From: https://gaming.stackexchange.com/a/79994/11047

The link in all likelihood won't die any more than this site will die, and even in the rare case that it does it can easily be edited and updated. Content on the internet doesn't disappear anymore, it's 2012 and archive.org is a thing. It's the best answer he's been given because it provides the overview of everything that he'll need, which the other answers have attempted valiantly but fallen incredibly short of. I won't rewrite something that's already been written by a player more experienced than myself and I won't plagiarize it or pretend that I wrote it myself. The policy here is stupid.

The concept that I should take an answer that goes into excruciating detail and somehow summarize it effectively is ludicrous. If it could be summarized effectively, the content that I'm linking to would never have needed to be written. The best summary I can give is "you should read this entire thing because it covers exactly what is needed."

The argument that the link might die also fails to account for the tools that so many of us have to counteract such measures by editing answers.

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    I think if you had explained the contents of what the link covered rather than just linking it, it would have prevented this from happening in this instance. The page you linked is indeed very comprehensive, but dead links aside, your post looked more like an advert than an answer IMO.
    – user27134
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 11:55
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    @pixel I direct people to quality content. Sometimes that person is me, sometimes it has already been produced elsewhere and I'm well-versed enough to be aware of it. That is hands down the most complete Dota2 newbie guide written to date written by a pretty well known caster and the majority of people familiar with the game would agree to that. For the suspicion of some some of conspiracy for traffic in chat, that I just find funny. ANY new player with a similar question coming to our site would want to be directed to it. Downvoting my answer because I didn't summarize 'properly' is telling.
    – Decency
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 16:00
  • It is a valuable answer, dress it up a bit so that it's more obvious what you're clicking on.
    – user27134
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 18:15
  • For what it is worth I agree with @Decency. If an answer can be summarized easily, then do it. Otherwise don't and just link to another source. It "might" only be worth a comment, but it is the fault of the SE architecture that you get more points for real answers. Why should he give up on those points? You might rage about this statement, but life is all about reputation and power and on this particular site reputation == power!!! My comment might be pointless as the community is against "just linking" but I wanted to express my opinion.
    – ayckoster
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 10:48

3 Answers 3


There's a time to post an answer, and there's a time to post a link, I agree.

Where you failed, was in providing context for your link. Rather than just saying read the whole thing, you might have written an answer that read something like this:

'Welcome to DOTA, You Suck' is probably the best guide out there on this subject. It's incredibly thorough and in depth, and summarizing it in a pithy answer here is well beyond what I'm able to do without just straight up plagiarism. It covers everything, from recommended starter Heroes, to item builds, hotkeys, and even the structure of the game. Really though, the most important advice at all, comes right at the start:

You are going to feed. You are going to ruin games, and someone is going to be happy to tell you why. As far as I’m concerned, Warcraft3 customs has the most bad mannered, whining, assholes on the gaming internet. The only thing that comes close is Xbox Live. Luckily, with Dota 2, Valve has been making some really great strides to create a better environment for all players involved, which I strongly support, but the point still stands.
You are going to have to have thick skin to play DotA. To get around this major barrier of entry, PLAY AGAINST THE AI's. The AI’s will not rage at you, they won’t care if you feed. They will teach you the heroes by destroying you with them, and no one has to know.

Once you've read that, I'd suggest playing a bunch of games, and asking more specific questions here. It's the best way to learn.

  • You basically wrote a sales pitch for the guide, not anything actually meaningful. I don't feel that's much different than what I did, it's just longer. If a person is the kind of person that cares about getting quality information they're going to read the guide from just what I wrote, especially if it was highly upvoted (which it would have been had any sizable number of users on this site been competent Dota2 players). If they're not that kind of person, it's not my job to convince them that I'm somehow more reliable than other people posting information, that's the job of the community.
    – Decency
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 12:00
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    @Decency He's explained what to expect behind the link, called out what he feels is the main takeaway from the post (while providing Googleable quotes, which as you remarked is a good thing but tricky to do so without abusing fair use) and explained that those super-broad questions actually don't belong on this site to begin with. This is in my eyes a very nice answer.
    – badp
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 12:13

The real problem here is the question you're answering is pathological. You can't summarize the guide in your answer because that is a question that cannot be answered in the first place.

We're not here to replace GameFAQs or game-specific wikis. We don't expect every answer to be the fullest definitive guide about any specific mechanic. What we focus on is sharing fun-sized bits of practically-valuable knowledge.

This is not the place to request people to write The Absolute Disaster's Guide To Everything Dota. I understand that at the start that's exactly what you need and asking more specific questions can be challenging, but we can't be everything to everybody.

If you don't feel you can extract little enough information from what you're linking to from to make a reasonably sized answer with a link on top — that's probably telling something about the question, not the don't-just-link policy.


The problem with answers that consist solely of a link is that we can't do anything via editing if and when the link dies: there's no context behind the link, nothing to search by, and nothing to replace it with.

The only thing that can be done is to just straight up delete the answer, which is not something easily done without moderator intervention. So in many cases, a link-only answer to a resource that's gone just sits there, taking up space and being unhelpful.

It's the protection against that scenario that the requirement of at least summarizing what the link is about exists. It's okay if the guide goes into a lot more detail, and it's okay if the answer doesn't completely obviate the need to look at the guide, but we need an artifact here that we know will last for as long as the question and answer exist.

Alternatively, if you don't think the external resource can be summarized (or it's something you don't want to do for whatever reason), it's perfectly fine to leave the link as a comment: links to related resources and guides are exactly the types of things comments are around for. Comments are designed to be ephemeral, so protection against link rot is a non-issue with them.

Another thing to consider is whether a question that can only be answered by an external guide is something that belongs here in the first place. In the FAQ, there's this line:

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

If you find there's no way to answer the question without reading an in-depth guide on something, it's probably not something that's within our scope. In that case, please vote to close the question instead.1 You can always leave a link to the guide in the comments.

Note 1: to wit, the question... in question already has 4 close votes.

  • Are you familiar with archive.org? Virtually any information that has been online somewhere can be recovered just from a link.
    – Decency
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 5:42
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    "we need an artifact here that we know will last for as long as the question and answer exist." Why? If the answer ceases to be useful, delete it and bump the question to get a new answer. You guys act like every member of this site is going to die overnight and we're going to be judged based on how clean the Q&A site is at that moment in time.
    – Decency
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 5:44
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    @Decency I have heard of archive.org: unfortunately it doesn't work the way you're describing. Most things never get archived through it, as it only automatically archives a very small portion of the visible web (requiring people to manually request archiving otherwise). Even if it did work for all links, you didn't link to a copy on archive.org.
    – user3389
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 5:49
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    @Decency As was explained in the original comments on your answer, "just delete it" is an action requiring moderator attention, and is something that we try to avoid - it is honestly not fair to shift the burden of effort from yourself to a moderator just because you don't want to summarize an article. Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 5:49
  • @RilgonArcsinh Anything I could possibly write as a summary on that link would be entirely superfluous and not only a waste of my time but a waste of the time of everyone who read it.
    – Decency
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 5:51
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    @Decency And that is why both the original question and your answer are not a very good fit for the Q/A style of Stack Exchange/Arqade - there's too much subjectivity and entirely too broad a scope. Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 5:53
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    @MarkTrapp What if I then instead include a quote from the linked content? For example, you can google "None of those heroes are bad necessarily, but they take a little getting used to." and find dozens of results with the full content of the guide. That might be a better policy to ensure active links.
    – Decency
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 5:54
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    @Decency Excerpting the guide is totally kosher: you don't want to quote too much, but a quotation capturing what the link is about is as good as paraphrasing or summarizing in your own words: I'm sorry that wasn't made clearer in the comments. :/
    – user3389
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 5:58
  • @RilgonArcsinh That's a cop-out. It's a relevant question, it's not very subjective at all since you can find dozens of similar guides that corroborate the points, and while it is broad it is also easily answered with a linked guide. Answers to broad questions are precisely the most valuable thing a Q&A site could offer. Look at the most viewed questions on the site: the majority of them are also broad and that's because wikis are far more effective for questions which have discrete answers.
    – Decency
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 6:00
  • @MarkTrapp I'm not talking about using an excerpt as a summary, I'm talking about using it as a way to ensure that if the link does die and is for some reason not retrievable through other means, you can just google a quote from the link that was left in the answer and in all likelihood find the exact content hosted elsewhere.
    – Decency
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 6:02
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    @Decency So a random quotation that isn't relevant to directly answering the question? I'm sorry: that's not what we do here. I guess I'm confused by your approach: I can understand wanting to expose someone to a guide, and I can understand not wanting to summarize something for fear of not doing it justice, but I'm having trouble understanding why you wouldn't just leave it as a comment. The answer section is for, well, direct answers to the question: they can depend on external resources, but they should contain an answer. If you don't want to do that, that's what comments are for.
    – user3389
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 6:09
  • I could easily leave it as a comment, but it's not a comment, it's the most definitive answer I'm aware of. I don't care about internet points, I care about helping people learn and the best way to do that is to make the most pertinent information the most prominent.
    – Decency
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 6:12
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    @Decency The best way to do that is to leave link-only "answers" as comments: they're not subject to voting or any of the more-stringent requirements needed for answers. The way I like to view it is that comments are for bringing the internet's value to content here, answers are for adding value back to the internet with content we've created, whether that's through original research or summarizing/consolidating difficult-to-parse or disparate content. Link-only posts fit into the former category, not the latter.
    – user3389
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 6:24
  • Well, I like to view it in the sense that comments are for comments and answers are for answers.
    – Decency
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 6:36
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    @Decency In this situation your "answer" is a comment. If you can point to me anything in your "answer" that answers the question, I'll change my point of view. Right now though, it's a comment "Oh hey, you should read this, it might help you [link]"
    – Mr Smooth
    Commented Aug 9, 2012 at 9:28

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