I've flagged a couple of answers lately that got marked as invalid -- one for an answer that wasn't, and the other for one that was. I'd like to get some feedback on these flags, so as not to waste mod time on invalid flags in the future.

The first: an answer that was turned into a comment that turned out to be, basically, the accepted answer. In this case, an answer was provided in the form of a question, Chopper3 turned it into a comment (if you're <10k you can't see the deleted answer, but it was the same as the comment), which the OP then said "hey, that's the answer, can you please submit an answer so I can upvote it".

To my mind, while the answer given perhaps wasn't phrased "quite right", and could have been longer on detail, the fix, if anything, was to edit the question to change it from an interrogative to declarative sentence. But I don't feel that an answer-in-the-form-of-a-question is by definition invalid -- it's just another form of a statement, that in many cases can be quite effective in making a lesson "stick" (I believe it's called the Socratic method).

I'd previously flagged the already-deleted answer for moderator attention, saying "this is a valid answer. It should not have been turned into a comment". Given that the answer-cum-comment was, effectively, the accepted answer, I'm wondering what the rationale actually was for deleting the answer (instead of, at most, editing it into the form of an answer), and hence for rejecting my flag.

This also brings up another (related) point, which I'll explore in a separate question if people think it's a big deal -- if I flag a mod operation (as in this case), is the same mod able to respond to the flag, and if so do they? It smells a bit odd if they do (but I don't know if that's the case, because there's no attribution on flag results).

The second one is an OP's answer that... well, isn't. The really interesting bit here is that I really think this "answer" should have been turned into a comment -- the "answer" given by the OP is basically "I fixed it", with no useful description for other people who find the question to actually solve the problem. I'm firmly of the opinion that this isn't a valid answer. I flagged it as such, and the flag was rejected (is that the right word?) as invalid.

So, where have my thought processes gone wrong on these two flags?


I agree with your initial reaction to both.

The First Answer was a comment/diagnostic question. It was not phrased as an answer, nor posted with the intention of being an Answer (proper). It should have been moved as it was. Now if that in fact turns out to lead to the problem (in this case duplicate MAC addresses) then someone can post that as an Answer, which could be accepted.

Yes Mods can respond to any flag they see, it's not assigned to any one particular mod, just whoever sees it. Same with Edit Suggestions. I've run into one where someone edited a wiki entry I made; I didn't like their edit to 'my' content; I thought long and hard about that one before making a decision.

The Second Answer is a non-answer. IIRC they specified for nginx to listen to an IP the server doesn't have, which will return "unable to bind to port" (because you can't open a port on an IP that doesn't exist...). It's very hard to get the drive-bys to accept an answer or give more detail (SF has one of the lowest accept rates in Stack Exchange) so the mods are hesitant to remove an accepted answer, even if it is invalid.

"rejected" works, I can't think of a better word; and it's just fun to say too, like "guacamole".

  • While that's probably very true, try telling meta.SO some time – Chris S Jul 19 '11 at 23:04
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    As I'm sure you know, not being an SO regular means it's a complete waste of time posting anything on MSO. I have however raised this issue before and had it completely ignored. – John Gardeniers Jul 19 '11 at 23:10

No comment on the first one (too many words and I got confused about your point) but that second one is definitely not an answer. It's not really even good enough for a comment and should have been posted as an edit instead.

  • Sorry, I do tend to run a bit long. My point on the first one is that an answer was turned into a comment, which the questioner acknowledged as being an answer. My flag on the deleted answer saying "that's an answer!" was marked invalid, even though the questioner later said that it was an answer (in fact, the correct and now accepted answer). – womble Jul 19 '11 at 3:14
  • @womble, ok, got it. For some reason (like a teenager, I now have the attention span of a moth) I thought you flagged it as not an answer. BTW, welcome back. :) – John Gardeniers Jul 19 '11 at 3:25

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