I recently provided my standard comment to an answer that was primarily just a link. This comment currently reads as so:

Could you please edit your post to provide more details from the link? To avoid problems with link rot, the community prefers that you quote important content and provide the link as reference whenever possible.

The answer named the solution, but gave no details about why this solution would provide a solution to the question asked. Nor did it give any details about what the solution entails, how to configure or anything else.

The user in question seemed to think the comment is inappropriate, so I figured I would check with the community to see what they think.

Do you feel this response is appropriate to such answers, or do you feel there is a better way to address this situation?

  • 2
    Re: answers that are primarily just a link to another resource. Stack Exchange calls them not an answer Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 6:33
  • As I point out elsewhere, I disagree with your reading of that post. Yes, an answer that is link only or primarily link only has a higher chance of not passing the two tests proposed there and being determined as not an answer, but that does not automatically make them not an answer. In the specific case reference in my question, it was an answer, just one that could be improved.
    – YLearn
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 15:24
  • this seems to be a case of a non-programmer (ie ylearn) misapplying guidelines for programming questions Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 15:31
  • If it was posted on Stack Overflow's meta, I might agree. However this was posted on Stack Exchange's meta. He could have used examples from any site, but instead of searching less familiar sites for examples, yes he used ones from Stack Overflow with which he was familiar.
    – YLearn
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 15:53
  • As the OP of the question in question didn't specify his hardware, it seems to me to be just luck that the answer that was mostly a link to Cisco documentation was even acceptable to the OP (who presumably was using Cisco hardware, explaining their acceptance of the answer in question). I don't see a problem with your comment at all, YLearn. Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 12:47

3 Answers 3


I would agree with you in this case. Yes he did answer the question, but it wasn't very thorough and lacked an example. It also didn't address some of the concerns which prompted the question. I would expect someone more motivated to come along and provide a more thorough answer which the community could then up-vote, possibly down voting the lesser answer. Else he edits his answer to be more complete.

As I was answering this question I changed my stance to a more supportive I one. At first I felt like we should have let the individual who asked that question make a comment as to the completeness of the answer. However as I thought about it I had to consider the role of the community in helping to breed and uphold a certain standard of answering questions.


One of two things are happening here.

  1. You're simply going through the motions as a moderator to deal with negative feedback.
    Good on you.
  2. You're actually taking this comment seriously. If so, I think you may be reacting too sensitive to the situation.

In either case, this was an appropriate comment. The answer was poorly written and totally susceptible to link rot.

Let's put this in context; your comment was nearly 3 times longer than his answer.

Furthermore, I feel Craig went above and beyond his duties (more than I would have ever done) to salvage an answer that could barely pass as a comment. The only reason this question garnered any up votes is because of these edits. Otherwise, we would have just expected the normal response from the community.

Do you feel this response is appropriate to such answers, or do you feel there is a better way to address this situation?

I think you handled it well, but we need to reiterate that this is not how our community operates.

  • I would say somewhere between 1 and 2; I don't view it as just going through the motions, but a member of the community did question the practice. We have traditionally followed the larger SE community on the topic, which I personally still feel is valid. However, since the user did call me on it, i figured it was a good opportunity to bring this up to get a community specific response to it and to provide that user (or anyone else who disagrees with the current stance) with an opportunity to voice his view point.
    – YLearn
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 18:33
  • I just realized I should also mention that the original version of my comment there suggested that he post on meta, but then I decided we as a community have never discussed it so there was value in opening the discussion myself. I edited the comment to then reference this question.
    – YLearn
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 19:15

Answers should (?must?) stand on their own. A link-only answer fails that test. If for no other reason, the linked-to content could (a) move, (b) be offline, or (c) deleted, or (d) [WORSE] be replaced. (aka "link rot") An answer on any SE should be the answer, not a pointer to some other possible answer.

I've run into all three of those. It is aggravating beyond words to follow a search to some site that claims to have your answer to find it's just some random blog pointing to crap long ago lost. When people encounter that here, do you honestly expect them to ever come back here for answers?

  • This is the viewpoint shared by every SE site I've been on. Links alone are not answers and should be downvoted. Complete answers that also have links with supporting or additional information are good answers. Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 12:40

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