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When found an external page that explains well and specifically the point of a question in stackexchange, which of the following options is preferable and why?

1) Making a comment to the question with a link to the external page with the answer.

2) Making an answer to the question with the contents of the external page (and of course, a reference to the source).

3) Close the question as it is a signal that there wasn't enough previous research by the original poster, as pointed out by user3856370.

I think that replicating the contents of the external site in stackexchange only creates redundancy in the internet (assuming you don't need to add any clarification or comment of your own). However, there might be good reasons to post it in stackexchange anyway.

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Maybe you don't have time to write a full answer, or maybe you know the material in the link is relevant but you aren't sufficiently confident about the subject to write your own answer. In those cases a comment with a link is useful.

A link in an answer is useful only if it is accompanied by a full self-contained answer. The link might be along the lines of "see this link for more examples of this usage"

The problem is that links can disappear, so just relying on a link as an answer is no good.

I agree that an answer which does nothing but duplicate another part of the internet is not productive, but in what situation would you need to do this? If you can easily find the answer verbatim on another site, that suggests to me that the OP did not do enough research before posting the question. If you have to look at another site to find the answer and can't add anything personal to it, are you sure that you are sufficiently equipped/confident to write an answer in the first place?

In summary, I think 1) is always useful. I think there are probably some cases where 2) is useful, but they should be rare.

  • Yes, the fact that the external site might become unavailable in the future is a good point. In my experience, I have answered questions myself I knew the answer to, but rather than writing an answer right away I previously made some research to make completely sure I was right, and then found a site where it is well explained. – jarmanso7 Sep 29 at 9:57
  • I edited my question to include a third option "close the question as it is a signal that there wasn't enough previous research by the original poster". – jarmanso7 Sep 29 at 10:01

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