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I'm seeing lots of questions on the site where people are basically saying "Here's a great guide to X" and the content links off site.

My immediate thought is that Android Enthusiasts is the site I've come to find answers, not indexed answers linking offsite. I would argue that an answer with some text to pad a link to someones blog or article is a faux answer.

Is this a community preference? In what situations would linking off site be acceptable?

e.g. Vendor specific rooting, specific answer, or offsite linking?

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The answer is simple: Because it is more convenient to just post a link instead of a comprehensive answer.

But, as this questions demonstrates, users like it when it's more convenient for them. GAThrawn and I have posted the same answer (I think we even googled the same page :-)), but mine was more rewarded by the community. I think mostly because my answer already contained everything that's needed, whereas the answer from GAThrawn contains a short answer and a link. So it was beneficial for me to include as many information as possible in my answer, including the source.

I think that this be pointed out for new users/when posting answers:

A link as a first answer is a good start, but if the answer contains nearly everything that's needed, the chanches for upvoting are way higher (reputation $$$).

  • And there I thought my answer had all the relevant info in it in a far more concise way! – GAThrawn Oct 6 '11 at 15:05
  • Worth noting that I'm not a fan of bare link answers at all, and have fleshed out a few of them in the past like this one android.stackexchange.com/questions/4955/… to make them more useful. – GAThrawn Oct 6 '11 at 15:11
  • GAThrawn: I just want to clarify that I used your answer just as an example and not to blame you. I am still surprised by the amount of upvotes that mine got.... – Flow Oct 6 '11 at 22:24
  • It's better to qualify answers with links but write them up well so you don't have to go offsite. Long term this means less dead links (and users with high rep can update answers to be relevant as time goes on). – heymatthew Oct 19 '11 at 0:07
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If someone's asking a complicated question, which only has long, complicated answers, which are already written up elsewhere, would you prefer that the question doesn't ever get an answer here, because no one wants to spend a lot of time rewriting something that's already out there on a more specialised site? Or that there's something descriptive and helping out by pointing someone to that helpful article?

From what I've seen, most of the answers that link offsite are either questions about one very specific app having a very obscure problem, or problems with people using obscure ROMs on obscure hardware and having obscure problems. We just don't have enough different people here regularly using enough different ROMs on enough different hardware, with enough different apps. There's hundreds of Android handsets, each of them has tens of different ROMs in various versions and there's hundreds of thousands of apps.

We would need an awful lot of people to cover obscure problems with all of that. Compare that to say, an iOS site that only has six possible hardware devices, a handful of OS versions (and almost no use at all of third party modified OSs).

  • :) well, you got one more obscure guy-- I bought a nexus and didn't expect so much linkage. I'll go write me up some answers. – heymatthew Oct 6 '11 at 20:11
  • still, the policy per android.stackexchange.com/questions/how-to-answer is to avoid answers that are just a link. There should be a little context there beyond a bare link! – Jeff Atwood Oct 7 '11 at 1:41
  • Answers that consist of little more than a link to an outside resource are likely to be flagged "not an answer" and converted to a comment. – ale Apr 18 '12 at 13:40
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It's always a good idea to put an extract or a summary with a link.

If the link is dead someday, that can help track down the new location (if it exists) and/or give a guide to solving the problem in the absence of the original site.

Link-only answers should always be discouraged, as that would just make this an extension of google (or an old-fashioned curated yahoo).

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