Sometimes there is a question which requires a very short answer. When I post the answer I always feel like I should add some words or some people will flag it without considering that it was a full answer, and that no more words are required. Sometimes a short answer could even be better that a long one, if the difference are just superfluous stuff.

For example here:

Unable to parse the format string error

I want to precisate that before editing it the answer was :

That's not a valid predicate format. Look here.

With a link to the guide. Then I just added that example, even if I think that it wasn't so necessary. I also don't remember if I answered after of before the other answer, but however they were very close in the timeline. Why has it been deleted?


6 Answers 6

[comment disagreeing with OP's premise] [offsite link]

We don't accept answers like this, as they are at best comments. Link-only answers (which this is considered a fine example of) are regularly removed. The subject has a long history on Meta, if you want to research the many varied reasons for this policy. Also, please read our question regarding acceptable answers here.

You can always edit your answer to expound on the reason, and then provide the link as supporting information. Flag it for mod attention and we will undelete.

But as long as the OP has to click through to get the answer to their question your answer will remain deleted.


Your original answer conveyed this information:

That's not a valid predicate format.

By itself, I'm sure you will agree that this is a poor answer to the question. Notice that I am discounting the link entirely; the link should only serve to supplement the content of your answer, which should be able to stand on its own merits.

The useful information you edited in a few minutes ago would have gone a long way towards preventing your answer from being deleted.

  • When it was deleted there was already the link. Feb 2, 2013 at 23:08
  • 5
    @RamyAlZuhouri Yes, I am aware that the link was already present. What I'm saying is that the link is not taken into account when looking at whether your answer passes muster. As a general rule, if a majority of the useful information in an answer can only be accessed by following a link, it is a bad answer.
    – user200500
    Feb 2, 2013 at 23:10
  • Just I think that in this particular case it was all I needed to say. The example was part of the link that I posted. Feb 2, 2013 at 23:11
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    @RamyAlZuhouri If you don't have the time to write more than 6 words, it would be best to let someone else answer the question.
    – yannis
    Feb 2, 2013 at 23:14
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    Come on read the question, I'm saying that no more words were needed. I had time to write more words, but I simply didn't know what to write, because more words were superflous. Feb 2, 2013 at 23:17
  • Also the other answer is saying the same thing, just posting an example which could be found in the link he gives. Ok next time I'll write a poem with useless stuff if you all indiscriminately follow the law short=bad. Feb 2, 2013 at 23:20
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    @RamyAlZuhouri Okay, let's evaluate your answer (minus the link of course). After reading the sentence: "That's not a valid predicate format.", does the OP now know how to fix their code? The link you provided was absolutely essential to the answer, which means the answer was incomplete. You could have reproduced the example from the link to show the OP the correct approach.
    – user200500
    Feb 2, 2013 at 23:22
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    @RamyAlZuhouri The question says "How to fix it". Saying "it's wrong" is not any kind of answer at all - it's just telling them what they already know. If the link you provided gives information that shows why it's wrong and how to fix it, then include that in the answer. As it is you did not answer the question.
    – Jeff
    Feb 2, 2013 at 23:22
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    @RamyAlZuhouri Additionally, you're fighting a strawman with "short=bad". Your answer was deleted not because it was concise, which is good, but because it was incomplete, which is bad.
    – user200500
    Feb 2, 2013 at 23:23
  • I don't know why the link hasn't to be evaluated. If so I could just copy-paste the content of the link. Look at the other answer, it's very similar and it has been accepted. Feb 2, 2013 at 23:24
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    @RamyAlZuhouri Yes, that would be great. Quoting or paraphrasing the relevant parts of the linked document would be an excellent solution to the problem. For more on why a link isn't considered an acceptable substitute for the actual content of your answer, see this.
    – user200500
    Feb 2, 2013 at 23:25
  • But metaphorically talking it's like if the OP doesn't know how to drive and I tell where to learn it. He isn't trying to do a specific thing, I would copy-paste all the parts because they're all relevant if I don't know what he needs to do. Feb 2, 2013 at 23:34
  • @RamyAlZuhouri If the OP asks a question that is equivalent to "how do I drive a car?", you should either ask the OP what specific information they are looking for (working the pedals, steering etc.), or you should vote to close the question as NARQ. Admittedly iOS is outside my area of expertise, so I don't know whether it is possible to ask the OP for specifics in this case, but it is nevertheless not a good idea to post a link to a walkthrough without contextual information.
    – user200500
    Feb 2, 2013 at 23:47
  • Ok I'll try to explain it considering that who reads this may not know Objective-C. Probably you all know what's a predicate: a short sentence that describes a condition which if is true, some action is taken (e.g.: if it's true take the object, else discard it). He was initializing the predicate with an invalid, arbitrary string. But he didn't tell us the context in which he was doing it. So the question isn't like "how do I drive a car?", more like "Error trying to drive my car using my calculator". Answer: "You don't drive a car with a calculator, see how to drive it here". Feb 3, 2013 at 0:19

Short answers are not indiscriminately flagged.

  • 5
    6 words, same as your answer. See the problem? It's just a statement without any explanation, that's not really helpful to anyone. If you don't have the time to explain things, just let someone else answer. SO may feel like an MMORPG, but it's not, it's a learning resource.
    – yannis
    Feb 3, 2013 at 0:45
  • If you added a link explaining why the short answers are not indiscriminately flagged, that answer was acceptable. And I repeat that I had time to answer, but no further information was necessary. Just look at the accepted answer, it's the same. Feb 3, 2013 at 0:59
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    @RamyAlZuhouri True, but we'd be back where we started once the link became unavailable. And that happens a lot more often than you think. Also, I'm sure you had the time, "if you don't have the time" is a polite way of saying: Please don't post crap one line answers.
    – yannis
    Feb 3, 2013 at 1:00
  • That Apple link will not become unavailable, and it's the same link that was provided in the accepted question. Feb 3, 2013 at 1:03
  • @RamyAlZuhouri I'm sure no one thought all links to Java's documentation would break, but it did happen (when Oracle purchased Sun)...
    – yannis
    Feb 3, 2013 at 1:07
  • Btw it's not Java, Objective-C. You may always say that this could also happen to Apple. I agree, but that's unavoidable. Feb 3, 2013 at 1:30
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    @RamyAlZuhouri Exactly because it's unavoidable, make sure your answers are self contained and fully answer the question even if all your links break. Don't rely on external resources, that's just bad form... Also I never said your answer had anything to do with Java, I know it's an objective c answer. I pointed to the Java documentation as an example of links that no one thought would ever break. But they did.
    – yannis
    Feb 3, 2013 at 1:37
  • I don't agree with this. This is how the web is made, I don't think links are "bad". Feb 3, 2013 at 12:31
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    @RamyAlZuhouri Links are good if they improve an already good answer. Links are bad if they are the heart of an answer. We want the site to contain full and detailed answers, not merely point to them.
    – Bart
    Feb 3, 2013 at 15:50

That's not a good answer. Look here.

  • 1
    The first time I posted this it was auto-converted to a comment under your question. I'm surprised that your answer on SO was not as well.
    – jscs
    Feb 3, 2013 at 20:27

Next time I'll write:

I see what is the problem here: the problem is that you are not passing a valid predicate format. Instead you are passing an arbitrary string. I think that you should give a look to the NSPredicate reference. The NSPredicate reference describes how to construct a valid predicate format.
You can find any additional information here: NSPredicate reference.

Cheers, Ramy.

  • 5
    Please don't put salutations and a signature, i.e. 'Cheers, Ramy.' in your posts. We try to keep those out of Stack Overflow posts. Feb 3, 2013 at 18:43
  • Was just ironic. If you notice well this is the same answer as the one I given in one line, I am able to write poems. Feb 5, 2013 at 12:18

Terseness should be appreciated.

If a short answer answers the question, then it should not be downvoted or flagged because it doesn't meet some word quota in someone's mind.

  • 4
    That has nothing to do with the question at hand, unfortunately.
    – user200500
    Feb 3, 2013 at 5:15

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