Shortly after earning 20k reputation, I've encountered a couple of non-answers and – out of habit – flagged both posts as not an answer.

Then, I've remembered my newly gained super powers, downvoted the posts, refreshed the tabs (argh!) and cast a delete vote on each.

That got me thinking. If I encounter an answer that is flaggable as not an answer, should I:

  • flag it?
  • vote to delete it?
  • both?

As long as the answer isn't already in the 10k flag queue, I suppose flagging it is a must1. The delete tab of the 10k tools doesn't appear like voting to delete alone would be fast enough.

If I flag the answer, does voting to delete on top of it have any beneficial effect?


1 I'm assuming that voting to delete doesn't put the answer in the 10k flag queue. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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@TomWijsman: I read your question before posting mine. I know which answers can be flagged as not an answer, but I'm interested in whether I should flag a non-answers if I have enough reputation to cast a delete vote. –  sudo Mar 6 '13 at 18:10
    
Delete votes are irrelevant here, my question demonstrates when to flag such answers. –  Tom Wijsman Mar 6 '13 at 18:14
    
By all means, vote to delete! This community needs WAY more answers deleted and a LOT fewer questions closed. –  OCDtech Mar 7 '13 at 15:59

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

The general rule is that you should flag for moderator attention only if there is something that you can't handle yourself. So ideally, with your new privileges, you shouldn't need to flag anymore. Downvote and vote to delete.*

But:

We have to remember that we're still a very small site compared to Stack Overflow in terms of reputation. On SO, the number of >20k users is much higher than here (we have 21, by the way). If you just downvote and vote to delete a non-answer, chances are it'll go unnoticed and then stay around forever.

So please, just flag answers that aren't answers like you did before.

While this isn't official network-wide policy, I'm fairly sure the other SU mods would agree that we're not drowning in flags from >20k users, and thus will happily handle all your flags for answers that are eligible to be flagged.

If you want, throw in a vote to delete as well. If the review queues are being visited by 20k users, answers with pending votes for deletion might be prioritized, and the community could handle these things alone. I'm not aware of any example, but I've had Not an answer flags on posts with two pending delete votes from our higher reputation members.

To summarize, as long as we don't suddenly get a considerable number of (actively moderating) 20k users who use moderators as proxies for things they could easily handle themselves, there's no problem with the others flagging instead of voting to delete.

Finally, you can of course vote to delete any wrong answers that technically aren't eligible to be flagged, but might still need to be removed. This is something the community can do on its own.

* This is the rationale behind having users with vote to close privileges just cast their votes instead of flagging (see: How should my flagging change when I gain the ability to vote to close?).

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Please see note below.


At 20k, you should downvote and vote to delete. Flags for moderator attention should be reserved for posts that you cannot handle yourself or require immediate attention. We want the community to be involved in moderation. From A Theory of Moderation (emphasis original):

[W]hat do community [♦] moderators do? The short answer is, as little as possible!

This is for the same reason we want 3k users to vote to close rather than flag when possible. See How should my flagging change when I gain the ability to vote to close?


Unfortunately, since there are too few 20k users, relying on the community to delete posts is not a realistic possibility here at Super User. This is an exception to the rule that moderation be handled by the community as much as possible, since the community as it stands is unable to do so without ♦moderators.

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I don't necessarily disagree with your conclusion, but I don't think the analogy to close votes applies here. 1. It's impossible to flag with a close reason if you have 3k+ reputation. 2. Closing a question without moderator intervention is comparatively easy, since it only takes 5 users with 3k+ reputation. Deleting an answer takes 3 users with 20k+ and, as I mentioned in my question, there seem to be a lot of posts with pending delete votes. –  sudo Mar 6 '13 at 18:49

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