We, the people of WorldbuildingSE, certainly are a bunch of folks that love their stories.

We enjoy padding questions with bits of stories and make answers more easily to palate by mixing facts with our own fiction. Yet regularly I encounter answers just like this one where the balance between the two is so off that any attempt to answer a question is drowned-out completely by the imagination a user wants/needs to share.

While I understand that people want to share and take part in a world, it still doesn't help the question. And, in some cases, can even become counter-intuitive if not harmful to the question.

Downvoting & commenting does usually not help and trying to find help to such issues in the chat or on the meta both takes usually way too long, so that such answers get mindlessly upvoted by aficionados of the written word, even if the answer is not conducive to the question.

While there is a not an answer flag, that one states:

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.

Emphasis mine

Which is not the case in this case. These answers often try to provide an answer but get caught up in their own storification and thus result in a mess that is hard to understand. It would be great being able to tell the user in a meaningful way that their answer is not helping, without claiming them not trying to answer at all.

Therefore I request a new type of flag to be used for such a situation, the

This isn't an answer, it's a story-flag

The idea is for a review process to kick-in where users reviewing understand why the question was flagged. As stated the description provided with a not an answer flag is talking about the answer actively not even attempting to answer while these answer are more of an overeager attempt to answer a question - at least to me these two things do not even come close to each other.

  • $\begingroup$ (1) I strongly recommend making a [discussion] question first to seek consensus, then later on a [feature-request] if the discussion indicates that such consensus exist. Don't jump straight to a [feature-request] unless it's obvious that little or no discussion would be required to determine if the feature is desirable. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Nov 13, 2017 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ (2) What should be the result of such a flag? What should happen when someone flags an answer as "this isn't an answer, it's a story", and how should this be different from when someone flags an answer as "not an answer"? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Nov 13, 2017 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling I was not aware that a feature request could not double as a discussion for the requested feature, the tag-description does not indicate anything: You have an idea for a new feature, or for a change to the existing functionality. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Nov 13, 2017 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ It's not really a hard-and-fast rule, it's just something I try to encourage to keep the distinction clearer. I feel it's especially helpful on site-local metas. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Nov 13, 2017 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling added an additional explanation although the distinction seemed clear to me, hope it helps $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Nov 13, 2017 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, that's much better IMO. I'm not sure I agree with your reasoning (I'll have to think about it some) but this way the what and the why are at least both much clearer. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Nov 13, 2017 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


The NAA flag should've read like this for that type of answers:

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.

I don't see the problem with story-based answer. The problem only happens when it becomes too-story, which can be solved by, in order, commenting, downvoting, and flagging as NAA.

No need for story-based answer.

Let the community decide whether a story answer is indeed an answer (on review), and is clear enough (by votes).

This is what I would write for too-long-story-based-answer:

This is an interesting story. However, could you put a summary somewhere of how this answer the OP's question "How to ..." ?

For unclear, not-too-long-story-based-answer:

I don't see how this answer the question. Could you elaborate more? Just like other unclear answer

If that doesn't work, I will vote/recommend to delete on review + downvote, in case it doesn't get deleted.

  • $\begingroup$ I am sorry but the NAA flag text does read exactly as quotes in the question and not as you quote it. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Nov 13, 2017 at 20:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T yep, that's why I use the word should. It could use rewording. If you think an answer does attempt to answer the question, but it fails to do so, then comment for improvement or/and downvote. In unclear-story-based answer, however, I will argue that the story answer does not attempt to answer the question validly, thus deserve a NAA flag. $\endgroup$
    – Vylix
    Nov 13, 2017 at 20:46

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