I strongly believe that Stack Exchange and its sites will last for a long time. It favors structure over convenience. Every contribution will be findable many years from now. The whole concept is very well elaborated. It is a pleasure to thoughtfully prepare a question and await its answer, thinking of others who might make use of it.

I suggest to forbid any external reference, especially URL's. Some of the worst cases: links to irregularly changed wiki articles; short-lived addresses generated by a CMS like id=23423; references to amateurish content; references to commercially distributed literature; references to sites demanding a registration fee.

If the author is too lazy or incapable of articulating the occasion, background or scenario, the question is not worthy of being raised at all. Stack Exchange is a superb tool and not some random bulletin board.

If and only if an external reference is given, it must be accessible to everyone at any time.

So, what do you think?

3 Answers 3


Strictly forbidden? No.

But we already strongly encourage users to quote/include the relevant information when answering a question, and to include a link out to original source material. That's the best of both worlds; useful information with proper source attribution for reference by future readers.


I disagree. The answers most people provide simply graze the surface of the technology in question. Providing an external reference saves SE from becoming a dumping ground for useless/specialized information, but still makes it a high quality problem/solution site.


In my experience, external references bring along at least the difficulties of accessibility and availability;

I did encounter on Wikipedia a reference to a newspaper's online edition. I was redirected to a registration form demanding authentication or a monthly fee. Such practices are despicable. They must be censored and the user needs to be admonished for promoting a product while not providing any content.

Let's imagine we visit SE in seven years. Will there be any non-broken links at all (dumping ground)? I seriously doubt that. Yet the content will still be valuable. For instance, everything related to IPv6 will not be outdated due to the varying compliance. There will be network engineers in 2030 who live in countries where IPv6 addresses haven't been offered at all.

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