As discussed on Meta Stack Exchange there are problems with link only answers. This Meta Computer Graphics post suggests our particular community would prefer not to have link only answers. However, having established that they are not good, there are a number of different ways of responding to them. Today we have had another example of a link only answer that the poster is reluctant to change:

See the paper Computer Modelling of Fallen Snow published in SIGGRAPH 2000.

See also what seems to be its project page.

An older paper is Simulating Dust Accumulation.

What is the best way to respond to answers like these?


2 Answers 2


In my opinion we should discourage link only answers, too.

Links to external resources are great to provide extra information to the question, e.g. like further reading material, but even if all links are broken in an answer, it should still be a helpful answer. So at least the most relevant information from behind the links should be included in the answer itself.

The information in the answer make it an answer, not the information that can be found behind a link.

I would probably cast a down vote and post a comment along the lines of

Welcome to Computer Graphics StackExchange. The links in your answer look promising, but as links tend to break over time, we discourage link-only answers. To improve your answer, consider adding the relevant information directly into your answer. Also see How do I write a good answer?.

Depending on the other answers I'd also flag it as Not an answer, either immediately or some time later to give the user a chance to improve the post. If the post is not improved, I suggest to convert the answer to a comment.


I'm the one who posted that answer.

While I do agree that there are problems with link-only answers, which I mostly avoid in other stackexchange sites, in the case of Computer Graphics answers are rarely short enough to be given in full. In contrast, answers in Stackoverflow or Mathematics can frequently be given in full.

In the case of the answer in question, I added the abstracts of the papers I mentioned, because I did not expect to be able to summarize the papers better than the authors. I've also cited the journal and year. This should make it easy to find the paper in case the links die.

As other have discussed, adding images does not necessarily make something into an answer.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The abstracts cover it nicely. In this case the abstract seems the best summary since the entire paper is relevant to the question. I'd only want to see a tailored summary if it was a question for which only a specific part of the paper was relevant, in which case I'd mention the location within the paper and a summary of that bit rather than the whole paper. $\endgroup$ Aug 18, 2015 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ @trichoplax, thanks for nudging me into improving that answer. $\endgroup$
    – lhf
    Aug 18, 2015 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for doing so, and for highlighting the difference with other sites. I'm hoping it will get easier to point things out as we gradually build up more established guidance on meta on how our particular site works. $\endgroup$ Aug 18, 2015 at 18:36

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