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A few flags of mine were declined when I flagged answers that suggest to do things the OP dismissed as not working right in his question. The reason for being declined is the following:

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

The flag is not about the technical inaccuracies, or that the answer was wrong. It's about it already being mentioned in the question as not possibly an answer. Or do we really consider Y an answer to a question like the following:

I want to do X. I already tried Y but it doesn't work.

IMO, it just isn't an answer and just clogs the tubes with duplicated, wrong content. I don't think posting Y as an answer makes any sense, since it's obvious the user didn't even read the whole question.


As an example, consider the following question:

I cannot reach a certain web page. I already reset my router and switched to a different DNS service, but it didn't help. What can I do?

Now someone comes along and posts either of the following as answer:

Try resetting your router

You could configure a different DNS server, maybe yours has problems right now.

Do we really consider these to be answers? I mean it's right there in the question.

This is not like someone asks for a diagram drawing program for Windows and another users recommends to OmniGraffle. We could tolerate something like this as helping later visitors with a similar issue.

But answers like Y simply repeat what was already stated in the topic and simply don't add anything new to it.

  • 2
    This is, by the way, not an XY problem. – Daniel Beck Feb 7 '12 at 18:41
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    If you can explain how Y does work, rendering the OPs argument invalid, then yes it would be a valid answer – Ivo Flipse Feb 7 '12 at 19:19
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    @IvoFlipse True, but this is not what this topic is about. I also consider e.g. awk answers valid to sed questions if it's likely the user just didn't know what tool to use (a bit of XY right there). For the sake of this topic, let's assume that other than some default instructions on how to change the DNS server he doesn't add anything new, and doesn't even mention something like You're just doing it wrong. – Daniel Beck Feb 8 '12 at 10:00
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In this case, I just declined one of your flags because it seemed that you were flagging an answer that was wrong, on a technical level, but still an answer... As for what you really meant, I understand better, now that you've explained it and I've read your flag reason a few more times...

This is tricky - if the OP has already mentioned that Y doesn't work beforehand, as in, before the answer was written, then I say, yes, in most cases, delete it. But if the OP later edits his question and says that one of the answers doesn't work, then the answer stays.

But this depends on different perspectives. Some people feel one way or another. I personally hate to delete it, after he has put work into answering, even if the OP has already dismissed it, as it may have value to future visitors who want to try setx in this situation. This is actually a very common problem on SU, I've seen a lot of answers where someone answered even after the OP said it wouldn't work - I've even posted things without fully reading the question...In my case, I usually delete it, but sometimes I leave it, because it has value.

Thanks for bringing this up...

(Question [in question]: equivalent "echo on" for linux?)

  • I didn't ask specifically about that question, more in a general sense. Since you bring it up: the exact flag text I used was: not an answer, but I'm not sure if "Y" is a valid answer to "I want X but doing Y doesn't work". My comment to this answer already existed by then, stating Which is kind of what the OP dismissed as useless right in his question.... – Daniel Beck Feb 7 '12 at 18:33
  • If you have a recommendation how to word flags like this to prevent further misunderstanding it'd be great. – Daniel Beck Feb 7 '12 at 18:35
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    @DanielBeck to be honest, I didn't see your comment on the answer, I dealt with your flag directly from the queue. As for further misunderstanding, perhaps say something like OP already said that this answer doesn't work for him or something like that... – studiohack Feb 7 '12 at 18:37
  • Your flag processing UI does not show comments to a post? Sounds like a useful feature-request... – Daniel Beck Feb 7 '12 at 18:38
  • Small inaccuracy in the first comment above: I first added an almost identically worded comment that existed before, but said answer instead of question. But since you didn't see it anyway... – Daniel Beck Feb 7 '12 at 18:41
  • @DanielBeck it does, but only if we expand it in the queue, which we do sometimes, depends. anyways, will pay more attention next time. thanks! – studiohack Feb 7 '12 at 18:42

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