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I've been adding links to the DDI Compendium in my questions and answers. However, not everyone has access to the compendium.

I find those links very helpful when discussing specific D&D4 concepts/powers/whatever. I'm no longer certain that the links are a good thing if not everyone can use them so I thought I'd bring this to the community.

My current thoughts are that we should at least include a visible reminder or hint that the link may not be usable for everyone.

What say you?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ For reference, the general stack exchange opinion on paid for links can be found on meta.stackoverflow \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Booth Dec 8 '11 at 1:00
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My vote is to keep the links in the answer as a supplemental resource, as long as you include a summary or cite the relevant bits so the question/answer stands on its own for those of us without a subscription. I'd assume that those who have a DDI subscription would appreciate the direct link. Maybe use a "... referenced-thing ([DDI]), ..." format where the "DDI" is the linked text so it's easy to see where it will take you.

The times I've really disliked an answer with DDI links has been when the meat of the answer is on the other side of the link without much explanation (and I've only seen maybe one or two of those). But I tend to feel that way about any answer that is only linking to other content without any context.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ feel free to point out any that aren't providing enough info to independently judge them. I'll do what I can to edit them back in. \$\endgroup\$ – Pat Ludwig Oct 4 '10 at 23:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ This one is the one I was thinking of, which is made moot by my answer. I think there was another one, but I can't find it. I'll let you know if I notice any others. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – yhw42 Oct 4 '10 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Cool, that question had a better complete answer already so I just left a comment. \$\endgroup\$ – Pat Ludwig Oct 5 '10 at 4:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think your point about the meat being on the other side of the link holds true for anything. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Oct 5 '10 at 12:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere, either here or perhaps in the rest of the SE universe about making sure to do more than point to the answer. I couldn't quickly locate the source last night though. \$\endgroup\$ – Pat Ludwig Oct 5 '10 at 15:10
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Being the author of the answer linked by yhw42 I just have to add something to the discussion.

Disclaimer: none of the following points are directed at yhw42 or meant as personal attacks/insults but should be rather seen as my typical cynical way of expressing my opinion.

  1. I don't think my answer was bad or insufficient. It provided exact information on how and where to find the answer to the question. It was a single mouse click away, and the thread - on a publicly accessible forum - I linked to even had almost the same title. Perhaps it's me being a programmer, but I can't see any value to redundantly repeat the same information over and over at different places if you can just link to a single instance of the data. Also, being able to use a strong pointer in the right direction to make the last step to find the answer to a question is something I expect from any halfway intelligent human being.

  2. I don't think that the purpose of this page should be to spoon-feed people who either lack the very basic skills of the modern age (e.g. using a frigging search machine) or are simply too lazy to bother with any attempt to find an answer on their own (funny fact: I found the thread I linked in my answer by using the search on WotC's forum). Providing answers to questions, yes. But spoon-feed or provide access to pay-to-use services for free? Not in my book. If someone is unable or unwilling to follow a link to a thread where the answer is literally provided in the third post, then I think all hope is lost.

I could understand the argument if I had only linked the DDI data, thus preventing any non-subscribers from making good use of the answer, but I also provided the answer to the question in free form. Therefore I cannot really see where the problem is.

Further, if we're making a fuss about links to DDI data and WotC forum threads, how are we going to handle links to any off-site information? Do we really want to quote hundreds of words just in case someone doesn't bother with checking the link? What about links to forums where you can only read the first post in a thread when you're not registered? Or forums where you need to register in order to see any links or embedded pictures or attachments? At some point we will run into issues with Fair Use when we're quoting whole articles left and right.

Also, especially with WotC I'd rather avoid quoting any stuff from DDI literally in an answer. Considering that WotC isn't really reluctant to dish out Cease and Desist orders (*cough* Ema's character sheets *cough*) I'd rather not want to get rpg.se.com in their line of fire.

Conclusion: my vote is for providing the DDI link and if possible an alternative link that is accessible to everybody (e.g. a thread in the WotC forums where the same question/problem is discussed). But I'm voting against simply copy&paste'ing material from DDI into the answer because WotC may well view that as a use of their material that is not covered by Fair Use.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ No offense taken! :). Also, I did not mean to single you out, but your post was the first I'd encountered with a DDI link where the answer I needed wasn't in the text (I admit, I'm lazy!). I did use the second link and found the answer I was looking for. \$\endgroup\$ – yhw42 Oct 8 '10 at 0:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also: I was uneasy about how much text was fair use until I asked about it. That, combined with my understanding that we want rpg.se to be where Google takes you, is my rationale for including the actual answer here vs linking. I think links for more background reading, sources of data, and further information are fine (DDI included!), but I think the answer to questions asked here should stand on their own here. \$\endgroup\$ – yhw42 Oct 8 '10 at 0:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Once link rot sets in, an answer with just pointers becomes only a tease. At that point, if the answer is the most popular, or accepted then this site looks bad IMHO. I would much prefer to have answers explicitly on this site with links out for supplemental material or sourcing purposes. \$\endgroup\$ – Pat Ludwig Oct 8 '10 at 0:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ To allay concerns about cutting-and-pasting, I think the most valuable sort of text added to a link is of the editorial, value-added sort. Sometimes there won't be much to add, but even just a quick summary of what the link contains helps enormously to give the link context. Other times editorial is necessary to make the link's relevance to the question clear. Simple cut-and-paste jobs don't seem to get the votes around here. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 8 '10 at 8:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and adding a disclaimer of intent as you did goes a long, long way to de-fanging a harsh-sounding post. Thanks. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 8 '10 at 8:22

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