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What do we do with answers that are just links to other Stack Overflow answers?

There are many, many answers that simply contain a link to another Stack Overflow answer, with no additional context or information.

This topic has been discussed before, but in a broader context:

The answers for the questions above are good, but most of them are intended to solve the problem of links to external resources.

I feel like we can narrow the scope for this specific case and come to a concrete community decision. Stack Overflow-link-only answers, in my opinion, are more suitable as comments. They also sometimes indicate that the question is a potential duplicate.

There has been one suggestion for a solution, but it hasn't received much activity:

Should answers only containing a link (or multiple links) to other Stack Overflow answers be flagged for conversion to a comment?

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marked as duplicate by Al E., Pops, Jim, jonsca, Toon Krijthe Aug 22 '12 at 9:32

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
I'm also willing to accept that this may be treated as a duplicate of some of the questions I linked to. I just feel that those don't do a good enough job of addressing what we should do for internally linked answers. –  Rob Hruska Jun 17 '11 at 13:17
    
Refer to meta.stackexchange.com/questions/72000/… –  Aleadam Jun 17 '11 at 13:44
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1 Answer

up vote 17 down vote accepted

If other SO questions fully answer the question, it should be closed as a duplicate of one of those other questions.

If the linked questions don't fully answer the question at hand, then you're just dealing with a bad answer and the fact that it contains a link is incidental. Consider downvoting, leaving a comment asking the poster to expand their answer and/or explain how they think the link is relevant, or posting a better and more complete answer of your own.

Flagging for conversion to a comment is a valid option in the latter case, but whether or not the conversion will actually happen will be up to a moderator. Generally, anything that honestly attempts to answer the question (even if badly) counts as an answer and should not be converted. Downvotes, edits, and better answers are the correct ways to handle poor answers, including ones that contain only a link.

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3  
If it doesn't fully answer it, but provides good information, should it be flagged for migration to a comment? –  Rob Hruska Jun 17 '11 at 14:04
1  
@Rob if it doesn't fully answer it, you might consider either: a) downvoting it, b) posting your own answer that does fully answer it, or c) editing the answer to improve it –  Daniel DiPaolo Jun 17 '11 at 14:12
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@Rob In addition to what Daniel said, you can also leave a comment asking the poster to explain how they think the linked answer is relevant and/or to expand on it. –  Anna Lear Jun 17 '11 at 14:18
    
Thanks for the answer. With your updates, I think it covers off what I'm asking. If a moderator steps in and answers authoritatively (about whether or not they'd deem such a flag valid/invalid), I may change the accepted answer. –  Rob Hruska Jun 17 '11 at 18:06
    
@Rob For what it's worth, I'm a moderator on Programmers. :) –  Anna Lear Jun 17 '11 at 18:10
    
@Anna - Ah, okay. I don't frequent Programmers very much, so I didn't know. I will consider your statement as moderator-authoritative. Thanks! :) –  Rob Hruska Jun 17 '11 at 18:36
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