Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 153 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

Please have a look at this question:

using sql without any server

The answer by pQd is correct if a bit short. Someone else posted a duplicate answer and received the upvotes instead.

Here's pQd's answer (now deleted) in its entirety:

try sqlite.

share|improve this question
I'm not seeing this. Is the pQd answer now deleted? Regardless, the answer to questions like this tends to be "yeah, sometimes the rep system isn't 'fair,' and we've all lost out on some rep that's 'rightfully ours' at one point or another; best to just move on to another question." – Pops Dec 13 '11 at 23:30
@PopularDemand Yes. I updated this question to include it. – Adam Lear Dec 13 '11 at 23:30
Upon review: good job, anonymous (to me) moderator. Just posting a link is barely an answer at all. At least Eclipse's answer includes a non-zero amount of justification ("cross-platform, self-contained and serverless"). – Pops Dec 13 '11 at 23:34
@PopularDemand - agree, but couldn't Bill have given him more than 4 minutes to elaborate on the answer more before deleting it? – Adam Rackis Dec 13 '11 at 23:38
Good point, @AdamRackis. I did briefly consider that, but based on Bill's past performance, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and figured that he had reason to believe that the answer wouldn't be updated. – Pops Dec 13 '11 at 23:41
@PopularDemand - yeah. Looking at the user in question, he's been a member for almost 3 years, and has a total of 10 posts. Bill was probably right on this one. – Adam Rackis Dec 13 '11 at 23:43
Worth noting that extremely short answers like that tend to show up in the low quality posts section of Review, where folks are quick to flag them... – Shog9 Dec 14 '11 at 0:01… "Link-only answers can be actively harmful if links break. And they do break, even on sites that are seemingly going to be around forever..." – gnat Dec 28 '11 at 13:26
@gnat: the original answer did not include a link – Andomar Dec 28 '11 at 13:31
I see. what makes you think that original answer did not include a link? – gnat Dec 28 '11 at 13:46
@gnat: Well, that's the way I remember it. It was edited later to add the link. Then a moderator copied the version with the link over to meta. The original answer is gone, so hard to double-check. – Andomar Dec 28 '11 at 13:57
undeleted revision shows the link:… "try [sqlite][1].(line break)(line break) [1]:"; – gnat Dec 28 '11 at 14:07
@gnat: Looks like you're right, I thought that was his 2nd answer, but it's the undeleted original. – Andomar Dec 28 '11 at 14:35

pQd is correct if a bit short

The emphasis here is mine; the problem here is that the answer whilst technically correct is virtually without substance - or rather, link only. Perhaps I should explain. There is quite a "usefulness chasm" between this answer:

Try SQlite.


Try SQlite. SQLite is a sql-like database system that saves the database state to a single file somewhere on the file system, as opposed to requiring a full server. It does not have the full performance optimisations in SQL terms of full servers such as Postgres or MySQL; however, it does not require the overhead of a server.

and so on. The accepted answer contains some extra info:

It's cross-platform, self-contained and serverless.

Which the other does not.

Let's look at it from another angle entirely. Suppose I gave this answer:

Use UnicornDB!

You've never heard of UnicornDB. Unlike sqlite, 99% of SO do not know what it is. As an answer, therefore, it is unhelpful. Are you going to follow the link? Maybe. But the problem with links is link rot. So when the author of the project decides he/she is fed up and issues 410's to you, we no longer have an answer that was valid because aside from that link there is no information in it.

Long story short, if you want your answers not to be deleted it is best to ensure they contain more than two words and a link. Or, if you prefer it in web terms, don't issue redirects in answers.

share|improve this answer
I've undeleted the answer. If you don't mind, I copied the SQLite description you posted here. – NullUserException อ_อ Dec 14 '11 at 0:04
Nope not at all. It's not the best description I have ever given but never mind...! – user142852 Dec 14 '11 at 0:19

The answer was probably flagged as "not an answer" or "should be a comment" and subsequently deleted by a 10K+ user or moderator. There is no hard-and-fast rule about how much information needs to be in an answer, but some people would certainly consider a single link to be too short to be considered a "real" answer. Providing an answer that comprises a single link is bad for a number of reasons.

  1. It suffers from "link rot"
  2. It requires the reader to click through to another site to get information that should have been summarized in the answer
  3. It can be perceived as a shameless plug for the linked site

Remember that Stack Overflow gets a lot of traffic and generates a correspondingly large number of flags. It would be very easy for a reviewer to see this post under the review tab and flag it without a second thought, and equally easy for a 10K+ user or moderator to delete it and move on to the next one of thousands of unresolved flags.

Shog9 ♦ has pointed out one more reason that answers like this will probably be flagged:

links are stripped from the text shown on the Review page - the answer would have appeared as, "try sqlite.", two words, nothing more.

share|improve this answer
It was flagged as Not an Answer. Also worth noting: links are stripped from the text shown on the Review page - the answer would have appeared as, "try sqlite.", two words, nothing more. – Shog9 Dec 14 '11 at 0:14
up vote -5 down vote accepted

Disagree with the other answers. A longer answer would provide an inferior experience to just Googling for "SQLite". SO is supposed to make the web better, not worse.

(I'm just answering my own question because the system prompts me to do so, and I disagree with the other answers.)

share|improve this answer
How can "It's not what I'm looking for according to that description in this answer" inferior to "I spend minutes searching the web for the correct website and now I know it's not what I'm looking for"? – Time Traveling Bobby Dec 28 '11 at 12:45
This is rather bad form, but I guess you can tell from the downvotes – prusswan Dec 28 '11 at 12:49
I guess that should read "a longer answer with just generic info"? I feel that a longer answer with specific, on-topic info would be different from just a search for SQLite. – Arjan Dec 28 '11 at 12:50
@Bobby: Because the descriptions on the web are much better than a 1-minute scribbling on SO. And also because SQLite is actively changing. – Andomar Dec 28 '11 at 12:56
As discussed earlier the consensus is not to write a "1-minute scribbling", but rather summarize or quote the stuff you're linking to, so that the answer itself is reasonable well written and informative. – Time Traveling Bobby Dec 28 '11 at 13:37
even if you didn't agree with the other answers, there was no need to be subjected to pressure from the system ;) – prusswan Dec 28 '11 at 14:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .