The Situation

I flagged this answer for moderator intervention and provided this reason:

This answer appears to be personal opinion, rather than a factual answer to a question.

The flag was declined and the moderator left this reason:

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

The Problem

I did not flag this answer for intervention because of any perceived inaccuracy. The problem is that it isn't an answer. The general expectation for answers on this site is that they represent the actual, factual answer to a question. Being a reasonable or rational argument is not a basis for an answer. This doesn't mean that an "answer" that is opinion is poor quality, it is literally not an answer within the scope of this site.

We have an excellent meta post on what this site does for the world. The wisdom there is that we should downvote any "answer" that is personal opinion. However, since the answer in question has approximately 170 net-upvotes it is clear that this is not the solution we have decided to use.

So how should we handle these? If we can't trust the community to down vote them, and we can't rely on moderators to enforce the principles that the quality of the site depends on, what is the preferred course of action for dealing with opinionated non-answers?

3 Answers 3


The question was "Why allow convicted criminals to vote?", and the answer described a reason why to allow criminals to vote.

If you think the answer needs more to back it up, then leave a comment expressing your desire for more, and down-vote.

And if the question ends up being as overwhelmingly up-voted as this one is, then you'll just have to deal with the fact that you're not the sole decider of quality around here, and that the community disagrees with you.

  • 2
    I can see that. What I'm trying to reconcile is that our policies are clearly not being followed. The answer there flaunts everything that we say defines quality. So do we update our policies, or try to change the behavior? Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 22:23
  • 5
    @indigochild, can you be more specific as to why you believe the site's policy is not followed? As in chapter-and-verse specific. Can you cite the policy or even recommended behavior (with a link) which are violated in the way you stated that they were violated. I read through the meta question you linked and I don't see any direct connection. And I did try to see it. Don't be afraid to be overly specific. I agree with how you characterize the answer, but I don't know which specific policy line it goes against.
    – grovkin
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 2:53
  • I'd add that if the answer was indeed a non-answer, the flag to raise is "Not an answer" and, a mistake I have made elsewhere, "in need of moderator intervention" is not a generic custom flag.
    – HAEM
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 13:25

I don't see anywhere in the Meta Post that says reason or empiricism cannot be used to answer. I see no reason for appeals to authority to supplant appeals to logic or real world evidence.

  • 1
    "Critical Theory" (not to be confused with "critical thinking") relegates "reason" to the level of "opinion". This may have been inculcated with the success of the falsely-named "skeptics" site. It too, does not allow reason as supporting evidence. You can observe. You cannot reflect. If you reflect, you must agree. If you don't agree, you must shut up. If you don't shut up, you must be destroyed.
    – grovkin
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 23:54
  • 1
    @grovkin Spinoza and Hobbes relegate critical thinking to the toilet
    – user9790
    Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 11:28
  • 3
    @grovkin - Skeptics.SE doesn't allow "reason" as basis for answers for completely different reasons (the margins of this comment are too small to elaborarte). And most certainly for reasons that have nothing to do with post-modernist lacking-any-reason "critical theory" (which is basically anti-rationality approach to knowledge; which should have no place in any rational discourse outside Literature.SE)
    – user4012
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 13:56
  • @user4012, I beg to differ. Fact-finding is a data pipeline. There are inputs, processing and outputs. And then rinse-n-repeat. Reason/logic/etc. is the processing part. Disallowing of poking of holes in reasoning relegates skepticism to only questioning of inputs. It can also be described as "you can observe, but you can't reflect."
    – grovkin
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 17:58

Syllogisms, algorithms and logic are objects, not opinion. Opinion might be the input data we plug into the logic, or perhaps the choice of a particular algorithm, but if the input data is:

  • commonplace factual data, the valid deductions from those are no less true than the factual data.

  • questionable data which the OP takes as a given, then applying valid logic to that is more of an extension of the question. If the OP implies X and Y, but those can be shown to prove that X is impossible, that would prove the question is not useful, and would therefore be an excellent answer.

  • a complete set of mutually exclusive possibilities, then enumerating their various logical consequences may be useful. Those consequences can then be compared to the actual state of affairs, and those possibilities which never lead anywhere real may be eliminated.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .