I'm new to Stack Overflow. I was hoping it would be a way for me to share my experience and help people. I've just spent more than an hour writing an answer, with links to the appropriate MSDN documentation to help the asker.

When I tried to post it I got a message telling me that I needed more reputation points to be allowed to post more than two links.

I'm sorry, but this is just daft. My answer needs many links to the appropriate MSDN articles.

So I've dropped it, and I'm wondering whether I should waste any more time on Stack Overflow.

How am I supposed to earn points if I cannot post a good answer to a question?

  • 1
    The work around is to log out and make an annoymous suggested edit. Then log back in and approve it.
    – Mysticial
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 20:18
  • 8
    Does your answer fully rely on the links, or would it still be self-sufficient without them? If the latter is the case, perhaps post it without them for now.
    – Bart
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 20:19
  • 3
    If the answer is good without the links, you'll be able to add them back in yourself in short order, with no need to make an anonymous edit.
    – mattdm
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 20:42
  • Debater should also note that once he has 200 points on one sight, he gets an association bonus on others. Commented Apr 6, 2013 at 23:50
  • @Bart the answer that fully rely on links is not an aswer according to SE criteria. The links may dissapear in every moment making the answer useless. I've came across some such answers and it was quite frustrating, since there was an answer, but it's not the case anymore. And what I should do with such answer? Flag it, downvote? It's not gonna help anyone anymore. Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 14:41
  • @ŁukaszLech So? That was my point. If the answer was self-sufficient anyway, the OP could just post it without the links. Once the privilege to add more links would have been obtained, he could have added the additional links.
    – Bart
    Commented Jun 24, 2013 at 14:47

4 Answers 4


Note that it takes only a very small reputation in order to post multiple links. It's pretty easy for any legit user to cross that threshold, but would be more difficult for someone signing up for throw-away accounts just to spray links around. I agree that it's an annoyance, but it's an annoyance which keeps spammers at bay.


For Stack Overflow, we should consider white-listing documentation websites such as MSDN as being exempt from the new user link limit. It is pretty obvious a link to MSDN can't be spam, and we already have other counter-measures for link only answers.

Plus, from an implementation details perspective we sort of have a precedent: Stack Overflow has a list of "demo websites" such as ideone or jsfiddle that trigger an error message if your answer doesn't include the code you are linking to.


My answer needs many links to the appropriate MSDN articles.

Then that's your problem. If your answer needs that many links, then your answer isn't stand-alone. We like answers to be able to speak for themselves; answers that are nothing more than links to the appropriate documentation elsewhere don't qualify.

Links as supplemental information is nice. But your answer should not so totally rely upon them that it's useless without them. You shouldn't need to reference other materials to post a good answer.

  • 13
    Abundant links and references to other authoritative sources make a good answer into an excellent answer, especially if the answer is a synthesis of disparate pieces of information.
    – jscs
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 20:38
  • 1
    @Josh: Perhaps, but the OP said that he needed them for a "good answer". He doesn't. Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 20:39
  • 2
    @JoshCaswell Only if that answer would still remain valid without those links. Links can certainly improve an answer, but we want this site to have the answer and not merely point to it.
    – Bart
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 20:40
  • 1
    Yes, Nicol, strictly speaking you're right, the links should be only supporting material, but it's still extremely good material to have. @Bart: I agree -- only if the answer is good without can it be made excellent with.
    – jscs
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 20:41
  • 1
    Especially when you are new to StackOverflow, links can lend credibility to your answer. Many people look at reputation for guidance on right/wrong and it is human nature to accept the answer of someone you are familiar with. +1 for mattdm; I hope you appreciate irony. Commented Apr 6, 2013 at 23:45
  • 2
    Re "that's your problem": making the assumption that OP is in the wrong seems counter-productive to me. If SE misses out on a good answer because OP is frustrated by the way SE works, then that's not just OP's problem, it's SE's as well. Blaming a person who provides feedback is missing the opportunity to improve things by acting on that feedback.
    – A E
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 18:14

One workaround when posting your first answer is to cite sources using something other than clickable hyperlinks. Cite the title, author, website name,[1] and other information sufficient to locate each source in plain text. This should help readers locate a particular page on MSDN[2] even after MSDN reorganizes its URLs as it does often.[3][4] Then after you receive a couple upvotes, go back and add links for convenience. Though I myself have enough reputation to post external links, I'm using linkless citations in this answer as an example.

Or suggest formatting and spelling fixes to five other posts before you post your first answer. You'll earn 2 rep for each.[5]

  • [1]: Randykitty et al. "Citation". Wikipedia, 2014-12-18. Accessed 2014-12-23.
  • [2]: "DynamicSoundEffectInstance Class". MSDN Library. Accessed 2014-12-23.
  • [3]: Chris Miller. "Link rot and the ascendance of Wikipedia". Chris Miller's NuBlog, 2008-03-17. Accessed 2014-12-23.
  • [4]: NoNameProvided et al. "Should we fix all MSDN links?" Meta Stack Overflow, 2015-02-17. Accessed 2015-02-20.
  • [5]: "What is reputation? How do I earn (and lose) it?" Meta Stack Exchange. Accessed 2014-12-23.

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