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(Somewhat related to "list of books" questions)

As has been discussed many times, link-only answers aren't very useful, essentially pointing somewhere where an answer, or maybe even only some information related to the question, may (or may not be) found. Since they provide no real answer, and linkrot could potentially make them just plain useless noise, there is a general consensus that they are bad and should be discouraged/deleted/converted-to-comment/etc.

However, some questions (like this one) specifically ask for links to other sites. The only two possible ways to answer this type of question are:

  • Link to another site
  • Write a giant answer covering everything that would be covered in an ideal linked site.

It seems these types of questions are just wrappers for questions like "How do I learn to program in Language Foo?" and the like. It takes a broad, unanswerable NARQ and turns it into a more specific "Where can I read something to learn to program in Langauge Foo?", which, while more specific, basically abstracts both the problem (learning Language Foo) and the answer (long process involving all sorts of things) to the point that the post isn't really any more useful than a Google search for Language Foo tutorials (less useful, in fact, since it's a static set of results that only changes when someone comes by and manually changes it).

Since the only reasonable answer to such a question is essentially link-only, it seems it might be Too Loacalized. However, the question itself is possibly just a wrapper for a NARQ, and perhaps it should be closed as such.

In the specific instance I've linked, it seems it's not so much an overly broad "how do I do this/learn to do this?" as it is an incomplete real question ("I'm trying to accomplish Task X in Language/Framework Y, and I'm having trouble with Issue Z"), and could be saved by some editing (although it seems the asker doesn't understand the topic enough to narrow it down to a specific answerable question.

Summary: Should questions specifically asking for links be closed? If yes, as NARQ, Too Localized, or something else?

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Questions asking for links to external resources are off-topic. That's what search engines are for.

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I'd never seen/considered that explanation for why those are 'off topic'; I'd always voted to close them as 'Not Constructive'. I like this, though! – Andrew Barber Aug 24 '12 at 16:03
Not constructive works too, but it implies that the question can be reworked to ask for a single link (that obscure article that nobody can remember the name of), and it then becomes constructive (albeit too localized) because it's no longer a list. – Robert Harvey Aug 24 '12 at 16:04

I believe that questions like this should be closed, but also have good ways to be improved/saved.

Questions that ask for links to tutorials/guides: These are simply wrappers for overly broad questions in an attempt to prevent them from being closed as Not a Real Question. The asker probably doesn't understand how to do something and wants a tutorial to explain the topic, or is already reading a tutorial that doesn't explain the topic properly.
Close as: Not a Real Question/Not Constructive. While not having a link to a tutorial is more specific and resolvable than needing a tutorial, it's a superficial wrapper on a useless question
Improve by: Focus on the specific issue being faced, even if it is smaller in scope than what a tutorial would cover. A good answer to this would be along the lines of "You can accomplish this by doing X, Y, and Z. Some unexpected results you might see are "A, B, and C". For more information, you should check out this article/blog/tutorial [link]".

Questions that ask for links to documentation: These strike me as someone being too lazy to either Google for it themselves or look at the website where they downloaded the framework/library.
Close as: Off Topic/Not Constructive. The intent of Stack Overflow is to answer technical questions, not look up documentation for you.
Improve by: Focus on the specific issue that is unclear, preferable after looking at the documentation. it's quite possible the documentation is incomplete or low-quality, is in another language, or is difficult to understand. A great improvement on this question would be "The documentation says 'Foo(55, 56)' should result in '5556', but I get '5655'. What would cause this?"

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