On Stack Overflow (specifically), could we please put something readily linkable in the FAQ or the How to Ask page (thanks for that suggestion, jadarnel27) so I don't have to keep typing out the same comment on questions like this one explaining to them why it's important to put code/markup in the question itself? I'm thinking the link could be http://stackoverflow.com/faq#putthecodeinthequestion (or a similar hash on the How to Ask page) so that it's both functional and indicative at a glance of what it's going to tell you.

Here's the text I usually use:

Links to external sites can be a useful adjunct to a question, but always post the relevant code/markup in the question itself. Stack Overflow is meant not just to be a resource for you now, but for others with a similar problem in the future. External links can be modified, deleted, moved, etc., rendering the question and its answers precisely useless for people in the future.

For a FAQ / How to Ask entry, I'd rephrase that slightly. Perhaps:

For questions involving code/markup, always post the relevant code/markup in the question itself. Although links to external sites can be a useful adjunct to a question, external links can be modified, deleted, moved, etc., rendering the question and its answers useless for people in the future. Stack Overflow is about being a resource for you now, and for others with a similar question in the future.

With the FAQ / How to Ask entry, I'd be able to use this comment instead:

Please put the code in the question itself. More: http://stackoverflow.com/faq#putthecodeinthequestion

Edit: Bumping this, it happens all the time. Could we please make the guidance on this clearer, and possibly more intrusive (for instance, on Stack Overflow specifically, if someone posts a link but has no code blocks, make them at least click past a big red box or something).

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1 Answer

That's actually in the first section of the faq:

We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them...

People that can't be bothered to write a decent question are often the same people that can't be bothered to read the faq. So, I imagine adding information to the faq for this would be "preaching to the choir" in a sense.

I really do like the spirit of this idea, though. Perhaps we could add it to the "How To Ask" box on the /ask page, as well as adding the longer version to the full /how-to-ask page?

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Following the "asking help" link (which takes you to the /how-to-ask page) would have the full description from @T.J. Crowder's question.

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That sentence is there, but it doesn't say what I'm talking about. I'll post the full text I usually use -- rather than requiring you to follow a link to find it!! :-) –  T.J. Crowder Jan 9 '12 at 13:45
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Re the bit about reading the FAQ: Oh, I'm not expecting they'll have read it in the first place. People don't. I just want the link so we can all use that when correcting them. –  T.J. Crowder Jan 9 '12 at 13:51
    
@T.J.Crowder Hmmm, do you think adding this to the "How To Ask" box on the "Ask a Question" page would accomplish the end goal? –  jadarnel27 Jan 9 '12 at 14:01
    
#jadarnel27: As long as it's linkable, I'm happy wherever it goes. That seems like a good place, actually. –  T.J. Crowder Jan 9 '12 at 14:08
    
I like your How to Ask update. Exactly what we should do. –  T.J. Crowder Jan 10 '12 at 17:53
    
I don't think adding it to the "How to Ask" box is sufficient as people also answer just by pasting a fiddle.js link for example. I'd vote for a "how should I answer" section in the Stackoverflow FAQs. –  acme Jun 27 '12 at 10:07
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