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Is it permissible to link to other people's past responses in your answer? Is it rude?

What about reusing bits and pieces from other people's answers (e.g. to create the "perfect answer" over time)? Would that be considered rude even if the answer is a community wiki?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 20 '09 at 19:14

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Should be a community wiki!! –  Mark Brittingham Mar 6 '09 at 12:57
    
Shoot - I forgot that I cannot rescind my close vote. Once you made it a wiki I was willing to take that vote back but...can't. –  Mark Brittingham Mar 6 '09 at 13:10
    
This is moronic. Where are we supposed to discuss such topics??? And what on earth was argumentative about the question? I wasn't even stating my opinion on the matter - just open questions about etiquette. This is really annoying. Just reflex-closing on a valid question with no reason given. –  Assaf Lavie Mar 6 '09 at 13:32
    
lol @ "closed as subjective and argumentative". I'll argue about the closing of the question but not the question itself. –  Quibblesome Mar 6 '09 at 13:36

11 Answers 11

up vote 18 down vote accepted

If you cite your sources, I see very little wrong with it.

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5  
From now on, all my answers will be "Here's what Jon Skeet says..." - it's a great way to pile up points. 8) –  duffymo Mar 6 '09 at 12:54
    
I think posts should be "Jon Skeet Accredited" to prove authenticity. –  Kieran Senior Mar 6 '09 at 12:57
    
Hehe yes, the only thing i see wrong with it is getting rep. –  Ólafur Waage Mar 6 '09 at 12:58
    
+1, especially if the citation is a link –  Greg Mar 6 '09 at 13:05
    
Yes, the actual citation could be in any form. –  Ólafur Waage Mar 6 '09 at 13:06
    
    
Hmmm, I can see us starting to use GPG signatures before long! –  Evan Apr 17 '09 at 11:17

My opinion is that links in general are annoying. I'd rather at least get a summary of what the link points to.

I think the semi-wiki atmosphere of SO should encourage copy-pasting answers, especially if they are based on wiki posts, so that over time more and more complete answers could evolve to recurring subjects. Linking and marking questions as dups even when they're only similar to previous questions, on the other hand, may save storage space on SO's servers but would not benefit the site in the long run.

OTOH we could get weird behavior if copy-pasting other people's answers were the norm. A class of answer-copiers could emerge that only ever rehash other people's answers as a means of scoring points...

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2  
Copy pasting answers is just as bad copy pasting code! If the original answer was good enough let that stand on its own and just link to it. Why litter SO with thousands of duplicate posts? Not deserving of a downvote though, that wasn't me. –  Jim Petkus Mar 6 '09 at 13:58
    
What's wrong with thousands of near duplicates of an answer? I mean, most of the time these questions/answers are exact dups - they're 90% dups at most. So what's wrong with giving the same (good!) answer over and over? –  Assaf Lavie Mar 6 '09 at 17:05
    
Ask yourself this: would you prefer to receive an answer that's 100% complete and informative immediately, or get a bunch of links to similar questions, none of which is really perfect for you? Us programmers don't like duplication of data, I know, but there's tons of duplication in wikipedia too... –  Assaf Lavie Mar 6 '09 at 17:07
    
I'm with Assaf on the link issue. Link to the post/(web)page, and cite a relevant small piece of text from it to indicate the type of content found there. This makes it easier for anyone reading the answer to figure out if the clink is worth clicking on. –  Lasse V. Karlsen Mar 6 '09 at 19:40
    
Yeah, I want an answer that's 100% complete and informative immediately -- but if I find your copy-n-paste answer via google-search, and it's outdated because the source you copied from has been updated, but has lower google juice, I lose, because you were lazy. As in coding, copy-n-paste is bad form. It indicates that you wish to reuse something, but lack the desire to reuse it properly. If the original author updates the source -- wouldn't you rather those changes propagate to all other instances? A link performs this method, inasmuch as the www still sucks for hypertext. –  Michael Paulukonis Jul 17 '10 at 19:37

I tend to dislike answers with nothing but links to other questions. I prefer an answer, and perhaps a link to a source / or supporting information.

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I am inclined just to link to the correct answer.

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please see my response: stackoverflow.com/questions/618752/… –  Assaf Lavie Mar 6 '09 at 13:06
    
Now, why did you link to your response, instead of just copy-n-pasting it? –  Michael Paulukonis Jul 17 '10 at 19:38

I think it's permissible, but I'd much rather hear what YOU have to say rather than just get a link to one of the top 25 points leaders. There's more diversity of viewpoint that way. Just my opinion, of course.

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I'm with Olafur - the site is all about sharing so I don't mind at all if someone links to an answer that I've given. If citation is given, I don't mind them using my answers either. The bigger issue is whether it is Ok to gain reputation points for a mere link or quote. That, I think, is wrong but is easily fixed by making your answer a community wiki.

BTW - this question should be a community wiki.

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But linking to previous answers is a valid and welcome activity in your opinion, no? So why not reward it? –  Assaf Lavie Mar 6 '09 at 13:35

he heh

We can also fall in this absurd

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I find links essential -- if you are commenting on what somebody said in another answer, don't assume that it will be visibly close to where your answer will be viewed in the future. The viewer could be looking at the votes view (that's my default, usually) -- and the sequence is not guaranteed.

I originally did not link, and then reviewing my answers later (er, just maybe I was looking at upvotes, maybe), I saw that my "carefully crafted" response made no sense in the new context.

Threads change -- cite your sources.

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A potentially good solution would be to have a "hover embed" solution where you can point to another answer and have your own slant on it. When the user hovers over the linked answer, it would display like a tooltip.

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I would think that it would take longer to try to find and reuse someones answer before someone else beat you to it with an answer from off the top of their head. Besides, if you have to reuse someone else's answer then you're probably dealing with a duplicate question anyway.

While I agree it's not nice to reuse another person's answers as your own...I just don't see it as a significant problem. Has anyone noticed this happening frequently?

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