The following discussion happened in the comment thread on the answer https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/118428/5197, which began with the question "Is udev working properly on your server?" and continued to suggest that the problem that led to the question might be that udev was either not running or that it was misconfigured. In the end, the problem was discovered to be something else.
Anthon and slm both believe (I hope I do not misrepresent them) that because the answer was hypothetical and asked for further information, it was really a comment asking for further information and not any kind of answer. I believe that because it contained an answer that might be the solution to some people with similar problems, it was an answer, albeit only a partial answer. We then proceeded to disagree on the right interpretation of the FAQ; see the comment thread below.
The reason I think the disagreement is worth discussing is that the "when is an answer not an answer" criterion is one of the sharp edges that newbies get hurt by.
The original, question only comment clearly fell under the scope of "should be flagged as not an answer" as the answer consisted of just a question.
The amended question changed the content of the answer from purely asking after information to provide what I understand as a partial attempt to answer the question.
It is the disagreement over the revised answer that I think needs to be resolved. Which of the following criteria are applicable?
When should I use this flag?
Use this flag when an answer is being used to:
- Ask a question
- Communicate with another user
- Say "thanks," or confirm that another posted answer worked for him.
- "Bump" the question, as in "I have the same problem, have you found a solution?"
When should I not use this flag?
Do not use this flag when a user posts:
- A partial answer
- A wrong or inaccurate answer
- An answer to a (slightly) different question
- An answer you disagree with
Cast a down-vote and/or comment instead.
The comment thread
This is really a comment, not an answer. With a bit more rep, you will be able to post comments. For the moment I've added the comment for you, and I'm flagging this post for deletion. – slm yesterday
I know, but since I cannot comment I had to put it like an answer (indeed, it may be the actual answer). – Alvaro yesterday
If this is "an actual answer" then you should explain how to establish whether udev is running, what it is and how to enable if it isn't. – X Tian yesterday
@Anthon - I disagree with the idea that answers have to be complete in that they provide all diagnostic methods and full information on how to apply the solution. Some questions may be concrete and specific, but the qner does not provide quite enough information. That is the qner's fault, though not enough reason to close, and is certainly no reason to fault answers. The qner might not return with more information, or the answerer might not have time to iteratively discuss things with the qner. Do we then close the interesting qn, or leave it with no possibility of acceptable answers? – Charles Stewart yesterday
@CharlesStewart I reviewed "Is udev running in your server?" (IIRC in the LQ queue). That answer is inappropriate as an answer, it should have been a comment, and I flagged it so, do you disagree with that? Alvaro had enough rep for commenting. The answer was later expanded, my flag (which automatically inserts the text, I now removed) was declined, but the system never gives a reviewer a message to re-review an answer, nor does it retract the text it inserts. Had Alvaro used @anthon I would have know about the change and his comment – Anthon 23 hours ago
@Alvaro - You have 200 rep, how are you not able to comment? – slm 23 hours ago
@CharlesStewart - if you have leads or partial ideas then those are comments, this isn't up for discussion, that's just how it is. If you're unfamiliar with this then please read the help on how to answer questions. – slm 23 hours ago
@Anthon - yes I fixed it. – slm 23 hours ago
@Anthon - Yes, I disagree. Per Robert Harvey, "Do not use [the not an answer] flag when a user posts: A partial answer; A wrong or inaccurate answer ..." - meta.stackoverflow.com/a/185074/140179 - and Alvaro's answer does say that problem might be that udev is wrong or misconfigured. Partial, but an answer. – Charles Stewart 21 hours ago
@CharlesStewart I am not sure what you disagree with as that link supports my action. The first point at "When should I use this flag" is Use this flag when an answer is being used to Ask a question. The whole answer was the sentence "Is udev running in your server?" and ends with a question mark. And you don't think it is a question, but a partial answer because of what? – Anthon 21 hours ago
@Anthon - The FAQ text is talking about raising a new problem, something that should be posted as a question rather than an answer or a comment. Alvaro is just indicating that his answer depends on what is going on. It could be rephrased in terms of "if $this, then $that". – Charles Stewart 20 hours ago
@CharlesStewart Which FAQ text are referring to? – Anthon 20 hours ago
@Anthon: Robert Harvey's answer is a FAQ answer on meta.SO – Charles Stewart 20 hours ago
@CharlesStewart According to your standards no question or communication (both reasons for flagging according to Robert Harvey) can be flagged, as they always can rephrased. I might just not be smart enough to see that they could but turned into that. And if you were right I should have a lot more flags rejected than I have. – Anthon 20 hours ago
@Anthon - I do not think anything I have said would be controversial on the other Stackexchange sites I am familiar with. I am really astonished at this dialogue - as I suppose you are. Perhaps a meta qn is in order, either here or on meta.SO. – Charles Stewart 19 hours ago
@CharlesStewart First of all slm flagged this as well. and I don't understand why you only address me on this issue and not him as well Second: I have somewhat less helpful flags on Stack Overflow (almost 300) than on Unix & Linux but the same behaviour in flagging and comparable number of rejects (some bloopers, some edited before being moved to comment/deleted, just as this one). I am sure that if Alvaro had waited even longer than the half-hour between posting his question and expanding upon it it would have been turned into a comment by the mods/10K+ers here, or deleted. – Anthon 19 hours ago
@CharlesStewart I also flagged this as not an answer, it would be considered as such in all of the 5 SE sites where I have enough rep to have an opinion. Comments are for asking for clarifications, answers are for posting solutions. – terdon 19 hours ago
Just for the record, I did not vote on this answer – Anthon 18 hours ago
@CharlesStewart - This conversation is fruitless here, this A is not an A, it's a comment. Let's move this to a meta question either here or on meta.SO to get an actual decision. Sitting here and badgering Anthon and others who are highly viewed within this site's community is doing nothing constructive. Anthon has performed a lot of the reviews on this site as well as other SE sites and hasn't gotten any indications from those site's mods that he's doing it wrong! – slm 18 hours ago
The DV is from me. This is a comment! Expand it to an A and I'll gladly revert it as always! – slm 18 hours ago
@Anthon: I didn't use the '@' to signal slm because the Stack Exchange software has a limit whereby it only notifies one person. I'm prepared to accept that my interpretation is wrong, but my interpretation is the one that is followed on the Tex-SX site. I'll raise this question on meta in due course. – Charles Stewart 1 min ago
@slm: Anthon is clearly conscientious and an asset to the site; this is only an argument about interpretation of rule. I agree that this discussion should take place on Meta. – Charles Stewart just now