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As I understand it the goal of this network of sites is to be an awesome no nonsense reference facility.

When reviewing answers with the review tool though I see a large number of answers that I find hard to square with that goal. Typically these answers take the form:

This other guy had the same problem too and he fixed it. Link to


We use tool Y from company Z. Link to company Z.

They're not counterproductive or directly harmful, in fact they probably do help the person who asked the question solve their problem. They're not spam because it's clearly not unsolicited.

They do however cause some questions to look more like link farms than an awesome Q&A resource. They're often links to transient resources too, which means the answers degrade over time.

At the moment I'm passing over these sorts of answers. Should these answers be getting flagged "low quality" though? My interpretation of low quality was lower than that. Perhaps there should be some other flag? It seems that it's more of a problem with the question itself, but the questions usually are reasonable (i.e. not worthy of a vote close) even if they are at the lower end of the quality spectrum.

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Possible duplicate:… – Robert Harvey Aug 23 '11 at 17:16
up vote 7 down vote accepted

They are "Not an Answer." Go ahead and flag them, and a mod will either delete them, or convert them to a comment if they might be useful to the OP.

See also How can I link to an external resource in a community-friendly way? and How do I mention my own products in answers?, although the latter post looks like it needs some work.

For a dissenting opinion, look here: Should I flag answers which contain only a link as "not an answer"?. For a supporting opinion, look here: Are answers that just contain links elsewhere really "good answers"?

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Interesting linked question - I did look around for something like that before posting this, but blog in the search box on meta only dug up things about or "can we host blogs here for high rep users". From that it seems I'd been too restrictive in my interpretation of "not an answer", using it only for "on a related note, how do I..." question hijack answers and "thanks everyone" answers. – Flexo Aug 23 '11 at 17:18
Those are all good "Not an Answer" flags. The use for "Not an Answer" I dislike is when a user flags an answer when they don't like it, i.e. it is a bad answer. That's what downvotes are for. This particular situation is "Not an Answer" because the user still has to go somewhere else to get his answer. – Robert Harvey Aug 23 '11 at 17:20
@awoodland, please note (though I'd be surprised, given your 6K rep on Stack Overflow, if you didn't know... ) that these are mostly older posts -- as the newer filter will auto-convert these to comments now. Hence, these link farms should be less of a problem going forward. – M. Tibbits Aug 23 '11 at 17:28
@M. Tibbits - I have to admit I'd not actually noticed anything auto-converting to comments. – Flexo Aug 23 '11 at 17:51
On Meta, a larger number of questions can be answered by a simple -- read the FAQ#here -- type response. I meant to add this link – M. Tibbits Aug 23 '11 at 18:06
Why did this answer get declined as "not an answer" then? As it stands isn't it exactly the kind of thing that should be a comment, not an answer? – Flexo Aug 27 '11 at 12:46
@awoodland: That's probably a slip of the hand. I do that sometimes. I'd say for ever 500 to 1000 flags I process, I dismiss one flag incorrectly. – Robert Harvey Aug 27 '11 at 19:59

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