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Are answers that just contain links elsewhere really “good answers”?

Just wondering what the etiquette for posting links should be.

Let’s say you find a post or some code online that perfectly answers a question, should you post a link to that post, or copy the contents of that post attributing the original author.

Obviously the problem with the first solution is if in the future, that post no longer exists, then all the knowledge within it is lost.

Thoughts?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 10 '09 at 7:30

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marked as duplicate by mmyers May 10 '12 at 19:51

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8 Answers 8

Summarize but give credit to the source via a name and link.

Links alone can get broken over time. A summary can be improved upon by others who edit your post in the future.

Posting links alone helps the person asking the question, but for future people it's nicer to explain in the answer.

Summarizing also helps Joel and Jeff earn Google page hits :)

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Links can become outdated, so in my opinion, it is best to copy/summarise the article and attribute the author by providing a name and link as well.

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"Fair use" law says that you can summarize, paraphrase and excerpt, but not copy wholesale, and this is generally considered standard blogger etiquette as well. Plus links, of course!

Copy-pasting an entire article might seem like a good idea (to preserve the article in case it's ever deleted), but it isn't strictly legal and if the site owner ever asked SO to take it down, they'd have to. And then it would be lost -- better to take the time up front to write a short summary instead.

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1  
Some articles are legal to copy-paste. –  Prof. Falken May 22 '11 at 15:57

Regarding something from a different thread from the other day - People Who Don't Use Google - I'd say to always post as much of the answer as possible. Stack Exchange needs the Google juice; this is honestly the most useful community on the Internet, and the more Google hits we get, the better exposure we have and the more people we can help.

And, of course, links do die off... I'd say that the risk of being asked to pull the article down is far outweighed by the reward of having the article posted up here until the end of time - because for every one cranky site owner that wants his article pulled, there will no doubt be twenty that never notice or care who let the hosting run out on their sites.

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Mostly I've seen people making a link, maybe summarizing what the content is.

By the time the content of the link is gone, the information is outdated anyway :-).

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Links should supplement your answer but not be a requirement, unless the link is exactly the answer needed.

But even then, you've got to consider how long the link will be around for. I've got no problem with wikipedia links because I assume them to be rather stable, but some link to some undergraduates web page is not so stable.

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Personally I would think it is just like blog etiquette. You quote what is appropriate and give the link to the page.

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Maybe copy the revelant code and provide link to site for more in depth information. I haven't seen any standard emerge yet but the site is still young.

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