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I was first to answer this question yesterday with an answer something like you will find all the information you need here.

My link pointed to official Ubuntu Documentation and the content answered the question in its entirety. In fact subsequent answers by others to this question had nothing new to offer in terms of information in comparison to the content on the link I provided.

So what is my point?

I received a comment which made me think, "links tend to rot Websites and pages on websites disappear all the time (even pages on help.ubuntu.com)". I see all sorts of links in both Question and Answers and I was kind of surprised when I read this comment, especially as I was utilizing a robust source. The bottom line is:

What is the best approach?

To copy and paste information from other websites and provide a credit?

Or are links to official Ubuntu documentation acceptable? What is the realistic risk of page rot?

One final thought

I see this question became a banker for reputation, which would lead to a suspicion there was an ulterior motive for this comment, giving it the benefit of my doubt this would not be the sort of philosophy or behavior I signed up for

  • 1
    As something of an aside, linking to documentation is often touchy because it's a gentle way of saying "Read the Effing Manual." Sometimes the poster doesn't know the particular manual is there, sometimes they read it and it made no sense and your restating it could make all the difference. Sometimes they're just lazy. But you're always on safe ground if you assume they need info from the manual clarified somehow and offer that clarification. – Amanda Jul 12 '12 at 18:47
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Never.

It is always appropriate to say

Here is the gist of what I'm saying:

.......

Source here

It is almost never appropriate to say:

read this and it'll help you.

We do make exceptions for some of the very bleeding edge stuff - for example, Juju in its early early EARLY days was one of those gray areas where we pointed people to the mailing list - it was changing so fast that anything except the developer list was outdated within a week. That's about it though.

Only times it's appropriate to consider that is if you're referencing another Ask Ubuntu answer, but in that case it's probably better to close it as a duplicate.

We do tend to be a little lenient towards the Ubuntu Wiki, but even then, we prefer it if you post the gist of what you're saying.

So, the answer is '99.9999% of the time, no. "

  • An education, Thanks – stephenmyall May 18 '12 at 11:20
5

Besides "link rot", it's just a lot easier to see the summary than go to the link. Now it might be that in this one case your link happens to be the perfect help page, but most often, one needs to peruse the webpage and glean what one actually needs to answer the question. I don't actually know if one needs to glean with your link, because I didn't visit it. And that leads to my next point...

I didn't visit it because I have other things I'm doing on my computer right now. I think many of us find this a familiar experience. Someone searching for a solution on Ask Ubuntu is likely to be simultaneously searching other venues. If it were me, I'd have a dozen Ask Ubuntu tabs open alone. Now in the midst of all that, there is one question where someone (you) has answered, "Look at this link". I'm perusing the links, looking for useful info, and probably there are half a dozen "this link will solve your problem" comments in my open tabs. Each time I open such a link, there are more links (exponential growth, anyone?). Yes, I'll get to the link eventually (if I don't get distracted or lost in my forest of links), but it'll be lower on my priority queue than reading the answers where people have actually written a solution.

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