I had answered a question by giving two links as it was a simplistic question. question -> answer

while the other similar answer with even few word and only a single link is upvoted 88 times. EDIT now the answer is accepted after removing links and adding a proper explanation. will follow a rule of links in comments only or for more info

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    Link only answer. Give a summary of the content you link to, so your answer doesn't become worthless once the links die. Feb 15, 2013 at 14:04
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    Your "similar answer" is from 2008. The rules about link-only answers were less strict back then. Feb 15, 2013 at 14:06
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    You might want to remove that last sentence....
    – Bart
    Feb 15, 2013 at 14:06
  • @Bart wouldn't that be self-dictatorship?
    – Oded
    Feb 15, 2013 at 14:07
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    You're on to us -- it's a conspiracy Feb 15, 2013 at 14:07
  • but the other one i compared is also a link only answer Feb 15, 2013 at 14:07
  • @Oded Yes, after which I would recommend the OP to start another Meta question demanding he be banned.
    – Bart
    Feb 15, 2013 at 14:07
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    You are right. It is also a link only answer - it was posted over 4 years ago, when Stack Overflow just started. We grew as a community and our standards grew - we no longer accept such "answers".
    – Oded
    Feb 15, 2013 at 14:09
  • But I don't get why it was deleted and not turned into a comment. Feb 15, 2013 at 14:10
  • sure thanks. will write an essay next time. copy-paste answers are very well upvoted here Feb 15, 2013 at 14:11
  • @CodesInChaos It was. The OP deleted it. See my answer. Feb 15, 2013 at 14:11

2 Answers 2


There are a few problems with your 'answer':

It's not an answer. It's a sign post to the actual answer, but it doesn't solve the OP's problem by itself. When this is the case, you have two options:

  • Post it as a comment (if it's another internal link)
  • Expand the answer to include a summary of how it solves the user's issue, so that they don't have to go to the link if they don't want to.

Links die. When that happens, your answer becomes useless.

If you're just linking to another Stack Overflow question -- then you should probably just add a comment to the question letting everyone know it's a duplicate and has already been answered. When you get more reputation, then you should flag or vote to close the question as a duplicate.

Your answer was turned into a comment by a moderator. You deleted this comment.

If you'd like your answer to be undeleted, please edit it, make it a complete answer, and then flag it for undeletion.

In regards to your comment:

sure thanks. will write an essay next time. copy-paste answers are very well upvoted here – hiteshradia 1 min ago

Please don't plagiarize other user's answers in making your own. We have various ways of finding out when this happens, and it generally doesn't end well when someone plagiarizes content.

  • thanks george .. got it Feb 15, 2013 at 14:15
  • so instead of links i could give a general idea about where more info can be found . for ex like "see man page for xyz" instead of giving "xyz" as link?. does this mean that here we are discouraging use of links Feb 15, 2013 at 14:21
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    @hiteshradia No. Don't give a general idea of where the information can be found. Give the information, and use links as a 'for more information on this topic'. If I can go to the question, read it, and read your answer, and that answers the question, then it's good. If I have to go somewhere else to read the answer, then it's a bad answer. Feb 15, 2013 at 14:22
  • @hiteshradia this not my best answer, but here is a very simple example for using a link to support an answer. I provided a link to tell the OP what he was looking for to solve his problem, then I included some code to explain the basics of how to use the info in the link to solve his problem. Feb 15, 2013 at 14:47
  • thanks all for your valuable time . now can i change my answer and give a better/valid one ? Feb 15, 2013 at 15:07
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    @hiteshradia As I said, edit your answer and then flag it for undeletion. Feb 15, 2013 at 15:17

The issue is as given by @netcoder in his comments. This is a link only answer which is not good for reasons explained here (basically this site should be stand alone and still be understandable when the linked pages get moved and also show that the answerer has understood the question and answer by explaining it.)

As for the other question - SO has changed over time as we work out how to have a more focused site. I think that question would not be closed as off topic (Super user was not there when the question was asked) and the answer would be flagged as yours is now. We made mistakes in the past and have learnt from them.

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