I've just encountered an link-only answer. What should I do now as a good Android Enthusiasts citizen?

Do link-only answers justify a 'low quality answer' mod flag?


Yes, because the flag originated with a good intention. The mods have the ability to convert the answer to a comment and should do so.

Further Reading

  • I agree that flags should be as less as possible declined. But in case of a link-only answer there is absolutely no need for mod intervention. Every user with >125 rep can leave a comment and downvote the answer. It will also show up in the low answers review queue. There is no need to fill up the mod flag queue. – Flow Feb 8 '13 at 10:05
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    It should be flagged as "Not an answer". In a lot of cases, it should be converted to a comment. – ale Feb 8 '13 at 13:38
  • As stated in my comment to the "no" answer, we should differenciate: Does the answer come from a "no-rep-user" (i.e. a user with a rep of 1), a simple downvote even with comment won't be helpful as the poster most likely does either not return or not care (and simply use a new account). So here we should flag, to get it cleaned -- or clean it ourselves by expanding the content. Downvoting should be considered, otoh, if the user has a certain rep indicating he might care. – Izzy Feb 8 '13 at 14:25
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    I disagree. It's too bad users want to push off editing work to someone else, but that's not what flags are for. Flags are for things that require mod attention. – Matthew Read Feb 9 '13 at 2:44
  • The problem with the low quality flag is that it's not very useful: The only thing it accomplished is offloading the editing work to the mod. I see no need why questions with link-only answers should be flagged as "not an answer", because that is obviously not true: There is (maybe) an answer within the link. Also there is no need to converted the answer to an comment. It seems like the wrong approach. If we want the ability for low rep users to simply comment with links we should give it to them and not by letting the mods do the conversion. I would downvote this answer (if I could) – Flow Feb 9 '13 at 11:46

No, the flag should be declined. The answer is salvageable by editing, there is no mod intervention needed. The user should have been simply downvoting the answer and leaving a comment like

We expect answers on Stack Exchange to be self-contained. At the very least, should that link no longer work this answer becomes useless. At the very least, please summarize the information to be found there (don't just copy-paste) and use the link as a source.

  • +1 for the comment to be left. But considered that many of those link-only answers come from one-time-posters who not return, simply downvoting and commenting will do no good IMHO. At least not in cases where those answers come from users with "no rep". – Izzy Feb 8 '13 at 14:21
  • Why would downvoting and commenting cause any harm (or "do no good")? It's sufficient, reminds people that link only answers are no good idea, plus we keep the link as answer so the information about that link isn't lost. – Flow Feb 8 '13 at 15:52
  • Because most of those "link-only-posters" will not notice the downvotes. To my experience (I may be wrong here), most of them are just one-time-visitors. So the only ones seeing it's a bad idea are the others, who normally don't consider it a good idea either. As said, my opinion, and I might be wrong here. – Izzy Feb 8 '13 at 16:18


As to my experience, most link-only answers I've seen are made by some user12345 with a rep of 1 and no other posts. He either does not return anyway, or simply uses user23456 next time if simply downvoted. So no benefit here from downvoting. In this case, I can think of only two possible actions:

  • edit the post yourself and update it with the details from "behind the link"
  • flag it for moderator attention, reason "other", and ask to have it converted to a comment (or removed, if the link is already dead)

If the user has a rep of, say, 200+, downvoting will probably cause an update of the post, as he's much concerned about his rep. So in this case I'd recommend the "downvote + comment" method from Flow's "No" answer.

  • I see a benefit in downvoting: It shows other users that link-only answers are not a good practice. Converting to comment means just extra unnecessary work for the mods and deletion will possibly delete a good link (in the end, a link only answer is still better then no answer). – Flow Feb 10 '13 at 4:36
  • I see a clear disadvantage in simply downvoting one-time-poster's link-only answers: It clutters our site. I see your point in "showing bad examples", but IMHO we are already doing this a lot/too much. Good content gets harder to find/see this way. And those "bad examples" work much better with those who "have something to lose", as they have a real effect there in two ways: Visitors see "ah, those get downvoted" -- and the poster sees "oh, rep lost, need to fix". The one-timer's posts simply clutter our site, which is a too high price to pay IMHO. – Izzy Feb 10 '13 at 13:47

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