I was wondering about (how to deal with) answers like

Had the same problem. Here (random [external] link) is the solution.

Firstly, I do not question the answerer's intention of helping others.

However, answers like that are, in my opinion, not directly helpful as they are mere redirects (possibly to some external blog). If the external site breaks, the article is taken off the web or else, the question remains unanswered. Also, most of the time, these external answers may handle the topic of the question but not the exact question itself and thus don't provide precise solutions.

Should we encourage the answerer to add the appropriate part of the external answer to the (local) answer? Should we (also) vote down the answer?

Furthermore, I was wondering why there is no section such as 'How do I answer' in the faq. Or did I just miss that?


I have boilerplate comment for it:

Lone link is considered a poor answer (see [FAQ#deletion]) since it is meaningless by itself and target resource is not guaranteed to be alive in the future. Please try to include at least summary of information you are linking to.

Usually I don't downvote since it might be problem with form, but not the "helpfulness" of it (might actually answer Q perfectly).

However note that such answers also often self-promotion, in which case it's (borderline or outright) spam and deserves harsher treatment.

Furthermore, I was wondering why there is no section such as 'How do I answer' in the faq. Or did I just miss that?

It's one link removed there - how to answer.

  • Ah, thanks for your input. As for 'how to answer' - where exactly is the page linked to? I only found a link in the last few words of the last sentence of the last paragraph of the faq section 'Why are some questions or answers removed?' - which is not that obvious, in my opinion. Wouldn't it be better be included in the faq as well?
    – tfrommen
    Mar 11 '13 at 11:45
  • FAQ is mostly network-wide. There might be deep reasoning behind that organization. Or it happened and set that way. I don't think it's very important, you can search main meta for prior discussions, there are usually some.
    – Rarst
    Mar 11 '13 at 12:38

Please flag link only answers as not an answer. If the link is really useful, we can convert the answer to a comment. In other cases we remove the answer.

As Rarst said, we give those users time to fix before we delete anything.

New users get the link to [answer] when they write an answer:


Unfortunately, most users don’t read it.

Related Meta SO question: Are answers that just contain links elsewhere really "good answers"?

  • You should have just linked to the related meta question by itself. lol Mar 14 '13 at 13:50

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