I sometimes see answers in the review queue that have apparently been flagged/voted for deletion with the boilerplate comment "this does not answer the question...", or something to that effect. In the vast majority of cases where I encounter this, the post actually does answer the question. I suspect they are flagged because the answer is either wrong or short and lacking references. Is this a valid reason to delete answers?

Similarly, I occasionally (rarely) see answers which are later moved to comments. I think this is done by moderators because the answer is short (correct me if I'm wrong). If short answers should not be deleted, should they be moved to comments?

Here some related/duplicate topics:

I bring this up because those posts are rather old and I think it needs to be discussed again.

Here is a current example I came across in the review queue of a post that directly and correctly answers the question but has been flagged. The answer was subsequently deleted.

  • $\begingroup$ Do you have any specific examples of answers that you think tries to answer the Q, but have the boilerplate not an answer attached? It is hard to discuss these things without concrete examples. I guess many might already be deleted though. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ Related; has the very low quality flag been removed from SE? I cannot see it under either questions or answers. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater I see very low quality as an option for answers, I don't think it has been an option for questions since I have been on SE (which, granted, isn't that long). $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 16:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause Weird, for answers I only see spam, rude, not an answer and moderator intervention. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater Are you looking on meta or the main site? I also wonder if the options change depending on your participation on the post (for example, if you have posted another answer) - but I don't know much about this, just another suggestion for something that might cause differences. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 19:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @bryankrause I see the same thing both on the regular site and meta. I need to check on a laptop later - currently on my mobile. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater Another possibility is that it is due to privileges gained with >10k rep? Like, you have the option to delete, so it is expected that you vote to delete rather than flag a low quality post? Seems unlikely, but just speculating... $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater There is an example of an answer being moved to a comment in the second topic I linked to. I saw another example rather recently but I don't remember where. Again, this is rather rare, but I don't think moderators should be acting unilaterally in these cases. As for answer being voted for deletion, I haven't seen an example since I created this post, but if I do I'll post it. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 18:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater I have added a recent example to the question. I'll post a picture later in case the post actually gets deleted. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 7:35
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    $\begingroup$ @canadianer Good example! I think these cases are hard. In many ways, the answer in unsatisfactory (explanation too brief, says who (refs) etc). On the other hand, it is clearly an answer and not a comment. I would be fine with these getting a mod banner for references missing, and maybe downvoted if people find them unhelpful/incomplete (instead of being deleted). $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 10:34
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    $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater I just don't see who benefits from an answer like this being deleted. The OP doesn't have their question answered and I doubt the answerer will be back to have more posts deleted. Certainly the answer is not great, but that is the reason we have the voting system. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ It shouldn't be up to one or two users to decide that an answer should be obliterated from the face of the earth. According to the ethos quoted in my answer, people have a right to post an answer on these websites. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ My suggestion in this case would be not to delete an answer that is brief as long as a better, duplicate answer doesn't exist. If someone gave that exact same answer but another answer already existed containing exactly the same answer but better researched, then I would delete the brief, poor quality answer. I would never recommend answers for deletion that are the same but both are high quality on their own right, though, this only applies to answers that are truly useless in the context of an existing answer. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause Unless it's direct plagiarism, I don't see how the content of one answer should dictate whether another gets deleted. As far as I know, multiple answers to questions are encouraged, and for good reason. Anyways, I wish the people who frequently flag answers for deletion would comment here. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 23:13

2 Answers 2


I'm only posting this answer to give my opinion and relevant information I have found. Obviously I would also like other people's opinions as well.

If a post attempts to answer the question, it should not be deleted or moved to a comment. Wrong answers or "poor quality" right answers should be dealt with by voting and commenting. See these posts on meta:

How do I properly use the "Not an Answer" flag?

Do not use this flag when:

  • The user posts a partial answer
  • The answer is wrong or inaccurate, or you disagree with it
  • You have to consider the question, other answers, or even the comments on the answer itself in order to determine if an answer is not-an-answer

When should I delete an answer?

A: Answers that are answers but are factually wrong or are actively bad (say promote SQL Injection) should get downvoted, but not deleted.

Q: Why not vote to delete a -10 answer that is factually wrong and actively bad? To serve as an example?

A: Because they still have a right to provide the answer, and seeing an approach widely considered wrong is still useful information, as opposed to trying to stick your head in the sand.


From the help:

Why and how are some answers deleted?

Answers that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed. This includes answers that are:

  • commentary on the question or other answers
  • asking another, different question
  • “thanks!” or “me too!” responses
  • exact duplicates of other answers
  • barely more than a link to an external site
  • not even a partial answer to the actual question

When I flag "not an answer" I have this broad definition for what an answer is in mind. In other words, my behavior tends to follow this less-upvoted answer on meta rather than the more-upvoted one - oops? I'm not sure how much this is a problem or just a difference of opinion.

I think the most borderline case that I encounter frequently on this site is when another user comes along, usually on a post that is >6 months old, and adds a one-sentence answer that is completely contained in an existing up-voted answer and doesn't really address the question.

Here is another example: the answer provides some barely relevant side information and doesn't actually attempt to address the question in the OP.

Maybe the "low quality" flag is better in this case, but for some reason I have a real hesitancy to use that flag.

  • $\begingroup$ I am asking about answers that do fundamentally answer the question but are still flagged for deletion. The following comments are quotes from the meta post you linked to about when to not flag an answer: $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ partial or short answers. If there is a hint of an answer, it’s not NAA. Don’t listen to people who claim that these should be comments. The fundamental distinction between answers and comments is that the former seek to address the question and the latter try to improve the question – not length. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ wrong answers. Downvote them and use comments to explain what is wrong. The NAA flag is for answers that are not even wrong, i.e., they do not even live on the right–wrong axis (for the respective question). $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, if you look at that meta post (both answers, and the comments), I think some of the discussion boils down to what does it mean to fundamentally answer the question. The section on when may you use the flag includes examples like this: "duplicate answers. Flag these, if they copy existing answers verbatim or just repeat some point of an existing answer without adding anything worthwhile to it." $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ I this case I think the argument made on one side would be that a duplicate answer does not fundamentally answer the question, because that answer already exists and the user should upvote (or edit) that existing answer. Of course on the other side you could argue that if it still fundamentally answers the question it should coexist and votes should determine which answer is better stated. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Bryan Krause I wrote the answer that you refer to in your last two paragraphs, and I think you are being a little harsh on it. I start off by admitting that it isn't full answer, the information relates directly to the emboldened part of the question, and the OP comments with thanks. And it's the only answer. Would things really be improved by deleting this answer? $\endgroup$
    – Alan Boyd
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 15:18

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