4

I often see this:

Q: Chat server with feature X?                             <- valid question

A: I like MyChatX3, a chat server with feature X           <- valid answer
   Also, look at http://random/list-of-chat-apps           <- worthless?

The first part of the answer is OK, but I feel that the last sentence is useless.
Linking to a web page listing tools that might be on-topic sounds counter-productive:

  • Newcomers are lead to believe that posting a link is a valid answer.
  • It reduces the meaningfulness of the votes on this post: Did people upvote MyChatX3, or one of the tools in the list?

What to do (or not) in such cases?

4

Good observation, Nicolas.

When I see that type of answer, I often wonder "What is wrong with the answer that they decided to also include a link to a list of apps?".

I then reread the answer at least one more time.

I've found that sometimes the answer is somehow lacking (does not really address all the feature requirements). In that case, I add a comment asking for more details.

Other times, I've found that the answer is great, but they are providing an additional resource in case the OP wants to see other options.

I get tempted to remove the link to the list of apps, but honestly, I sometimes find those links very useful, so I generally don't touch them. The big downside is that the links can become invalid, so the answer must always standalone as a valid answer without the link.

Regarding the meaningfulness of the votes, I understand your concern, and at the same time I personally don't find that to be an issue. I think most of the time people are voting for the software recommended, and not for the link to the list. I hope that if someone finds an equal or better solution from the linked list that they will post it as a separate answer, thereby helping our entire community.

2

I find RockPaperLizard's paragraph about "lacking answers" very true. Answers that have such links are often lacking something else. Often the answer would otherwise be a one-line answer (which usually attracts downvotes), and the author added the link as if thinking "I must write a bit more to make it (look like?) a valid answer".

I would go further than RockPaperLizard and allow people to remove such links if they are familiar with the topic and feel that the web page linked to does not add much value.

Example: For a question "Linux raster image editor", a webpage that talks about GIMP and Inkscape is not very useful, as half of the results do not fit.

I would encourage people who remove a link to open the webpage once, and add as answers the valid tools that they use and like.

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