Someone recently posted a link-only answer to this SNMP Memory measurement question:

link-only post

The Stack Exchange Community Mods seem to believe that this is not an answer. However, my flag was declined:

flag declined

I routinely flag link-only answers; most of them are accepted. Was there a special reason this flag was declined?


2 Answers 2


The flag rejection was mistaken... see here for details

Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer?

  • I disagree. I have rewritten my answer quoting larger sections of the post you keep linking and as I read it, the flagged answer was an answer.
    – YLearn
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 8:34
  • I agree with Mike. A link to the mib he's already using doesn't provide anything useful. He wasn't looking for a MIB; he was looking for instructions on using the MIB. I've answered similar questions, but with actual instructions and quotes from various mibs (not just links that can rot)
    – Ricky
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 22:33

I would disagree with your interpretation of the linked post. When I read this post, I drew from it two "tests" that were proposed. Lets take a look at a couple of longer excerpts to keep things in context.

Is there even one tiny speck of information there? No. Even the title of the page being linked to would have provided something to go on, but that was entirely too much work.

So let me be clear: this sort of response is not an answer. If you see this, flag it. Moderators, if you see it flagged, delete it.


Yes, they're both very short, and yes, they contain links. But strip the markup, and you still get at least a little bit of useful information.

So, we draw from this two tests to determine if this is one of the non-answers that are being discussed:

  1. Is there even one tiny speck of information there?
    • Yes, it may an answer.
    • No, it is not an answer.
  2. If you strip all the markup, do you still get at least a little bit of useful information?
    • Yes, may be an answer.
    • No, it is not an answer.

So, let's apply these tests to the post your flagged.

Test #1 Is there even one tiny speck of information? By the quoted passage, "even the title of the page being linked to" provides something, so I would say yes.

Test #2 If you strip all the markup, do you still get at least a little bit of useful information? Again, we at least have some understanding of what was being linked to, so it does contain some information. At the very least you could do a web search with the information in it's non-marked up form and still be able to find information similar to the link.

It may not be relevant information to the question at hand or it may be technically inaccurate. But that doesn't make it not an answer by the standards in that post.

It may make it a low quality answer, but I would have to conclude that it is an answer.

Flags are not meant to indicate technical inaccuracies or wrong answers.

However, I will grant that in his examples of answers that are short and primarily links, he does go on to say this:

Does that mean these answers should forever hang around the site? No, not necessarily - if it turns out they're just not that useful, they should probably still be removed - or at very least, down-voted so that they rank below other answers.

Which is followed immediately by:

Just remember: if the text of the post contains an honest attempt at answering the question, then it is an answer - so don't flag it otherwise, and if you do, don't complain if your flag gets declined.

Ultimately, you can choose to disagree, but by those standards and my judgement based on those standards, this was an answer and a "not an answer" flag should have been declined.

  • YLearn: That is a valid answer according to Shog9. Really? What part of "So let me be clear: this sort of response is not an answer. If you see this, flag it. Moderators, if you see it flagged, delete it." makes you think this hyperlink is a real answer according to the linked meta.SE Q&A? I did not flag for a wrong answer; my flag was "Not an answer". In the past I hyperlinked to Shog9's post when someone declined a valid flag. I will continue to do so again if I need to Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 5:45
  • @MikePennington, I quoted the two paragraphs for context and re-wrote my answer to express my view point more clearly. I didn't have as much time earlier and wanted to get an answer out there for you. If you still don't see why I don't think Shog9's post applies in this case, then we will just have to agree to disagree. But it seems very clear from the full context of that post that this is an answer, even if it is not a particularly good one.
    – YLearn
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 8:33
  • 2
    Let me be clear: Shog9 says "see this tutorial at [hyperlink]" is not an answer. Shog9 says you can legitimately answer a Stack Overflow question by pointing to a specific API (analogous to a one-line cisco IOS command on Network Engineering). The point in all this is you can't just look at a MIB and answer the person's question. The OP needs a tutorial on the MIB; thus, a hyperlink to the MIB is not an answer; the OP clearly was already using CISCO-PROCESS-MIB because that is where the oid ( in his question came from. Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 9:06
  • 1
    Let me be clear. Shog9 is posting that as a general answer, not on Stack Overflow's meta site. Yes, he may be using examples from a site that are most familiar to him, but his proposed tests as present are independent of the question. No where does he say they are an answer because they are pointing to a specific API or that the content of relates to the question. In fact, he never referenes the question at all in judging if his examples are answers. And again, by the two tests proposed by Shog9, it is an answer. I agree, not a good answer and it may not answer the OP's question, but an answer.
    – YLearn
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 15:20
  • you have a bizarre reading of shog9's response Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 15:32
  • You may believe so, but I could say the same of your reading. Personally, I think you are reading more into it than is really there. But now we are getting way outside of anything constructive.
    – YLearn
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 15:54
  • 1
    @YLearn Out of curiosity, if the OP would have said "You should check out cisco.com for information on how to deal with this." Do you still think it would have been considered an answer?
    – Ryan Foley
    Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 4:45
  • @RyanFoley, in that case, I don't really see it passing either test, so no. I also don't think I would have declined a VLQ flag or other flag with suitable explanation.
    – YLearn
    Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 11:17
  • 2
    My goal with that post was to provide an analogy and some paradigmatic examples to aid in these discussions, not some mystic tome to be reverse-engineered. You correctly identified the tests - so apply them using your own best judgement and knowledge of the topic, don't stress over exactly how I might define the limits of a "tiny speck" or get sidetracked by such arguments. Was there any useful information in that answer at all? If so, enough said. If not, it may as well have been deleted promptly. You can both agree on that, even if you disagree as to whether the answer passed or failed.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 15:51

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