I have had review audits several times in the review queues which are mostly fine. They usually included a short (non comprehensive) description of the solution and a link to a howto with the full solution.

You may argue that such answers are not the best way to answer a question, but I guess they helped the user if he was willing to follow and read the link. So I do not think that they should be used as review audits, as it is quite debatable if they are low quality just because they do not quote the link in the answer.

EDIT: You asked for an example, here is another one I found just now: https://stackoverflow.com/review/first-posts/18488868

The post is short, contains a very short abstract of a solution and a link to a howto which looks as if it answers the question in a more comprehensive way. Deleting this answer is a bad idea, as it contributes useful information. Instead of deleting it should be kept until somebody has the time to improve it by extracting the part relevant to the question from the howto and adding it to the answer.

When looking at the page I see that right after me the next user failed. You may think its bad quality, but it is no good idea to use it for review audits as it can be discussed if it is helpful or not.

  • I don't think it is a duplicate of that question. I am not asking about if I should answer that way, but about if this should be used as control question next to spam and similar real problems which are good candidates for control questions.
    – allo
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:32
  • 1
    it answers your question: link-only answers should be flagged and deleted and using them in audits is the right thing to do
    – gnat
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:33
  • I think it is hard to find a definition of complete which can be applied in the same way to all answers. I think they most often did contain the hint to the right functions, but not a code example. Instead they linked to the right section of a full manual. I think they did not contain examples as the poster would have had to do the work the asker could do using the manual.
    – allo
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:38
  • @allo concerning comprehensive, my bad, I badly translated it in my mind :)
    – Tensibai
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:51
  • Maybe I phrased it badly. I am not a native speaker. Ask if you find it unclear what I mean, as it is definitely important to know what questions/answers we are talking about, when we want to define which ones are bad enough to be control questions and which ones are just not so good answers.
    – allo
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:53

2 Answers 2


They usually included a short (non comprehensive) description of the solution and a link to a howto with the full solution.

So if the link breaks, there's no more a solution, and the answer is useless. This is why they are low quality answers and used as audits. You should act on them, either edit if you feel so inclined, or recommend deletion as link only.

More details in Shog9's post, Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer?.

As usual that's a general rule, and use your best judgement to tell if an answer is detailed enough to be useful even without links in it. And if you think an audit is wrong you should report it (quoting from What is the correct way to report a questionable audit? given by gnat in the comments):

"The faq says If you encounter a bad audit, post it on the child meta tagged support disputed-review-audits to draw attention to it, containing a link to either the audit task or the post, and why you disagree with the audit"

  • I think when the question has the important keywords it is helpful. There were questions which would have helped me even when the link is dead, as I then could just search the internet for the right thing. And as the person asking I would say better this answer than no answer at all.
    – allo
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:34
  • 3
    Then you may misunderstand the goal of Stack Exchange as a whole: building a knowledge base, not a support forum to help only the question author. That's why answers should answer by themselves as much as possible to avoid link rot and allowing someone with the same problem to have the complete solution without relying on a link.
    – Tensibai
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:37
  • I am not speaking answers which just contain [RTFM](https://manual-link.example.com) but a bit more. I am not telling this should be considered good questions, but not every question which deserves a down vote is a good candidate as moderation control question.
    – allo
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:41
  • Also see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/225370/…
    – allo
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:43
  • 2
    @allo moderation control question doesn't make much sense, I think you're talking about audit in a review queue, probably the Low Quality Post review queue, but you should probably make that clear in your question. And if you found an audit which is questionable, see my last edit on what to do.
    – Tensibai
    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:45

Its worth remembering review audits are based off questions that have been closed or otherwise acted upon by the community. While ostensibly meant to catch folk who're roboreviewing, they are also handy for reinforcing good posting practices.

In the case of a roboreviewer, the more trivial and obvious the audit the better, and link only answers are roughly as common, trivial, and unwanted as we get. The point isn't to catch folks who're choosing poorly, its the ones who're asleep on the wheel, and as such kind of sabotaging the process of review by letting stuff that obviously should not pass through through.

Yeah, its kinda not the best use of a legitimate reviewers time, but its enough of an issue that these things are needed. Its certainly better than the markov chain reviews in edits...

  • This post suggests that link-only answers are the most dead simple audits, almost embarrassing in their ease and reliability. Unfortunately, I have frequently observed posts incorrectly being deleted for being "link-only" that were not at all, then being used wrongly for audits, reinforcing this incorrect behavior. So there is nothing trivial about link-only audits: they are not generated any more reliably than any other type, and possibly less than many. Nov 8, 2017 at 15:49
  • If they are not link only, and deleted as such, you have a whole other problem. OP does seem pretty clear that these are primarily link only and not self contained Nov 8, 2017 at 23:10
  • Reading several of their comments, they seem to be thinking of answers that go a bit beyond "[RTFM](https://manual-link.example.com)" which is, unfortunately, exactly the sort of gray area that is so problematic for reviewers in general, and therefore for audits. Shog's canonical post states that e.g. "You probably want a [FileOutputStream](http://example.com/docs/FileOutputStream)" is fine (i.e., not deletable from LQP). The fact that Shog had to write a long post about these, and that people routinely still get it wrong, shows just how "trivial" this reviewing isn't. Nov 9, 2017 at 2:08

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