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Over the past few months, there have been an increasing number of questions that have some sort of introductory text like "as this other question brings up", or "now that I know the answer to this other question", or "following on from this question here".

I'm referring specifically to links to other scifi.se questions, and specifically in the question body itself as an introduction, not as a comment in the question, or by way of providing additional information.

I personally dislike this - I like questions to stand alone (with links to related material, of course), so that someone new to the site (e.g. the from-a-web-search person) doesn't have to (and/or doesn't feel that they should) step back through a series of other questions to follow what the question is about.

To me, these seem very 'forum-y' and not in line with the high-quality questions that StackExchange value (the intro part, that is - not the entire question).

Is there a consensus about this?

A few examples:

Going into detail with the one of these (randomly chosen), this is the current question text:

In light of the comments discussions for "Data being intimate with Tasha Tar - why was Data built with this capability?" involving Captain Picard and Borg Queen, a question popped into my mind:

Do Borg even have sexual reproduction?

I would prefer something along the lines of:

Do Borg have sexual reproduction?

In Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg Queen flirts with Data and asks him when the last time he was intimate (as mentioned in this question about Data's sexual functionality). While this is obviously intended to distract Data, it makes me curious whether the Borg reproduce sexually, or if the Queen is only using knowledge of other species.

i.e. while there's a link to another scifi.se question, it's not the focus of this question, and it doesn't read like an ongoing chain of questions.

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    I think this is really more of a personal preference. You're going to like it one way, others will like it another way. Is there a reason to change other than preference? I don't really see any case made for the change other than individual preference. – Tango Jan 26 '12 at 8:37
  • That's generally my question: is there a consensus that this is ok? (If so, then I don't edit these, even though I feel they would be improved; if no consensus either way I'd consider editing but be wary about it; if consensus shares my personal opinion, then I'll edit). There's nothing wrong with personal opinion - e.g. that's how we decide what's on topic and what's not. – Tony Meyer Jan 26 '12 at 8:58
  • My reasoning is that (IMO, obviously) it feels more appropriate to a "forum", where you've got ongoing discussion, rather than a Q&A site, like this one. The questions don't place the most important text at the start, and for someone arriving at the site from a search engine (the majority) they read as part of a chain of questions, intimating a need to go back to the first one. – Tony Meyer Jan 26 '12 at 9:02
  • Reading your example questions and suggested edit it almost seems (to me) that you actually have more of an issue with questions being opened with an introduction, rather than a question. – Xantec Jan 26 '12 at 15:37
  • @Xantec no, not at all (there are lots of other examples of great questions that have introductions). – Tony Meyer Jan 26 '12 at 23:16
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I think they can be quite helpful, since that provides links to other questions on the same or a similar topic. It can make research easier. They might read a question on a topic and want to follow the links because they could lead to more on the same subject.

And, after thinking about it, in most cases the question does stand alone, but is just including links that one may or may not decide to follow.

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    I agree. I found a lot of interesting ideas by following related question links -- they are far more relevant than what the system spits out on the sidebar. If it clutters the question text, perhaps we can set a guideline to add it at the bottom, labeled "Related question"? – HNL Jan 26 '12 at 8:16
  • I've expanded the question to be clearer (hopefully) about what I mean (particularly the point in the second paragraph). Links to other scifi.se questions are great, but IMO not as the introduction to a question. – Tony Meyer Jan 26 '12 at 8:35
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As someone who (ab)uses this form of linking, I fully agree with your example.

While I think the links and explanation of question origins are useful and add extra value - and therefore should in no way be prohibited - it's definitely best to try and word it in such a way that the link is NOT the main focus of the question, they way you illustrated.

I would definitely support editorial efforts to enforce this improvement on existing or any new questions, provided none of the details or meanings are lost in editing (your example was very good).

As a note: I don't think it's such a big problem that it would, for example, merit a downvote or closing, though of course I'm biased :)

  • To be clear, I wasn't suggesting down voting or closing. I just wanted to know what the consensus (if there was one) was on this before I edited them. – Tony Meyer Jan 26 '12 at 23:16
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The only problem I have with this business is that many people don't give even the slightest summary of whats on the other end of that link---then force you to read the other question to understand what they are asking.

That's just poor writing and should be fixed.

Your second example is much better: it simple reads well.

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