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First off, I am relatively new to Stack Overflow. I respect the rules of the forum, and I admit I do not yet know all the rules. I am learning, and I'm thankful to moderators and peers for showing me the ropes (and I've read the FAQs).

One rule I learned today below (from FAQ):

Answers that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed.

This includes answers that are …

-barely more than a link to an external site

I am fine with this. For all we know, Joe Schmo can post bogus code on Wordpress and claim that it solves world hunger. If I link a user to Joe's code, I am misguiding her/him.

However, the image below shows two similar answers.

Two Similar Answers

I initially started out with a link. Oded suggested to summarize what is in the link. I went ahead to edit it by summarizing the link, but my answer was deleted by a moderator.

I was somewhat thrown off to find out an hour later to find that tofs had posted a similar link, in a similar way to my initial answer, and received an accepted answer. That's 15 reputation points for him and a deleted answer (and downvote) for me. I immediately voted to delete the accepted answer, and has since been deleted.

In each answer, we sourced MSDN. Microsoft designed Visual Studio (tagged by OP), so I would have to say that Microsoft is a highly reputable source to all things Visual Studio. I wouldn't go to Apple to show me how an Android phone works.

My Point: I understand the rule provided by FAQ. However, if it helps the OP answer the question, why should the answer not be considered? Why reinvent the wheel when the wheel is out there in official documentation by the company who designed the program/language/etc.? I believe moderation should go beyond "it's just a link to an external site, delete the answer." I understand the sentiment; users deserve answers that are backed up with comprehension.

In my case, I provided an answer, Oded suggested to summarize the link, I summarized the link, and my answer got deleted. tofs provides a similar answer in a simliar way I initially answered and he got an accepted answer and 15 reputation points. I don't think favoritism played a role here. My answer didn't fit within the rules of the forum and was handled properly by peers and moderators who enforce the rules. His answer just wasn't filtered when this question was originally posted.

Question: Should users be able to provide the OP legitimate links as their answers if it helps the OP answer the question s/he asked? It's one thing to source your work (what your code does, etc.), but it's another thing to provide a legit link that is clear-cut in what the OP is asking.

LINK TO ORIGINAL ANSWER

UPDATE: My deleted answer couldn't be undeleted because a moderator deleted it.

My Deleted Answer

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2  
What is the link to this post? –  amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A May 25 '12 at 15:26
    
    
FYI, I answered again as I couldn't undelete my previous answer. –  edmastermind29 May 25 '12 at 15:27
6  
Once you've edited it, flag it for moderator attention again and say it should be undeleted - simple as that. And also flag the other post as "not an answer". –  U2744 SNOWFLAKE May 25 '12 at 15:28
    
Did that, but it wouldn't let me because the answer was deleted by a moderator. –  edmastermind29 May 25 '12 at 15:29
    
@edmastermind29 the other answer WAS deleted by a mod –  amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A May 25 '12 at 15:30
    
@amanaPlanaCAnalPAnaMA Yes, but couldn't vote to undelete my deleted answer because it was deleted by a mod. So, I had already tried minitech's suggestion. –  edmastermind29 May 25 '12 at 15:33
2  
If you only want to post a link, either because you're not sure it's helpful or because you don't have the time to explain it, do it in a comment. –  keyser May 25 '12 at 15:34
    
@edmastermind29 the one that you said got accepted was DELETED –  amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A May 25 '12 at 15:35
    
@Keyser That makes sense. I usually get an answer out there, then explain myself. Looks like that approach needs to be changed ;) –  edmastermind29 May 25 '12 at 15:36
    
@amana....naMa "I immediately voted to delete the accepted answer." –  edmastermind29 May 25 '12 at 15:37
    
@amana...naMa I get that. I voted to delete it. The image above was when I found out an answer similar to my deleted answer was accepted. –  edmastermind29 May 25 '12 at 15:38
2  
@edmastermind29 FLAG don't click on undelete.... –  amanaP lanaC A nalP A naM A May 25 '12 at 15:41
2  
@amanaPlanaCAnalPAnaMA I flagged it. It is still under review. –  edmastermind29 May 25 '12 at 15:42
1  
@edmastermind29 - reposting it is not the thing to do, even if the flag takes a while to get handled. –  Flexo May 25 '12 at 16:40

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

If you only want to post a helpful link, do that in a comment.

If you can take the time to summarize, possibly with some excerpts, how that link answers the question, then do so in an answer.
Yes, helpful links are good. Yes, official links are even better. But links go stale, and links without context are what search engines are best for. We want answers on Stack Overflow to stand alone, the links should be backing/additional info/full detail of an outline of what needs to be done.


As for what happened to your answer: the moderator deleted it before you edited – it was a link-only answer before that, and had very probably been flagged as "not an answer".

What you need to do in this case, after you've improved your post (if you feel like doing that of course), is to flag your own answer (reason: "Other"), explaining what happened and what your did. You can't vote to undelete in this circumstance, so flagging is what needs to be done.

Posting a second answer isn't the best practice here.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks, Mat. Something else I learned, it's not good practice to post an answer a second time if your first one was deleted. –  edmastermind29 May 25 '12 at 15:55
3  
"We want answers on Stack Overflow to stand alone" Sums it up right there. –  edmastermind29 May 25 '12 at 16:29

Having a link in the answer is good. Having a link as the answer is not.

Just linking to the MSDN documentation, without any explanations, is not very useful. Most people can find that link anyway (using Google :-).

As to why your answer probably was flagged as not-an-answer, but maybe not the accepted answer:

Not all moderators are that keen on removing all answers, even if the quality is about equal. The fact that the OP has accepted it, makes it look a bit more like an actual answer! A secondary effect is likely that accepted answers get fewer flags, because some of us are saving these for lower hanging fruit.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks, Bo. I usually get an answer out there, then edit to further explain myself. That practice has to change ;) –  edmastermind29 May 25 '12 at 15:54

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