What of FAQ points apply to conversion in this case?

I checked all six points that are in FAQ now and per my understanding, none applies (commentary, different question, thanksmetoo, duplicate, link, not an answer).

  • The way I see it, "you need regular expressions for this" is essentially an answer to the question asked (read through the question text to find it - search recordstore doesn't need match 100% percent).
    Given the context - question text and especially code example used by OP to approach the solution - reference to 3rd party J2ME library provided by answerer looks like having enough information to be considered useful.


It would be helpful to see the explanation that takes into account the question text and code. To avoid misunderstanding, an explanation for why it would be reasonable to ignore the question in this case, would also qualify.

question and code screen shot

  • 15
    'Nothing but a link' non-answers are a terrible problem, being just as bad as 'not even a link' non-answers; incidentally, I had to flag a moderators answer that fell foul of protocol yesterday - so, I guess you're not alone in not quite understanding said protocol. Your answer, though, is faaaaar too general to be very helpful. Oct 11, 2011 at 12:27
  • 1
    @Mr.Disappointment the answer is not mine
    – gnat
    Oct 11, 2011 at 15:21
  • @Chris great idea thank you! I am not going to edit for next hour or more - if you overwrite that unfortunate screen shot that would be very helpful
    – gnat
    Oct 11, 2011 at 15:27
  • Mere oversight on my part. Doesn't make the answer any more or less eligible. Oct 11, 2011 at 15:40
  • 1
    @Mr.Disappointment did you check the context? I mean, did you read question text and code example studied by OP before asking his question? I ask because when taken out of context, some answers may appear not quite as helpful don't you think?
    – gnat
    Oct 11, 2011 at 20:39
  • Just out of curiosity how did you get that screenshot? I thought only Mods, 10K+ users and the OP can see a deleted post Oct 11, 2011 at 21:11
  • 2
    @ConradFrix screen shot was made by the answerer, you can find link to it in question comments: "- ...I haven't seen text of your answer so I can't comment - Screenshot with my deleted answer is here..."
    – gnat
    Oct 11, 2011 at 21:14
  • 1
    @gnat I'm afraid I don't see the justification of comparison against one of my own answers - a terse, short answer doesn't make it NARA. Oct 11, 2011 at 21:54
  • 3
    @Mr.Disappointment a terse, short answer doesn't make it NARA indeed. I made the reference to your answer as an example where one better takes time to read question text and code to appreciate answer looking like Put simply, you can't - B is an A but A is not a B. This reference was intended to clarify the reason why I asked if you checked the text and code of the question which answer we discuss
    – gnat
    Oct 12, 2011 at 7:22

3 Answers 3


I can think of two reasons that the post was probably converted to a comment.

  1. As stated in the FAQ:

    • barely more than a link to an external site

    Yes, the post also said that "you need regular expressions for this task," but that's essentially an introduction for the link to the regex package.

  2. Also in the FAQ (emphasis mine).

    Answers that do not fundamentally answer the question may be removed.

    The question was "How can I implement a SQL 'Like' in J2ME?" The answer, "Use regular expressions," doesn't really have enough information to adequately address the question.

These reasons are naturally subjective, but it's not hard to imagine that someone on Stack Overflow agreed with them enough to convert the post into a comment.

  • it's not my post to start with. And the way I see it, "you need regular expressions for this task," is essentially an answer to the question asked (if you click the question, you'll find it - search recordstore doesn't need match 100% percent). IOW I disagree with assessment of an answer as barely-a-link. Anyway thanks I edited my question to clarify this
    – gnat
    Oct 11, 2011 at 6:09
  • @gnat Ah, okay, that was my misunderstanding from the screenshot, which said "your post was converted to a comment." I didn't realize you were asking on someone else's behalf. Oct 11, 2011 at 6:15

Answers that fully depend on an external source are extremely problematic, please see the following clean up effort for evidence of that. Any external source should be treated as impermanent, no matter how permanent it may seem at the time.

Because of this, many users have been taking their time to find answers that meet this criteria. When we (moderators) see them, we have three choices:

  • Edit the answer
  • Remove the answer
  • Convert the answer into a comment

Generally, if the link still works and is relevant to the question, we'll just convert it into a comment so that it remains useful for future visitors. If the link ever breaks, it's quite easy for the community to remove the comment by flagging.

If the answer is outright deleted and not converted, it means that the answer just isn't relevant enough to save, or the moderator didn't find the link compelling enough to short circuit new user restrictions (e.g., it was written by someone who did not have enough rep to comment).

In very rare cases, we do sometimes edit an answer that is 'almost' there, but that's more of an exception than norm. Contrary to what some believe, we honestly don't like removing content unless we must. But, nothing is more irritating to someone looking for a solution than finding an up-voted answer that leads nowhere.

  • link-dependent answers I see. I saw recently one that looks like that - feel free to convert. :) As for the "SQL-LIKE" answer I asked about, it doesn't look link-dependent to me (I understand that it's rather value judgement not an objective fact).
    – gnat
    Oct 12, 2011 at 11:23
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    It is a bit of a judgement call within the context of the question and answer, however in almost every case, an answer that can't stand on its own requires editing, conversion or deletion.
    – user50049
    Oct 12, 2011 at 11:41
  • an answer that can't stand on its own... well this way to specify problematic answers feels slippery to me. I mean, to me there's nothing criminal in answers that "reuse" context provided in question - yeah these can't stand on their own but so what? (I tend to make my own answers self-contained but to me it's more matter of preference rather than right-vs-wrong)
    – gnat
    Oct 12, 2011 at 13:28
  • @gnat I really don't see what is slippery about it. If the link breaks, is the answer still of any use? If the answer is no, then action is required.
    – user50049
    Oct 12, 2011 at 14:06
  • for the answer I am asking about - yes, if the link breaks, I believe the answer remains useful. At least that's the way I read it. "yeah regexp for recordstore filter is the way to go +1. Yeah j2me-specific 3rd party lib would be helpful to skip on DYI coding it +2. Yeah the one provided in the link feels ok to use +0.5." Total 3.5 points, now even if the link gets broken this still leaves healthy +3 balance
    – gnat
    Oct 12, 2011 at 14:13
  • in prior comment, DYI=DIY (do-it-yourself) sorry for the typo
    – gnat
    Oct 12, 2011 at 14:22
  • 3
    @gnat If the answer depends on a link, and that link is broken, that answer is no longer of any use. It stops being an answer and becomes a breadcrumb. This also creates a maintenance problem, because lots of anon users will chime in to say the link is broken and ask an identical question in an answer, despite efforts to discourage that. We moderate based on the quality of a post, not the technical accuracy. If the answer can't answer the question without the benefit of some external site, it needs attention.
    – user50049
    Oct 12, 2011 at 19:02
  • If the answer depends on a link, and that link is broken, that answer is no longer of any use. Interesting. That sounds a bit different from what I read in deletion FAQ barely more than a link doesn't it?
    – gnat
    Oct 12, 2011 at 20:12
  • 11
    @gnat Congratulations on dredging something I wrote in 2009 to light when things were quite a bit different. I converted my answer into a comment, thanks for noticing it. In the meantime, I don't see how a protracted conversation here could be constructive. We've both said all we have to say.
    – user50049
    Oct 12, 2011 at 20:25
  • let us continue this discussion in chat
    – gnat
    Oct 12, 2011 at 21:18

If it ever happens that I would want to discuss deletion of my own answer, first thing I'd probably consider would be editing of my answer to make sure that it does not have anything even closely resembling things mentioned in deletion FAQ.

  • Such an editing would hopefully save me from cumbersome splitting-hairs discussions about whether my answer is close enough to be eligible for deletion or not.


protective editing


Not that "protective editing" will guarantee improvement. Sometimes it is really hard to beat concise, simple and correct answer.

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