The Workplace seems pretty subjective. There are guidelines for Good Subjective, Bad Subjective Questions, but what are the guidelines for answers? When should I flag an answer as 'Not an Answer'?

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    Just a note to non-regulars, Workplace.SE tends to use these flags differently than the majority of the SE network does.
    – enderland
    Feb 7, 2014 at 18:42
  • @enderland: Right, and people should know that the flagging norms have changed since the inception of the site.
    – Jim G.
    Feb 8, 2014 at 0:01
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    Thanks @gnat, related, not duplicate (the other one references this one, if I added all the content from here in to that one, it would be incredibly long so I've broken it up, we can always combine them later if called for).
    – jmac
    Apr 10, 2014 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


The goal of any Stack Exchange site including The Workplace is to provide a high-quality resource for future visitors. Answers provide value in the following three ways:

  1. Answering the question
  2. Explaining why and how it is correct
  3. Providing additional information not covered by other answers

If an answer doesn't match all three criteria, you should downvote, leave a comment explaining how the answer can be improved, and flag it as 'Not an Answer' if it isn't edited. Maintaining the quality of the site means making sure that answers actually address the question.

Answer the Question

An answer needs to answer the question being asked. Answers can fail to do this in one of three ways:

  1. Asking for clarification in the answer
  2. Adding information to another answer
  3. Answering a question that hasn't been asked


Sometimes the question isn't clear and to give a good answer requires a bit of additional information. That is what comments are for. If you need more information to provide an answer, make a comment instead.

Adding Information

Sometimes you agree with another answer, but want to add an additional thought. Don't just answer, "I agree with everything that Alice said. I just want to add..." Make sure that you answer the question fully, or if you agree with what Alice said, you can make a comment, or even make an edit to her post.

Changing the Question

If someone asks, "How should I list awards on my resume?" any answer should include details on how to include awards in a resume. People will come here from search engines because they are looking how to do it. If you think that awards shouldn't be included on resumes most of the time, that's fine to add, but make sure you also tell someone how they should include that Nobel Prize they won.

Explain Why and How

Answers should be backed up either with a reference, or experiences that happened to you personally. So you think awards should be listed chronologically on a resume. Why? And how? Why chronologically? Should I list my high school science fair blue ribbon before my Nobel Prize? Do you list the award first? The year achieved first? What you received the award for?

Answers should not just state an opinion. Avoid using words like, "I think" or "In my opinion". That is implied. Rather than adding qualifiers, focus on adding explanation and/or evidence to back up your answer and it will be better received.

This rule applies to any answer, but is very strongly enforced against answers that tell the asker to quit their job. There are a lot of reasons that someone cannot easily quit their job, so if you do believe that is your answer, focus extra hard on making sure you provide very good justification for your answer.

Provide Additional Info

Me too answers are strongly discouraged. Make sure that your answer provides a different perspective over other answers, or is more comprehensive in explaining why and how over an existing answer. If there is a very solid answer you agree with, then upvote it, don't just post another answer saying the same thing.

If you have additional information you want to add, feel free to comment or edit instead of making a new answer. Duplicate answers don't add any value to the site. Adding more answers to a question means it is harder for people looking for the answer to their question to find what they are looking for since the same information may be stated several times.

  • I'd be happy to flag per guidance you drafted. :) I think it is worth adding a reference to network-wide policy on these flags (meta.stackoverflow.com/tags/not-an-answer/info), along with explanation how it "interplays" with our site-specific details. Also, I'd add and stress that it is considered a responsibility of the flagger to ensure that moderator has easy access to the evidence needed to evaluate flag...
    – gnat
    Feb 7, 2014 at 7:48
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    ...say, if one spots a me-too crap that echoes one of say, 15 other answers, it is not reasonable to expect that moderator will study all 15 other answers to find which one was echoed. In cases like this, it makes more sense to use "Other" flag, carrying needed details in the message, or to add an easy visible comment explaining the issue prior to flagging as Not An answer
    – gnat
    Feb 7, 2014 at 7:48
  • So how does this relate to "When asked 'How can I foo the bar?' is 'Don't foo the bar' an appropriate answer?"? Is it only okay to explain that the asker shouldn't do something when also explaining how to do it?
    – CMW
    Feb 7, 2014 at 10:43
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    Potential confusion, an answer should 'Providing additional information not covered by other answers' but shouldnt say 'I agree with everything that Alice said. I just want to add' Think we should clarify that answers need to be standalone, i.e if it was just the question and the given answer, would it fully answer the question and still make sense if no other answers were posted
    – user5305
    Feb 7, 2014 at 11:05
  • This is a moderator-caliber answer, written by someone who genuinely cares. Thanks, jmac.
    – Jim G.
    Feb 7, 2014 at 12:13
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    @gnat - Yes! I would love that. If it's not immediately obvious why the post is not an answer, either flag as other, or leave a comment on the post explaining how to improve the post. I do look at comments when investigating flags, but if for whatever reason you don't want to comment, then "Other" is a good option. Just remember other 2k-ers won't see "Other" flags, so use sparingly or only when needed.
    – jmort253
    Feb 15, 2014 at 21:11

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