I have flagged this answer as spam the first time, which was declined. Then I realized, "Oh yeah true, I guess it's not really spam per say."

So then I flagged it as "not an answer", but the flag was disputed.

Is a jet dragon possible?

The answer is just a story! It by no means answers the question in the way that the community expects. Even after reading it several times, I don't understand its purpose.

I feel like what should have been a simple "yup, not an answer" situation and then my flag marked as "helpful", has become very complicated.

So my question is, why are there mixed responses about how appropriate this answer is?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Note the proper phrase is per se from Latin. There is no phrase per say. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Oct 25, 2019 at 6:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Be careful when confusing your expectations with the community expectations. 24 net upvotes up to this moment tell that the community appreciated it. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Oct 25, 2019 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ The answer is very obviously appropriate and actually great. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to upvote it. Here we are. Two members of the community hold two different opinions. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 25, 2019 at 12:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AlexP I'm just uncertain what specifically the answer is even stating. How is the question answered in a cohesive and clear manner? $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Oct 25, 2019 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @overlord: Just in case that you seriously cannot extract the main idea hidden under the delicious narrative, the answer states that yes, jet dragons are possible, provided that silly magicians make them drink several tons of fermenting wine and set fire to the gas expelled from their behinds. (Note that the ability to strip away the entertaining, engrossing and fascinating narrative in order to reach the basic message is an essential skill for those who are interested in mythology and ancient history. There is quite often a tension between text and subtext in the answers on this site.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 25, 2019 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP No need to be snarky. I understood all of that. But as you've mentioned the answer was "subtext" which is the polar opposite of "clear and concise". $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Oct 26, 2019 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP Please continue to be patient with me until I understand your point of view, or let's just agree to disagree on the issue. $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Oct 26, 2019 at 18:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The main issue for me is deciding where the cutoff is. When a post violates the established rules of this community but has been positively received, how is one to act on that? I don't believe posts should be exempt from the rules just because people liked it. $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Oct 26, 2019 at 18:40
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @overlord, I don't see your problem with the answer, it answers the question. It merely doesn't do it in the dry manner used in most corners of stack exchange. This is fundamentally a creative place, expect creativity. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Oct 27, 2019 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch If voting was enough we wouldn't have moderation and flags. The NotAnAnswer Flag has been a personal gripe of mine too. Too many answers on the Stack Exchange network are off topic and don't even attempt to answer the question in the headline. For example I tried to flag this answer in the workplace SE because no where in that answer did I see a physical location or alternate solution. The answer is literally "that's bad don't do it." $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2019 at 22:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ...If you don't like the question you can say so in the comments, but answers that don't even attempt to answer the question should be banned, no matter how many upvotes they get. $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2019 at 22:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SurprisedDog, that workplace answer is what we call 'frame challenge', it's a valid form of answering and often very important to do. Answering the question exactly as written is not always correct, sometimes you have to point out that it's the wrong question. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Oct 29, 2019 at 9:11

3 Answers 3


It takes a little reading to see the answer in there, but it is in there. All you have to do is read the story.

This particular corner of stack exchange was never quite like the rest. Not all the answers here are worded in a direct fashion, sometimes there's a stack of allusion and metaphor, sometimes people like to answer a question in the form of a story, though you don't see it as much as you used to.

If you think that it isn't an answer, but there have been a lot of upvotes, perhaps the first consideration should be that other people have seen something you haven't rather than jumping on the not an answer flag.

  • $\begingroup$ I've used this answer format myself and gotten away with it, but always suspected it was for reasons other than being a satisfactory answer. Since it's by far the most enjoyable form to write, I'll try it again. +1 $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2019 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ @011358smell, getting away with it isn't the aim, the aim is to create a work of art, or in this case conceal a fart joke, while still answering the question. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Oct 25, 2019 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ SE is a Question and Answer site, not a Question and let me regail with a long rambling story that doesn't answer the question. That's even more annoying here than it is in real life when politicians don't want to answer a question, or when certain right brained people don't actually have an answer to your question but just enjoy hearing themselves talk and talk and talk... $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2019 at 22:15
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    $\begingroup$ As Einstein was quoted: "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." When I ask people a question, I like to hear a straight forward numerical answer, Yes, No or "I don't know". If you look at the OPs answers you can see a good example of this. Answers are in bold at the top of the text: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/users/68902/… $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2019 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ @SurprisedDog, again my final point applies. If you can't see the answer but it has a lot of votes, perhaps other people have seen something you haven't. You're not required to like it, but it is a valid answer. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Oct 31, 2019 at 9:53
  • $\begingroup$ I like story answers. Given several of them and enjoyed the ones I've received. This one struck me as having the answer too deeply buried to be really an answer. For an "is it possible" question, if I can't tell at the end whether the result is "yes" or "no", then I agree it isn't an answer. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Nov 19, 2019 at 9:45

I did enjoy this reply with its creative flare, but I also question whether it should be considered an answer all it's own. I think it's actually fantastic, however, I also think that it would be useful to require the more flamboyant, non-standard answers like this to at least have a line at the bottom that summarized for clarity.

I think simply adding something along the lines of "In conclusion, of course it is possible. Provided you have enough wine and a well placed fireball!" which is implying the answer "If you have dragons, you are already breaking the rules of reality so I don't see why not, especially in the context of the fantasy world you're designing," would suffice for clarity in this case.

It may not be the "best" answer for the questioner, seeing as OP wanted to design a physically plausible dragon with added capabilities for rear aimed jet propulsion, but that doesn't mean that the story is not useful as an answer for someone who is not abundantly concerned with adhering to reality. It is an additional perspective that might assist one who likes the idea of flatulent based travel on their dragons, but is more concerned about how silly it would seem to write.

That's my two cents anyway. The story answer isn't 100% the clearest answer, but certainly not worthy of deletion and has merit for broadening the question and answer's scope of usefulness, which I believe is the ultimate goal.

Unrelated: I cannot believe someone has not added a comment linking the Blue-Eyes White Jet with the caption "Seto Kaiba has logged in." XD

  • $\begingroup$ "...an answer for someone who is not abundantly concerned with adhering to reality" - the question does possess the reality-check tag, ok, so we're into getting a bit sloppy about tags now - meh - it happens. This is the best answer to @overlord's query so-far. $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2019 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ @We are Monica I agree about the tags, which also plays into the part I mentioned about it not being the best answer for the OP of that question. However, suppose another person wanted to do the same, but didn't have the same restrictions, using the magic and fantasy tags. Would it be better for them to make their own question with a similar premise, just different tags or allow for answers that aren't perfectly in bounds with the question, but still within reason? I'm not 100% on if that would be considered a duplicate question or would be fine to reframe like that. Idk which is best here. $\endgroup$
    – JGaines
    Nov 1, 2019 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ @WeareMonica. Sloppy about tags... this is what happens when Monica is missing. :-( $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Nov 19, 2019 at 9:46

I can tell you that it turned up in the Review queue for low-quality posts about 18 hours ago as of the time of this answer..

It was reviewed by three people - myself and two others. (I've no idea if confidentiality rules forbid me mentioning them, but simple courtesy seems to dictate that I let them chose whether to speak for themselves or remain silent).

First vote was cast as "Looks OK".

I cast my vote second "Recommend Deletion".

Third vote: "Looks OK".

And that was the split of the vote that lead to it being "disputed" as opposed to "rejected" or "accepted". It's not that your vote is being disputed, but that the balance of the "jury" disputes a definite verdict as-it were.

  • For my part, it cave no coherent explanation of how it answered the question - it was a piece of unattributed prose dialogue, not an answer.

This could be taken as an example of how question and answer standards have changed over time, an answer like that one now likely wouldn't survive the vote. The other voters may well have judged the answer to be appropriate in it's time (Jan 2015) - but I can't speak authoritatively for them.

Of note:

The post may well violate copyright.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I think sometimes posts are upvoted or accepted simply because people "like" them, without stopping to think about whether such a post is appropriate or follows the rules. $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Oct 24, 2019 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ I can see that you, the original poster, were among the 5 votes needed to close it. $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Oct 24, 2019 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ At that stage there were more narrative answers to questions, and the answer is in there, within the story, you just have to read the story. There are no copyright issues as it's posted by the author. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Oct 24, 2019 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ "I've no idea if confidentiality rules forbid me mentioning them" that information is publicly visible, so it's no problem mentioning them. $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2019 at 12:42

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