Why can't flags indicate technical innacuracies? Given the large number of upvoted wrong answers (e.g. https://physics.stackexchange.com/a/35677/23119 (totally fails to understand QM),
<--- Calamities What experiment would disprove string theory? (totally fails to understand falsification), What experiment would disprove string theory? (totally fails to understand ST), https://physics.stackexchange.com/a/69545/23119 (it's just wrong, not how real nature works, fortunately or unfortunately, since EM only curves spacetime due to the gravitational energy of it.), see also more answers listed here etc.), I propose that flags indicating completely wrong answers should be accepted.

In QM, time is continuous. Falsification does not say that if it isn't experimentally verified by the next N years, i t isn't correct. String theory does predict scattering amplitudes, obviously.


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Does this mean that I decline to give the forecast? Or that it is predicted that this will be declined? .

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    $\begingroup$ Wrong upvoted answers are annoying, but flags can only be seen by mods who are not expected to know what is right and wrong in every case and a few very high rep users (10k?). So I would rather leave a comment saying why what is wrong (which should then not get deleted of course ...!), and if it is very bad bring it up on meta or chat for other people to have a look at it too. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ Of course, if we could instigate a vacuum transition to a more perfect world, flags pointing out wrong things would be discussed with experts knowledgable in the topics concerned and accepted as a good thing ;-). But note that this is not how our universe currently works. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ You did not yet wait long enough and it is the weekend :-D. Seems you have an activation potential barriere too here on meta which any of your posts has to overcome before reaching a neutral score :-P. My potential barrier is about 5 negative votes deep, it would be there even if I just say hi guys, how are you ... :-D $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ I see it, so I will take cover now ... ;-) $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ It means hiding under the bed, a table, or something like that ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ Just noticed this - as someone who lost people in Japan due to the tsunami - 1 in the area pictured above, I would appreciate a bit more respect for the magnitude of that disaster. $\endgroup$ – user29350 Sep 29 '13 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ @DImension10AbhimanyuPS thank you. $\endgroup$ – user29350 Sep 29 '13 at 12:17

And what would such a flag do? Alert the moderators? What if they lack sufficient expertise in the flagged topic to make a good call? Alert high-rep users? So that they can... criticize the post for you?

Perhaps a better idea would be to just indicate publicly that the post was flagged. We could even maintain a count of the number of such flags, and display that next to the post, thereby indicating the number of people who found the post to be inaccurate.

This might be a bit controversial, but... Since your concern is primarily with "upvoted wrong answers", we could potentially reduce the score of the post by one for every "inaccurate" flag cast on it, thereby giving flaggers a direct way to combat overrated posts.


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    $\begingroup$ Displaying the count of inacurate flags would be great :-) $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ y'all realize I'm describing down-votes, right? there's even a "most-downvoted" list for 10k users if they care to look. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 11 '13 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ Concerning the downvote for a flag idea, this could be helpful too. Would such an inacurate flag then cost some rep the flagger has to pay too? Maybe it should such that the feature is not used too cheerfully? $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ Yes - I recommend -1 for the "flagger", just to cause a bit of hesitation. We should also prompt them to leave a comment when "flagging as inaccurate", since this could aid other readers in understanding what's wrong with the post. $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 11 '13 at 17:16
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    $\begingroup$ I fail to see how sarcasm helps keep a constructive discussion. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Aug 11 '13 at 17:16
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    $\begingroup$ So what do you propose to fix this, @Dimension10? Saying, "let's allow flagging these" and then hand-waving away the actual behavior of the flag doesn't accomplish anything; 10K users can't delete heavily-upvoted answers either, which is probably a very good thing. So you're describing answers that you feel should be down-voted, but for whatever reason aren't: do you want to encourage more people to down-vote? Do you want folks to be able to down-vote twice, once in the form of a flag? Or do you want certain, right-thinking individuals trusted with some sort of "super-downvote"? $\endgroup$ – Shog9 Aug 11 '13 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Dimension10 being able to cast a second downvote by a flag + leaving a comment saying what is wrong and why, as Shog9 suggests would be helpful. Maybe this could be implemented to work in a similar way as the closevotes as douplicate, such that if a second flagger arrives and agrees with the comment already there, the flag just upvotes this comment if he does not want to point out a new error? If the final score of grossly wrong answers is negative, they are no longer that harmful ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ If every question could be downvoted+flagged for a result of -2 on the post, then if one were to disagree with an answer that person would just do both every time. So it just inflates the downvotes. Should we include a "correct answer" flag that allows you to upvote and flag as correct for a net of +2 as well? $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Aug 11 '13 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ @tpq2114 on the main page one should not downvote just because one "disagrees", because physics is NOT about opinion, as I said in my comment directed at CrazyBudy. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: "... not about opinion". Yes, how many of us are really doing that? There are serial upvotes & downvotes, there are hate & violent speech, there are unwanted votes (I meant sockpuppets), everything is happening here. Just a few good bunch of people (who don't care about these anomalies) point the right & wrong of Physics. They're the physics community. "One should not" doesn't mean that they *"must not" and it has not been ruled out yet..! $\endgroup$ – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Aug 12 '13 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ @CrazyBuddy yes I know ... And in addition there are high rep users who can post whatever they want in answers to every topic, even if they are not experts in these subjects, and get upvoted anyway independent from what they say ... :-/ $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 12 '13 at 10:54

This would've been covered by our overall site FAQ under the topic Moderation.

Flags don't work like that. Flagging should be done only when moderators require some intervention with the post. For instance, someone is spamming around, uses offensive words, posting bad questions that need to be closed, etc. can be handled by a mod. Other cases...

1) If some asker accepts some answer, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's correct. It means that he's satisfied with it. You shouldn't flag it and say it's wrong. Because, a mod shouldn't switch accepted answers, that are only provided for askers. If that's the case, he can go around accepting answers by himself. And, something in your point of view may be different from others' point of view.

2) An answer gets large number of upvotes (that too...) doesn't mean that it's correct. It's accepted and agreed as a worthy answer by the overall community. Mod can't interrupt the community's evaluation of answers. That's the reason why downvoted answers are still under questions. If the wrong answer is related to Physics (just some misunderstanding), we can keep it to indicate others that it's wrong...

So, your question goes to the author. Just comment below it, indicating what's wrong there. Mods can't do everything. They're just our people. Feel free to interact with them. Why do you need mods as some connecting bridges? Again, your thought that answers should be deleted by mods once they're flagged is really a misconception...

  • $\begingroup$ @Dimension10: 1) I did notice it. 2) The accepted answers part was a clone to assist the upvoted answers part. I mean, the same response goes to both 3) That's wrong then. Rephrasing again, answers which are wrong in one's own point of view can be right from others' point of view $\endgroup$ – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Aug 11 '13 at 15:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Dimension10: IIRC, Didn't I tell you to put your argument in comments? I think I have. Arguing with me, is no point. Why are you telling that to me? I'm not even an ST guy, but these things don't require me to be an ST specialist ;-) $\endgroup$ – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Aug 11 '13 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ @CrazyBuddy every physicist knows that in physics it lS possible and even needed to tell rigth and wrong apart, or concerning cutting edge physics one can at least say what agrees with the current established theoretical and experimental base of knowledge and what does not. Things that disagree with established knowledge are clearly wrong. Physics is not about opinion and an everything goes attitude is clearly unscientific and therefore not appropriate for a physics or any science site. Such an attitude is against the basics of the scientific method, as every scientist knows. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: Hah... Finally, I got what I wanted (without bringing a great discussion). That's what I've been trying to say. IMO, this site has many good physicists specialized in many fields. If there would've been something wrong, they would've commented on it. We can't really say that all the users who voted that particular answer are wrong. Can we? So, what's wrong in there? ;-) $\endgroup$ – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Aug 11 '13 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ @CrazyBuddy yes we have many good physicists and nice knowledgable people. The thing is not only those can upvote, but almost everybody who creates an account, in particular taking the association bonus into account can ... This leads in some cases to the by not so knowledgeable people wrongly upvoted posts this discussion is about. But I have just seen that Shog9 has a nice helpful suggestion. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Dimension10 the first linked answer is not "plainly outrageously wrong", it's a perfectly reasonable and quite innocuous point. It says that continuous models often arise as the limit of discrete ones as delta-t becomes small. QM is a continuous model, so maybe it's just an approximation to a discrete "true" reality. Asserting that QM has continuous time isn't a relevant counterargument and just demonstrates that you've missed the point. The possibility for such misunderstandings is a very good reason not to allow "privileged" users to delete "inaccurate" posts. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Aug 11 '13 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Nathaniel it can be shown, that assuming discrete time or a minimal time span respectively spoils the uncertainty principle of QM, breaks Lorentz invariance etc ... But of course I would not delete the answer because of this, rather leave a comment ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 11 '13 at 21:37

Sometimes the community just gets it wrong, if there is a plausible-looking answer, many users will just upvote it even if it is outside their expertise and they can't actually evaluate the correctness.

The best way to prevent such wrong, but plausible answers to rise to the top is to specifically commment on them and explain why they are wrong, preferably with some references to back up your claim. Users are far less likely to just upvote if they see that the answer is controversial.

Another very important point is that bad answers are much more likely to get upvoted if there are no better answers around. Posting a good answer that contradicts the bad answer should be the top priority if there is no good answer yet on that question.

So if you see an upvoted bad answer, comment on it to point out the error (constructively, just commenting "this answer sucks" doesn' help at all) and post a better answer as competition.

The main problem with the idea of flags for incorrect answers is that it puts the burden to evaluate the correctness on a single person, in this case a moderator. Moderators don't necessarily have the expertise in every area that is on-topic here, they are not primarily selected for their domain knowledge.

But even if you would suggest something like the top users evaluating those flags, they still can be wrong and leaving the decision in the hand of a single or a few users could be worse than leaving it in the hands of the community. If you look at my only answer I posted on Physics, this was posted as a response to the current most-upvoted answer. That answer is just plainly missing the point of the question in one part, it is completely wrong in one important aspect and it was posted by the user with the highest reputation on Physics. Even high-reputation users are occasionally wrong, evaluating the correctness is not something we should put in the hands of a single user.

  • $\begingroup$ Yep, it sometimes happens to me that I just have to post an answer when the existing answers are crap, misleading, or wrong etc and nobody else seems wanting to write a reasonable upvotable one ... :-D $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Aug 12 '13 at 10:48

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