There is often a small battle going on on being first to answer questions (a luxury problem that shows we are a success). Unfortunately this can have the effect that answers are kept short (short description and link to external source).

I must admit to having done this myself a couple of times. :-/

However this affects the general quality of the answer, and a link in itself isn't an answer. Also links tend to come and go, while we are in for the long haul :-)

I have begun moderating on this, asking people to expand a little on the answer (and then make a link to a full article). This IMO improves the question vastly.

Do you agree on this approach?

3 Answers 3


If people are that keen on leaving the first answer, then I don't have a problem with it being something brief. However, they should immediately edit and expand on the answer, at the very least giving a summary of whatever they are linking to. If this doesn't happen, then the post should be downvoted just like anything else that isn't a good answer. Leaving a comment to explain why is a good idea.

One of the key goals of this platform is to reduce the friction of finding information. That means we want users to find the answer they're looking for right here, without being forced to click off to some other site. Also, once that site goes down or moves/deletes the content, then the answer is completely useless.

Another key goal is quality content. We want the site to have an excellent reputation for well written answers. Therefore low quality posts need to be discouraged.

  • 1
    I think quick post and continue edit is a good practice anyway. The questioner, who is presumably waiting, gets a quicker response, but the quality of the site content is also improved. Everybody wins.
    – SPDoctor
    May 18, 2011 at 11:13

Agreed! Solution should be on the same page. This is better not only for SPSE, but for our users too, because in most cases, they will get more concrete answer.

And as I noticed, even if I post my answer later, but make it more descriptive, add screenshots and code samples - in most cases it wins (however, I understand, that it is not a good practice, to post almost same answers twice)

  • 1
    +1, The community should support this behavior by voting up answers that are complete.
    – Kit Menke
    May 11, 2011 at 13:42

Are answers that just contain links elsewhere really "good answers"?

  • 4
    Sorry, couldn't stop myself :)
    – Stu Pegg
    May 11, 2011 at 18:57
  • Note: The link refers to Meta SO, where a discussion is had on this very topic. The resulting conclusion is that linking is useful, but does not directly answer the question on it's own. Factors include LinkRot, and loss of traffic from the referring site.
    – Stu Pegg
    May 11, 2011 at 19:03
  • Ho ho. +1 for good humor, and a good link all by itself ;) May 11, 2011 at 19:06

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