A question on SO is implicitly requesting an answer about programming. How should answers that are not programming-related be handled?

See this question and this answer to that question for an example. The answer provides a link (which in and of itself is less than ideally helpful) that describes a program that can provide the info that the question was requesting. Obviously that program could be be integrated into a programming solution for the original question, but this seems to miss the point of this site, i.e. to answer programming questions, not provide links to programs that already implement functionality that would answer a question.


2 Answers 2


Is it a valid answer? You could give it an upvote, or leave it neutral (with a comment) if you only want code as answers.

If the OP clearly asks for a programatic method; or if you only want programming answers; or if it's not valid - down vote it and comment.

As for the example: Flag it or fix it because "just a link" is lousy.

  • 1
    If I ask how to do something on SO and you answer with a link to a program that does that something, is that a valid answer? I found it jarring to discover an answer that was basically "there's an app for that" – OK, great, but how do I do that (myself, in code)? If the OP wanted to know how to do something, but not for a programming purpose, wouldn't the question be invalid? Oct 14, 2011 at 20:29
  • You're right, but the link was not to the program. It was to a page talking about the program, and mentioning various ways to do the task, and about some of the problems. It wasn't a great link (It didn't have much info); and that info should have been in the answer not at the link location.
    – DanBeale
    Oct 14, 2011 at 20:34

Flag it for moderator attention. Its either worth something (and we can convert it to a comment) or it is worthless and it needs to be deleted.

BTW, I converted the answer in question into a comment.

  • 2
    It was a lazy answer anyways; however, those are dangerous to flag because those are the most likely ones for a Mod to decline (apparently a 404 link is not low quality).
    – user7116
    Oct 14, 2011 at 19:07
  • What did you do with my edit?
    – DanBeale
    Oct 14, 2011 at 19:23
  • @DanBeale: No idea. All I saw was a link.
    – user1228
    Oct 14, 2011 at 20:07

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