useful option. Downvotes mean that something isn't useful, or basically that it's wrong or the idea doesn't work, even though the answerer thought it would.

Not an Answer flags are for when something doesn't answer the question, like someone just making a joke, saying "Me too!", or someone giving general advice that isn't relevant to the question. There's not really any overlap with downvotes though. Just because it's incorrect or not useful to you, doesn't mean it should be flagged, and you usually don't need to bother downvoting stuff that should be deleted.

Using flags as a "super-downvote" is abuse and not their intended use. Getting rid the NaA flag would remove almost any filtration of answers.

6

Not an Answer exists because there are posts that aren't answers, yet don't qualify as spam or offensive. The spam and offensive flags allow 6 common members (15 rep or more) to remove a post, whereas NAA still requires the attention of mods and/or 10k'ers.

Think of three levels of net contribution to the community: a positive contribution, neutral contribution, and a negative contribution.

Any answer post that actually attempts to answer the question is a positive contribution, regardless if it's actually right. Why is it always a net contribution? Well, if it's wrong, people will downvote and comment, which lets you know what not to do.

It should be obvious why spam and offensive post are a negative contribution: they add nothing to the community, and can actually drive others away.

This leaves all the other posts that aren't offensive or spam, yet aren't actual answers in the uncomfortable middle. In some cases, they're comments from users who can't comment, in others, they're similar or follow-up questions. We don't want regular users completely destroying these posts, which is why we hand off responsibility to our elected mods, and the users who have invested enough time into the site to gain 10,000 rep. Often, we want to keep these users around so that they can make an actual contribution down the road, but they just need some guidance. Indiscriminately deleting their posts or downvoting them is not how we encourage future contribution.

  • "Indiscriminately deleting their posts or downvoting them is not how we encourage future contribution." +1 For considering content and user experience. – EBongo Jun 7 '13 at 1:00

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