4

I've just run into a few link-only answers again. This time I found a useful guideline to decide whether they are worth keeping or not.

good example:

Shog9 wrote a longer explanation on meta.stackexchange titled "Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer?"

bad example:

Have a look here

TL;DR: Ask yourself, is the answer still useful if the link were not working?

  • Yes, the answer still helps without the link: It may be short, but is an answer!
  • No, the answer would be useless without the underlying link: It is very low quality and should be improved or removed.

Still, though: We'd much rather have an answer with a proper explanation and some background.

2

On this particular site, answers with barely more than a link really compound the broken windows problem, since so much of the spam that we see actually looks like a legit answer recommending some web site or service.

If you see these in the form of some kind of testimonial, first - have a hard look at the question itself to see if it lacks enough scope to invite more narrowed, thorough answers. If it does, then encourage answers to be more along the lines of what Software Recommendations SE expects. You don't have to be as strict, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to ask for the following when offering up a link:

  • Why? What good is this? Why do you suggest it?
  • What's there? What will I find if I click this?
  • Is there something I can take away without clicking it? Put it here, just in case.

If you would be really frustrated if you were searching for something, found the answer and were then extremely disappointed, then it's probably something we should get rid of. Otherwise, well, just give it whatever love you can :)

  • This is a very good list of questions to ask. – Murch Jun 26 '14 at 7:28

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