This question is motivated by an interesting answer to another Academia Meta question.

My question is, if I see "dogpiling" going on, i.e. more and more people are jumping on a bandwagon, ganging up on a user, may I flag the answer? If so, for what reason? Perhaps I could flag it as "not an answer," because it reiterates a previous answer, without adding anything new?

The now famous question about "Should I call out a student who may have behaved in a sexist way?" is not the only situation where I have seen dogpiling. Another recent example would be Am I being a "mean" instructor, denying an extension on a take home exam


I found an example of helpful moderator action which was apparently triggered by some "not an answer" flags. Of course I don't know whether the flags were appropriate, whether they were accepted, etc. I'm just posting this example to further the discussion. (Note, I was mistaken in something I wrote in a comment. In this example, the moderator did not delete the answer. The answer was in fact auto-deleted.)

Here is a link the the answer: https://academia.stackexchange.com/a/81033/32436

The body of the helpful moderator comment below the answer:

This has been flagged by several users as "not an answer". I'm inclined to agree; most of this post is about criticizing the OP's activities on this site, rather than offering an answer to the question. The part of this post that is an answer doesn't add anything over other, better answers that offer the same point of view but more details and explanation. I suggest editing to remove that last part, and elaborating on the first part if you have something to add over the other answers. Otherwise, I recommend deleting this.

  • 1
    The post you reference was deleted by the author, not a moderator. It was flagged because some users thought it did not answer the question (because most of its content did not attempt to address the question), not because it didn't add anything new. Finally, and most importantly: writing a comment is something anyone with 50 rep can do. Don't flag for a moderator to write a comment, just write one yourself.
    – ff524
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 18:29
  • @ff524 - "The post you reference was deleted by the author, not a moderator" -- yes, that's what I said, or tried to say. // The comment I quoted was clearly written by a moderator, which can, and in my opinion, should, carry more weight with a user. Please note that I provided constructive negative feedback prior to yours. Perhaps yours was just the drop that made the glass run over -- hard to know, in hindsight! But I did want to make it clear that in the example cited, there was clear moderator feedback provided, and there was mention of "not an answer" flags.// My hope... Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 18:39
  • ... is that this example can help structure the discussion of the present Meta question. Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 18:39

2 Answers 2


Flags are intended to alert moderators that they need to take action. In that case, there isn't really anything that we, as mods, should do. You are free to leave a comment along the lines of "OK, folks, enough already", which may or may not have an effect. However, raising a flag is definitely not going to solve anything.

Please do not simply flag using an unrelated flag as we'll simply end up declining it, wasting your time and ours.

  • Thank you for your response. The second paragraph seems unnecessary, as I have asked for guidance instead of just flagging willy nilly. // I will say I am disappointed in your answer. I think that flagging a redundant answer that adds nothing to the discussion would be a great way of preventing a 100-car pile-up. Also, I did see a mod delete an answer for this reason, I will see if I can find it again. The comment made with the mod closing was written by ff etc. Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 5:05
  • @aparente001 It's entirely possible that I would leave a comment on an answer suggesting that it doesn't add anything new (as per this, I often leave such comments - which I do in my capacity as a user of this site, since leaving comments is not a special "diamond mod" ability), and then delete it for some other reason.
    – ff524
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 5:10
  • @ff524 - But I remember recently seeing an answer that was deleted, with a comment from you. I thought it was a helpful action and you were polite and gentle about it. Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 5:12
  • @aparente001 As I said, an answer can get a comment from me about not adding anything new, and then be deleted by me for an entirely different reason. "Not adding anything new" is not, on its own, a reason for a moderator to delete a post. If you find the example, I'd be happy to look at it and tell you what the other reason was.
    – ff524
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 5:14
  • @ff524 - It's possible I'm remembering it wrong, but I don't think so. Hopefully I will find it and post a link. Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 5:16
  • @aparente001 if you see dog piling you could also try protecting the question. This is a privilege you recently earned.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 13:15

Expanding on eykanal's suggestion of leaving a comment, I sometimes leave the following comment:

It's not clear what this answer adds over previous answers that already address these points.

and, if the author of the answer is new or not a regular contributor, I might also include in the comment:

Answers on Academia.SE are expected to offer a fresh take, rather than just reiterate existing answers; see What are we generally looking for in answers.

I invite anyone who witnesses dogpiling to "steal" this formulation (or some variation of it) and leave this comment yourself :)

Also note that comments that just repeat things that have already been said should be flagged. The appropriate flag depends on the situation, but I find that "too chatty" is often suitable.

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