I flagged this answer, with the custom reason "link-only answer" and it was decilned for "flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention"

Can somebody please explain if link-only answers should no longer be flagged and/or if this is different? Thank you.

  • Some moderator believe that people who don't yet have close vote privileges should not "annoy" them with minor issues such as link-only answers (thinking that it should be left to higher reputation users to solve), and as a result decline them - I've had a few of them myself. – Qantas 94 Heavy Sep 27 '13 at 23:02
  • @Qantas94Heavy if I flagged a post with a custom flag that said "Link Only Answer", it would have been declined too. It has nothing to do with rep or privledges. It is all about being explicit in the description of the issue. A custom flag with more details probably would have been accepted – psubsee2003 Sep 27 '13 at 23:10
  • @psubsee2003: the point I was trying to make was that you should use other methods of signifying that the community does not accept these - maybe I shouldn't have used "close votes" as an example (as clearly answers can't be "closed"). – Qantas 94 Heavy Sep 27 '13 at 23:13
  • as was said in comment at one of the post about another recurring issue, "we could just close this question as a duplicate and pretend the problem doesn't exist" (I know what question is a duplicate of this one) – gnat Sep 27 '13 at 23:17
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    What was stopping you from suggesting an edit that would paste the applicable part of that link into that answer? Even if you don't have edit rights you can edit the answer instead of flagging it. Not to mention that probably would have taken less time than coming to meta and opening a question about it. Be the change you wish to see in the world. – George Stocker Sep 27 '13 at 23:32
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    @GeorgeStocker And what if someone doesn't know the language or cannot judge the usefulness of the link? Is your message "Don't flag"? – Lorem Ipsum Sep 27 '13 at 23:46
  • @yoda I won't speak for the mods, but I think the preferred solution based on what I've read is "flag the problem", not the link, or comment and/or downvote as I"ve done on the answers on the question linked here – psubsee2003 Sep 27 '13 at 23:53
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    @psubsee2003 I don't disagree with Shog's answer or the general sentiment that "link only answer" is a terrible message. I was just questioning George's reasons for berating the OP for not reading the entire link and paraphrasing its content instead of flagging. Granted, that's the optimal solution and might work on smaller sites, but Stack Overflow's scope is insanely huge... there's a very good chance that a random flagger will have no clue about the contents of the link and thus is not in a position to suggest an edit to improve the post. – Lorem Ipsum Sep 27 '13 at 23:56
  • @yoda fair enough, I don't disagree with your exact point to George, but without the ability/skill level to edit, commenting/downvoting are solutions – psubsee2003 Sep 28 '13 at 0:00
  • @yoda I apologize if it seemed like I was berating the user. I was not. I am simply stating what I always state and what we as moderators want to see: People ought to fix problems they see, or engage the user to have them fix the issue. When neither of those two things work, then flag for moderator attention. – George Stocker Sep 28 '13 at 1:02

Because "link-only answer" is not a valid reason to flag a post. Shog has discussed this issue (and similar) numerous times.

The flag on the post should be about what is wrong with the post (to quote Shog, "links are not a problem"). You should flag the post and explain exactly what is wrong. "Link-only answer" doesn't explain exactly what is wrong.

If you said in the flag that the post with a description something like

This answer is exclusively a link and can not stand on its own.

then it might have had a better chance. Or if you flagged it as a low quality post, that was a possibility too. Just writing "link-only answer" is not a good choice of phrasing.

Or you could have downvoted and explain the issue to the poster and hope he would expand it into a real answer, or you could have edited the post yourself.

Neither answer on this question was stellar. I have commented on both in an effort to get the posters to do something. I don't know the topic well enough to do more, but if you are familar enough with android's java implementation, then you should try to edit the post before involving a mod.

  • If they mean the same thing, why do I have to use the latter? – Cole Johnson Sep 28 '13 at 5:33
  • @ColeJohnson huh? – psubsee2003 Sep 28 '13 at 6:39
  • if "link only answer" and "this answer is exclusively a link and can not stand on its own", why do we have to use the latter? – Cole Johnson Sep 28 '13 at 17:52
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    @ColeJohnson Because sometimes a link only answer is a valid answer. The "can not stand on its own" part should be the reason you are flagging for, not the "exclusively a link" one. That said, when a link only answer is a valid answer it's also extremely likely that the question is crap (and if that's the case, it should be the question you should be flagging, not the answer). – yannis Sep 28 '13 at 18:07
  • I would have thought it's a given when an answer is flagged for 'link-only answer', that it's useless if the link is no longer available. – Mooseman Sep 28 '13 at 18:22
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    @Mooseman again it isn't the post, it is the explanation on the flag. Be specific. As Yannis said and as I quoted Shog in my answer, the link itself is not the problem. The fact that the answer cannot stand on its own without the link is the problem. If the link is actually a complete answer, then the problem is the question, not the answer. – psubsee2003 Sep 28 '13 at 18:51

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