We know that link-only answers aren't really appropriate, and that the links should ideally be used as citations against the text that is provided in the answer itself. But what if that link is to a downloadable file rather than a website?

I have seen a recent post where the answerer (a first-time poster) gives a summary bit of text that provides some degree of answer, but with a link to download a zip file (from their own website) that allegedly covers off more detail and reasoning.

Now, we could remove that link as spam, but then the answer text itself would not have any evidence supporting it. There's not much point asking them to summarize the content of the file, because they're more or less done that with the answer text. But I'm not sure if I'm comfortable leaving up links to download zip files from users personal webspace.

Are such links appropriate?

  • 3
    Any SE user should know better than to provide zip files that have to be downloaded and unpacked. Most users would ignore, downvote and close immediate, rather than interact with unknown content like that :( Mar 8 '17 at 12:27
  • 1
    @MartinJames That would be true for most people, but there will always be people who click things without looking / thinking. Even SE users (there are millions of us, after all).
    – JonW
    Mar 8 '17 at 12:35

Are such links appropriate?

Nope, definitely not.

The answerer needs to put the gist of the reasoning into the answer.

Linking to an external web page with more details is okay, as long as that's a web page (zip files aren't accessible and come with risk of viruses etc.). But the answer needs to be able to stand on its own.

  • 3
    Yeah - you waste time and bandwidth downloading and unzipping, only to find an exe or spam. No thanks:( Mar 8 '17 at 12:29

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