I frequently see lots of questions where in response to comments requesting more info, the asker provides links to pastebins.

Usually my response to these is to go edit the question and put the pastebin info in the question itself. However on this question here, it's not the usual person who's new to stack exchange and how things work. Also in this case, one of the pastebins is a big wall of text.
So before I went and edited his/her question, I went looking for an official policy, but couldn't find one in help, or anything here on meta.

My personal opinion is to always put the info in the question. No exemptions. I've seen it happen far too often where the external link goes dead and now the question is missing critical info. Or googling for text in the pastebin turns up the pastebin rather than the question.

I have a feeling that putting the info in the question is the "right" answer, but I just want to make the decision official.

So what's the policy here? Always put info in the question? Any exemptions for walls of text?

1 Answer 1


Put it in the question, linking should be done for citation purposes only. There's a reason why walls of text (when they are code blocks) end up with scrollbars past a certain length. Though On SO I will occasionally link to a project on github after providing what I think are the relevant details, as I could be wrong.

  • Good, now I have someone to back me up when I do this :-)
    – phemmer
    Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 3:33
  • @Patrick just make sure you indent it properly as a code block Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 3:38
  • 8
    The only problem is answers have a length limit, but if you're hitting it your code sample is probably way too long anyway Commented Nov 6, 2013 at 4:02
  • @MichaelMrozek Actually, I recall hitting it once, and as I recall it was with 64-bit Linux doesn't recognize my RAM between 3 and 32 GB. I think it was a log excerpt that brought me over the question length limit, actually. No code samples there!
    – user
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 17:13
  • 1
    I understand the desire for wanting the answers to be standalone but I still think it's OK to have the OP's paste content into pastebin. Too many times the info ends of being marginally useful, I'd rather incorporate the relevant content after we've screened it.
    – slm Mod
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 8:02
  • @slm has it right - the person asking a question may not know which lines of a logfile or even config file would be relevant or useful, and for reading large blocks of text, pastebins are often easier. When the relevant bits have been identified, they should be edited into the question, to make it self-contained.
    – Gabe
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 2:00

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