Recently I came across the question https://security.stackexchange.com/questions/119043/cant-update-apache-ssl-protocols-or-ciphers and I had literally just gone through that entire process by following a guide. Should I post a comment with the guide, and if I find out the guide is the catch all answer transcribe it into an answer?


This is one of the corner cases that we evaluate situationally.

When another resource is the perfect answer, and it's long and involved, posting a link is actually ok, IMO, as long as you summarize the content (and probably explain that the entire source is the answer, in order to prevent flagging).

Starting off with the link as a comment is a good start, but I would not transcribe the source if it is too long.

  • See that's the one thing that I'm still trying to figure out, when I should transcribe a link for the wayback machine Mar 30 '16 at 23:34

Technically, you probably should not post the link in the comments or as an answer.

Posting a Link as a Comment

You can see what comments should be used for here. A link answering the question is not a "clarification", "constructive criticism", or "minor or transient information".

It really is "answering the question or providing an alternate solution to an existing answer", which you technically shouldn't do in a comment.

Posting a Link as an Answer

This is definitely a no-go. We even have a delete reason for this: "This is a link-only answer".

See also here or here.

What to do?

If you just want to quickly inform the user of a possible solution, post it as a comment. It's not strictly forbidden, it doesn't really do any harm, and if someone really minds, they can still flag it.

If you want to post it as an answer, it has to be an actual answer by you (so just copy-pasting from the link would also not be ok). You could summarize the linked content, eg:

The steps to take [for your specific situation] are:

  1. [short description]
  2. [short description]
  3. [short description]

For a more in-depth description of these steps, and solutions for similar problems [problems] see [link].

Do be sure though that this actually answers the users problem and questions.

[it seems that this wasn't the case in the example you linked to; the user has pretty specific questions (where could config X be defined), a concrete answer would be more helpful than a link to a general guide (which may be posted as additional info)].

  • Posting a link to see if the source could answer the question would be fine though, because it is a form of clarification ("is this what you are talking about?").
    – schroeder Mod
    Mar 31 '16 at 18:09

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