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When a question makes the HNQ list, upvotes and answers from outsiders flood in.

The score distributions on these questions are highly abnormal. Often, a mediocre answer that misses the actual point of the question is voted up. Rarely, a totally incorrect answer gets voted to the top: the public loves 'quantum woo', and mysterious but poetic sounding non-explanations.

If I see a question starting to take off, how can I prevent this situation from happening? There are no flag reasons that apply, and I have only one downvote to give. That's not enough when five upvotes can come in within five minutes.

Note that this is a different discussion from Emilio's VLQ flag change, because the VLQ flag can only be applied to answers with zero upvotes. In the situation I'm describing, upvotes accumulate very quickly.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's not quite correct. VLQ flags can be raised on any post, but LQP queue deletions only happen to posts with negative score at the moment. Same difference, though - that mechanism is not meant to deal with those answers, I think. On the other hand, such a question definitely asks for protection (requires 10 rep earned here (bonus doesn't count) to answer), raise a custom mod flag asking for it. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Aug 8 '16 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I just tried several posts and I can't raise VLQ on anything with positive score. Are you sure you're not using a high-rep privilege to do this? $\endgroup$ – knzhou Aug 9 '16 at 4:17
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    $\begingroup$ Sadly, you will not be able to remove such answers/questions leading to them without some sort of serious censorship (which I would not support). The problem is not just that pop-sci answers are being upvoted, but that even highly knowledgable folks who are stuck with an old and sometimes obviously incorrect meme from their scientific youth are unable to change their minds about it (even when given plenty of arguments as to why what they know for sure is wrong). That's a limitation of the human mind that we are all subjected to. As a humanist one has to tolerate that. $\endgroup$ – CuriousOne Aug 14 '16 at 9:47
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    $\begingroup$ What is the HNQ list? $\endgroup$ – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 14 '16 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ Good point knzhou. There's an awful lot of "quantum woo" non-answers out there masquerading as real answers. The problem is that people like believing in stuff like that, and it is very difficult to persuade them to examine the evidence that challenges that belief. Young Earth Creationists are the way that they are because they are people, not because they're religious. And they are not the only people who believe in nonsense. $\endgroup$ – John Duffield Aug 16 '16 at 15:36
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There are no flags for this situation by design. The purpose of flagging is to bring a post which requires moderator action to the attention of the moderators (though it may make its way through a review queue first), and moderators do not judge correctness.

These are all the ways I can think of to deal with an incorrect answer:

  • Downvote
  • Comment to say that the answer is wrong, and why
  • Post your own, correct answer which explains the problems
  • Post in chat to bring attention to the answer, and get other people to vote on it appropriately (though note that telling people how to vote, e.g. "please vote this down", is not kosher - you should stick to "please vote this down if you consider it justified" or "vote on this as you see fit" or the like)
  • If it qualifies as flaggable for some other reason, such as not being an answer, flag it accordingly. In the rare cases where something is truly nonsense (moderator-deletion-worthy nonsense, not just wrong) and somehow gets an upvote anyway, you can flag for moderator attention saying that it should be deleted, and why, and mention that you were unable to cast a VLQ flag.

And a side channel of sorts:

  • Check whether the question deserves to be closed. This probably applies in some of those "quantum woo" cases. Closing the question won't remove the answer, of course, nor will it give any indication that the answer is incorrect, but it will take it off the hot network question list, and that stems the tide of gratuitous upvotes.
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    $\begingroup$ Many "quantum woo" questions, particularly on the HNQ bar, often call for protection. It won't change the existing answers but it can prevent new bad ones. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Aug 8 '16 at 11:37
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If I see a question starting to take off, how can I prevent this situation from happening?

This will certainly attract disagreement but, on my view, the desire of one ('I') to have the power here to prevent said situation is damning.

I'm all for discouraging, through rational argument and pointed comment, behavior one finds wrong or inappropriate here but the power to prevent said behavior should not, on my view, belong to anyone.

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    $\begingroup$ But it already does. Mods can close questions, which takes them off the HNQ list, and this does happen frequently. $\endgroup$ – knzhou Aug 12 '16 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ And it's not about one member of the community imposing their will on the rest of the community, because HNQ attention comes almost solely from outsiders. $\endgroup$ – knzhou Aug 12 '16 at 2:43
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    $\begingroup$ It is good to see that you are against the preventive single-person decisions. $\endgroup$ – peterh says reinstate Monica Aug 14 '16 at 15:47

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