8

This answer is an example of an answer that is just a link, and to a page that requires a user account just to view.

Creating an account on that external site is free. You can even log in with a Launchpad SSO account. And it's even an official Ubuntu resource.

(In case that answer is removed or edited: it currently links to an Ubuntu Forums topic, which requires login to view, presumably because it may pertain to old versions of Ubuntu and thus be misleading to newcomers.)

But still. For most people, clicking the link would not immediately provide an answer. In effect, this adds another layer of indirection between the post here on Ask Ubuntu, and the information that might answer the question.

It seems to me that such answers should be flagged as not an answer or very low quality, and deleted. But maybe others think they should stay.

It seems to me that one thing to consider, in deciding if such answers should stay, is: How easy is it for members of the community (including, but not only, moderators and users with enough rep to flag), to know if the content behind the login-wall actually answers the question, at all?

What do you think? (I'm interested in moderators' views, but also the ideas of anyone else in the community who has an opinion on the matter.)

  • 5
    Vote accordingly perhaps? Seems like a nobrainer downvote to me. – Jorge Castro Sep 1 '12 at 1:38
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This only needs registration because it's now an archived thread.

Ubuntu Forums segregates off old content like this to stop it being archived by the search engines indefinitely. And once you do log in, you see a banner like this:

Hello, <username> You are browsing a READ ONLY archive of the main support categories pre 4/21/2008. You will not be able to post or reply any threads in this section.

Be aware that information contained here may be outdated, and could cause irreparable damage to your install - read and follow these threads at your own risk.

Anyway... The advice I'd give you is that link-only answers aren't great. This is a good example as to why, as good as one where the link just 404s. Sometimes you can't get at where they point and that completely invalidates the answer.

But that doesn't mean they're all evil. Some links come from necessity - needing to post a video, or not having copyright over a post (and not being able to understand it enough to adapt). There are valid examples.

So I don't think we should nuke all link-only answers on sight. In nothing else, they might actually be useful to the OP. We're years on with this one and the answer was never intended to be a login-only link but something similar could happen tomorrow and it could still help somebody.

And at the very least, if you notice a dead link, leave a comment. My experience on Stack Exchange is that most people do fix them, even years after the fact.

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    Link-only answers that are not redundant and lead to potentially useful content should usually be converted to a comment. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 19 '13 at 10:12
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There are two cases.

  • If the link is to a site that is recognized as relevant for the community (for example the Ubuntu forums on AU, or Springer on science sites), this is a run-of-the-mill non-answer. Edit the answer to indicate that the link requires registration, then flag it to have a moderator convert it to a comment or delete it outright (if you know which one applies, indicate it in a custom flag).
  • If the link is advertising for the registration-required site, flag it as spam.

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