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We do a pretty good job removing or repairing link-only answers nowadays, but there are boatloads of old link-only answers sitting ignored or at a slight negative score, written largely by users that haven't been around for months, even years.

To see the scope of the problem, search for "this link" is:a isaccepted:no score:..0. There are 53 pages of results. (There were 55 pages before I used all my flags on the worst/hopeless ones, which is why the first couple pages might not look too bad.) I'm sure there are other search terms that will turn up even more. So as to keep content somebody found helpful, I made sure in my initial pass to only flag answers that were

  1. scored at zero or below,
  2. not the only answer,
  3. not the accepted answer, and
  4. obviously lacking effort.

For answers written by users that could be still around (i.e. last seen a month or so ago), I've been leaving the following comment:

At the moment, this post is essentially only a link. To make sure the answer remains useful even if the link breaks, please edit it to include the relevant information. (Your answer was discovered in [an effort to repair or remove old link-only answers](https://meta.superuser.com/q/11113/380318).)

That produces the following:

At the moment, this post is essentially only a link. To make sure the answer remains useful even if the link breaks, please edit it to include the relevant information. (Your answer was discovered in an effort to repair or remove old link-only answers.)

The link is there in the (probably overly optimistic) hope that some such users will help clean up other answers after they fix their own.

If we all work to address these answers, we might be able to turn them into something helpful instead of just deleting them all ("the easy way out"). At the moment, they're at risk of loss due to linkrot at best, and broken windows at worst. Let's remove the useless ones, and clean up the ones with potential!

  • 2
    Just to add, considering its impossible to bulk edit them, fixing them up would be super cool. I do occationally try to fix these up when flagged so... yeah, Of course, if the OPs are still around on the site I do wish they'd take the effort. There's one or two high rep users who have a ton of old, legacy content that's poor quality I can think of who really would do well to fix up their answers – Journeyman Geek Jan 9 '16 at 1:36
  • @JourneymanGeek - Some of those users sadly write very brief answers as-is, which isn't a problem per-say, except when they don't quote relevant material :$ – Ramhound Jan 9 '16 at 4:05
  • 1
    I wondered where all of those old link-only answers suddenly came from in the review queue. I like what you did with the criteria. I usually don't support deleting an answer just because it's link-only. It can have some value until the link breaks. However, when there's an old one that gathered no positive votes (nobody found it useful), the author is long gone, and there are other good answers, that's a bird in the hand for cleanup. – fixer1234 Jan 9 '16 at 4:26
  • @JourneymanGeek - I've found a small nudging comment for clarification on older answers works well when the user is still active. It's easy to forget a quick one-liner answer from 5 years ago, the notification is usually enough to get them to flesh it out. – Robotnik Jan 9 '16 at 6:55
  • If you could do a search for all of mine, I would be willing to work through those. – Moab Jan 9 '16 at 16:41
  • @Moab This search (link is:a score:..1 user:40928) seems to have turned up some things that need work. – Ben N Jan 9 '16 at 22:18
  • @Moab Did you mean for that link point to all your posts in particular? Are you critisizing yourself? Hilarious content!! – Pimp Juice IT Jan 10 '16 at 1:03
  • @BenN thanks, will work on it. – Moab Jan 11 '16 at 23:50
  • Well I am limited to 5 deletes per day.....fixed some links but just needed to delete some answers, some were converted to comments. – Moab Jan 12 '16 at 0:18
  • @Moab get 30k rep already ಠ_ಠ – Braiam Jan 12 '16 at 18:00

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