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I was about to flag the answer linked below but didn't find a suitable flag option.

https://cooking.stackexchange.com/a/54311/1549

Is it my imagination or did we once have "link-only answer" as one of the options for flagging answers?

Anyhow, this time I added a summary of what is behind the link instead of flagging.

In the future is it OK to flag link-only answers with the option "other (needs moderator attention)"? Or is it better just to let voting take care of these kinds of answers?

  • I forget if there was a link only flag, but I think it's an option in one of the review queues? – Cascabel Feb 3 '15 at 22:29
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    Go grab the AutoReviewComments script. It has a canned message for exactly this scenario. – Aaronut Feb 4 '15 at 5:25
  • @Aaronut That script looks really neat but I can't get it to work and I don't know how to fix it. Any recommendations? – Catija Feb 9 '15 at 7:11
  • @Catija: What did you try, and what happened? You should post on their issue tracker. – Aaronut Feb 10 '15 at 5:01
  • @Aaronut That's what I ended up doing. I'm on Firefox for Mac and the add-on doesn't work. My husband (he's a programmer) did the "advanced installation" which took an hour, and it still doesn't work for me. :( Just waiting to get a note back from them, hopefully soon. – Catija Feb 10 '15 at 5:07
  • People still use Firefox? I don't know, I'm using the userscript in Chrome (definitely did not take an hour to install... maybe a few minutes) and never had a problem with it. Well, I once had a problem when they changed the site UI, but that was over a year ago. – Aaronut Feb 10 '15 at 5:14
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I agree with Jefromi here. Editing with the summary should be our goal, assuming that the link indeed contains a potential answer.

Other sites such as Stack Overflow have a "delete them" policy. But keep in mind that there users have less patience, more answers coming in, and more work to keep the site clean. Still, if you feel that this is the better thing to do, flagging is the way to go. In this case, the rule is to flag them as "not an answer". The reasoning behind it is: if the link wasn't there, would it contain enough information to be an answer? If you're flagging it, then no. The same will be the case if the link breaks someday. So, flag as if the link weren't there.

This policy is explained in more detail in a famous Meta Stackexchange question. It also contains this amusing picture, explaining more visually what is an acceptable answer:

apples and answers

  • I feel like "not an answer" is technically correct but VLQ does have the side benefit of putting it into a review queue so that more people than just mods get a chance to edit, and it's not that insane to consider link only answers very low quality. – Cascabel Feb 4 '15 at 7:52
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    @Jefromi that was changed a while back so NAA ends up on the VLQ queue under most circumstances, there's some info here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/226092/… – PeterJ Feb 5 '15 at 12:06
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    After handling some more of these... yeah. I really don't want to delete them, especially when the link target is really helpful. So sure, if you don't want to/don't have time to edit, flagging is better than nothing, but just keep in mind that you're just passing along the work to others, and that everyone will be super happy if you can make the time to do the work :) – Cascabel Feb 19 '15 at 20:28
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The goal is for the content behind the link to ultimately be summarized in the answer. That's way better than letting them get downvoted away.

So, ideally, edit it, as you did. This is the most awesome thing to do, so thank you.

Failing that, comment and ask the author to do this. Helpful, though if the author is gone, might not work.

If you don't even have time for that, or if you think the comment won't work, I honestly don't think there's really a great answer. Flagging is fine, a mod might do the editing (I do when I have time) but ideally it'd get sent into a queue where many people can review and have a chance to edit. Apparently the not an answer flag does this.

That said, if depending on moderators to do the editing is not the way the site's supposed to work. A ton of users have editing privileges for exactly this reason. So if you can edit it, please just do so.

  • Does "other" send it to the review queue? That's exactly where I'd like to send a link only answer if I've given the author a chance to edit it himself, and I'm disinclined to do it. We have several users here that do edits. Does the custom "describe what's wrong" show up in the review queue? I don't think I've ever seen one other than my own. – Jolenealaska Feb 4 '15 at 7:14
  • @Jolenealaska No, most flags just go straight to mods, definitely the case for custom flags. I think it's only VLQ that has a queue, but I could be wrong. The system unfortunately doesn't provide a great way to save these answers. I think the low quality queue is the closest to it, and it'll probably work sometimes, and fail others. (A lot of people go through review tasks pretty fast, not spending the time to do a lot of editing.) – Cascabel Feb 4 '15 at 7:30
  • @Jolenealaska "Other" shouldn't send to the queue. It is the one flag which could mean anything, including something confidential. Because the system doesn't know what's in it, it's not shown to anybody but the moderators. I don't know if "Not an answer" goes to the queue, it's very possible that it does. – rumtscho Feb 4 '15 at 7:30

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