As stack exchange ages old answers frequently lead to websites that don't host the content that they hosted at the time the link was placed. The result is linkrot and answers that aren't as useful as they were when they were written.

I therefore propose that Stackexchange does automatic backups of those websites. By default it shouldn't display the content. Sometimes Archive.org themselves has a copy but they don't store every website. Depending on one central storage is also suboptimal. Google often deletes their caches after a while.

However a keyword [backup] could be edit at the end of a link to switch Stackexchange behavior and show the backup in place of the broken link.

Furthermore Stackexchange could add a flag for broken links. It might even detect them automatically by analysing which pages return 404 errors.

  • 4
    This is exactly why answers should stand on their own merit and not rely on external content. Links should just be a nice-to-have extra reading and not mandatory for the question/answer to make sense in the first place. That's not to mention the sheer amount of stuff that would need to be backed up, or what should happen should the linked site also rely on external content, or for the possibility of abuse by spammers mass posting links...
    – JonK
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 10:29
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/224895/…
    – rene
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 10:42
  • exellent idea, i dont know, why people downvoted this. many of SE users (like everything in the world) are always DOWNVOTERs for ideas.
    – T.Todua
    Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


No it shouldn't. Stack Exchange should be a stand-alone site in its own right. Answers with links to places shouldn't be dependent on the content of those links existing - if the content is useful then it should be summarized in the answers themselves, with the link acting purely as the citation.

You should be able to (in theory anyway) download the whole of an SE site and it'd be useful offline (just as Wikipedia is).

That is why Link Only Answers aren't really wanted in the first place.

Fix the answers themselves to be stand-alone content, don't try to fix the whole web.

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