This answer consists solely of the abstract copied and pasted from the paper that is linked in the comment beneath it. The paper is behind a paywall and the abstract seems to hint at the existence of an answer, rather than answering this specific question.

Is this sufficient to be a valid answer? Do we want to see answers like this?

This came up in the review queue as a candidate for deletion, but I wasn't certain if that is the right thing to do, so I'm raising it for discussion instead.


2 Answers 2


In my opinion no, they shouldn't be allowed as an answer, especially if not placed as quote.

I would be more lenient towards answers that are mostly composed by abstracts (properly formatted in the answer so it is clear that is a quote) e.g.

"An interesting approach is given by [MickeyMouse et al. 2042] "

Abstract here

While [DonaldDuck et al. 1993] proposed this other approach

Another abstract

I would not upvote such question, but I think it is acceptable.

A basic copypaste like the example you have given should not be allowed IMO.

  • $\begingroup$ Yep. A cited source, being a paper abstract, some other excerpt from papers, websites, other sources and links to them should not be the whole answer. But it can be used in an answer, together with an explanation and giving credit to the original author. $\endgroup$
    – Nero
    Sep 1, 2015 at 15:58

If I just want to link to a paper, blog post, presentation etc. that I think might be relevant, I post it as a comment, not as an answer. Although pointing people to external resources can be helpful, that in itself is not an answer.

A good answer can certainly refer to external links, but it should at least offer a paragraph or two of explanation in the answerer's own words of the technique and why/how it's applicable to the specific question being asked. This isn't just about ensuring that the answer remains useful even if the link evaporates (although that is important); it's also a way to demonstrate that the answerer has actually thought about it and not just typed some keywords into Google. A good example is John Calsbeek's answer on spherical noise.

A good answer can also be a "literature survey" that has several links, covering a range of different possible techniques or algorithms. In this case the answerer can't explain everything in detail as the answer would be huge, but they should still try to put things in context and compare/contrast the different approaches, so the reader can understand how all the links relate to each other, and make decisions what to investigate further. Krzysztof Narkowicz's answer on LOD techniques is a great example of this.

The answer referred to in this question doesn't provide any of the answerer's own expertise and moreover does not even clearly cite the pasted text as being from somewhere else. The link to the actual paper only appears in a comment! It is simply lazy, one step above outright plagiarism, and should be deleted. I have voted to do so.


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