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When people ask "Where do I get XYZ?" should this be flagged? How should it be flagged, as off-topic or not constructive?

Take the following question as example: Accu weather API.

EDIT (More accurate examples of what I'm referring to): Where do I get android-sdk_r9-linux_x86.tgz from?

and pretty much any http://stackoverflow.com/search?q=where+do+I+get or http://stackoverflow.com/search?q=where+can+I+get searches

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

If the question is simply asking for recommendations (books, websites etc...), it should be closed as Off-topic rather than flagged (if you have the reputation for close votes).

When flagging, It Doesn't Belong Here will give you off-topic options, but the flagging dialogue also has options for offensive posts, SPAM and general moderator attention.

I tend to use the closing option of Not Constructive for "What is better" kind of question.

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Yep. That's what I thought. Thanks for the clarification on It Doesn't Belong Here I too flag what is better questions as Not Constructive as it extends to state will lead to discussion/debate. Thanks for your quick answer. –  TryTryAgain Jan 5 '12 at 10:28
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Although, 'off-topic' is a sub-section option of 'It doesn't belong here' - any of which options are considered close votes. 'It is spam', I would suggest, is better for ...spam. –  Grant Thomas Jan 5 '12 at 10:35

Your specific example shouldn't necessarily be flagged, because it appears that there is a (at least reasonably) definitive answer, there is little danger of a flood of answers that are nothing more than opinion.

The risk with this kind of question is that the answers can become out of date, in which case they will need to be fixed (i.e. to avoid link rot) or the question itself will have to be revisited.

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Yeah, in that example, I realized that and didn't flag it. Although there is no sign of that API in existence any more, so I still assume the answers could run out of control or succumb to linkrot like you said...so... –  TryTryAgain Jan 5 '12 at 10:33
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In which case the answers should either be down voted (preferably) or flagged if they need action. –  slugster Jan 5 '12 at 10:35
    
Okay, great advice about the downvote. Didn't even think. Duh! –  TryTryAgain Jan 5 '12 at 10:35
    
Yeah frequently flags are used when a down vote would have been more appropriate - they only cost 1 rep point on answers and zero rep points on questions. –  slugster Jan 5 '12 at 10:51

Questions asking for links seem to be not constructive to me, generally speaking.
What you would read in that kind of questions is one or more answers containing a link, which could be take to a site that is not visible for any reason (e.g. problem with the server). I doubt there would be an explanation of why a link is preferable instead of another one, and the future readers would find just a list of links they should try one by one until they don't find the one that suits better their uses.

To find links you could use Google, and you would have the pro that the list of links would be dynamic, differently from answers on Stack Exchange that should be edited to be updated, or a new answer should be written when a new resource is available.

I understand that in some cases it is rather difficult that 100 new sites are created to host the documentation of a library, but I still think that Stack Exchange is not done for rapidly changing answers.

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I have the same, halfway icky feeling about these kinds of questions. I often seek "link only" answers to flag as not an answer, or comment hoping for improvement. (surprised how often improvements actually come). But this kind of question specifically asks for links. –  Andrew Barber Jan 5 '12 at 19:25
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That is why I think the problem is first with the question, and then with the answers. Even if the question asks for links, nobody forces the answers to just contain the link; who answers could explain why the link they are reporting is better than another one. To make a paragon with English Language & Usage, if the question is about a word to use, that doesn't mean the answer should just be a list of words that should suit; it could as well explain which of the listed words is better, and in which cases. –  kiamlaluno Jan 5 '12 at 19:32

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