What is the correct flag to use when an answer is pseudo-math? For example almost every question about Cantor's diagonal proof gets an answer from someone who believes that the reals are enumerable. I also recently saw an answer to a question about the cardinality of the odd natural numbers being answered by someone making reference to God and the existence of the moon to justify there answer that odd natural numbers had no meaningful cardinality.

Clearly these "not even wrong" answers need to flagged and removed but I'm not sure which category they come under.

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    $\begingroup$ It's unfortunate, but some nontrivial percentage of those crackpot cranks are in fact the same person who's been infesting online mathematical communities for decades. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 18 '16 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ Do you have a link to the one about the moon? I'm intrigued! :D $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 18 '16 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ It's been removed. $\endgroup$ – Q the Platypus Oct 18 '16 at 12:14
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    $\begingroup$ Sure, but if you flagged it, you can find it in your flagging history: math.stackexchange.com/users/flag-summary/264438 $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 18 '16 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ It was on this math.stackexchange.com/questions/632568/… $\endgroup$ – Q the Platypus Oct 18 '16 at 12:21
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    $\begingroup$ In addition to following the answer given by Asaf below, I encourage you to downvote such answers. $\endgroup$ – davidlowryduda Oct 18 '16 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Is the identity of this person known to those who've been in online math communities for decades, or is it just that the same anonymous person keeps popping up and seems like the same writing style, crazy ideas, etc.? $\endgroup$ – apnorton Oct 21 '16 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ @apnorton: The unfortunate very same, yes. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 21 '16 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ @apnorton: There are so many cranks that you will surely run into many distinct cranks many times. One is Wolfgang Mückenheim, who has many sockpuppets including willhelm. There are still many who are active on Math SE since insufficiently many users want to bother to get rid of their nonsense. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Dec 25 '17 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ Some post which are, to some extent, related: Don't flag wrong answers?, Is it in the Moderator's Job Description to patrol for correctness?, Should we vote to delete wrong answers? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Apr 18 at 6:49

My guideline is this:

  1. If the answer contains idiocy of the kind that refers to God, the Moon, or otherwise entirely non-mathematical objects, then it is not an answer. Flag it as NAA, downvote if you feel about it, and move on.

  2. If the answer might look a bit mathematical to the unsuspecting eye, but contains mainly nonsense and junk, flag it as VLQ, leave a remark why this is a very low quality answer (as some reviewers might mistake it to be a genuine answer), and move on.

If you flag has been disputed, you can always try the chatrooms to rally some support. Other users might flag it, downvote, or delete (if they have the privileges).

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    $\begingroup$ For option 1 above, would it be considered too hard to flag it as rude or abusive? I can surely feel a bit insulted when some numerologist wastes my time by posting gibberish and it is IMO an abuse of this site to market ideas that are non-mathematical to this extent. I'm not sure, but I think that rude or abusive flags are taken more seriously in that they will cause suspension or reputation penalties (just like the spam flags) a bit faster than NAA or VLQ. $\endgroup$ – Daniel R Oct 19 '16 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielR Spam/Offensive flags carry much more serious penalties, but that also means that moderators are much more likely to invalidate them if they're not appropriate. If it's a single post from an unregistered user, it doesn't matter much anyway, any kind of flag will likely result in deletion. If there is a user consistently posting terrible answers, a custom flag mentioning the pattern is the most likely to lead to moderator action. Using spam/offensive flags outside their strict definitions is usually not a good idea. $\endgroup$ – user9733 Oct 19 '16 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist Thanks, good to know. $\endgroup$ – Daniel R Oct 19 '16 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielR I think on the whole even "not even wrong" answers arise out of genuine misunderstanding of the subject matter; or sometimes out of objection to fundamental tenets of mathematics, albeit poorly communicated or misunderstood. For example, there are, in some sense two integers for every even integer so it's understandable somebody might object to the notion that they're considered equal in number. In fact distinguished professors and thinkers have made this very objection. I think sometimes the answer is to say that while this may be maths, it's not the accepted or taught maths. $\endgroup$ – samerivertwice Oct 28 '16 at 10:50

If an answer is simply wrong (however kooky it is), then there's no need to flag it. Instead downvote it, and leave a comment that explains its wrongness if you fear that it will not be apparent to the OP, or to a casual reader interested in the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Henning, I don't know about you, but letting some people leave their answers on this website is contrary to the broken windows theory that is usually exercised on this site. In particular leaving an answer stating that there are no even numbers, because the odd numbers are simpler, as kooky as that very answer. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 20 '16 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ Alright. The question, however, is not about answers that are "simply wrong." $\endgroup$ – quid Oct 20 '16 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is the more efficient approach to this topic. The answers are correct or not correct, this is all. Anyway you can flag them as NAN if you observe that the premises to explain the consequences (if the consequences are valid mathematical statements) are non related to any kind of mathematics. $\endgroup$ – Masacroso Oct 25 '16 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning Makholm an answer can be wrong and still be very useful, i think there needs to be wrong in the kind of sense "nice try" and wrong in the sense "utter BS" $\endgroup$ – SAJW Oct 27 '16 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Henning Makholm. As an example, I personally use some pretty bizarre methods to solve certain integrals that might look "kooky" to certain people. I don't think it would be appropriate to flag every answer as NAA that isn't clear or appears kooky. Perhaps a better avenue would be to use the "other issue requiring written detail" flag and just say the answer looks kooky. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Oct 28 '16 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ @TheGreatDuck an "other" flag is certainly not appropriate. What do you think a moderator should do about it? More to the point, which specific moderator action is needed? $\endgroup$ – quid Oct 29 '16 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Masacroso your comment seems to contradict itself. It basically says what the other answer says. $\endgroup$ – quid Oct 29 '16 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ @quid if it is the case then it seem a good comment because it have sense :) Suppose my comment is not contradictory, then it doesnt make sense because it doesnt have any correlation with reality xD $\endgroup$ – Masacroso Oct 29 '16 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ @quid It depends on whether or not it is truly"not an answer".NAA only applies to posts that blatantly ignore the topic of the question.I've had two answers where I asked"solve this equation",and the answers didn't solve the equation in any manner. Instead,they tried to claim why it was not purposeful to solve the equation as I"would never see it in real life".I flagged as NAA and then a custom report when it was denied and I was told to "stop reporting this post. It is an answer,and you must accept it as the only answer you'll ever get",and then my question was closed by the moderator. $\endgroup$ – user64742 Oct 30 '16 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ @TheGreatDuck your description is not quite clear to me, but it appears that the mod there agreed with me that you should not flag in the way you did. $\endgroup$ – quid Oct 30 '16 at 12:16

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