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Descriptive Links
July 8, 2013 7:21 PM   Subscribe

A request: When possible, please consider using descriptive text in your links, especially when linking to Amazon or any other website that doesn't show useful information in the URL.

For example, this Vitamix blender was my favorite purchase this year vs. this was my favorite purchase this year.

This is especially helpful for the lazy & those on phones with limited data plans.
posted by insectosaurus to Etiquette/Policy at 7:21 PM (38 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Aaaaand for some reason my links are not referral links, so they DO show useful information in the URL. Usually, links to Amazon automatically turn into referral links and do not have the name of the linked-to item.

I think you all know what I mean anyway.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:23 PM on July 8, 2013


I heartily endorse this request. Often URLs are uninformative, and then when the link breaks a year down the line, the solution to the question is lost. Youtube is another prime example of a site where it's nice to know what you're clicking on beforehand.

(And yeah, didn't occur to me before but I think we are stripping referral links from Amazon links.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:28 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Will do!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:32 PM on July 8, 2013


Good point, thanks, will do that.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:37 PM on July 8, 2013


I wrote this awhile back on a somewhat similar thread:

The weird thing is that I am annoyed by "Is this the book you're looking for?" links when other people make them, but I make them myself. Why? Because that's what feels natural for me, I guess. I still haven't quite adapted to the idea of writing for linking, so I write things the way I'd say them if we were having the conversation in real life, and then I link them awkwardly, and then I hit submit, and then I think "That's a shitty link!" but by then it's really too late to do anything about it.

Curious to hear from the mods, if I went back and changed a link from "This was my favorite purchase this year." to "This Vitamix blender was my favorite purchase this year" during the edit window, would that be considered too much editing, or okay?
posted by jacquilynne at 7:40 PM on July 8, 2013


I saw a similar and well-argued request elsewhere on the Internet a couple of months ago that suggested using as full a link description as possible, and have been trying to do this for a while. I would actually say The Vitamix TurboBlend Two Speed was my favorite purchase this year.

I'm not saying everyone else should do this because sometimes it is a pain, but it does offer the maximum information to readers both now and after the inevitable link rot of the future.
posted by grouse at 7:41 PM on July 8, 2013


It also helps for when, in the future, links inevitably become defunct. Nothing sucks more than reading a thread from 2006 and seeing:

Everything completely changed for the better in my life as soon as I learned about this one weird trick!
posted by threeants at 7:41 PM on July 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


(And yeah, didn't occur to me before but I think we are stripping referral links from Amazon links.)

Actually, I think you replace them with metafilter referrals (at least on the blue and green).

Descriptive links are good etiquette pretty much wherever you make them. As a website owner I prefer to see "Rick Perry" as a link rather than "Here" in my referral logs. As a web user I like to know what I am going to see before I click on it.

This said, Amazon referral links shouldn't be munged regardless.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:42 PM on July 8, 2013


jacquilynne, I also do the blind "this" links myself, despite caring enough to make a MeTa about it! I'm trying to get better about it.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:43 PM on July 8, 2013


And regarding the referral links, I just posted regular (non-referral) links in this post. I know that regular links turn into Metafilter referral links on the Green, I assumed they would do the same here, oops! I definitely would not post my own referral links anywhere on Metafilter.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:46 PM on July 8, 2013


I'm pretty sure that Matt set it up a long time ago so that all amazon links get their referral codes stripped out and replaced with his, which seems completely fair to me. There was a metatalk about it at the time.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:48 PM on July 8, 2013


Here's the FAQ entry on Amazon referral links. Not sure what happened with yours, insectosaurus.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:50 PM on July 8, 2013


I personally love the Vitamix® 5200 Variable Speed Countertop Blender with 2+ hp motor my girlfriend and I own. It blends everything from frozen fruit to chickpeas to fresh veggies with absolute ease, and it's a breeze to clean! Even though we've always eaten a good amount of fresh vegetibles and fruit, since we purchased the Vitamix® 5200 Variable Speed Countertop Blender with 2+ hp motor we've been eating fresh green smoothies on a daily basis, increasing out vitamin and fiber intake by an absolutely satanic amount. All praise Baphomet, the Magnum Opus of alchemy!
posted by item at 8:16 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I agree with this request. It's a good idea.
posted by John Cohen at 8:24 PM on July 8, 2013


We change Amazon links in comments but not in posts. That's why the links weren't changed in the post.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:26 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a basic hypertext thing and was much discussed with gnashing of teeth in the early days of the web. I'd sort of thought the horses were long, long out of the barn at this point.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:27 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


As someone who uses the mobile site a lot (where the mouseover is not a doable thing), I heartily endorse this suggestion. Most of the time, if the link is just a 'this' sort of thing, it goes unread.

If you want to share something wonderful with the community, why post a blind link?
posted by Ghidorah at 8:46 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just did that, sorry. I hope the favorites still count.
posted by planetesimal at 8:47 PM on July 8, 2013


Imdb.com is another frequent offender, where you have to load their entire bloated page just to figure out which movie title corresponds to that tt#.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:00 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


oooh, blind links to imdb are a pestilence. I never click through usually, and just figure okay, if the film is that interesting or significant someone will probably eventually name it in clear text. I don't even understand the utility of those links at all most of the time, unlike, say, a YouTube link which is also frustrating when it's a blind link, but at least there's something to watch when you get there, whereas the imdb links are more often, Comment: "I really liked this" --> click --> page load --> close page --> okay, now I know the name of the film somebody likes.

But, yeah, aside from the inconvenience, blind links almost always turn into deadwood eventually, pages that say that the (unnamed) product is no longer available, the page no longer exists (this happens a lot with certain news sites, for example), the domain no longer exists, etc. But if the link is named and you really want to find it, you usually can, even if the original url is no longer operative.

So, yes, totally agree. Blind links are worse than this.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:26 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another forum I frequent (watchuseek) will read the page title and put that in for the text of the link. Lets not do that, its horrible.
posted by Admira at 12:02 AM on July 9, 2013


this is a TinyURL link that looks like "square of doctor 5" if you're weird enough
posted by lordaych at 12:02 AM on July 9, 2013


Oh god I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks blind links to imdb are an abomination in the sight of the Lord.
posted by mediareport at 12:52 AM on July 9, 2013


One should never link to IMDB in the first place, just use Wikipedia where possible.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:25 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do we have blenders?
posted by pracowity at 4:06 AM on July 9, 2013


No, but we have cameras.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:41 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


A heads up re: PDF or YT would be nice, too, for the mobile browsers, where mouseover is not great.
posted by notyou at 5:29 AM on July 9, 2013


If you want to share something wonderful with the community, why post a blind link?

But, with honest descriptive links, how will you get people to look at your epic video of hippos pooping?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:42 AM on July 9, 2013


Other than saving it for the "Look at These Hippos Poop!" FPP, of course.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:43 AM on July 9, 2013


pracowity: "Do we have blenders?"

AND rainbow suspenders.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:53 AM on July 9, 2013


But if I do that, how will I be able to hide things like this in my comments?
posted by phunniemee at 7:02 AM on July 9, 2013


I used to struggle with customers who wanted me to take sentences like "Click here to find about this relevant thing," and have only the words "Click here" linked because, apparently, otherwise people would get confused and not know what to do. ('If they don't know how links work, how did they get to your website in the first place?' I would wonder, but not out loud.) It was a victory when they'd let me link the entire sentence at least. If it were me, I would leave out the words "click here", too, but apparently one must always have a "call to action."

Feh.

Also, yes, blind links to IMDB are indeed an abomination.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:02 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Descriptive links are also useful for people using audio interfaces or speech recognition software.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:43 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am totally guilty of doing this, and I am a bit chagrined that I never considered what a crappy practice it was, even after being a backtagger and looking at all the mystery meat deadlinks. I promise to try extra super hard to not do it in the future. Thanks for mentioning it, insectosaurus.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:46 AM on July 9, 2013


Especially annoying in music threads where the link is to Youtube, since music videos on Youtube so often get removed.
posted by ostro at 8:01 AM on July 9, 2013


Maybe it's time to discuss a sitewide no-linking policy. All static text, all the time.
posted by item at 9:16 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking text is problematic, item. All posts and comments from here on out shall only consist of emoji.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:55 AM on July 9, 2013



posted by item at 5:19 PM on July 9, 2013


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