Lately, I've been running into answers by low rep users that either consist of "this video answers the question" and don't actually detail what the video shows, or post a video that has no bearing on the answer whatsoever.

The vast majority of these users do not continue to use the site beyond adding their very poor answers, which leads me to believe their goal is only to drive traffic to their videos.

My question is how should we handle this? Should their videos be allowed? Should we edit them out?

  • 6
    How is this fundamentally different than "answer is just a link to a blog" or "answer is just a link to an article"? Why limit this discussion to youtube?
    – Oak
    Jun 14, 2012 at 15:26
  • 2
    @Oak Because new users cannot otherwise post images. I'm thinking about the Youtube embed feature - mind you - and that's not what happens in the examples fbueckert made. The feature's still enabled for them as you can see here (10k only).
    – badp
    Jun 14, 2012 at 15:27
  • 1
    – badp
    Jun 14, 2012 at 15:48
  • 4
    @Oak I find videos to be a barrier to moderation, I usually would not check if they actually contain what they claim to contain, as watching a video can be very time-consuming. A link to an article is far quicker to verify and extract a quote to edit into the answer. Jun 14, 2012 at 16:57
  • @QAdp right, so the issue is not youtube links, as youtube embedding?
    – Oak
    Jun 14, 2012 at 17:15
  • I'm sorry about the joke answer I posted this morning. I figured the question was going to be closed anyways. But I'm sincerely sorry.
    – Atav32
    Jun 14, 2012 at 20:46
  • @BBz Actually, this has nothing to do with your answer; this is a trend I've been noticing.
    – Frank
    Jun 14, 2012 at 20:51
  • 3
    Why not just restrict linking/embedding based on reputation like several other features on the site?
    – user27134
    Jun 17, 2012 at 0:17
  • 3
    I also highly dislike videos where text would works fine. Super-annoying if someone mentions a nice D3 build and then expects people to look at his video instead of just linking to the build editor or posting the skills in it... Jun 18, 2012 at 11:13
  • I wouldn't remove the functionality, just because it can be used for evil. Sometimes a video is annoying, but sometimes it is the best way to answer a question. You can always downvote answers you don't like. If an answer is truly just spam, or a non-answer flag it for deletion. When I link a video from YouTube, I set the link to the exact time I want the user to see. People still gripe about having to watch it, but then I get plenty of "prove it" gripes to, in which case text is sometimes not sufficient.
    – EBongo
    Jun 24, 2012 at 4:46
  • Related: What should we do with answers containing only a link to relevant information?. Interestingly, the most popular answer there was "convert it to a comment", whereas the most popular answer here (not that any are terribly popular) is "downvote it".
    – Sterno
    Jul 1, 2012 at 0:59

3 Answers 3


The chief problem I see with video-only answers is problems for moderators. Viewing a video and checking its contents can be very time-consuming, and ultimately all it ensures is that the video actually contains an answer.

It is not, however, a metric of whether or not the answer itself is bad.

An answer that contains nothing but a video, just like a link-only answer, or an answer that contains only a link and very little explanation, is of low-quality, but still could be an answer in itself.

If it is not an answer, it should be treated as such - flagged or deleted. Flags will help moderators weed out which of these low-quality video answers are non-answers or too low-quality to be answers in themselves.

Realistically, video linking should be more restricted than any other type of linking because of this burden, but until it becomes so, we should treat answers with a video link as we would any other answer. That is to say, a good answer is still good, and a bad answer is still bad, regardless of whether or not a video is attached.

  • 2
    The point being made is not so much "Videos are bad", but "Videos by themselves with no summary/explanation are bad". IMO a video-only answer always deserves the 'low-quality' flag for failing to explain and summarise the content presented in the video. If the video and resulting summary doesn't answer the question, then it should get the NAA flag
    – Robotnik Mod
    Feb 18, 2014 at 23:33
  • Agreed, and though it makes it more difficult to identify NAA or Severe Low-Quality answers that way, it is what we should encourage. Downvote, and if you truly care about the quality of the answer, leave a comment suggesting that they explain the process in their answer, or at least add a video description.
    – Zibbobz
    Feb 19, 2014 at 14:12

On StackOverflow if I see a link-only answer then I

  • Follow the link to check and see if it actually answers the question
  • If it does then I edit the post to summarise the content in the answer (what the original poster should have done).

As an example take a look at this answer where the poster made a very poor attempt at summarising the content of the link - a little copy-paste and some basic filler paragraphs later and its the accepted answer with 2 upvotes.

If the link is of poor quality or doesn't answer the question then I flag as "Not an answer" and vote to delete the answer (or downvote if its abysmally poor).

In my mind video-only answers are much the same as link-only answers - in order for the answer to be as good as it can be the answer needs to contain a short summary of the content, this really means that the options are

  • If the video is relevant but the answer doesn't contain a summary, then add one
  • If the video is of poor quality or not relevant and the post has no other content then flag it as "Not an answer"

The only extra case is if the video really isn't relvant, however the rest of the answer is in which case either edit the video out completely or edit it to be a link to the video instead of an embedded video.


The only inherent problem I see with video-only answers is that they are very similar to link-only only answers, which we don't permit here. However, I believe that videos can sometimes answer a question much better than any text answer can, and this applies to video-only answers as well. Due to this I think the benefits of video-only answers outweighs the negative, and no special steps need to be taken to prevent them from newer users that aren't already implemented.

There are three situations where I think action, outside of down voting, needs to be taken on these answers:

  • Link Rot: If the answer just consisted of a video, and that video is no longer hosted then I think the video should be deleted because it's now useless.
  • Not an Answer / SPAM: Videos like this should obviously be deleted, but this is no different than our current rules for dealing with non-answers.
  • Long Videos with a Buried Answer: One thing that really bugs me is when a user links a video and just says "the answer is here", but doesn't link to or mention a relevant time stamp. In these situations I think a down vote + comment asking the user to post the relevant time stamp is required, and then if they don't update their answer within a short time (say 24 hours?) the answer is deleted.

In all other situations I think voting appropriately is the correct course of action.

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