8

If somebody answers by just putting a link, is the answer acceptable?
Should the answer be flagged as "not an answer"?

5

This has been covered numerous times previously; the most thorough being the MSO post, Are answers that just contain links elsewhere really "good answers"?

Short version: it's a really bad idea.

A link isn't an answer; it's just a pointer to a possible answer. With no context, someone seeing just a link doesn't know if it might be on-topic, off-topic, a joke, or spam. Even a little bit of context helps make it clear why the link is worth following.

Additionally, answers here should be for the long term. If someone has the same problem two years from now, the link that's currently to a great blog post may well later be a 404 (or worse). If the link was the entire answer, then Apple.SE no longer has an answer for the question.

Link-only answers should be flagged as what they are: not answers.

  • Is it better to flag them or edit them? Editing would prevent the link appearing multiple times on the same Q&A, but then again it might generate false-reputation for the link's provider. (But isn't the Stack Exchange about quality and community rather than rep?) – Jari Keinänen Apr 9 '11 at 11:05
  • 3
    we've already seen link-only answers become useless on SO a bunch of times when the underlying link starts to 404. So you really do need to insist that answers contain a relevant excerpt that is the answer – Jeff Atwood Apr 12 '11 at 1:36
  • What did I oversee on flagging this answer? The flag was declined, I'd like to avoid wrong flagging, but would have seen this as link only answer. – bummi Feb 10 '15 at 17:43
  • The same question would fit for this answer apple.stackexchange.com/a/92701/55266 – bummi Feb 10 '15 at 17:56

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