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From time to time, when I go through the "Low quality posts" review queue, I come across link-only answers that has accumulated multiple "Recommend Deletion" votes.

An example from today is the answer from Cypher to this one: theme_key does not switch theme when URL user/<uid>/edit is called

While the answer was indeed link-only when it entered the queue (I've tried to remedy that), the original answer was not completely worthless. As it stood, it would help future visitors solve the problem unless the link had died.

This is what the help center has to say on the subject:

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.

If you think that a downright quote will be a copyright violation, consider summarising or paraphrasing instead. Facts can't be copyrighted (only the way they're presented are), so summarising or paraphrasing a factual statement will never be a copyright violation.

It usually just takes a few seconds of copy-pasting from the source to transform a link-only answer from one that will become useless when the link goes dead, to one whose usefulness no longer shall depend on the link working.

Please do not just vote to delete these. Take the time to salvage them instead.

  • Note that some sources are copyrighted and not under free licence, so copy-pasting essential part might not be legal. Especially citing the part sufficient to avoid reading source material does not fall under fair use law. And citing any less leaves answer useless. In example you posted quote was OK, as licences are (as far as I know) compatible enough. But often they aren't. – Mołot Apr 18 '14 at 10:50
  • No quotation that allows to skip reading source material falls under fair use. At least not in USA: example. Well, it's even older: A 1985 Supreme Court ruling on a non-Internet copyright dispute found that small excerpts can constitute infringement if they represent the heart of the work. – Mołot Apr 18 '14 at 11:22
  • In the last few days I flagged posts linking to github (licence can vary) and drupaltwig.net for example - "often" is relative term. I agree that for you couple a week may not be often. Or you might simply miss these in your queue. But from my point of view it is often. – Mołot Apr 18 '14 at 11:31
  • drupal.stackexchange.com/search?q=drupaltwig.net (don't have a fast way to tell which one I flagged, exactly) - as you can see on drupaltwig.net itself, its not copyleft, it's usual "Copyright © 2014, drupaltwig.net" general note, and that means fair use can't be applied to quote the heart of the post. And the heart of the post is what we need to quote to make answer better than "link only". (Note, if the one I actually flagged was deleted, you will not be able to see it even if I'll find a direct link. Not yet. Sorry) – Mołot Apr 18 '14 at 11:43
  • @Mołot. All five of the answers that your search turn up look pretty spammy to me. They're all posted by the same user, who just happens to be a big fan of drupaltwig.net (all his answers is just a link to that site), IMHO, the material plugged is of poor quality and not always relevant to the question. If I'd seen these in my queue, I would not have attempted to salvage. – Free Radical Apr 18 '14 at 11:56
  • There is a bit more than 6 if you'll count deleted ones, I'm afraid, because as far as I can recall the one I flagged was related - just unsalvageable due to copyright. Or is it just my wishful thinking? Anyway, often or not (as mileage can vary), it happens and people should be aware and careful, especially if link is not to *.drupal.org or Stack Exchange network. – Mołot Apr 18 '14 at 11:59
  • @Mołot, I'd say these five are unsalvageable due to the poor quality of the source, not due to copyright. I've yet to see an example of a link-only answer that is unsalveable due to copyright. – Free Radical Apr 18 '14 at 12:04
  • Both, to be honest, but quality of source is not exactly what we are discussing ;) – Mołot Apr 18 '14 at 12:07
  • @Mołot, I think your objection would be better placed if it addressed the text currently used in the help center, where it now says: "Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the target site is unreachable or goes permanently offline". It appears that you don't like the sentence starting with "Always quote ..." and want it replaced with a sentence starting with: "In the rare instances where it is possible to do this without violating the terms of copyright at the source, quote ..." . Fair enough, but perhaps you should make this a separate feature request? – Free Radical Apr 18 '14 at 12:15
  • Is it better to edit the answer or post a new one, in this case? If I am not mistaken, karma is not given to the editor but to the original (lazy) poster.. – donquixote Apr 21 '14 at 10:40
  • It is correct that editors don't earn experience points ("karma"). However, the hard part is not the copy-paste part, but to know the link that actually points to useful information. Based on that, I'd say edit (so that the person that posted the link get the points). But I am not a fanatic about this. If the majority of the community say it is better to post a new one, that will be OK with me as well. – Free Radical Apr 21 '14 at 12:16

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