See deleted answer: https://stackoverflow.com/a/16495860/41403

I appreciate the moderators have a thankless, unpaid voluntary task. But over-moderation is a great way to turn this site into another wasteland: contributors feel it's not worth the effort, and stop giving.

Since no reason is given by moderators for a delete, we have to play guess-the-rule with the FAQ:

•commentary on the question or other answers

•asking another, different question

•“thanks!” or “me too!” responses

•exact duplicates of other answers

•barely more than a link to an external site

•not even a partial answer to the actual question

The first four don't apply, so we assume it must be "barely more than a link to an external site".

Okay, this is possibly true, depending on the definition of "barely".

The external link is an extensive article to an external, trusted source. It covers the issue the question posed and adds value to the other answer by providing a wider context for the questioner. It is useful, it is not off-topic, it is concise, it is well-intentioned.

I'd like to hear from the mods what they think my answer should have been? A long-winded précis of the article? An explanation of the content? Should I just plagiarise it?

So perhaps it's the rule that's wrong here: perhaps "barely more than a link to an external site" is a valid, useful answer?.

  • related: first second – Servy Jun 10 '13 at 16:52
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    I would have flagged this answer as "link-only." If the link rots, there is not enough explanation in your text to allow the answer to stand on its own. – George Cummins Jun 10 '13 at 16:53
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    The simple test: pretend the link isn't there. If the post is still a valid answer, it shouldn't be deleted. If it's not, then deletion is appropriate. – Servy Jun 10 '13 at 16:54
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    I'm not sure copying the entire article is the best way to make your point... – ben is uǝq backwards Jun 10 '13 at 16:54
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    @Quango: you did read content you copied, right? Right at the bottom it says "© 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.". That means verbatim copying of it is a big no-no. – Joachim Sauer Jun 10 '13 at 16:58
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    If you don't feel like writing a summary, but still think the link would be useful: write a comment. – Joachim Sauer Jun 10 '13 at 16:59
  • Sorry Joachim: the long answer was me copy-pasting the MSDN article in a rant - the original (deleted) answer has been restored. – Quango Jun 10 '13 at 17:13
  • Hmm. Six down votes on this question already: so querying a delete and the rationale is not constructive either? I get the feeling contributing to SO/SE is just getting so complicated, political and messianic it's reaching the tipping point of "why bother" – Quango Jun 10 '13 at 17:15
  • @Quango Note that it was restored to give you an opportunity to fix it; as it stands it's still a very low quality answer. If you continue to post link only answers like that you should not be surprised to see them be deleted or downvoted. See the first link I posted in my first comment for tips on how to write a quality answer when given an external link that answers the question. – Servy Jun 10 '13 at 17:15
  • @Quango Note that a number of your downvotes here are very likely related to your lack of constructiveness in discussing the issue. When you post a rant and just insult the community because you disagree with a decision that was made you'll get downvotes. When it's clear that your question is constructive, that you truly wish to understand what's going on so that you do the right thing in the future then you'd find the meta-question will be received much better. – Servy Jun 10 '13 at 17:17
  • @Quango: "so querying a delete and the rationale is not constructive either?" No, querying deletion for a obvious link-only answer (a well-known no-no) is not constructive. If that's too "complicated, political and messianic" for you, oh well. – Nicol Bolas Jun 10 '13 at 17:19
  • I no longer have the motivation to try to figure out what the "right" level of summary should be, nor how this adds value beyond the original post. One sentence? A paragraph? Two? Six? So I've sided against myself and deleted the answer myself. I'm not sure how SO has improved in this process. – Quango Jun 10 '13 at 17:21
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    @Quango: The "right level of summary" is exactly what Servy said: if you remove the link, is the answer still an answer? If not, then that's not enough summary. Answers must be stand-alone, and link-only answers are not; it doesn't matter how good the site on the other end is. God himself could have come down and written the linked page, and it'd still be bad. SO has been improved by removing an answer that requires the reader to go elsewhere to actually get the answer. SO is not a collection of links to other places. – Nicol Bolas Jun 10 '13 at 17:22
  • case in point: stackoverflow.com/a/6755524/41403 – Quango Jun 10 '13 at 17:36
  • Oh look.. an answer that's "barely more than a link", not deleted, same question stackoverflow.com/a/28349266/41403 – Quango Oct 24 '18 at 11:09

It might be more helpful if you could summarize the article (and mark it up appropriately) or provide some cliff notes without having to plagiarize the whole thing. That gives the reader an overview of what to do, and a link to get the nitty-gritty details if they so choose.

  • It's not plagiarism when you cite the source (which was done, although poorly), although it's still a very low quality post in context. – Servy Jun 10 '13 at 17:00
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    @Servy: It's copyright infringement to copy the whole article without permission, whether you cite the source or not. – interjay Jun 10 '13 at 17:03
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    @interjay That may very well be true, but it's not plagiarism. Copyright infringement is an entirely separate issue. – Servy Jun 10 '13 at 17:04

I've gone ahead and undeleted your original answer so that we can use it as a point of reference and to give you a chance to expand upon it. I did remove your second answer, because copying and pasting copyrighted content isn't the right way to approach this, and the rest of that answer was a commentary on the original deleted one.

In general, link-only answers are frowned upon here, because we like for answers to stand on their own and because link rot is a very real problem here. However, there is a bit of a debate going on as to whether all link-only answers should be removed. That answer was flagged as being link-only by a member of the community, and a moderator acted on that flag.

The answer you refer to is a tricky case. It's a good resource at a trusted site that will most likely not go away any time soon. It isn't something that's easy to summarize, and the content there is copyrighted. Perhaps the process they describe can be somehow abbreviated and incorporated into your answer.

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    "It's a good resource at a trusted site that will most likely not go away any time soon" - Actually, Microsoft have changed URLs to articles on their site before so it's not that unlikely that this link will stop working at some point. – interjay Jun 10 '13 at 17:12

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