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
- scored at zero or below,
- not the only answer,
- not the accepted answer, and
- 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!