It was suggested that link-only answers should be automatically deleted, instead of requiring flagging or delete votes. Although I agree that it could work in many cases, there may be false positives, and it seems that request will be eventually declined.

So here is an alternative: what if we require an answer to consist of at least 50% of non-link content, at the time of posting? So, if I try to post an answer such as:

This might help you:

[Link text is 26 characters](http://example.com)

I could get a warning like this:

Your answer consists mostly of a link. While this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference.

Maybe it's not even necessary to block the posting completely, we could have a "post anyway" button. The warning itself could be enough to discourage users from posting link-only answers.

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    Some answers automatically get converted to comments. That could be done for link-only-posts too. – juergen d Aug 16 '12 at 16:19
  • @juergend. Post that suggestion as an answer here, and see how many votes you get (one from me, anyway). – TRiG is Timothy Richard Green Aug 16 '12 at 16:20
  • Sometimes, the answer is that there is a bug in the library/framework/etc. and the solution is to upgrade to newer version. Such answer tends to be link + some suggestions, which might generate false positive. – nhahtdh Aug 16 '12 at 16:25
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    Why are false positives a problem? If the poster doesn't like the outcome, they can always try again with a better, more informative answer. – Robert Harvey Aug 16 '12 at 16:28
  • @nhahtdh That's why I included a post anyway button in the suggestion. – bfavaretto Aug 16 '12 at 16:28
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There is already an algorithm in place that converts some answers automatically to comments. One of my answers once got converted to a comment. It was something like:

Maybe you should do this and that.

Just a one liner. Just-link-answers are very similar. That mechanism could be enhanced for link-only-posts.

  • I didn't know about that, sounds good. But The IMO a warning could be more valuable for letting the users know that link-only answers are not welcome. Maybe we should have both mechanisms? – bfavaretto Aug 16 '12 at 16:25
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    Link-only answers being autoconverted to comments has the disadvantage of possibly answering the question as far as the asker's concerned, which may lead to "post as answer plz" or having no answer accepted at all. – Toomai Aug 16 '12 at 16:29

Sometimes, it's possible to give an answer entirely or mostly within the link text, with the hyperlink leading to further information if the answer isn't sufficient.

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    On linked page: "Provide Context for Link" – Lee Louviere Aug 16 '12 at 18:08
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    What about if the context WITHIN the link text is sufficient? – saluce Aug 16 '12 at 18:15
  • Either way, as I told nhahtdh, it's more important to let users know link answers are problematic, rather than completely blocking the post. We can have a "post anyway" button next to the warning. – bfavaretto Aug 16 '12 at 18:20
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    That seems like an unsightly hack to justify an insubstantial answer. – Josh Darnell Aug 16 '12 at 18:48

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