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How should we deal with questions that no longer make any sense at all because they have broken links?

For example, this one. The question is good, but it doesn't make any sense without the code.

The answer is certainly good too, but now it doesn't make any sense, either.

Do we have to flag the question? Edit the question and remove the broken link?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The question is not answerable without the code contained in the dead links. It is also 2 years old, there is no realistic chance to get those links back again. You can try to contact the asker via comment, but he was last seen some months ago, so I doubt that would work.

Personally I don't think there is any value in keeping this question, nobody can gain any useful knowledge from this now incomplete question, especially as the answer is not useful without the original code. I think it should be closed as "Not a real question" due to being incomplete and unanswerable and subsequently deleted. For such an old question the easiest way to achieve that is to flag for a moderator.

This is exactly the reason why we want the code to be in the question itself, and not linked somewhere else. Those question have an expiry date after which they are useless.

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If the question is useful or makes any sense without the link, then the best course of action is probably just to edit and remove the broken link.

But in this case, as you mention, the question and the answers it has received are completely worthless without the accompanying code. So you should flag the question and ask a moderator to delete it. Explain that the link is dead, there's no chance of resuscitation, and the question is useless without it.

You could vote to close it, but old questions that already have accepted answers are unlikely to ever generate enough traffic to get the remaining 4 close votes needed, and there's just not much point in this type of question taking the close detour on the way to deletion.

The general rule is this: If you can fix the question by editing, then please do so! Otherwise, questions that are unlikely to help anyone else in the future of the Internet are just noise and should be deleted. (This is even more likely to be the best choice if the questions are over a year old like this one is.)

Also see: Questions linking to external web sites instead of showing code

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I'd drop a comment to the OP first, requesting him to update the links. If there's no response from the OP - then I guess it's a judgement call. If the question makes no sense without codes flag for close/deletion.

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It is also true that an answer that is given from who saw the code is probably specific for the code being shown. If I read the answer, I should need to understand the reasons why the answer says that, and I know that by seeing the code. In other words, I know the answer can be helpful for me if I see the code for which the answer applies. –  kiamlaluno Oct 17 '12 at 9:17
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