This has always been a problem, due in part to the Not An Answer (NAA) flag previously having some unclear wording, but Not an answer flags are not intended to be used on low-quality or wrong answers. This has been brought up before, but since the NAA continues to be used not as intended I think some clarification is required.

The description of the NAA flag is:

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.

The key things to note here is that it says it is an attempt to answer the question, and that it makes no mention of quality. That's because the flag is not intended to be used on wrong or low-quality answers, but posts which make no attempt to answer the question at all. This includes posts like "Thanks!", "I have a similar problem!", and "I'm not sure what advice to give you, but that boss was so much fun!". None of these attempt to answer the question, and should therefore be flagged (and deleted) as Not an Answer.

When the flag shouldn't be used is when users attempt to answer the question, but their answer is either wrong or of very-low quality. This includes answers which don't cite any sources, or are just guesses. They're not good answers, but they're still answers. For these types of answers you should downvote, not flag. Leaving a comment explaining what's wrong can be a good idea too, but not always (and if you do, be nice. "This is crap" isn't a helpful comment). This actually isn't all that different from how A Close Vote is not a Super-Downvote. Please don't use it as one.

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    I agree in principle but what this post doesn't appear to cover is "answers" that are essentially "well I think it works like this" one-liners which don't really answer the question but aren't applicable for NAA flags - these should be mod-flagged, requesting that they're converted to a comment and I think it would be important to establish how you deal with these edge cases in this post (since it's a new, current post) so we can establish consensus and stop going around in circles when it comes to dealing with these kinds of questions.
    – kalina
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 14:09
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    @kalina: That's a guess, which is considered a low-quality answer and should be downvoted. Revisiting our policy on this is a good idea I think, but I think a new meta would be the best for that, since this was just meant to remind users of our current policy.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 14:44
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    @wipqozn And yet, a guess is fundamentally not an attempt to provide an answer to a question; it's an attempt to provide an opinion to a discussion. Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 14:51
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    @BillyMailman There's so much wrong with your comment. A guess is exactly an attempt to provide an answer to a question. It's just a very poorly researched one. Sure, it's opinion, but opinion is okay here. And making a guess doesn't automatically turn the question into a discussion. That said, I would prefer to only see guesses as answers as an absolutely last resort. Part of the reason I hate all the Minecraft support questions here is that the answers are, effectively, guesses.
    – Sterno
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 14:56
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    @Sterno I strongly disagree; guesses are a vestigial behaviour people pick up in forums, where opinion is valued, everything is a discussion, and anything you can post is acceptable. On a Stack Exchange site, where opinion is discouraged, discussion is kept to meta, and valueless posts are deleted, it's so far from being a valid attempt to answer, it's not even in the same county. Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 15:01
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    @BillyMailman It's possible we are agreeing about what makes for worthy content on the site, but are disagreeing over our definitions of what qualifies as a "guess". But if the only thing that determines whether or not we're flagging "guesses" as NAA is if the person happens to write "Well, I think" in front of their answer, we're doing it wrong. You shouldn't be able to edit 3 words out and suddenly it's perfectly valid (or edit them in to make it invalid).
    – Sterno
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 15:30
  • There are also times when the only possible answer to a question, short of decompiling the code or doing a ridiculous amount of statistical analysis, is to make an educated guess. Let's say Hello Kitty RPG Island comes out and someone asks "Does fighting in the dark lower my hit chance?" Let's assume the RPG does not show the chance to hit anywhere... absent getting your hands on the source code or doing a lot of statistical analysis(which would be a great answer!), people may end up making an educated guess based on their own gameplay experience. Such answers should not be flagged NAA.
    – Sterno
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 15:36
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    What about the case of the person answering a DIFFERENT question in their answer? How would you flag that? Is that Not an Answer or is it Low Quality? Or just down vote the heck out of it? I've had both flags accepted and rejected for this situation. Or should I post this as a separate Meta question?
    – David M
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 19:56
  • @DavidM: We've only had on post on that question, and there wasn't really enough input to say on way or another if these are answers or not. They community did seem to favour deletion, but once again, not enough input to really make a statement either way.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 20:17
  • Real Important Distinction: What about 'answers' that are very obviously wrong? Like asking how to solve a puzzle, and giving a completely incorrect answer? Is that low-quality, or not even an answer?
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 21:02
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    @Zibbobz Wrong answers are still answers. Downvote, comment, and move on.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 21:06
  • @Zibbobz - "This answer has severe formatting or content problems. This answer is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed." - Low Quality Flag reason (emphasis mine)
    – Robotnik Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 7:24
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    If we're trying to encourage people to downvote rather than report, why are users punished for downvoting? Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 15:16
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    @Studoku The 1-rep loss isn't meant to be a punishment for voting, but to encourage you to use your downvotes wisely instead of just downvoting something "willy nilly".
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 15:27
  • If you don't want people using "Not an Answer" to mean "Low Quality", then you should let people flag as Low Quality. Removing a flag option doesn't make the problem go away.
    – MrLore
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 17:26


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