As an example: see this answer. As explained in the comment by JRE, it answers a different question ("how do you measure voltage with a multimeter") than the one asked ("how can and Arduino measure its own supply voltage").

I was about to flag it as "Not An Answer", since, well, it is not an answer to the question asked (moreover, in this specific case, it is a copypasta from somewhere else without attribution, and an unreadable wall of text - but let's ignore that for my concern).

Before doing so, I checked if there was an existing policy on these cases. I didn't find anything on our meta here, but I found this on the main meta: When an answer answers the wrong question, is it Not An Answer?. Well, I was suprised to see that the two answers there seem to indicate that this should not be flagged.

Shall we conform to this, here on EE.SE? Shall we leave such answers and simply downvote them if we feel like it? Or should it be flagged and deleted?


2 Answers 2


In this case, the answer was pure plagiarism, and got deleted altogether.

If it is clear that the answerer misunderstood the question, then it should be flagged as "not an answer". But understand that this becomes a judgement call, and in some cases, the moderators will let it stand.

But sometimes the OP asks the wrong question, and in those cases, it's perfectly appropriate to answer the question they should have asked in the first place.

  • \$\begingroup\$ All right, thanks. I think that is the right course of action too, but was a bit puzzled by the meta SE answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Oct 2, 2019 at 12:45

Yes, those two answers are correct. Here is a more persuasive meta "question" by the oldest diamond mod.

Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer?

And the faq for not an answer flagging. How do I properly use the "Not an Answer" flag?

An attempt to answer the question, even when utterly wrong, should just be down voted.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The thing is: the post I shown attempts to answer a different question. It's not that the answer is bad or wrong, it is that the answer addresses something else. In the "another castle" post, I'm not sure I interpret it correctly, but for "answers and apples", in the "orange" case (which seems to be the metaphor or what I want to address), it says "not answer". In the other post you reference, the first answer doesn't even address this case, and the second answer says "When may I use this flag? - answers that attempt to answer another question". So I'm not sure I follow your conclusion. \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Oct 22, 2019 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Also, calling Shog9 a moderator is a bit odd. Although he sure has a diamond, he's something different: he's a member of the SE staff.) \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Oct 22, 2019 at 9:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dim that second answer is a users attempt to replace the actually adopted rules for the flag. It is not relevant. The first answer is the rule. And it does refer to this situation in that this situation isnt relevant to the flag. The first link by Shog also applies essentially in the apple picture diagram. An answer that's about how to measure voltage is "an answer". It's a wrong answer but still an attempt to answer the question in that answers mind. It's not an answer about literal kitchen sink which would objectively be not an answer. Treat a wrong answer with the right tool. Down votes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Oct 22, 2019 at 18:14

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