We've previously discussed what to do with answers that fall short of our standards of evidence. It's also routine to convert to comments really short answers that lack much substance.

But what should we do with relatively short answers that don't add much to the discussion?

To make discussions concrete, I received a flag on the following answer in the context of this question

As stated above, everything related to MBTI is trademarked, but the theory behind it, based on Jung's personality types, have no such limitations as far as I know.

There are a few differences between the two (having to do with the functions I believe), but for a "quick and dirty" version like the one it sounds like you need for your site, it should do fine.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_type http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_Types

2 Answers 2


Here are some general ideas for handling relative short answers that don't add much to the discussion.

  • Don't upvote the answer, and perhaps downvote the answer. This lets better answers rise to the top.
  • Add a comment requesting more information or suggesting improvements.
  • Don't flag for deletion: In general, I'm wary of moderator censorship of answers and I'd prefer if the voting mechanisms handled the issue.
  • Possibly flag for conversion to comment: This seems to make sense when the answer is particularly short or chatty or in general does not aim to provide anything approaching a complete answer.
  • 1
    I suppose I should own up to what you are addressing in abstract terms. I had flagged as "Not an answer", which does leave the option open to convert it to a comment at the moderator's discretion. The question was asking about where to find an "open source" version of the text. This answer at most touches on "Could I run into legal trouble from the Myers-Briggs institute over this?" and doesn't answer even that authoritatively, then muddles it up with two slightly related Wikipedia links.That's not a lot for even a good, solid comment, but I wouldn't have a problem with retaining it as such. Nov 5, 2012 at 2:52
  • Thanks Chuck. I agree with your assessment of the quality of the answer. I guess more broadly, I'm interested in what you and others think about the relative merits of user intervention versus moderator intervention. I.e., users can downvote, add comments requesting more information, etc.; moderators can delete, convert to comment, etc. My main concern with moderator intervention is that it is less democratic and has less oversight than user intervention. Thus, for anything borderline I prefer user intervention. Nov 5, 2012 at 3:11

Generally as a mod on other sites I'll simply delete/convert answers which don't even attempt to answer the question (as IMO the example does not).

If a post is close to an answer and just needs some elaboration (what's in the link, how does this help, what do you mean by this, etc.) I slap an "Insufficient Explanation" post notice on the post and eventually remove the post if it's not edited into shape after so often (I review posts with post notices once every month/every once I-remember-to-do-it). Citation needed might also apply.

It really depends on usefulness. If it doesn't add anything at all I'm inclined to remove it or convert it to a comment if it adds but doesn't really answer. Remember a partial answer is still an answer of course, but just "my opinion" or "also see..." are comments at best. If I see a downvoted, not really an answer "answer" I'll generally delete it, but I won't delete things just because they're wrong (not as a mod anyway) or because they don't entirely answer the question. Sometimes on a particularly difficult problem a hint is all you can give, and it might well be useful in formulating a complete answer.

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