From a discussion in chat, opening to a wider audience:

I tend to flag answers with "Try this" or "Use Y because X doesn't work" as "Not an answer" to avoid having to downvote and lose precious points (I need to get back to 30K to get the stats, after that, I'm not interested in rep any more and will start giving it away again.)

I normally leave this comment:

As a famous philosopher once said “Do, or do not! There is no try!” or in Ask Ubuntu style: if you’re sure, then it’s an answer, if you’re not, then it’s a comment. Words like “try”, “might”, “should” are a sign, that a message belongs in the comments, and “do”, “will”, “shall” in answers.

But if I'm not using my personal Ubuntu Laptop which has that defined as a macro, I just use the canned comments.

Should I:

  1. Dowvote to my own detriment (well, it's only -1 in rep and it's not like it's costing me actual money, but still, it's costing me something)
  2. Continue SPAMming the mods until they cave in and don't reply with "declined - flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer"...
    Note: the poor overworked mods have to review all the flags manually)

Feel free to copy-paste the Yoda quote above and use it yourself...

  • 2
    Flags are not super downvotes and should never be used as such. I hope you didn't literally mean that.
    – Seth
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 5:50
  • No! I do downvote if it's really bad, but if it looks like i can get away with a flag, I use a flag. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    – Fabby
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 6:03
  • The site stats privilege is at 25k by the way - and it's the most boring privilege ever.
    – Byte Commander Mod
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 13:31

2 Answers 2


Thanks for bringing this up. I will add my voice to Zanna's and also state my, rather intense, dislike of that comment. First of all, it is very often wrong. Words like "try" and "might" are absolutely no indication that something is not an answer.

We very often can't reproduce the OP's exact setup, but can offer an educated guess that might serve as a solution. For example, if the OP's issue is that "Program X won't load", it is very possible that deleting the program's config file/directory will solve the problem. I can't be sure, however, since I don't have access to the OP's system. So I'll answer something like "Try deleting the ~/.config/programX directory, that might solve the problem". Such educated guesses are often perfectly good answers.

Then, the comment itself is really rather unpleasant. I know you intend it as a lighthearted joke, but it often comes across as condescending. I know I would not enjoy receiving it. I mean, it made Luke want to box that pretentious little Jedi Master's voluminous ears, why do you think it would be better coming from a Volron? A race that lacks even the good grace to have boxable ears! :)

More importantly, it gives the (wrong) impression that there are magical words that mark the difference between an answer and a comment and as long as you use one of the "bad" words, you must post a comment and not an answer. This is not a message we should be giving new users. I've always found that comment in bad taste, even before becoming a mod and I've talked it over with a few of the other mods since my election and we all seem to find it distasteful. Just not enough so to actually mention it, but since you brought it up. . . >:)

Now, leaving the question of that unpleasant comment aside, using flags to do the job of downvotes is, well, abuse. Pure and simple. If you feel an answer is bad, downvote it! Don't pass your job on to the mods! We already get dozens of flags a day that we need to go through, please don't add noise to that just because you want to keep your rep! Come on!

If a question is unsalvageable nonsense, flag it. If it is just giving a suggestion that could be useful, don't leave that comment and don't flag, just upvote it. If it is leaving a suggestion that isn't useful, downvote but for the sake of all that's modly, do not flag! And yes, of course you should downvote to your own detriment. That's the whole idea. That's why downvotes carry a (tiny) penalty: to avoid spurious voting. Spurious flagging is not a solution to that! If you're not willing to spend -1 rep to vote on it, please don't make me waste my time dealing with your flag, either.

So, the message is i) please don't use that comment. Not on your own laptop and not anywhere else. It isn't really funny, it is flat out wrong and is also kinda condescending. ii) Do not ever use flags as an alternative to downvoting. That is never acceptable and it just wastes the mods' time.

  • 2
    And thank you Terdon for echoing my hate of the comment. This is now law :P
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 18:42
  • 1
    OK, OK, I'll stop using the yoda comment and stop reviewing the LQ queue and start downvoting whenever I see a stupid answer... :P :)
    – Fabby
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 20:06
  • 3
    @Fabby Reviewing the LQ queue is good, it can actually do some flag handling for us.
    – Seth
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 20:46
  • @Seth I meant "first posts" (Or skip the answers in there)
    – Fabby
    Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 3:06

I am going to take the opportunity to say I personally dislike that Yoda comment a lot!

Here is a completely awesome answer framed as a suggestion...

However, when the person answering actually doesn't seem to know what they are talking about, I usually downvote and comment to say something like "have you tested this?". If the suggestion is bad, then I vote to delete the answer, and if it misses the point of the question I flag it. If I know the suggestion is good, I will upvote (and edit if needed)!

"Use y because x is broken" could be a perfectly fine answer if x is really broken, and "Use y because it's better than x" would be a perfectly fine answer with justification. Or, it could be completely wrong, which would merit a downvote and comment, or, again if it misses the point of the question, an NAA flag.

My point is, neither of the cases you mention would automatically imply a particular course of action in my opinion - you have to decide on a case-by-case basis what to do!

Once you've decided on the right action, and the right action seems to be a downvote, then the fact that you don't feel like losing a point seems like a baaaad reason to use a flag instead. Use flags... when the post deserves a flag.

  • 5
    I have to personally agree (as a non-moderator, first off) about the canned comment. It irritates me when I'm not in a moderator mood. I shrug it off as irritating but not too harmful when I am in a moderator mood.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 14:25
  • 1
    OK, OK, I'll stop using the yoda comment and stop reviewing the LQ queue and start downvoting whenever I see a stupid answer... :P :)
    – Fabby
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 20:07

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