I am enjoying reviewing and editing posts and often remove the URL of a site and make it generic. However I just saw an answer posted by one of the moderators and he included the URL that was in the original question where I would have made that generic.

So, moderators...is there some sort of policy? Or is it just a matter of judgement on whether the URL is there for a bit of collateral promotion or not.

  • 2
    For a good long time, any question with a URL to the OP's website was automatically closed as being about one site or edited to make generic. Of late, it seems that URLs have remained. I am on both sides of the fence on this. While I understand the reason for not including the URL, it seems a bit frustrating to the OP to edit the URL out then ask for it again in a comment. Sometimes these URLs have really made a difference in understanding the question especially when the OP is using the wrong or misleading lingo to describe the problem. Sometimes, misunderstandings can be cleared up.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 0:44
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    Related: Example domain cleanup
    – MrWhite
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 23:13

3 Answers 3


In general URLs should be in the form of example.com, example2.com, etc. Using the real URL is not necessary so it really should be generic in the question.

If the visiting the URL is required to answer the question it should just be closed as changing the URL completely makes the question useless. Questions that require us visiting the site are not a good fit for this site as those links may die and the question is probably too specific to that site to be useful to others anyway. Basically, if you can't explain your problem without us visiting your site it is probably not a good fit for the Q&A portion of this site. But it would be great in chat.

Like everything else, there may be times where a URL is not changed. We may be so wrapped up in answering the question we forget other details. Or we may determine that in that particular case that this is something that would be worth leaving as it because for some reason it adds value to the question (I'll leave that ambiguous). But there is no actual set "rules" as to when this might happen.

But, in general, we should be removing links to an external site and using example.com.

  • I disagree. The name of the website is requested not really to go to the website but, for example, to assess its DNS configuration which is something poorly understood or explained by people posing questions. Then the reply would not be generic to that domain but would apply in the same way for any domain having the same DNS configuration. So the name is often useful to know, and I am against useless systematic obfuscation. It has its use sometimes, but not always. Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 3:48

A URL is fine if it is used as an example of where the problem occurs and is not spammy or overly self-promotonal.

Removing URLs often makes the question harder to understand. A picture is worth a thousand words. Or in many cases on this site, an example makes it clear what the question is actually talking about. Removing URLs is OK, as long as it doesn't take away from the clarity of the question. Replacing the URL with a screenshot would be appropriate in some cases.

When the question is about the structure of the URL itself, then example.com or example.net should be used as the domain name instead of a real site's domain name.

All questions should be able to apply to multiple websites. If removing the URL would make question useless, then the question should be closed.


Whether a question is site-specific or not, the biggest problem with including links to specific sites is the inherent temporal nature of the reference. If a question is related to a problem on a specific website, then presumably that problem will get fixed immediately after the question is answered. That means that once the question is answered, future visitors may be unable to understand the issue because the reference will essentially no longer exist.

Including HTML snippets is much more helpful for technical questions (when not more appropriate on Stack Overflow) and will still exist in their pre-fixed form for any future visitors will similar questions. That should also help limit the possibility of duplicates.

  • the inherent temporal nature of the reference it depends. For example in case of DNS problems you could post in your reply the DNS configuration as it happened at this time and hence it will stay in the answer which will remain relevant forever. Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 3:49

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