I just corrected broken links in a post that linked to the ESRI knowledge base. Looks like ESRI updated them at some point, changing this:


To this:


First, a question. On StackOverflow, link only answers are generally deleted in the low quality posts review queue because they have no value when the link goes dead. I notice that the rules here tend to be much more relaxed, do we prefer flagging or preserving link only answers in this situation?

Second, assuming we want to preserve them, a basic search revealed 16 posts with these dead links. I'm not sure that catches them if they were properly enclosed in a markdown link, so there may be more. Shall we get started on a quick cleanup?


I've made a dataclip that should identify any remaining posts containing dead links. Currently there are 40 of them:


  • 6
    (+1). Cleanup would be good. Most of the results of your search are not link-only posts, BTW: those links tend to be used to support brief (but informative) answers. We do frown on link-only posts. Typically they get a post notice from a mod, but there's no formal mechanism to follow up on post notices. When I see old post notices with no subsequent improvement, I usually migrate the posts to comments.
    – whuber
    Jul 2, 2014 at 0:25
  • 5
    Evidently the biennial Esri "let's throw out everything and start again" event is on again Jul 2, 2014 at 3:17
  • I applaud the effort to fix these broken links, and any extra tidy ups on the same Q&As while they are open. However, I noticed Esri announce today that they are taking the Esri Discussion Forums offline July 3-6 as part of replacing its forums with an "entirely new forum experience" at the Esri UC. Consequently, I may let that bed down before deciding that our existing links are permanently broken. It will be interesting to see if the "entirely new forum experience" is based on Stack Exchange to implement ideas.arcgis.com/ideaView?id=087300000008A3BAAU.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 3, 2014 at 4:59
  • 1
    The "entirely new forum experience" is described at blogs.esri.com/esri/arcgis/2014/06/30/new-forums-are-on-the-way
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 3, 2014 at 22:20
  • Related meta question: meta.gis.stackexchange.com/questions/3561/…
    – Chris W
    Jul 4, 2014 at 19:24
  • 2
    Esri has elected to use a commercial offering from Jive. Its initial offering--Esri Community--has been operational for several months, it is being rebranded as GeoNet and merges the rest of the Esri support offerings, including the vBulletin based Discussion Forums. The old forum content and blogs are being migrated over the weekend. Remains to be seen how functional the final outcome is. Jul 5, 2014 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


If an answer is truly link only, I leave a comment explaining how that's frowned on and it's best to at least summarize the content, then I flag it. All but one time the answer has been converted to a comment (why it was disputed that one time, I have no idea).

If an answer contains links to supporting documentation that's another case, as with most of the ones you've mentioned so far. There can be a fine line between supporting and actually being the answer though. Sometimes it's just faster/more efficient to outline a process and link to a full tutorial, or name the tool to use and any special circumstances applicable to the question but still link to the help file.

There are some older posts that do still contain link only answers, and you have caught a few of them. I suppose as the site has grown strictness of enforcement may have increased as well, with the older posts not being corrected or updated. That could be a monumental task, so I applaud your efforts to update. I suppose I'll take that as a cue to be on the watch for the older ones and try to edit the answer to bring it up to current standards if possible. I run across them from time to time when searching to see if a question as a duplicate, and I wasn't sure if I should just let sleeping dogs lie.

And maybe we still aren't doing a very good job, given I just saw a new answer today that was link-only and has three upvotes...

  • Thanks, I tried to be alert for other issues but must have missed a few. My thought is if I found an old post, someone else will too. Plus there were only 16 of them to start.
    – Brad Koch
    Jul 2, 2014 at 1:08
  • @BradKoch Yes, it's a good idea to do as much as you can if doing anything. You also raise another concern - editing activity bumps the questions, and for this reason efforts like this that hit a lot of old questions at once tend to draw negative attention (in fact I was half worried about getting a robo-review warning). In this case, fixing a broken link is more justifiable than a few minor spelling corrections. Just did it myself when an older question was referenced in a newer one. It does beg the question why things older than say 6 months simply don't bump any more when changed.
    – Chris W
    Jul 2, 2014 at 1:17
  • I stopped worrying about whether editing activity might attract "a robo-review warning" long ago because it does not. I think the reason it does not is that too little editing is likely to be a threat to Q&A quality. Not sure what you mean when you say "why things older than say 6 months simply don't bump any more when changed" because I think they do. Antipathy to editing seems to result when Active rather than Newest is used to monitor new posts. Being mindful of any editing impacts is wise but should not stop our Q&As, even the old ones, being improved.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 2, 2014 at 2:37
  • @polygeo It's not the editing, it's the reviewing of 9 suggested edits in the span of a few minutes I was referring to. As for bumping: I believe they do as well, which is what I was getting at. If bumping old questions just for corrective/cleanup editing is a concern (expressed, as you note, by Active viewers), why not make it so they don't. Or give an option to bump or not. I'm sure that's an entire other question/discussion (or three) around here somewhere.
    – Chris W
    Jul 2, 2014 at 7:26
  • Editing without bumping is a can of worms: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/23241/… I think it is better to think of them as the price we pay for quality. I know that I happily pay it.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 2, 2014 at 9:57
  • @PolyGeo, editing is good specially for improving content provided in comments. The price we pay is that questions bumped for reasons of "new answer" sometimes does not stay too much on the Active page (which are not in the Newest page), and that helps to reduce even more the potential for increasing in our vote rate. Jul 2, 2014 at 12:55
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    @AndreSilva You make a point that I had previously overlooked so I'm trying to address that now at meta.stackexchange.com/questions/235102/…
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 5, 2014 at 1:00
  • @AndreSilva To get Newest Answers without any bumping issues try gis.stackexchange.com/search?tab=newest&q=is%3aanswer
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 5, 2014 at 22:08
  • @PolyGeo. In my previous comment, I was trying to emphasize the "too litle editing" effect on the majority of users, who usually does not use the advanced search options. But, tks for replying (the hint might be useful for future readers). Jul 5, 2014 at 22:58
  • 1
    @AndreSilva I strongly agree that users should be able to get at the Questions with the Newest Answers with at most a GUI click or two (and without having to access the advanced search) but my initial effort to do this on Meta SE got hammered.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 5, 2014 at 23:22

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