this might will be a duplicate of sg what I couldn't find...

Should I flag an answer as "not an answer" even if it has upvotes? This answer has an upvote but is useless to answer the question (as it is stated in the answer itself).

I got really confused by the upvoted and accepted answer of Jake and my previous thought that I should not downvote answers if they have intention to help.

Also got confused by the fact this community regards a question "solved" if it has an upvoted answer and the thought that I should not flag an upvoted answer as "not an answer".

  • 1
    1. Give some tolerance/margin for other answers, all possible answers for a Q may not be exactly suitable for you only. For the First Version of your Q, the current answer is OK and hence the upvotes. 2. Instead of flagging an non-answer a simple communication comment to User would be enough which gets Upvote over time (if genuine) to make Answerer change. I suggest using bounty after some time for more answers since any Q & A here is not fully "Solved" forever, it's always ever improving with new ideas. I see no confusion :). Nov 6, 2013 at 3:15
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    @masu: I agree, you generally shouldn't downvote if the answer is a genuine attempt to help. If the answer turns out to be wrong, usually someone will comment and try to explain how the answer is incorrect, and the answer will then either get corrected/improved, or if it's unsalvageable, typically the answerer will delete their answer. However, if that doesn't happen, and the answer is "wrong and might be misleading for others", I think a downvote is justified to signal to others that something is seriously wrong with the answer (that's what I tried to get across in the post you linked to)
    – Jake
    Nov 6, 2013 at 7:45
  • @texenthusiast: 1. I can't agree. The question and the answer is about playing cards, that's true. But the poker package does not support the functionality I've requested, and (as it is clearly stated in the answer) the answerer didn't care to check. I think this clearly means this should be a question in comments instead of an answer. 2. I thought the same. If I don't flag the answer that will be the procedure.
    – masu
    Nov 6, 2013 at 9:36

3 Answers 3


All sorts of things get upvotes: it doesn't mean that they are necessarily answers! Alan is of of course right that unhelpful answers can be voted down, but sometimes what should be a comment or edit gets posted as an answer then upvoted. Those should be flagged: it's not the votes that are important, nor the correctness, but whether the 'answer' is at least supposed to be one.


I think there is some consensus that wrong answers are not the same as "not an answer", and should not be flagged. Correct flagging (or: bad answers are answers, too) for some discussion from one of the Moderators on this. The voting system is supposed to separate good answers from bad ones. So it's fine to downvote a bad answer if you think that's necessary, but flagging it is generally inappropriate.

I should also note that Joseph's answer and this answer are completely complementary: I'm focusing on the fact that just because an answer is bad, doesn't mean it should be flagged, whereas Joseph is focusing on the fact that things that should be flagged sometimes get upvotes. It's not an 'either/or' situation: both cases are possible.


Actually, it is not uncommon for people to post things like:

  • A solution to what they think the OP 'really' wants, when OP has made his/her question very focused and specific.
  • A diatribe of sorts, lecturing the OP on how they should not even be in their situation.
  • Their personal experience dealing with a similar problem.

The motivation for this is often sound, and the content often generally useful - but sometimes these 'answers' are a form of condescension or reputation-whoring. Indeed, such 'answers' do tend to win a lot more votes than some messy and slightly obscure partial solution... but which is what the OP was probably looking for.

So, my answer is "it's not only OK, it's often very appropriate to flag such non-answers".

  • I've done the first example myself, but it got accepted. Did you just made up the expression "reputation-whoring"? I like it even too much. :)
    – masu
    Nov 12, 2013 at 0:54
  • @masu: It occurred to me within a day of knowing SO, actually... it's like karma-whoring
    – einpoklum
    Nov 12, 2013 at 6:40
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    I'm guessing this refers to meta.tex.stackexchange.com/questions/2012/…?
    – Jake
    Nov 12, 2013 at 8:02
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    @Jake: Would you believe me if I said I forgot about that question of mine? :-)
    – einpoklum
    Nov 12, 2013 at 8:22

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