Link-only answers are strongly discouraged and it is highly preferable to include the essential parts in the answer itself with the link for reference only. In addition to the comments we post to request editing of such link-only answers we have been implementing a new and stronger policy to aid the improvement as outlined in detail here: Cleaning up link-only answers The idea is to convert the answers to community wiki if they're not edited and improved be the original author after a 48 hour grace period. Community wiki posts can be edited by anyone with >=100 reputation.

Part of the deal is this new chatroom that tracks the reported cases. More important however is now that the next step: actual improvement of the answers by the community. As goldilocks had put it: remember, it does not have to be a major production More often than not just providing a little context could make the answer stand on its own. If nobody ever cares to edit the wikified posts there's little use in proceeding that way.

What are your views and opinions on this procedure and its implementation so far? What could or should be changed?

  • I find it is common that people want to see the answers right then and there. Including a link is great but that I can't expect people to click on them.
    – SDsolar
    Jan 12, 2017 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


I think it is an improvement at least conceptually, which is a step in the right direction, and by formally tracking these we now have a better idea of how frequently new ones appear. During the past month we haven't had anyone serial posting such answers, which is where I think this mechanism will prove very effective one way or another.

To put a bit of perspective on things, we're averaging 1-2 posts per day added to the link-only chat room. This is a mixture of both new and old posts, found through a combination of flagging and moderators catching them first hand.

Of course, as you imply, what hasn't been happening is the questions getting actively fixed (so it clearly isn't a motivator for the OP, but that's predictable considering how little effort was put in initially). I just went back and did some from the past week, spending <5 min on each one that I did edit, but skipping about half of them because in my opinion they were not worth my time (e.g., links to youtube videos for solutions the OP "did not try personally").

That raises the issue of whether moderators should in some cases decide to just delete or (perhaps preferably) convert to comment after the 48 hours is up. I think this is not a bad idea for things that are almost certain to remain link-only and were borderline suggestions to start with.

One thing I would definitely suggest is that we divide the chat room into two. The "first stage" chat room would be the 48 hour holding pen. Part of the reason for this is the way moderators ended up dealing with things is initially posting just a link, which in chat expands to a precis. However, if there is anything beyond just a link in a chat post, there is no precis, and in order to track what's been dealt with after 48 hours, we've been going back and adding "done". That's expedient since you cannot insert chat posts out of chronological order, but it may be a discouragement to anyone who's in the mood to clean up posts, since from just a raw link it is hard to tell what the actual question is, etc.

Also, a concern I had in the original post about this is that most people probably won't want to bother until the 48 hours is up anyway -- especially since a major reason for doing this is to allow ease of editing via the lower bar on "Community Wiki" posts.

So, to sum up that suggestion, we divide the current chat room in two:

  • One, the 48 hour holding pen, can be moderator access only to prevent confusion, since it isn't of general interest.

  • The other can be world readable. When the conversion to Community Wiki is done, a moderator can then just delete/modify/whatever the post in the holding pen, then add a new link only post (creating a permanent precis) to the world readable "Link Only Answers" chat room.

  • Thank you for your comment ;) but I was really hoping for some more community input. The idea of Stackexchange's community moderation would be lived best if more users were to contribute to the actual editing of that answers.
    – Ghanima Mod
    Oct 23, 2016 at 16:11
  • ... but as an update: there now is a flagged and listed answer that has been edited by the OP. Yeah!
    – Ghanima Mod
    Oct 23, 2016 at 16:12
  • That's why I've bitten my tongue for a few days ;) This does give people something to agree or disagree with at least (breaking the chat room into two). "there now is a flagged and listed answer that has been edited by the OP" \O/ Since it's turned out to be pretty easy, this is worth the effort even if it only rarely works that way.
    – goldilocks Mod
    Oct 23, 2016 at 16:14
  • 1
    Note that we have gotten some implicit feedback from general users in that 1) There are people regularly flagging these; I think a significant proportion of what's been done so far is from that, 2) No one has had the gumption to claim we are being unfair yet.
    – goldilocks Mod
    Oct 23, 2016 at 16:21
  • Yes, no impeachment trial for @goldilocks so far!
    – Ghanima Mod
    Oct 23, 2016 at 16:23
  • 2
    IMO the "conceptual" part of improvement is the one which is really significant. Such one-line answers create a certain atmosphere which has an effect on neighbouring answers, and fixing them (or at least having mod comments saying it's not OK) has a much wider effect than it seems to have. Oct 24, 2016 at 14:56
  • I am willing to give the two-chatrooms approach of your's a try - unless the community intervenes any time soon.
    – Ghanima Mod
    Oct 24, 2016 at 19:51

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