For Super User how tolerant of answers with just links to a blog post with the answer are we supposed to be?

On meta.stackoverflow.com I've seen conflicting opinions;

Some say we shouldn't:

Others say it's fine:

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this site hasn't been announced quite yet, so hang in there for a bit.. :) –  Jeff Atwood Jul 22 '10 at 5:33
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I don't think the policy needs to change from the other sites. –  ChrisF Jul 22 '10 at 21:29
    
@Jeff Atwood: :-) –  Chealion Jul 23 '10 at 0:23
    
@Chris, what about posting that comment as an (the) answer? –  Arjan Jul 23 '10 at 5:24
    
@Arjan - I must admit I was testing something out before everything got linked up properly. –  ChrisF Jul 23 '10 at 9:18
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5 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

As a matter of policy, you should always have at least a sentence (and ideally a quoted paragraph) explaining how this link helps or hoisting the most helpful bit of it out.

Think of it like this:

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+1 for your first sentence, -1 for the blaring hurt-my-eyes image = sorry no jojo for this, even though it started out good. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jul 26 '10 at 8:38
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Links are bad. I very strongly agree that answers with just links in them, no matter how good the link is, are completely useless. Why? Yes, they answer the question, but SU isn't just about answering the questions of "now". If it were, we wouldn't close as duplicate. It's about building up a knowledge base that simply doesn't exist right now, using outside links as flavour is fine, but if that's the entire answer, when that link dies suddenly it's useless, and we're back to pre-SOFU fact finding, trawling through message boards and mailing lists trying to piece together our answer, and finding little but "God, this is so easy, just lycos it!". Having a link as source is fine. Having a link as "(For more information, see:" is fine. But unless the text in your answer does in fact answer the question, you're actually harming the site more than you're helping.

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+1 Not to mention, links add no value in terms of someone googling for a solution. i.e. it doesn't help anyone find this site for their answer in the first place. –  Kara Marfia Jul 30 '10 at 14:11
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I'm opposed to just having links. We should strive to at least add a few words to our answer. It makes things both more readable and providing an excerpt can allow others to easily judge how good the answer is.

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I say write a few words description about the link (especially for links like http://www.my-blog.com/?article-id=123456), or at least copy and paste the first paragraph-ish of the blog post linked.

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If it answers the question, then links are fine.

BUT it's always better if some of the details could be put in the answer, in case the link dies later.

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I would still want to know why or how that link solves the problem –  Ivo Flipse Jul 23 '10 at 9:06
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Plus, if the link goes away, then the answer is completely useless –  Jared Harley Jul 26 '10 at 19:04
    
@Jared Harley: +1, although archive.org might help in some cases –  Tobias Kienzler Aug 2 '10 at 9:12
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