I tried looking around on the FAQs and in previous Meta questions but couldn't find something directly answering this question.

I have seen some answers to questions which provide NO actual answer but simply links to articles. Now these articles may indeed be useful to solve the problem. However, to me this signifies little effort on the answer. I understand there are instances when an exact answer isn't applicable and articles may put them in the right direction.

Should links be provided just as citations to backup your answer? To expand upon your answer? Or to say "just go look at this"?

4 Answers 4


I think that both links (if applicable), and the relevant information from the link should be provided in the answer.

The goal of SE is to be the source of knowledge. If an answer is simply a link, there's no guarantee that it will still be available in 6 months, a year, whatever. If the answer is clearly plagiarized with no credit given to the source, well that's just poor form.


It is covered here:


Provide context for links

A link to a potential solution is always welcome, but please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there . Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the target site is unreachable or goes permanently offline.

  • 1
    Ah Jeff, you're working on the assumption that people actually read the FAQ, which is not supported by the available evidence. ;) Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 2:36
  • @john well the OP is asking, so I am answering! Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 5:09
  • Thanks. When I looked through the FAQ the first time I did not see the link referencing that page. Also +1 for "providing context" to your link ;)
    – HostBits
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 15:56

Answers without any actual 'answer' but only links are not considered Answers here. They should be flagged for a moderator to cleanup. More than anything this relates to Spam, as you could write up an answer, put it on your blog (with advertising that you get paid for) and link to it.

  • But what about links to technet or msexchange.org? Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 15:24
  • 1
    @Holo, if it's just a link and no explanation as to why the link would be useful it's still unacceptable. If you're going to copy-n-paste a link the least you can do is one sentence saying "Your problem XYZ is solved by ABC, more details in [link]".
    – Chris S
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 15:27
  • I can get behind that. I just wanted to mention it as a relevant data point Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 15:36
  • @Holocryptic, Technet links die, just like any others. Commented Apr 27, 2011 at 1:09

I think a link should be provided whenever possible in an answer, whether it's to a product or article if it is on topic, relevant to the question, and not a blatant product push.

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