I have been searching for answers on Stack Exchange websites and I frequently see the answers providing links to other websites. This is in itself not a problem. The issue is that I also frequently run into links that are no longer functional. Sometimes the links go nowhere, sometimes the links go to some error page the destination website has pre-created. I was wondering if there was a way to alert users that one or more of the links they provided in their answer is no longer functional and requires attention. Is there already a standard procedure for this? If not, what procedure should I follow? I think giving the original author a chance to fix their answer is necessary before calling the answer invalid. What do other people do currently to address this issue? Is this Stack Exchange site specific or is there a global stack * protocol?

One such example is this question. The answer marked as "correct" has a dead link in it, and I flagged it. I was then alerted that the flag had been declined because "flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention". What should non-authors do to address the situation?

  • It does answer the question, but for people with low reputation, not all of the options available in that answer are actually feasible. With my low rep, I am only able to flag or edit, and I don't have a new link to use to edit the post. I found something close to that broken link on the internet, but nothing that appears to completely replace it. If there was an option for nothing but broken links in the "flag" operation, that would be awesome. Also, low-rep people and high-rep people both encounter broken links, so why is that rep dependent? – thatrobotguy Oct 12 at 22:08
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    With your low rep, you are capable of raising a question on meta to get help from the community to solve such problems, if they're widespread enough to warrant such attention. If it's just one rogue link somewhere, best off just leaving a comment if you are able, or doing nothing. – user400654 Oct 12 at 22:31

Low rep users have a lot fewer options than everyone else. But you still might be able to help:

  • Find a way to improve the answer and suggest an edit, assuming the post can be fixed (for answers that have no value beyond the link, a Not An Answer flag is appropriate). While you’re improving the post, if you can’t fix the link, you can specify that it is broken (I tend to put “broken” next to it in parentheses). There are two benefits to this: first, authors are notified of edits on their posts; second, (assuming the edit is approved) everyone else can see that the link is broken and you’ll be able to help people not waste their time on it, or maybe someone who can find a better link will notice.
  • Ask on the site’s Meta (5 rep). In my opinion this isn’t usually worthwhile unless there are several posts with the same broken links or it’s a particularly notable post that has a broken link.
  • Comments. It usually takes 50 rep on the specific site to comment, but if you get 200 rep on any site, then you’ll get the association bonus which is 100 points on each site in the SE network. On the linked post, however, there was already a comment saying exactly what you wanted to say, so there’s not much point to leaving another. (You can upvote the comment at 15 rep).
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  • well, I guess there isn't much I can do then – thatrobotguy Oct 15 at 12:46

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