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Should links and excerpts from relevant documentation be an edit or should they be a comment or should they be an separate answer?

Sometimes I find a helpful answer with a great example of the use of a command would benefit from a link directly to the documentation for that command. This often reveals more usages and better descriptions than the answer. I'm in the habit of editing answers to add links to this relevant content whenever I find myself googling something in the answer.

I did this yesterday on superuser and was surprised to find the edit rejected.

This edit was intended to address the author of the post and makes no sense as an edit. It should have been written as a comment or an answer.

In my edit, I don't believe I changed the original purpose or intention of the author. I simply linked to relevant documentation. I suppose I could have added the links as comments, but I didn't really mean to address the author as much as anyone else searching for more information. Furthermore, the documentation page is long, and I added two separate links to/from each relevant section in the answer/documentation.

I didn't think writing a new answer was appropriate either as I was only adding additional detail to an existing answer.

I also noticed that my edit stats are pretty poor (3 out of 9 rejected) so I figured I'd ask here before I cause any more trouble. I found another old edit which was rejected for the same reason as above. In that edit, I again saw my actions as adding additional information to an existing answer, in that case, the output of a command with a list of shortcuts. This one was admittedly closer to potentially being enough additional information to be its own answer, but still, I don't think my answer would have been materially different from the existing answer so I wasn't inclined to write a new one.

To state my title question differently: Is there a place for additional information like links to documentation and other excerpts?

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    What's wrong with posting an additional answer, stating it's building upon an already existing answer? That happens all the time on sites all over the SE network. – Mast Feb 13 at 6:44
  • Somewhat related discussion on Stack Overflow. Slightly different that what you're describing, but you may find it informative. – Booga Roo 2 days ago
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Should links and excerpts from relevant documentation be an edit, or should they be a comment, or should they be a separate answer?

If this had simply been the case, of modifying the links that were already provided by the author, I suspect your edit would have been approved. However, the answer was already complete, so providing a link that wasn't cited, is likely the reason the edit was rejected.

Sometimes, I find a helpful answer with a great example of the use of a command would benefit from a link directly to the documentation for that command. This often reveals more usages and better descriptions than the answer. I'm in the habit of editing answers to add links to this relevant content whenever I find myself googling something in the answer.

When authoring answers, you should provide this information. However, different criteria must be used when modifying an existing answer.

In my edit, I don't believe I changed the original purpose or intention of the author. I simply linked to relevant documentation.

The original author did not quote the documentation. Now, granted, that is likely due to the fact, the links not existing when the answer was submitted.

Furthermore, the documentation page is long, and I added two separate links to/from each relevant section in the answer/documentation.

If I use an external link, I quote at least some relevant information from it. Otherwise, it isn't a reference and source and probably shouldn't even be included in my answer.

I also noticed that my edit stats are pretty poor (3 out of 9 rejected) so I figured I'd ask here before I cause any more trouble. I found another old edit which was rejected for the same reason as above. In that edit, I again saw my actions as adding additional information to an existing answer, in that case, the output of a command with a list of shortcuts.

I am not entirely sure I agree with the rejection of your other edit proposal. However, the reason for an edit proposal rejection cannot be customized, it's either accepted or rejected for one of the reasons offered. The review queue for edit proposals is not a perfect system.

Is there a place for additional information like links to documentation and other excerpts?

No

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I'm in the habit of editing answers to add links to this relevant content whenever I find myself googling something in the answer.

Oh, for goodness's sake, don't do this.

I see the point of editing answers as a way to correct a problem, such as a lack of clarity in what was written. Adjusting HTML markup and fixing spelling errors at the same time may be appreciated as well. But don't go around over-editing other people's answers. That complicates the editing history, and if you do that on a virgin comment, it places one of those ugly "Last Edited" markers by the answer. (I consider it "ugly" because it has the unpleasant effect of making people wonder what was changed, unless they go through the extra effort to actually look it up.)

On the other hand, providing relevant details can be done by helpfully commenting on the answer, which is what I see as most popular desirable point of the comments section. Then, the author of the answer can decide whether to incorporate such information into the answer by expanding the answer (in the author's own words).

  • Don't take my answer to be authoritative. The acceptance/rejection is done by multiple people who may have some different viewpoints. With this answer, I was simply choosing to share some of mine. – TOOGAM Feb 12 at 12:34
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Edits which unambiguously improve posts should be accepted. Adding links to documentation is an improvement. There is no good reason to reject such an edit.

However, suggested edits are reviewed by numerous people, all of whom have their own feelings and opinions. Some people have a strange bias against edits to old posts, for some reason, while I would see no reason to treat them any differently. Some people have absurdly high bars they ask you to clear before they'll deem an edit helpful. You will get odd rejections at times.

Asking a question here, especially if there's a pattern of rejections, is a good way to resolve ambiguity. As a suggestion, while your edits still require review, be extra careful that they are 100% improvements, and don't make any that might be contentious. Once you have the rep, you can go around tidying up all the old cruft that other people don't think is important.

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    That's an excellent point, I forgot that edits don't normally go through the review queue once a user has enough reputation. I like your suggestion too, until one has more than 2000 reputation points, edits should only be made if they significantly improve a post; keeping in mind that the edits will require time of 2-3 reviewers. – Jon Feb 13 at 22:22

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