This question Where is Gormenghast? has an interesting answer on it. The author of a (paywalled) article that supposedly answers the question has posted to say that their article answers it, but hasn't posted any part of the article, other than the name of the article and an assertion that their article contains the answer.

Where is Gormenghast?

In Peake's imagination.

In an article titled 'Burning the Globe' (Peake Studies, vol.8, #2 (April 2003), pages 12–23), I show how it is possible to situate Gormenghast on the map, but this does not mean that Peake intended his castle to reflect anything but what he imagined.

I flagged it as spam and was told

Flag Declined - The article cites a clear and verifiable source; even if not everyone has access to it, providing source is still useful information

Since the article itself is paywalled, there's no way to find out whether OP's own article does actually contain any useful information without paying for it. So why isn't this spam?

By the same token, if this isn't spam, does that mean I can start putting my answer references behind a paywall (Valorum Studies, vol.8, #2 (April 2020), pages 12–23) in order to earn some extra cash? ;-)

  • 13
    Even without a paywall that'd be a straight up link-only answer (and thus none at all). With the paywall it just adds insult to injury.
    – TARS
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 8:57
  • As I noted in my answer on the page - it's not behind a paywall anymore - it is on JSTOR for free, you just need to create an account to access all the issues for free. This previously (at the time the answer was written in 2015) was not the case though. I can see Valorum's point - other instances could occur quite easily, especially for papers covering academic analysis of a writer's works.
    – bob1
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 0:55

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure it's spam but it really seems to run up against the link-only rule

Is there even one tiny speck of information there? No. Even the title of the page being linked to would have provided something to go on, but that was entirely too much work.

So let me be clear: this sort of response is not an answer. If you see this, flag it. Moderators, if you see it flagged, delete it.

The answer they gave could be condensed down to

He imagined it. I prove that in this paper of mine.

That he stopped short of a link really doesn't change the reality that he told the OP your answer is in another castle. Take the paper part out and it just becomes a mere comment.

  • He gave the answer: it’s imaginary. The evidence isn’t included but the answer is.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 0:03
  • 9
    If he had just written "It's imaginary" we wouldn't even be having this conversation because you'd have already voted to delete it. How does this differ from the dozens of answers a week where people make wild assertions without anything at all to back it up? Or does some attempt to pretend there's a document somewhere that lays it all out really change this that much?
    – Machavity
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 0:05
  • It’s unfortunate because there is some evidence, apparently, it’s just not shared. Also answers, even assertions, should generally not be deleted. And of course in this case the answer has clearly been helpful: it’s upvotes and accepted by the OP.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 0:08
  • 3
    @TheLethalCarrot - I'm assuming OP accepted it because of its 'appeal to authority'.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 0:16
  • FWIW even if it had a link it still wouldn’t be link only which is: you will find the answer here as the answer does include the answer. The “link” in this case provides the evidence.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 0:17
  • @TheLethalCarrot: Hrm... maybe the proper approach here is to downvote rather than flagging/deleting? I mean, if I can't read the evidence, I don't think that's a particularly useful answer even if it technically does qualify as "an answer."
    – Kevin
    Commented Jun 6, 2020 at 19:43
  • @Kevin yup exactly what I was getting at
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2020 at 19:44

While I have not had the paywall situation, I have had a few cases of items I could not link to due to login requirements, and a screenshot works nicely for conveying the quoted material and showing its authenticity. Admittedly, this potentially falls prey to most modern copyright systems today having a "Fair Use" policy which has no rules, only guidelines, and way too much opportunity for copyright holders to bury the other side in lawsuits.


It’s not spam because the answerer cites their affiliation to the article. It also answers the question: that it’s in the imagination and you can put it on the map; although the latter isn’t expanded upon. It is quite a low quality answer in that no evidence is given anywhere but it is an answer.

The help page on How not to be a spammer says as much:

The community here tends to vote down overt self-promotion and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, that’s okay. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.

  • 4
    So I can start hiding answer references in paywalled articles and insisting that people give me money. Awesome.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 22:35
  • 2
    @Valorum 1 answer with a link to their own work that is actually an answer isn’t spam. Doing it a lot would be. If that user had other answers all linking to their own work the story would be different.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 22:48
  • 5
    @Valorum If you manage to set up a journal and have it become a recognised/reputed place to publish research in a particular field, I'll be impressed. Also, as you well know, abusing a site rule en masse because you don't like it ... is frowned upon.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 6:00
  • 2
    However, the help page on "How not to be a spammer" also says "Don't include links except to support what you've written. Links are not a substitute for including information in your answer itself, and links should always be directly relevant to a part of your answer". The "answer" in question violates that condition, and also doesn't actually attempt to answer the question - "you can find the answer at this link" is a comment. Commented May 12, 2020 at 16:20
  • @Chronocidal No it is an answer. The evidence is at the link. The link also supports what is written, it just fails to include any relevant quotes. It violates that condition which is actually a referencing problem not a spam one. The can be good should the quotes be included which actually happened in a new answer quoting that source.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 16:22

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