This answer is not only demonstrably false as US labor laws vary drastically from state to state, and asking to go directly to the VP of HR is going to be disastrous for anyone naive enough to think that such a thing wouldn't be career suicide.

When I flagged it, it was rejected for the reason "declined - flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer"

So, my question is Why?

Would Pets Stack Exchange allow an answer for a tick treatment question to stand if it said "Put the animal in boiling water for 30 seconds, and there will be no more fleas" stand, or would they delete it?

While I do understand that much is a matter of perspective, but when it comes to something so blatant, why let it stand?

  • 4
    The answer is no longer present.
    – Neo
    Aug 3, 2020 at 19:49
  • 4
    @Neo thanks. If anyone had followed that, they could have ruined themselves. Aug 3, 2020 at 20:13

4 Answers 4


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

Well this basically answers your question but I guess you're trying to get at the motivation behind it. There's no one-size-fits-all answer to that from what I've found, though this meta post covers the basics.

Generally put, as moderators we should not judge answers for "correctness". We are a small team of exception handlers that deal with things the community can't handle. The community can and indeed should handle bad answers. Downvotes and comments are the tools at your disposal for that. Flags are not, at least generally speaking.

One thing to add here is that this practice originated with the more technical sites. A moderator mainly active in Java and front end design wouldn't be able to handle questions around compilers or low-level programming. It makes no sense to let them judge how correct an answer is. This is somewhat different on The Workplace of course. Though even here it's hard to judge matters related to specific country/state law for instance. That's also an area where the moderator handling your flag might not be well versed in. If the OP says the law is X while the flagger says the law is Y instead, it's not up to the moderator to make a final call. Instead the flagger should leave a comment and downvote and allow the community to take it from there, presumably leading to more downvotes and potentially deletion votes.

When flags like this reach us it's always a judgement call. There are instances where we delete these. Typically when criminal behaviour is involved in an answer or anything similarly "over the line". Advice that would get someone fired will sometimes rise to that level as well, but most moderators will prefer to leave those calls to the community. In cases where the post is already downvoted or it's otherwise clear that it won't do more harm we tend to decline the flag because the community has already handled the post.

There is actually a very good example of such an answer on that same post. This deleted answer advocated violence in the workplace. It would have been nuked on sight if a moderator had spotted it before the community deleted it. But even there the community was faster than us in getting the post removed. :)

Hope that answers your question, but let me know if I should elaborate on anything.

You could also check out:

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    Yup. I second this. Full disclosure: I was the one that reviewed your flag, Richard. The answer could be wrong, but raising a Mod flat for that is not the way to handle the situation. Writing a comment, editing, voting to close, downvoting, etc. are better ways to handle answers like that (specially for Power Users like you who have all the 20K+ rep privileges)... if it's really bad or low quality it will eventually (sooner than later) be deleted or closed, or better yet, improved and edited into shape.
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Aug 3, 2020 at 23:39

So, my question is Why?

The answer has a score of -3 and is grayed out, which is a strong indicator to visitors that they shouldn't follow this advice. In fact, the answer adds value to the site precisely because the site is showing it's a wrong answer, similar to tutorials or textbooks sometimes showing what happens if you don't do the correct thing.

  • 3
    There's wrong, and then there's "not even wrong". Do you think advice on an electronics forum that would get someone to electricute themselves would be allowed to stand, or on a law forum, telling someone that you can kill someone and get away with it if you do it on a Tuesday? Aug 3, 2020 at 19:36
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    I must say that I don't like this explanation. The voting is often relatively random - when googeling I often found LaTex question on SE where the least voted answers were the most helpful (because the other were too abstract or too "you are so stupid for asking the question"). A score of -3 is also not really helpful -- it's not really much. Also, there is a strong US and IT bias on the site - answers from other perspectives get often downvoted by the US/IT majority.
    – guest
    Aug 4, 2020 at 19:50

Cross-site duplicate: Are blatantly wrong answers very low quality?

If the answer is wrong, you shouldn't flag it, you should downvote and comment explaining why it's wrong.

Wrong answers can still be useful to the site (as long as they're downvoted and people comment explaining why they're wrong) because they can serve as a warning to others. I recently encountered a case where the accepted answer on a Stack Overflow question recommended a dangerous practice; I downvoted, commented on the answer explaining why it was dangerous, and wrote another answer explaining what the OP should do instead. The accepted answer actually illustrated a common mistake (one that I've made myself before) because it's a "gotcha" in the framework. My answer got upvotes and the other answer got downvotes and will now hopefully serve as a warning to others about what not to do.

As one high-rep user said,

SO has entirely too few bad answers. Knowing how not to solve a problem is pretty valuable.

  • So, if someone on Pets, say, instructs people to feed chocolate to dogs? Aug 10, 2020 at 12:06
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    @Old_Lamplighter Downvote it and comment saying that it's a dangerous suggestion. Maybe it would serve as a warning to others about why not to do that. If the answerer is confused about that point, there's a good chance that other people are confused about it, too. Aug 10, 2020 at 12:32
  • Sorry, I've seen people delete critical windows files based on a chain email, and people putting their iPhone's in the microwave because a site trolled it. Just to be clear, you do not think that posts that could cause actual harm, such as causing destruction, getting someone arrested, fired, or killed should be deleted? Aug 10, 2020 at 12:41
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    @Old_Lamplighter If they're downvoted and people comment explaining why they're dangerous, it could actually do people a favor because when they see the comments and post score they'll realize that it's a bad idea to do that. Think about how much better it would've been if the chain email had come with downvotes and comments explaining why you shouldn't do that - they might have realized that it was dangerous. Aug 10, 2020 at 12:45
  • @Old_Lamplighter Based on the fact that a lot of people blindly followed the advice in the trolling and the chain emails, the recommendations are apparently things that people are already inclined to believe, so seeing downvotes on a suggestion to that effect and comments explaining why not to do that could do them some good. Aug 10, 2020 at 12:47
  • @Old_Lamplighter In my example, the dangerous practice was a really easy mistake to make because it was a "gotcha" in the framework, so a lot of people would've made that mistake anyway. Now, hopefully someone will see the comments/downvotes/new answer and be prevented from making a mistake that they otherwise would have made. Aug 10, 2020 at 12:53
  • I see your point, not down-voting. That said, I'm apprehensive of the practice. Aug 10, 2020 at 13:00
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    @Old_Lamplighter I actually think this approach is great. When the "No tennis shoes" question was asked, there was a ridiculous answer suggesting "hoof shoes" instead. Downvoting and commenting sends a message to future visitors that this is bad advice and also to would-be trolls that we don't approve of trolling. The answer has been deleted, which I think is a shame. There is no longer a downvoted answer demonstrating caution against a literal reading of the dress code. Aug 13, 2020 at 16:22
  • @Michael those shoes were borderline NSFW. Aug 17, 2020 at 16:39

Mods aren't omniscient. They're not expected to be, which is what you're asking if they're supposed to judge answers as wrong.

If you see an answer you believe is inaccurate or incorrect, there are plenty of things you can do. You can downvote it, you can comment on it to explain to the answerer and viewers that you think it's wrong, or you can post your own answer or upvote correct ones.

Since a lot of people are throwing examples of "obvious bad answers", I'll address the clear strawman- there is a difference between good faith though misguided and bad-faith trolling. If there are examples of mods leaving the latter around, that's a different discussion.

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