# Posts where each letter is a link January 2, 2010 12:19 AM   Subscribe

Do users still post in the blue with words where each letter is a different link?

I've been a lurker here for a several years, and only in the last few months really I have tried to really be a part of this community that I really love. I would like to post something special someday to the blue but while I try to overcome my online "shyness", I've noticed that posts more recently on the blue don't tend to have words where each letter is a link. Has the community as a whole decided that such posts constitute too many links? Or is just too time consuming to read or post all those links?

Here is a really old example of what I'm talking about, but I know there have been more examples in more recent years.
posted by dealing away to Etiquette/Policy at 12:19 AM (65 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I thought everyone stopped doing that because I don't like it.

PS, if you've got something interesting, jump right into the blue. Worst case, you get spanked in MetaTalk. Conveniently, you're already here!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:25 AM on January 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think the consensus is that linkifying each letter of a word is not a constructive way to frame the links in a post, most of the time. Although as a stylistic choice I suppose it's occasionally okay.
posted by killdevil at 12:27 AM on January 2, 2010

But yeah, if you have something to post, by all means post it and see how things go. Tis better to contribute and be GRARed at than never to post at all.
posted by killdevil at 12:30 AM on January 2, 2010

Yeah, they're not very userfriendly. It can be annoying to try to click on a link but because of moving the mouse a single pixel end up clicking a different link. Also, they usually have very little information about the material, which makes them slightly hard to parse. I seem to remember some outcry about them but I can't seem to hit on the magic Google search terms to find examples.

Once I was 5/7ths of the way to making a post about "discussion" that would've been only the word "discuss" and each letter linking to a different essay about discussion/conversation. This was during the time when every post that ended with an imperative "discuss" was met with snark. I thought better of it, but not before searching high and wide for other essays about conversation and discussion.
posted by Kattullus at 12:34 AM on January 2, 2010

There's no rule against doing this. I guess people just stopped, in the same way that people just stopped watching Sing Along With Mitch! Doesn't mean singing along with Mitch was a bad thing, necessarily. I like posts with a link on every letter. I would be happy if people did this more.

To be honest, I like Mitch, too. He's before my time, but I have one of his records. It's neat, and I like the idea of people sitting around together and singing, no matter how "lame" that sounds now.

So, yeah: do the post.
posted by koeselitz at 12:35 AM on January 2, 2010

The preferred method is to link a word only not every letter in several words. Also, please have a root beer float bomb on me.
posted by mlis at 12:45 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hey, by the way:

One good way to make link-per-letter posts more intelligible is to use mouseover text to explain the links. It's really easy to add to linked text; if you type this:

<a title="Here is some mouseover text.">Here is some dummy text.</a>

.... it will come out looking like this:

Here is some dummy text.

.... to make links with mouseover text like this:

In this way, you can aggravate the smallest number of people with link-per-letter posts, because at least this way things are explained nicely before they have to click.

[Don't bet on all those html entity names parsing right, but I'll explain what isn't clear...]
posted by koeselitz at 12:46 AM on January 2, 2010 [49 favorites]

koeselitz, I had no idea what Sing Along with Mitch! was, but now after looking it up, I'm happy to learn about it.

I guess the hard thing I find with Metafilter is that sometimes I like the comments better than the actual links. I usually read the first few comments, and if I find the discussion interesting, then I go to read the actual links. The hard part is time. It takes time to read the links and then involve yourself in the conversation in a meaningful way. How do some of many of you do this so well?

Btw, I'll make a post someday. Maybe I'm over thinking it too much wanting to make a grand slash and create an awesome post but never get around to it because it feels like I'll never get exactly right. (Maybe this sadly resembles my teen years and wanting to have sex for the first time...)
posted by dealing away at 12:47 AM on January 2, 2010

[Argh. Now I'm wondering if you can add title elements to href fields at all.. Test test.]
posted by koeselitz at 12:49 AM on January 2, 2010

Yep! Works!
posted by koeselitz at 12:49 AM on January 2, 2010

That's a pretty nifty trick there koeselitz. Is that feature used rarely, regularly or often in posts? (Did I just miss it altogether? I"ll keep an eye for it now)
posted by dealing away at 12:53 AM on January 2, 2010

dealing away: “Btw, I'll make a post someday. Maybe I'm over thinking it too much wanting to make a grand slash and create an awesome post but never get around to it because it feels like I'll never get exactly right.”

Well, if you want to impress people and make a splash, explanatory mouseover text is the way to go. But I find that waiting too long and wanting things to be perfect prevents me from ever posting anything. Just go ahead - a lot of us will probably be happy to see whatever you put up, and if we aren't, the front page'lll scroll by in a day or two, anyway. Dive in!

“(Maybe this sadly resembles my teen years and wanting to have sex for the first time...)”

Well, it's sort of like that. Only this time you've got a supple, experienced, caring partner who's willing to walk you through it if you'd ever like to try. That's what Metafilter is: that slightly-sleazy older person who helps you fumble through your first sexual experience.

At least we're classier than that gym teacher that kept making weird passes at you a few years ago when you were a freshman. You remember him - Mr. Fark.
posted by koeselitz at 12:57 AM on January 2, 2010 [6 favorites]

It's pretty rare. Took me ages to figure out how to do it.
posted by koeselitz at 12:58 AM on January 2, 2010

killdevil: "Tis better to contribute and be GRARed at than never to post at all"

YOU LIE!

Ahem, what I meant to say was that as a staunch FPP virgin, I disagree. I fear the GRARing.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:20 AM on January 2, 2010 [4 favorites]

FPP purity club, represent!
posted by qvantamon at 4:38 AM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Metafilter: slightly-sleazy older person who helps you fumble through your first sexual experience.

NO!!!
posted by infini at 4:39 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I like those posts about as much as I like the ones where the post text doesn't describe what the poster is linking to. Which is to say I think they're stunty, overly cutesy, and not in any way worth my time.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:11 AM on January 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

There are probably good stylistic reasons to do a pixel-hunt linkbomb post, but I can't think of any. The conventions of hypertext exist for a reason, and that reason is easy and intuitive approachability for the reader. If you're reducing the readability of your post intentionally, there ought to be a pretty good reason.

By the way: cleverness and "originality," given that this style of posting was long overused, are not going to be perceived as pretty good reasons.
posted by majick at 6:40 AM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

My feeling is that they've just fallen out of fashion over time as the fairly consistent (though not unanimous) negative reaction that style of post tends to get accumulated and made it seem like a less likely posting strategy. I doubt we've seen the last of them and I'm kind of a spice-of-lifer myself within reason as far as that stuff goes, but in practical terms having them not happen very often is probably for the best.

Mouseover text is nice, but it doesn't solve the core readability problem—it's not necessarily obvious that there are a bunch of links jammed together, and even with mouseover text it's slow and fiddly to figure out what even well-annotated links are.

My advice if you're burning to make a new post is to first make sure you really believe in the material you'd be posting and aren't just hoping you've found something good enough to excuse making a first post; then post about it in a concise but clear fashion so that folks seeing the post will know (a) what they're being shown and (b) why, from a general rather than personal perspective, it's interesting. A post like that rarely goes wrong, and you can worry about working on points for style once you're more comfortable with the whole posting process itself.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:16 AM on January 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

It takes time to read the links and then involve yourself in the conversation in a meaningful way. How do some of many of you do this so well?

I never actually read the links. it's always just some know-it-all Poindexter going blah blah blah blah and who has the time?

So, in conclusion, BOOBIES!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:21 AM on January 2, 2010

I don't think those are great posts. If you make one, many people are going to roll their eyes and probably won't give your post a second look. Very few people will visit many links in your post, meaning the time you spent carefully crafting it and its mouseover text* will go to waste. Did you notice that your example post had more links than comments?

Tis better to contribute and be GRARed at than never to post at all.

This is wrong. There is no need to post to the front page. You can be a fine community member and contribute plenty without posting ever. You should post when and if you have something really interesting that doesn't require a stunt post or a linkdump.

* Yes, it is better to have mouseover text if you absolutely have to have unintelligible links. But, in fact, you never have to have them in the first place.
posted by grouse at 7:29 AM on January 2, 2010

For all of the reasons above I think this technique is not worth the trouble. Additionally, if you're going to be posting YouTube videos as letter-links you must consider the inline video Preference setting that many users have activated. It will turn your pretty multi-link word into an ugly, incomprehensible box-arrow-fest.
posted by carsonb at 7:41 AM on January 2, 2010

Darnit, another shadowy back alley .png lost to the Great Hackening.
posted by carsonb at 7:42 AM on January 2, 2010

The ONLY time that I think that sort of post is acceptable would be if the links are all equally interesting examples of a type.

For example, let's say you want to post links to a bunch of abstract photographs of smoke rings (just an example). Then I think just posting the phrase Smoke Rings with each letter being a link is ok. It doesn't really matter which link you click or how many links you click, you'll still very quickly get the idea of the post and be able to contribute to the conversation if there is one.

However, unless the linked material is obviously fantastic at a cursory glance, expect a lot of wtf comments, if you get any comments at all.
posted by empath at 8:10 AM on January 2, 2010

FPP virgins? Purity clubs? Next it'll be "Who wants to FPP side hug??? OMG"
posted by boo_radley at 8:35 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Doesn't mean singing along with Mitch was a bad thing, necessarily.

Hey, did you know that Mitch Miller played with Charlie Parker?
posted by timeistight at 8:47 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Mitch Miller crushes FFPs-where-every-letter-is-a-link like a grape.
posted by fixedgear at 9:08 AM on January 2, 2010

Do users still post in the blue with words where each letter is a different link?

No, thank God.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:30 AM on January 2, 2010

The FFP Purity Club is the only such club I'm ever likely to belong to. Also, more to the point, if I come across something worth posting to the blue, I will do it. So I encourage you to do so. But so far, you guys have already been to all the places I find. Who's passing out the Purity Rings?
posted by Hobgoblin at 9:42 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

WTF IS AN FFP YOU N00BS
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:49 AM on January 2, 2010

Front Front Postolution, grampa.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:12 AM on January 2, 2010

Those kind of posts seem a little gimmicky and I never read them. I'm way too jittery to successfully click all those letters.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:24 AM on January 2, 2010

Your FPP virginity is a gift, perhaps the most valuable gift you can give. You have to wait until the right link comes along, and then you have to make a commitment, under the auspices of MaJeCoVa (blessed be their many names). Don't just give up your FPP virtue to the first hot newsfilter or snazzy SLYT that winks at you.

As an FPP virgin myself, I am singularly qualified to advise you in these matters. Bless you, my little user, now go browse in peace.

Can we squeeze anything more out of this?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:26 AM on January 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

if you've got something interesting, jump right into the blue. Worst case, you get spanked in MetaTalk

can i get spanked in metatalk without posting anything to the blue?
posted by bitteroldman at 10:36 AM on January 2, 2010

i just want to get spanked
posted by bitteroldman at 10:36 AM on January 2, 2010

In my case, FFP is a typo. I meant Front Page Post, which is FPP, and which makes absolutely no sense. Mitch Miller.
posted by fixedgear at 10:48 AM on January 2, 2010

If the subject of the post has already made it to the Blue several times, I'll occasionally squeeze all the FPP links into a single "previously." It's a quirk, sure, but I can justify it as an unobtrusive visual indicator that the subject has a long history with Metafilter.

My addiction to confusingly contiguous links, on the other hand, is inexcusable. In my defense, I was raised in prison and know no other way.
posted by Iridic at 11:07 AM on January 2, 2010

Those posts can be stunt-y, and sometimes the links are not great, just there for filler. Posts where there's a visible break between links work better for me. Quality links are far better then Quantity links.
posted by theora55 at 11:14 AM on January 2, 2010

I'm sort of against mystery meat posts in general* but there's no reason that the cutesy one letter link stuff has to be mystery meat if you've given it proper context - surrounding it with actual sentences in English for instance.

* this is no guarantee that I haven't done it myself.
posted by Artw at 11:28 AM on January 2, 2010

I linked a couple of single letters in my last post, additional information about the figure who was the central subject. That was in a four-letter word (not that sort of four letter word, you filthy so-and-so!) and recall adjusting the links at last minute from being two to one letter, so as deliberately to leave a gap and avoid that annoying thing where you can't tell easily where one link ends and another starts.
posted by Abiezer at 11:45 AM on January 2, 2010

dealing away: I would like to post something special someday to the blue...

I think the best method is just to post something you find interesting and hope that at least a few folks find it interesting too. I'm a resoundingly unsuccessful front page poster but to be totally honest, I don't find the bulk of what's sent to the blue to be all that interesting. In other words, my interests do not usually intersect with those of the blue-faced MeFi masses very often, so I like to think of my few FPPs as catering to tiny minority fringe readers.

This is mostly to make myself feel better about the fact that I really suck at it.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:14 PM on January 2, 2010

Previously in MetaTalk -- I wouldn't have necessarily thought of the drawback that people with motor-control difficulties could find this difficult, but it's good to keep in mind.
posted by palliser at 12:24 PM on January 2, 2010

Oh, and ignore haters. Some people just feel the need to be dickish if an FPP doesn't fall into their narrow band of interests, And make a fuss accordingly, but those people are contemptable idiots and you shouldn't pay attention to them.
posted by Artw at 12:26 PM on January 2, 2010

posted by Lynsey at 12:49 PM on January 2, 2010

Nowadays it seems like the people who like to post a zillion links post them in the more inside.

The original letter-link style was before more-inside existed.
posted by smackfu at 1:10 PM on January 2, 2010

posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:27 PM on January 2, 2010

Hobgoblin: "The FFP Purity Club is the only such club I'm ever likely to belong to. Also, more to the point, if I come across something worth posting to the blue, I will do it. So I encourage you to do so. But so far, you guys have already been to all the places I find. Who's passing out the Purity Rings"

Qvantamon gave me mine.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:28 PM on January 2, 2010

Salvor Hardin: "Your FPP virginity is a gift, perhaps the most valuable gift you can give. You have to wait until the right link comes along, and then you have to make a commitment, under the auspices of MaJeCoVa (blessed be their many names). Don't just give up your FPP virtue to the first hot newsfilter or snazzy SLYT that winks at you."

Are you looking forward to the FPP purity daughter/ daddy dance?
posted by boo_radley at 2:13 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can we squeeze anything more out of this?

Oh, I'm sure we can.

Make sure that when you do decide to go 'all the way', that you protect yourself by using the metafilter site search. Even if you think that the link you're posting has never been posted before, you'll still want to be safe. Chances are, if the link is that hot, it's probably been passed around the internet a few times before it got to you.

If you do decide to go ahead without protection and it turns out that you posted a double, there's always the 'flag-this-post' option available for the morning after. You don't want to use that as a substitute for site-search, but the option is available in case you make a mistake (and everyone does make mistakes, there's no shame in that).
posted by empath at 2:18 PM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

I made a few of those, back in the day. They were fun but a lot of work. It took so long--I was on dial up and the screen kept freezing and then I would lose everything. Which was very frustrating. So, I ended up composing in Notepad and then testing the posts by pasting them into the comment box in unread threads. Which took hours, sometimes.

And, as you can see in the example above, people howled about it. For me, it was exploring the possibilities when I was doing them. For others, well, some people live to get angry and nasty about something. Nothing like putting some time and effort into making something just to get slimed from the git go by some person I will never meet.
posted by y2karl at 4:43 PM on January 2, 2010

Or should I say..

And, as you can see in the example here, some people howled about it.

Some had issues with the style, some with me. And some of the latter got over that. We all started rougher than we turned out. One thing about this place is that it trains you to be kinder. If you let it.
posted by y2karl at 5:11 PM on January 2, 2010

I feel that title-text in links is heavily underused; it's great to be able to mouseover some link in the middle of a sentence and get an exact description f what you'll see when you follow it.

Incidently, I also wish we could use LaTeX markup in our posts. It would make it much easier to express important quantities like $\int_0^\inf e^{-x^2} dx$.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:27 PM on January 2, 2010

kaibutsu: “Incidently, I also wish we could use LaTeX markup in our posts. It would make it much easier to express important quantities like $\int_0^\inf e^{-x^2} dx$.”

I too would like to use LaTeX markup in posts and comments on Metafilter. In fact, pb has promised me that the LaTeX options will be added next as soon as he finishes my long-hoped-for mefi-emacs module.
posted by koeselitz at 6:16 PM on January 2, 2010

make sure you really believe in the material you'd be posting

That's a really good litmus test even for us less-green hands.
posted by Miko at 6:30 PM on January 2, 2010

Linky is a really good Firefox extension for posts styled this way.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:38 PM on January 2, 2010

palliser writes "I wouldn't have necessarily thought of the drawback that people with motor-control difficulties could find this difficult, but it's good to keep in mind."

It also can sound horrible and incomprehensible with a screen reader for the blind.
posted by Mitheral at 10:28 PM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

That posting style is to be denigrated.
posted by caddis at 5:50 AM on January 3, 2010

It also can sound horrible and incomprehensible with a screen reader for the blind.

That makes me wonder how screen reader software handles sentences that contain embedded links, which is quite common.
posted by smackfu at 8:33 AM on January 3, 2010

i know they don't deal with emoticons but do communicate their existence, i'm guessing by saying "colon, bracket" or some such. i have an email correspondent who is blind and uses such a reader and in the early days he asked me what "that" was and I told him it was a smiley
posted by infini at 8:56 AM on January 3, 2010

smackfu writes "That makes me wonder how screen reader software handles sentences that contain embedded links, which is quite common."

That is admittedly a pretty low level problem that is often solved by just skipping that information. Pages without site maps that have navigation buried in multi layer menus, especially when spread across the page, and flash navigation are the biggest problem. Metafilter is a breeze.

[1] Users often can listen to a page faster than I could. They get comprehension where all I'd get was a stream of words.
posted by Mitheral at 10:39 AM on January 3, 2010

posted by deborah at 12:45 PM on January 3, 2010

not fair, deborah, not fair
posted by koeselitz at 12:51 PM on January 3, 2010

For some reason, I have a very firmly-held opinion that this is only okay for links to pictures. e.g., unicorns.
posted by ErikaB at 7:08 PM on January 3, 2010

Don't just give up your FPP virtue to the first hot newsfilter or snazzy SLYT that winks at you.

I gave my blue postginity to the Jersey Shore today. I feel so dirty.
posted by joechip at 10:06 PM on January 3, 2010

I think the best method is just to post something you find interesting and hope that at least a few folks find it interesting too. I'm a resoundingly unsuccessful front page poster ...
This is my method for the very infrequent posts that I do. Don't stress too much about what other people like. This place is big enough now that, if you like it, someone else will too.
posted by dg at 2:58 AM on January 4, 2010

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