A couple of days ago I left an answer to a question. The question was not a good one. It was extremely broad and non specific. However, the core of it boiled down to two things: how do I use GNU/Linux, and how do I use python.

The answer I left began by reminding the new user that this style of question is a bad fit for a stackexchange site, with links to the help center advice for how to ask a good question. Then, I gave brief answers to the two questions, both of which were essentially: learn by doing, experiment with what is available to you. I gave multiple links to the user showing how their question could be answered by some simple web searches. However, I did not explicitly copy/paste information from the links. The answer I gave was then flagged for deletion as it "does not provide an answer to the question".

According to the help center, answers may be removed if they do not fundamentally answer the question. I believe that the given answer does answer the question that was asked. It seems that the consensus is that even poor questions should be given a fair answer. With all of this in mind, what are the reasons this answer was flagged for deletion?


1 Answer 1


I didn't delete your answer, but I would have done the same thing if I had seen it. Your answer wasn't answering the question. The only relevant bits were the links and links are not answers. This is the entire text of your answer (with the links removed):

This style of question is not a good fit for this site. This question is very broad and open ended. Questions that fit well are specific and show prior research.

That said, here's a couple of links about using GNU/Linux. I found these after a single web search. It boils down to this, GNU/Linux can be used for basically any task that other operating systems can be used for. Just explore your system and experiment with what you can do.

About learning Python, here's some more links. Again though, the best way to learn is to get stuck in! Do some web searches and try to do your own research. Good luck!

As you can see, without the links it gives no useful information. So if your links break, or change or in any way become inaccessible, your answer becomes useless. This is why we always want answers to be self contained. In other words "Do this" is an answer, "Go here to find the answer" is not an answer, it is an indication of where an answer can be found.

This is explained very nicely in this post on the main meta:

Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer?

  • I have read this link and the other one provided in the comments by Jeff Schaller. It seems that these links are focused on answers which give a link and a link only. In that case I agree that it is wrong as a broken link can completely invalidate an answer. In my opinion though, this answer passes the "strip the links" test. The core of it is: do experimentation and learn by doing. The links are just additional pieces illustrating how easy it is to find the relevant information, not the main answer. What is incorrect about this?
    – rlf
    Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 9:28
  • @rlf well, "learn by doing" isn't a very useful answer to "How can I learn", really. The only useful thing I see in this answer is "It boils down to this, GNU/Linux can be used for basically any task that other operating systems can be used for. Just explore your system and experiment with what you can do." and that's a comment, not an answer. Basically, the question itself was not a good fit for the site in the first place, so any answer wouldn't be a good fit either. Yours is an example of this.
    – terdon Mod
    Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 9:31

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