Google has a habit of displaying cards, and I am sure several of you have seen these by now:
The way I understand the purpose - of displaying cards for each answer (and not just the accepted answer) - is that it helps the viewer to get alternative ideas about the question, and that is a great thing, when all of the alternative views are correct.
However, it is not so great in such cases:
Notice here that answer 3 and 4 are displayed just as prominently as answer 2. But, if you'll visit the actual question (archive link), you'll find that answer 3 and 4 are actually greyed out, with a score of +0/-4 and +0/-5 respectively. Answer 2 instead has a decent score of +2/-1. Realize that this has a potential to sway innocent Google searchers unless they open the actual SE page.
Now, we know that the main reason Google is pulling out these cards from SE sites is to retain the viewer on its search page. Well, assuming they're successful in preventing even 10% of their viewers from clicking the SE link (a reasonable success rate given Google is a smart company), and assuming a few of them choose to prefer answers 3 and 4 over answer 1 (probably because they support some extreme/obsolete view), that's still a lot of misguided folks, especially in case of the very popular questions.
Since we can't force Google to change their algorithm[a], we can at least take steps to minimize the damage by taking our own little steps. I wish to propose that any answer:
- that is sufficiently low quality and does not attempt to answer the given question, or is completely inaccurate, or plagiarized from an existing answer
- where the author has not responded to comments seeking clarification, or has replied with inaccurate comments
- has been over thirty days since posted
should be flagged as VLQ/NAA so it can be quickly deleted.
So, should we flag such answers as NAA/VLQ so they can be quickly deleted? Is it ok, or are there problems with this approach?
I myself don't see any harm with this approach, but I might be missing out on some fine detail.
Meta-background: Nothing much, but that I myself used to downvote a lot of answers in the past, even those which were already greyed out. But I never flagged them.[b] And, I did not realize that they would be shown in Google searches nonetheless. I agree their being shown in the answer cards is a trivial issue, there may not be more than fifty such examples at the present time, but I still thought it might be worth bringing this idea to the attention to the rest of the community. It just gives an incentive for flagging and getting rid of such answers. I found one example above, but there might be many more such questions.
Welcome all constructive feedback! Thanks! :)
[a]: Shadow Wizard, who's literally all over MSE, had this to say in regards to this issue: "SE staff mentioned in the past they don't have any part in those experiments Google are doing, and Google did not ask for any cooperation from SE side"
[b]: I do not definitely exclude the possibility that I am the only with this habit. But considering I have had the chance to view several, year-old, greyed out answers, which should've been deleted by then, I think I'm definitely not the only one.
Actually, this is no longer an issue. Currently, Google has reverted to the previous search display as it used to be. For example, the first search link mentioned in the post above gives:
...as it used to displayed earlier.
If a similar issue ever comes up again, due to Google or otherwise, we can always have a look back at this discussion.