So we all know that links to a solution are lame. Links go away, so proper answers should summarize their content to future visitors.

Today, I stumbled on this, which asks the same question as here.

Except the second question about creating tables only includes some screen shots and a link to a plugin. There's no real content about how to solve the problem otherwise the first question would be unnecessary.

I love that there are ready made solutions to a lot of the questions people ask about, but should we be trying to do better than "Oh hai, here's a plugin that solves your problem. Give me all the upvotes."

I'm not above giving plugin recommendations as answers. But I see a lot of one liners.

Thoughts?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

In many cases, the right answer is to use a plugin. The code behind building out that plugin's functionality is complex enough that reproducing all, or even part of it, is unfeasible in this space.

Do I support just leaving a link to a plugin as an answer? No.

Do I support leaving a link to a plugin, a description of what it does, and possibly some screenshots/examples that show how it works? Yes.

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Do I support leaving a link to a plugin, a description of what it does, and possibly some screenshots/examples that show how it works? Yes.

- EAMann on the other answer

Imho it's not enough to leave …

  • a link to a plugin (copy paste URL)
  • a description of what it does (copy paste description)
  • a screenshot (copy paste img URL)
  • show how it work (FAQ of the repo, description, etc. copypasta)

That just doubles the information, that is already available on the repo itself. The reason why we don't want one-liners isn't that it [all the stuff in the list above] saves one click to the user. It's that it doesn't help in the case when the original source is gone.

I personally expect plugin recommendations to also paste the relevant code from the plugin. Copypasta isn't something that should be a problem to us in a case, where we're saving the source part that solves the question/OPs needs. Point is that we want answers for all people visiting WPSE. And as we are already a valuable source, we should also try to satisfy the needs of developers. Else we'll have several questions solving the same problem with different (like) plugins, but no source that show us how it is actually done.

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I am against using [a lot of] code from elsewhere in most cases. It's not necessarily relevant, makes answer harder to maintain in long term, contributes to licensing mess, etc. –  Rarst Oct 7 '12 at 19:51
    
Some of us budding developers who are power plugin-users can certainly provide our own descriptions of how these plugins are useful, but wouldn't necessarily want to or know how to go mucking around in the code to paste the "relevant snippet." –  Liana Mir Oct 7 '12 at 20:59
    
@LianaMir Thanks for your comment. But honestly: I wouldn't consider calling someone a "developer", who can't digg into code. But that's not my problem (aside from that I can google a plugin myself without the help of WPSE). The problem is: What happens when the plugin gets deleted? –  kaiser Oct 7 '12 at 21:12
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Not developer. Budding developer. I'm learning as fast as I can, but fact is, my answers concerning plugin usage may be helpful, but I don't dig into the plugin's code to tell anyone why. I USE the plugin and tell them why. –  Liana Mir Oct 7 '12 at 23:12
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@LianaMir - I think that depends on the complexity of the Question. I like when I have to dig into a plugin or the Core to find that little snippet or hook that answers an specific problem. But when the solution is to use a complete plugin, yes, I agree that our own description of its usage is valuable info. –  brasofilo Oct 23 '12 at 18:05

I think the most important element of adequate "use this plugin" answer is - how this particular plugin addresses this particular question. Rest is either irrelevant or would duplicate info from plugin and its resources whatever they are.

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Given the potential malware that can be embedded into a plugin, I would expect more than just a link... as with other answers I want to know the what and how - but not necessarily the full code (if I get bored I can always look at the source code myself)

So I would want a detailed explaination as to how that particular plugin addresses the issue in the question.

But most importantly, I'd be cautious of just downloading any old plugin, especially if not on the "official" WP site(s)

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