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EDIT: I should rephrase, "Link only answers are bad should be deleted except for in one case: Software Recommendations"

If someone asks for a software recommendation, and you give a link-only answer "Awesome Software Pro 2000" that fulfills the question, I hold that should not be deleted or closed.

The reason why link-only answers is bad, is because if the website changes the answer is invalid.

But in the case of a software recommendation, if the website goes down or is removed you might as well delete the whole answer because now the answer is bad anyway. Having outdated information for software recommendations is not helpful, this is not The Wayback Machine where we want to archive the internet.

I just gave a link only answer software recommendation, and it wasn't only downvoted, it was deleted. To me, that is clearly a destructive, unhelpful moderation policy, because it fully answered the question.

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No, even in that case a link alone is not a good answer. Why is this software being recommended? What makes it good? How do you use it? How can you install it? You can always add a small explanation. If you just post a link and nothing else, you are not giving us any information about this software and what it is.

I do agree that software requests are a special case and a link is more of an answer there than anywhere else, but adding a short description of what the tool can do will always make the answer better.

  • It's true, almost always answers like this tend to be low quality ones (and perhaps spammy sometimes) when they don't contain any details. But I don't think they should be considered as "link-only answers" per se, and more importantly I think they should not be flagged as "not-an-answer" (which is the right thing to do with actual link-only answers). Could you please clarify? – pomsky May 15 at 14:23
  • @pomsky I guess it will depend on the specific question. It might be theoretically possible that the tool is exactly what the question asks for and the question is specific enough to know this, but in the vast majority of cases, the answer should explain why this particular tool is being suggested. But at the very least, you could include the name of the tool or an example of its usage. An answer that's just a link to the tool is not very useful even in the best of cases. – terdon May 15 at 14:26
  • I would argue some of those can be omitted -- install is on the page, how you use it is in the docs, why it's good is user-specific, why it's being recommended is because it answers the question. Okay, granted it would be "a lower quality answer", but should it be deleted? No, because even a link only software recommendation may save someone hours of searching online. – Jonathan May 16 at 8:03
  • I put an EDIT in to rephrase, my primary contention is whether or not they should be deleted, rather than to justify their relative quality – Jonathan May 16 at 8:05

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