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There are answers that consist of only shell commands, with no comments, showing up in the low quality review; Is it right to flag them as "link only" answer?

To me, an answer that consists only of an uncommented section of code to run is very similar to a link only answer.

For example like answer https://askubuntu.com/a/522475/260447 (deleted) on How do I install "z" script?:


# Download to latest to home dir
wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/rupa/z/master/z.sh > ~/z.sh
# Add to .bashrc
echo . /path/to/z.sh >> ~/.bashrc
# Add to .zshrc
echo . /path/to/z.sh >> ~/.zshrc

(Ignore that the code of this example acidentally contains a link - that is not related.)
I just flagged that one as link-only answer on the Low Quality Posts review;
It seemed the best matching category at least.

Another example is https://askubuntu.com/a/522272/260447 (was edited) on "Connect to server" option changed in 14.04?? Can't connect using WebDav:

try use this format davs://user_name>@/:
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    Depends on the answer. The first one, it's explaining line by line what it does, so it's not really a script only answer. It's way different than a link only answer. If I were going to flag them as something it would be low quality. – RobotHumans Sep 14 '14 at 10:31
  • Right, it's not the best example. But the second one should make the point clear enough as base for the question about the flag reason. – Volker Siegel Sep 14 '14 at 10:36
  • @VolkerSiegel The second example is not (and was not ever) a commmand-only answer either, though its original formatting was severely broken. It's saying what form to use to specify a webdav URL. There's no shell command in that answer. – Eliah Kagan Sep 14 '14 at 11:58
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This meta question is actually mostly answered in PSA: When reviewing, don't post duplicate (and near-duplicate) comments! But since this question is narrower and has a different focus, and it may not be immediately obvious to some how that one applies here, I've written this answer to address the specifics.

Just like any answer that contains insufficient explanation, a command-only answer:

  • sometimes warrants removal as very low quality,
  • occasionally can be improved significantly even by a small edit,
  • sometimes should be kept, even if it can't/shouldn't be edited by reviewers.

Whether or not an answer should be considered so low quality as to warrant removal depends on the specifics of that answer, and on the context. Does it provide value? Even actual link-only answers are not always removed.

In any case, the main problem with link-only answers does not apply to command-only answers. Command-only answers do not become meaningless due to some other resource besides Ask Ubuntu changing or going offline.

So of course you should not use a comment about link-only answers on an answer that doesn't even contain a link--that doesn't make any sense.

But there's a bigger matter at play here.

You might be using the review system incorrectly.

The wording of this meta question strongly suggests you might be thinking you're doing one sort of thing while reviewing, when actually you're doing something entirely different.

You said:

I just flagged that one as link-only answer on the Low Quality Posts review;
It seemed the best matching category at least.

You appear to be under the impression that the Add a comment for the author? selections (where you can pick a comment when voting to delete posts in the Low Quality review) are a form of flagging.

They are not. When you use select a comment there, you are not flagging the post. The sole purpose of selecting something other than the default "No comment needed" option on that screen is to post comments that the author and others will see.

When you actually click the "Recommend Deletion" or "Delete" button, you are doing something similar to flagging. But the result of clicking this button that is not in any way altered or customized by whether or not you selected a canned comment from the list above it, nor by which one you selected if you did.

Please see PSA: When reviewing, don't post duplicate (and near-duplicate) comments! That explains:

  • What is and is not happening when you select comments in the "Add a comment for the author?" dialog.

  • What to do when there's something wrong with the post but none of the precanned comments offered there capture the problem. (The short of it is: select "No comment needed" and, if you believe a comment is warranted, post your own.) Really, that situation is what this meta question is about.

Add a comment for the author? with some freeehand underlining to highlight points more important to this post.

In summary:

  • Command-only answers are usually not very good but they are not the same as link-only answers.
  • The precanned comments offered by the "Add a comment for the author?" dialog when deleting posts in the Low Quality review are not a form of flagging. The comments you leave through that dialog have no special effect or importance compared to commenting manually.
  • If you've been selecting comments on that dialog based on the belief that you've been flagging or categorizing posts for the system, and if in doing so you've been posting comments that don't make sense or that otherwise are things you would not want to say... then you should stop doing that.
  • If no comment offered under "Add a comment for the author?" is correct for the situation, stick with the default "No comment needed" option.
  • If you believe a comment is needed, but none of the comments offered under "Add a comment for the author?" are correct, you can stick with the default "No comment needed" option but comment on the post manually yourself.

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