What about answers consisting (almost) only of a link to an external website? - or - 'How do I answer' section for the faq

Generally, this link from the WordPress SE says that answers just linking to a solution are wrong per the faq#deletion:

Answers that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed. This includes answers that are … barely more than a link to an external site

Those answers should be made a comment if useful or removed if not, so says Rarst ♦.

I agree with him for there, but am not quite sure if this is / should be the same here. What about links to Wikipedia, App Notes, datasheets, and other texts or documents that are widely used, maintained by big organizations and generally considered to be accessible in the future as well?

For example, look at pjc50's answer on Save energy with PIC project. I consider this answer to be useful, though it's nothing more than a "yes" and a link to where the "yes" is explained. Also see this question which is basically screaming for app notes, which are given in this answer.

There's a vague line between "barely more than a link to an external site" and "very useful, official documentation".

This meta-question is intended to give support on how to treat answers like the two linked above.

Related: the problem of answers with links


1 Answer 1


This is a meta.SE policy. Links break. We have been around 4 years. I get flags for link only broken answers all the time.

Your answer should answer the question and only use links for further reading/reference for material.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So this really does include official documentation? Can you explain why? I wouldn't consider the chances of broken links on official documentation to be that high. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17592
    Mar 14, 2013 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CamilStaps It includes any link. "consider it that high," welcome to questions that someone may not look at for 5 years. Sites will reorganize how they store things occasionally, assuming the company is still running, and break links just by that. Also, our job is not to send someone link crawling for our answer, our job is to make an answer here and allow them to crawl links for sources/further reading beyond what the question really calls for. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Mar 14, 2013 at 16:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CamilStaps If you open 10 pages that might have your answer when you google, if that page is just links, most users go to the next result. I will open 10 new tabs and click through till I see my answer when I google. I found chiphacker this way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Mar 14, 2013 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, you convinced me! Thanks for the explanation! \$\endgroup\$
    – user17592
    Mar 14, 2013 at 17:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @CamilStaps on that note, at least one answer on the site that looks that way actually answers with less then ideal detail and a link for further. This is a rule for a link only answer or an answer that requires that link to answer the question. The answer you link to in your question answers it without the link and gives a long list of ways to save power in a link. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Mar 14, 2013 at 18:55

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