Taken from this question.

Is @BlaXpirit's answer too vague? I understand that he didn't explain what was going on in the videos, but merely linking them and saying "Watch them, you'll get your answer that way."

Are we supposed to support our videos with text? Or are we supposed to simply place videos into answers without explanations?

  • 1
    Most of the time, I would say yes, support your video link with text, but there's so much information in that first video, and it's so well presented, that it'd be an injustice to try and summarize it.
    – MBraedley
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 22:32
  • So, if the video explains it well enough, is it a good enough excuse to not add text to an answer?
    – childe
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 22:37
  • 3
    Does BlaXpirit's answer stand on its own without the videos? No, it doesn't. Could he have done more to add some explanation? Yes. Can someone write a suitable answer without using a video? Probably, but can it also be done without pictures? Probably not. You didn't succeed, as indicated by the vote counts (although you didn't really answer the question to begin with). The use of video is almost a necessity here, so take that into consideration.
    – MBraedley
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 22:58
  • It's not about my question. I know my question didn't succeed (question title was unclear), but it's not like this a is a personal feud or something.
    – childe
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 23:07
  • I didn't mean to imply that. It's more that one person (anyone really) has tried and failed at providing a text only answer, whereas someone who linked a video succeeded. As the only other answer on the question, it makes for an easy point of comparison.
    – MBraedley
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 23:15
  • What do you really mean by "frown upon"? Do you mean, "will moderators delete it as not an answer", or just "will people tend to downvote it?"
    – Sterno
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 0:01
  • FYI you linked the wrong answer. Should be gaming.stackexchange.com/a/90376/1298 Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 12:32

2 Answers 2


Just like link-only answers, the answer should be able to stand on its own feet even if the video becomes deleted/private/unavailable in your region/gets taken down or if youtube embedding doesn't work.

  • 11
    In general I agree, but sometimes it's not easy to summarize a complete video, and I don't think that's a reason not to post it... though in these cases, at least provide a brief description of it.
    – Oak
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 22:48
  • @Oak That's a reasonable objection.
    – badp
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 22:49
  • 4
    "Brief description, at minimum" is a good guideline, I think. Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 22:56
  • 15
    @Decency No, the consensus is that all answers should be answers, not links to things that are answers. We're a Q&A site, not a search engine, so if you can't find the solution to your problem somewhere in an answer post then it's not actually an answer. Links for references and further detail are awesome but they are not answers. Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 18:59
  • 1
    @MatthewRead I understand the policy, I just don't think it makes much sense when dealing with anything beyond a simple code snippet from documentation or a line of text from a wiki. When you have questions that involve huge depth and nuance, your options are essentially to not allow the questions (and many of the best questions on the site are of this type), or to allow answers that are almost entirely useless without the content in their links. The in-between pretense that two sentences can accurate summarize an essay or video is ludicrous.
    – Decency
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 19:23
  • 5
    @Decency Some answers require more than two sentences, sure. I agree that an inadequate summary is not sufficient, but I don't think that's what is being promoted here. I've written 1000+ word answers (on Android at least) that are basically just summaries of other content. Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 20:02
  • 1
    @Decency "Go look here" is one step away from "Let me Google that for you". I don't like it and I prefer having a complete resource here, personally. Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 20:19
  • 9
    @Decency I agree that there's a big difference between crafting answers and rephrasing "content". Honestly, however, the Stack Exchange is at least supposed to be an answer crafting community and just linking to other sites isn't "content creation." In other words, you shouldn't take the easy way out and get reputation for what others have written. (Also, yes, questions that require books for answers should be closed.)
    – badp
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 20:52
  • 3
    @Decency If the video is complex enough to resist summarising, then the answer should at least give some hint as to what the answer was about should the video disappear. "Here is a video that answers your question: [dead link]" is a bad answer. "Here is a video that demonstrates how to use pistons to build a complex long-tick clock, instead of using repeaters like you were thinking of doing: [dead link]" is a much, much better answer. It gives future readers some leads to work with even if the link rots. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 17:58
  • 5
    @Decency I have. The "this video is no longer available" thing happens more when you live outside the US. Even more frequent is the "this video is not available on your device". It's a rather relevant argument for me. :) And editing the answer to update a dead link is dependent on a number of factors: Is the original answerer still around to fix it? If not, does anyone remember what the answer was? If yes, does any proper replacement exist? That's too many ways the answer can break. Having at least an insufficient summary means that we don't rely on memory or the original answerer to fix it. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 18:13
  • 3
    @Decency That's assuming that the answer is correct, which is not always the case: It is also better for evaluating whether I want to use my precious time watching a (e.g.) 20 minute video that might actually not adequately answer the question. A summary is like a title: it gives some hints about whether what follows is useful or trash. We can't make policy by assuming that users are perfect – we must make policy that is robust against incompetence. That is the whole point of the structure of the site. Summaries are a fail-safe in many ways. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 18:42
  • 1
    @Decency Part of the "links may go dead" policy is also intended to prevent people from - say - posting answers to questions on their own off-site blog and then ad.fly'ing the hell out of us ("This site has the answer!"). We've already have had people shamelessly "enriching" our blog with own outside links for the ad revenue.
    – badp
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 19:25
  • 7
    @Decency If upvotes were all we needed, then we wouldn't need any policies, mods, deletion, flags, editing capabilities, or anything else. Votes are not the universal solvent, and the site is not designed to treat them that way. That way lies Yahoo Answers. You don't want us to be Yahoo Answers, do you? :) Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 3:22
  • 2
    @Decency Aaaand the circle begins. I choose not to complete it. The matter appears to be resolved, continued jawing notwithstanding. If you'd like to know why, there is lots to re-read. Good day! Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 3:39
  • 3
    ...and they'll be forums for discussion, not Q&A sites. I really don't see how Discourse relates to the question. Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 21:58
  1. Yes, we are supposed to support our videos with text, in as much that the text alone answers the question.
  2. No, we are not supposed to simply place videos into answers without explanations.

From How do I write a good answer?:

Links to external resources are encouraged, but please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there. Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the target site is unreachable or goes permanently offline.

Unfortunately, being able to embed videos, makes people consider them "part" of SE.

Nevertheless, just like with link-only answers, video-only "answers" should be converted to comments below the question (so that they are not answers any more):

If the author does not improve the answer and if no other user goes ahead and edits the post, it should be converted to a comment. It still might contain valuable information, but a link alone is not an answer by SE standards.

  • Do you mean you should explain the answer in text?
    – user106385
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 0:19
  • so.. you still havnt corrected the issue I see. Comments are these little footnotes at the bottom of the question. A video, with the author explaining it in the comment section, is still not an acceptable answer. Likewise, if extra information is provided in the comments, it should be edited into the actual question/answer.
    – user106385
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 7:01
  • A video only answer could be deleted, but in effect, it should never really be. If it really comes down to it, add the text version yourself. If it involves a lot of effort, by all means. Take that users video, watch it, and post the text version as your own answer. Think of it this way, comments are used for clarification. If a user comes on looking for an answer, we would hope that recieve the information they are after, without having to read through all the comments. Furthermore, comments can be condensed. If there are too many, you have to click an "expand" tab to view them.
    – user106385
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 7:48

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