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Within the last weeks, I reviewed a growing number of answers from the Low Quality queue (or spotted them directly on the main site) that basically looked like this:

Follow the answers at askubuntu.com/questions/...

The author should not have written an answer to link the duplicate question but vote to close (or flag, depending on the reputation level) the question as duplicate.

The canned delete reason comment for This is a link-only answer (and not spam) does not really fit in my opinion:

“While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes.”

And I'm tired of always commenting something like that manually myself:

Instead of writing an answer only to provide a link to another question here on Ask Ubuntu, you should have flagged this question as duplicate of the other one. That way we can ensure that all good answers on the same topic are listed on one page and not spread over many small question posts.

Do you think we could add this as another canned delete reason comment to the Low Quality review queue? A suitable title would be This should have been a duplicate-flag instead.
Or do you think adding another reason will let the pop-up grow too much and reduce its usability?

Alternatively, we could also make the link-only comment dynamic and change it to my proposed wording if there are only links to askubuntu.com in the answer.

  • 1
    Even better: If more than a certain percentage (60?) of a short (<200 char?) answer is link, make the answer unsubmittable until more explanation is added. – cat Mar 19 '16 at 17:04
  • @tac, I'm not too sure that would help. You just end up with link shorteners. Something like no more than one link per 100chars of normal text might help, though. – Someone Somewhere Mar 20 '16 at 11:10
  • The same answer in two questions isn't worrying, what is worrying is something entirely different: that someone is flagging these as NAA/VLQ when they are actual answers and that actual duplicates are not being closed. – Braiam Mar 20 '16 at 15:46
  • @Braiam I'm pretty sure most of them enter the queue because of the length (and perhaps because of the link itself). – kos Mar 20 '16 at 16:05
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    You can use a app like AutoReviewComments to quickly add comment to other posts, instead of typing them yourself. This saves some time while reviewing. – Ferrybig Mar 21 '16 at 7:42
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Great, but there's a corner case that needs to be addressed: many times it happens that two completely different questions have the same answer.

In that case questions can't be closed as duplicates, but at the same time it's useful to have a link to possible answers. I'm against deleting those kind of answers, as even if indeed OP didn't bother giving too much explanation about who, what, where, when or why, that kind of information is often very useful. If the answerer wrote something along the lines of "This could be done by doing X. See [link to question] for possible ways of doing X.", the answer shouldn't be deleted, at least not using the standard "Delete" button in the queue, as if they get deleted in-review that information is lost.

So that canned comment should be only for answers to duplicate questions, and not for answers to questions with the same answer.

The current wording may be read as implying that questions with the same answer should be closed as duplicate of each other no matter what.

So it should be more explicit that the commenter is talking about duplicate questions, so to not instruct new / misbehaving users to do even worse stuff.

Also, on another note, the current wording is very direct, and may come across as repriminding (and end up being too mortifying: "Instead of X, you should have done Y!"). While I often want to throw my laptop out of the window when I see link-only answers to duplicate questions, many times poor users just aren't aware of the workings. I also propose to tone the comment down a bit (including the abovementioned modifications and along the lines of the current link-only canned comment) to something like this (this is an example to show the idea, feel free to suggest better alternatives):

While this link may answer the question, and since the questions appear to be the same, it is better to flag the question as a duplicate of the other. The fundamental goal of closing duplicate questions is to help people find the right answer by getting all of those answers in one place.

This still misses the fact the sometimes closures should be done the other way around etc but meh, we can't address everything in a comment. If someone has a good resource on that topic that could be linked along with the comment please suggest it in the comments.

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    "In that case questions can't be closed as duplicates, but at the same time it's useful to have a link to possible answers." You just need to add a comment on the question itself saying something like: "related link" and anyone interested can follow the link. – Braiam Mar 20 '16 at 15:45
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    @Braiam I'm not encouraging to post links to questions as answers, at least not intentionally. I'm encouraging to not delete them, at least not using the standard "Delete" button in the queue, as if they get deleted in-review that information is lost. – kos Mar 20 '16 at 16:02
  • I tend to agree with you but want to wait a bit for further reactions before I accept an answer. You're totally right with your statement that not all questions with the same answers are necessarily duplicates. But IMO an answer has to contain content. That means for me also if the link to another Q on the site answers the question, the author has to at least include a basic summary. – Byte Commander Mar 21 '16 at 7:53
  • @ByteCommander Personally I never vote to delete link-only answers in-review (unless the link is broken of course). I know many users won't agree with that, but my reasoning is that a link-only answer is an answer, and that such information is lost if we delete the post. I agree those are far from the best answers and that links are prone to break, but also many times the information is useful. I don't see why we should speed up the process that leads to lose that information. Perhaps the Ideal solution to make everyone happy would be a mechanism to convert those answers to a comment. – kos Mar 21 '16 at 9:08
  • @kos Right, I also sometimes have my doubts whether deleting such an answer is really the best option, but obviously the community once decided to do so. Converting them to comments would really often be better, but that would either mean the author has to do it themselves (often reputation is too low or author is lazy), the reviewer has to do it (would attribute the link to him and is additional work) or a mod has to convert the answer into a comment (additional work for the reviewer to raise a custom mod flag and of course for the mods to convert). So many problems... :-/ – Byte Commander Mar 21 '16 at 9:12
  • @ByteCommander I know. Perhaps the solution to everything would be changing the behavior of the link-only deletion vote in-review so that it doesn't only delete the post, but also convert it to a comment under the question. I don't see downsides in doing that, I'm not even sure why this is not a thing yet. – kos Mar 21 '16 at 9:17
  • No idea how difficult that would be to implement. Especially as answers have no length limit but comments do - so what to include into the comment and what not if it's too long? – Byte Commander Mar 21 '16 at 9:31
  • @ByteCommander Mods have a mechanism to do that already, honestly I'm having a hard time picturing it as being too difficult to be adapted the button in the queue. Also if it's too long it's likely not a link-only answer. :) Ah, by the way I found the related post: meta.stackexchange.com/q/228175/302251. – kos Mar 21 '16 at 9:37

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