What should our Policy be on Link only Answers?

How descriptive should the answer be to consider as not Link Only Answer? E.g. is this one: https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/14863/295?

How do we educate people on the Linked Only Answers? Should it be in the welcome message? Should we have have links to SO other SE sites which have good guide to writing good questions and answers or have over own dopted from them.

2 Answers 2


Usually I would read the reference in the answer, and edit the answer myself to make it match our standards:

  • To demonstrate what our standards are
  • To make it easier for the new person who answers

In this case, though, the link is to an hour-long video (so not something I can read, something that would take me more than a hour to listen to), and on a topic which doesn't interested me ... so I don't want to watch the video.

I could read the "Aganna suthra" again though, and summarize that (but I'm still not very interested in the topic, so I might not do a good job of answering, and I don't intend to do that).

Another very good option is, if you think the answer could be better, add your own better answer to the topic.

To ask the author to remedy their answer, you could post a comment under the answer, to:

  • Ask that they provide a summary in the answer
  • Explain why

If you're looking for an explanation of some/any policy, good places to look for the explanation include:

As for moderating these answers, my moderation policy for answers is more-or-less defined by the answers to the meta-topic, Moderating answers which don't answer the question? -- i.e. an answer is permitted (not deleted) until or unless other users downvote it.

I might (very occasionally) moderate an answer for other reasons (e.g. if it seems to be hostile or off-topic), even without other users complaining about it; but I currently don't delete "low-quality" answers (e.g. link-only answers, or very short opinion-like answers), because I think the community has said that it doesn't want the moderators to do that.

There are, for example, a lot of answers on this site which are relatively "low quality" in having had no upvotes at all (but these aren't deleted). The answer you liked to in the OP currently has one upvote (so presumably at least one person found it helpful, or better than nothing, to be encouraged).


My opinion is we should allow linked only answers for reference requests but not as an answer itself. The answer can be short if it answers the question or adds value. Long answers does not necessarily mean good answers. Keep It Simple and Stupid (KISS) response with some some additional references to dig deep also may be a valid response as it is informative and has or add some value.

Especially audio and video links my option is there sould be a reasonable summary where relevant as it takes long to go though such content.

I guess large number of readers will not bother with links. Forums like Discourse display the number of click throughs on links. In such forms the click through rates are very low hence I would expect the same here. The rates would be lower for multimedia links.

  • You wrote, "allow" -- are you suggesting that link-only answers should be strictly "not allowed", meaning that moderators ought to delete them?
    – ChrisW Mod
    Apr 22, 2016 at 11:39
  • No. We should educate the users to be more descriptive by providing appropriate resources and references to improve on the answers initially. If they same user continuously does post link only answers then it can be considered spam but only after multiple instances of trying to educate the OP. Apr 22, 2016 at 12:48
  • Also moderation does not always mean deleting in my opinion. It is easy to delete but difficult to provide resources and educate uses on the direction we are taking in the site. Apr 22, 2016 at 12:53

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