Recently I've had some discussions with @whuber about what constitutes appropriate use of the 'Not an answer' flag where I was referred to this thread:
To flag or not to flag and a request for auditing
which essentially says that the only appropriate use of the 'Not an answer' flag are answers like "Thanks!" or "I have the same problem". However, in another thread on a related subject a moderator on meta SO weighs in:
What should I *not* use flags for?
where it is indicated that is it, in fact, appropriate for moderators to act on flags raised due to a completely irrelevant answer. Let's look and what is written in the flag box next to "Not an answer":
"This was posted as an answer, but it does not answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether."
How we go from that to 'only "Thanks!" and "I have the same problem" responses fall into that category' reflects a bit of a disconnect to me.
The discussion began on this thread: How much does quantizing continuous data affect power? where the question is asking about the consequences of categorizing continuous data according to the quantiles. The only answer (which I flagged and was declined) was about quantile regression, which relates to statistics but has nothing to do with the question. Another example that sparked my interest is here.
I'd like to open up a discussion about what exactly is wrong with something like this example being deemed "not an answer" and how that can be reconciled with the text written in the box under the 'not an answer' flag, possibly using the question above as an illustrative example. Perhaps the text should be changed? Or, the general consensus on what is and is not an answer needs to be clarified?
Edit (5/16/12): After much discussion it appears the disconnect is that I'm approaching this with a very literal interpretation of the rules cited whereas the moderators approach this problem with more of a "spirit of the rule" type of interpretation, which leads to a cases that may be "borderline" in the sense that a rational individual may think an answer does fit with the spirit of the rule while others do not. This approach is less clear cut but may be for the best.