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A moderator just converted my accepted answer to a comment. Why was my accepted answer converted to a comment?

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Screenshot of the question:

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I have edited my answer, but now I am not able to flag it as undeleted. Why?

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I can't judge your answer, but this looks indeed weird. –  Pëkka Jan 26 '12 at 17:21
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I'm not a mod, but I'd guess it's because all you did was post a couple of links without explaining anything. –  Pops Jan 26 '12 at 17:21
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Come on now - it had three upvotes and was accepted - I think we need to ease off the hair trigger a bit... –  Adam Rackis Jan 26 '12 at 17:23
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@PopularDemand - sometimes a link doesn't need explaining. ie Me: I need to type dynamic where clauses into linq queries. Answerer: There's a dynamic linq library, here's a link. Me: perfect answer, +1 and accept. –  Adam Rackis Jan 26 '12 at 17:26
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Nope. No mercy to link-only answers! SE is not Google-lite. –  Awesome Poodles Jan 26 '12 at 17:26
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@PopularDemand he was asking for an API. check the screen-shot of question. –  Parag Bafna Jan 26 '12 at 17:27
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@AdamRackis Link-only answers are useless as soon as the link goes broken/unavailable. Include a nice answer and the link, and that's much better. –  Alenanno Jan 26 '12 at 17:30
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@PopularDemand: Why do you assume that they think you're defending it? You said it. Therefore, any response to what you said will be directed at you, because you put forward the idea. They are explaining to you why the idea you put forth does not work in this case. –  Nicol Bolas Jan 26 '12 at 17:37
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@NicolBolas I think that when you explain a possible reasoning, and someone responds by arguing that reasoning (as Parag did), it is logical to assume the person believes you be interested in defending it. The way Parag instructed Popular to read the screen shot seems to suggest that, too. And Adam says it seemed (to him) like Popular was defending the mod. –  Andrew Barber Jan 26 '12 at 17:40
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@Alenanno: There isn't much more than a link that could answer this question. The other answer just said, "Core Data" and gave a link. Yes, it was two paragraphs, but it was just two paragraphs explaining that he should use "Core Data". –  Nicol Bolas Jan 26 '12 at 17:40
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@ParagBafna You can edit the answer, then flag it to be undeleted. Or, submit a new answer that has more content. –  Andrew Barber Jan 26 '12 at 17:49
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Upvotes and tick mark are not indicative of actual/quality answers. If it's a frigging oneliner, then it belongs in the comment section. –  mario Jan 26 '12 at 18:02
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With the edit, I undeleted... with my mind. –  Won't Jan 26 '12 at 18:39
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@Mr.Disappointment It is not really an indicator for its own value but mostly for the question at hand. If it can be answered with a one liner that is not much more than a link then it is a bad question. –  Octavian Damiean Jan 26 '12 at 18:53

5 Answers 5

up vote 35 down vote accepted

If a question can be answered by just a link then it's most likely symptomatic of a low quality question with little research beforehand. Stack Overflow should not become just a collection of links and awarding reputation from what's basically just a Google search seems a little perverse.

In the general case there's always scope to elaborate on a link, even a link to an API. A synopsis of the API in question for example, or a summary of the problems it solves (and can't solve) in relation to the question. If there's not enough meat to the question to make that possible then it's a bad question.

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12  
I agree completely with this. That question just begs for the kind of answer the OP here gave it. Max went above and beyond describing things further (perhaps he's had the same thing happen to him, and learned by it?). I would normally flag an answer like the OP's to that question as 'Not an Answer' because it is barely more than a link... but seeing the question would have made me want to flag that as "Not a Real Question" instead. That question is kind of borderline, IMO, but... –  Andrew Barber Jan 26 '12 at 17:57
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<good-natured-sarcasm> I'm placing a bet on an upcoming question: "Why was my question about saving an NSMutableArray on SQLite closed? It had multiple, up voted answers!" </good-natured-sarcasm> –  Andrew Barber Jan 26 '12 at 18:51
    
@AndrewBarber Ahah I'll be looking forward to that... :P –  Alenanno Jan 26 '12 at 22:20
    
@AndrewBarber Well, that actually has a chance of happening now. –  casperOne Jan 26 '12 at 22:23
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I agree with you. i will edit my link only answers. –  Parag Bafna Jan 27 '12 at 5:49

As the moderator that converted it to a comment, here's what happened:

The flag for "not an answer" was applied to your "answer", not the question, not other answers (at least, not that I've seen in the flag queue as of yet). At the time, I was looking specifically at your answer (in addition to the rest of the post).

As others have commented (and I believe they are correct and I used this exact reasoning when approaching this situation), upvotes and accepted "answers" don't validate posts which really aren't answers.

The points about whether or not a question is a real question have merit, and it will be looked at. However, moderators are encouraged on Stack Overflow (and some of the higher volume sites) to not hunt for content, but work primarily off the flag queue, so it's not guaranteed whether or not the question will be looked at in this light (although it more than likely will be now since you brought it's attention to meta, which pretty much has the effect of flagging the entire post in an indirect way).

With that in mind, even if the post is closed, it doesn't in any way validate that what you provided was nothing more than two links, and not an answer.

Was it helpful to the poster? Yes.

Was it an answer that contributed to the overall quality of the site and by extension, the Internet (as per the mission statement of Stack Exchange)? Absolutely not.

I think you'll also see by many of the comments that they agree.

In those cases, it's more often than not an indicator that the information should be placed in a comment, which is exactly what was done.

Also, it should be noted that your current edit is truly questionable, in the sense that it's nothing more than a copy-and-paste of the manual. We prefer to have users put some effort into providing an answer and discourage copy-paste answers.

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I'm speaking purely out of my own belief here, but I think that one reason (beyond link rot) answers/questions like this are of little value to the site is because they don't really add any search engine value to the site. –  Andrew Barber Jan 26 '12 at 18:25
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@AndrewBarber Possibly? I'm too busy handling flags and answering all of Meta's wonderfully specific questions about my moderation activities to try and find any specific correlation between the two, although I'm sure one could try. =) –  casperOne Jan 26 '12 at 18:35
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@AndrewBarber I really don't know enough to say, but all the questions I've personally come across pointing back into the site were re: the Q proper, I rarely get something because of what the answer has. Consider: Often an answer will introduce new terminology. But you search by the old terminology that you know, and not the new terminology that you learn. tl;dr: I think the question is the googlejuice, not the answer, per-se –  jcolebrand Jan 26 '12 at 18:37
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@AndrewBarber Well, even if they did add SEO value, we want people that find SO through searching to find well written comprehensive answers that stand on their own. That's really part of our brand. If you see a link to Stack Overflow in your search results, it should be game friggin over (if you searched correctly) :) –  Tim Post Jan 26 '12 at 18:39
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RE your edit about the OP's edit: I ughed when I saw the OP's response to me saying that it had been edited, then went and checked it out. Learning experience... –  Andrew Barber Jan 26 '12 at 18:58
    
@AndrewBarber Yeah, I puked a little in my mouth too. –  casperOne Jan 26 '12 at 20:40
    
@casperOne i agree with you.i apologize for my mistake. –  Parag Bafna Jan 27 '12 at 5:50

You should read this question.

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and if this hasn't been flagged as "Not an Answer", irony is truly dead ;) –  Andrew Barber Jan 26 '12 at 19:12
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@AndrewBarber: It has been, but the people who flagged it as such also voted it up. –  Won't Jan 26 '12 at 20:33
    
Fantastic link, I already love that table. +1 (and faved the question). –  Alenanno Jan 26 '12 at 22:24
    
@Won't thank you for the link. –  Parag Bafna Jan 27 '12 at 5:51
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@Won't - I can simultaneously like the answer and realize it's not a complete answer. I eat cheeseburgers but wouldn't say they are good for me. –  JNK Jan 27 '12 at 20:15

Generally, people frown on link-only answers for the reasons others have better described here. Many of these get flagged as not being real answers, and some get deleted or converted to comments.

Your answers were better than the typical ones I see (which often just consist of something like "check this link I think it help u"), and the whole point is to link to the FMDB framework, but they could have been fleshed out a little bit. If nothing else, this would help someone in the future to find replacement links to the project, should the ones you provided go dead.

I'd suggest re-posting an answer worded something like the following:

Gus Mueller has created an Objective-C wrapper for interfacing with SQLite, called FMDB. The latest code for this can be obtained from Github. This might be a simpler way to provide your data to SQLite than via the raw C API.

Brandon Treb has written a brief tutorial on the use of FMDB, showing off the framework in action.

This gives a little more context on what FMDB is, why they might want to use it, and where they could find out more about it.

To be honest, though, I'd vote for the other answer there because Core Data really is the way to go for storing data on iOS, and can save a tremendous amount of code over raw SQLite. However, Gus just updated his FMDB to a 2.0 version, and it can be useful for certain applications.

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thank you for your suggestion. –  Parag Bafna Jan 27 '12 at 5:55

I think we need to start being more circumspect in removing link-only answers. Sure, if the question is JavaScript: How can I use apply to call function f, passing the arguments of the current function over and you just provide a link to some blog post that shows how to do that, then you deserve the deletion that's coming.

But this question was asking for an API. The answer provided an API. I'm guessing it was a good api, since it got 3 upvotes. It was very nice of the other answerer to provide a link to another api, and also give some commentary on how to use it, but I don't think that should be a requirement.

If I ask a question looking for an api to run dynamic queries in linq, and someone gives me a link to the dynamic linq api, then golden— +1 and accept. My question is now answered. I don't expect him to also give me commentary on how to use it. It's my job to learn the tool, and if I get stuck, I'll ask a new question.

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The user could also add why he/she is suggesting that certain API. If I was the mod/OP, I'd ask that: "why did you suggest me this API and not the other ones? What's better about this if compared to the other ones?"... That would improve the answer. I don't understand why the mod converted the answer in that case, but I disagree about the fact that that answer couldn't be further improved. –  Alenanno Jan 26 '12 at 17:49
    
@Alenanno - agree. The answer could have been improved, I'm just saying it shouldn't have been converted. It looks like we agree :) –  Adam Rackis Jan 26 '12 at 17:50
    
Ah ok, then yes, we agree. :P –  Alenanno Jan 26 '12 at 17:52
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I think the answer still can be improved, or reposted (with improvements). I think there's an issue here though, and that awoodland has it nailed in his answer. –  Andrew Barber Jan 26 '12 at 17:55
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@Andrew - no question. I'm just saying the line for deleting answers needs to be higher. I'm sure if the answer above had elaborated some more, it would have been voted more highly. –  Adam Rackis Jan 26 '12 at 18:04
    
@AdamRackis thank you. –  Parag Bafna Jan 27 '12 at 5:57

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