The question How would the Libertarian non-coercion policy apply to a business being required to bake a cake for a gay wedding? currently has several 'answers' that don't actually answer the question that was asked. These range from giving the author's opinion on how this issue should be addressed (rather than how libertarian non-coercion policy would address it,) to how different countries' legal systems would address it, to a completely off-topic rant against libertarianism in general that didn't contain anything remotely resembling an answer to the question.

Not having enough rep to cast deletion votes, I flagged the latter 'answer' (the one that was just a rant) as not an answer. My flag was then declined with the explanation "flags should not be used to indicate technical inaccuracies, or an altogether wrong answer." While I completely agree that flags shouldn't be used for those reasons, that wasn't the case here. The flag reason for not an answer is:

"This was posted as an answer, but it does not attempt to answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether."

which seems applicable to the answer in question, since it consists solely of an off-topic rant rather than an attempt to answer the question that was asked. At present, 3 different people have commented on the answer (the last of those being the person who asked the question) stating that it doesn't answer the question and it has a score of -5.

At Aviation SE, we normally just delete non-answers like this that don't actually attempt to answer the question, with higher-rep users voting to delete and lower-rep users flagging as not an answer. This helps to keep the answer section clean with only answers that at least attempt to address the question, rather than having 3-4 answers that address the question then 4 more that don't. Is that different here at Politics? If so, how/when should the not an answer flag be used here?

Specifically, What, if anything, should users without enough rep to cast a vote for deletion do about non-answers here at Politics SE?

Side note: Someone really should probably clean up the non-answers to the linked question and perhaps also protect it. It's a good/interesting question, but, given the sensitive nature of the topic, it has attracted several non-answers.

  • 3
    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Related: When should the “not an answer” and “very low quality” flags be used?
    – yannis
    May 1, 2015 at 22:14
  • Good luck raising the "not an answer" flag for anything longer than a 1 sentence answer across SE. I've tried that multiple times for long answers that didn't actually attempt to answer the question as written, but it seems I'm the only one here who takes that flag literally. Feb 2, 2020 at 0:16
  • @SurpriseDog At least back when I was more frequently involved in Aviation (back when I wrote this question nearly 5 years ago,) we took it literally there.
    – reirab
    Feb 2, 2020 at 5:15

1 Answer 1


The question is:

How would the Libertarian non-coercion policy apply to a business being required to bake a cake for a gay wedding?

The answer states:

The Libertarian "solution" would have been simply to repeal the laws making homosexuality illegal.

Right or wrong, this passes my "attempts to answer the question" test. Which means that a moderator needs not get involved. I'm confident the community can handle the answer on its own (and at -5, it seems that's already happened).

The "not an answer" flag can be extremely tricky. If it's not abundantly obvious that the answer doesn't even attempt to answer the question, then please use your downvotes instead.

  • 3
    Whether homosexuality (or homosexual marriage) is illegal has nothing whatsoever to do with whether a baker can be forced to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding, so I really don't see how that even attempts to answer the question. Regardless of whether it's right or wrong, it's irrelevant. I guess to me that is abundantly obvious that it doesn't attempt to answer the question, which was the source of my confusion regarding the flag rejection. I appreciate the response, though.
    – reirab
    May 1, 2015 at 22:27
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​@reirab By abundantly obvious I mean something like the answer being "I like turtles". Think about it this way: If deciding whether the answer is an answer or not requires even a hint of subject matter knowledge, then don't flag it. You can not realistically expect Sam and I to be able to judge potentially every answer on the site. We are here to handle the odd exception, the rest is up to the community. And what is or isn't an answer isn't always as clear cut as it is on the more technical sites (like Aviation).
    – yannis
    May 1, 2015 at 22:35
  • Ah, ok. Fair enough. I guess it also helps at Aviation that we have a lot more > 1k users who can clean these up from the LQ review queue, so the mods don't have to handle it all.
    – reirab
    May 2, 2015 at 2:42
  • @Yannis - the second comment should be the meat of your answer IMHO. It's a much more convincing argument than the current answer is
    – user4012
    May 6, 2015 at 16:27

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