I'm not printing it, I'm reading it. September 25, 2007 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Please don't link just to the print format version of long articles.

I know we've discussed this before but it's been a few years, near as I can tell and I've seen a rapidly increasing number of examples of it in the last few weeks.

I know some people prefer the no advertising view of things, but the properly formatted versions of pages tend to be more readable (with shorter line lengths) and contain things like images that the print versions don't. Plus, and this is key, the regular version will generally contain a link to the print version if one exists, while the same is not true in reverse--very often there's no way to get from a print version to one formatted for reading.

That it's kinder and fairer to content providers to link to their content with advertising and formatting in place is another argument, but more a matter of opinion, so I'm making this plea just based on the practical ease-of-use arguments:

Please include links to both the normal and print versions of an article, or, if you must choose just one, the normal version.
posted by jacquilynne to Etiquette/Policy at 11:33 AM (37 comments total)

I prefer the print versions personally because of the lack of having to click click click through them but it seems pretty darned easy for me to click the "print this" link if that's the way I want to read something. So, I agree with you, I think the less obscure you can make the URL for people, the better.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:35 AM on September 25, 2007


You're assuming the person who is posting the link has the original format version. I think they are often taking the link from someone else or somewhere else that used the print version.

Or, to put it another way, it's all kottke's fault.
posted by smackfu at 11:36 AM on September 25, 2007


I suppose, but even if they have to go through a few minutes work to find the original source of the article, it's a lot easier for one person to do it once than for everyone who reads the post and wants a formatted version to do it.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:51 AM on September 25, 2007


I usually prefer the original layout, the print layout looks like ass in a 1000px wide browser window, so I'd say I agree with jacquilynne here, but I know when we've discussed it before a lot of people prefer the simplicity of a one-page no-ads layout.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:55 AM on September 25, 2007


I agree with jacquilynne. One caveat, however, sometimes the formatted articles are horribly set up or borked in non-IE browsers, but printer-friendly versions generally work across fine across all platforms.
posted by Kattullus at 11:57 AM on September 25, 2007


There's always the option of including a supplemental link to the print-friendly version, too.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:00 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


even if they have to go through a few minutes work to find the original source of the article, it's a lot easier for one person to do it once than for everyone who reads the post and wants a formatted version to do it.

Easy solution: the first person who wants a formatted link and can be bothered to find it should post a comment with it.
posted by grouse at 12:08 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Huh, I'm always irritated when I click on the link and see that there was a perfectly good print version that could've been used instead.
posted by gum at 12:13 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Easy solution: the first person who wants a formatted link and can be bothered to find it should post a comment with it.

That just encourages people to read the comments before they read the article. Which encourages people to comment before they read the article, too.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:17 PM on September 25, 2007


Linking to the original, formatted article seems best, as the print only people can easily find it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:24 PM on September 25, 2007


I don't think reading the comments before an article is such a bad thing. It's like reading a review of a movie before seeing it. I'll frequently decide whether an article is worth my time by reading the comments first.
posted by grouse at 12:36 PM on September 25, 2007


Just copy and paste the entire contents of the article as a comment into the thread, like slashdot does. Then we can just print the thread, and have a copy of the witty commentary for all eternity.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:39 PM on September 25, 2007




I'm a preferring-print person myself, but I can see the logic here, particularly for navigation and giving the site owner the ad impressions. The NYTimes just took down the pay wall and I, for one, don't want them going back. A second click on a "print-format" link isn't a huge deal.
posted by bonehead at 1:15 PM on September 25, 2007


I prefer the print versions, myself, but I think jacquilynne has the better of the argument here. She's right that it's easier to find the "print" link on a normal page than the "normal" link on the print page.
posted by ibmcginty at 1:37 PM on September 25, 2007


Link the odd characters of every link to the print version, and the even characters to the online version.

and the punctuation to the mobile version
posted by davejay at 1:50 PM on September 25, 2007


Please include links to both the normal and print versions of an article, or, if you must choose just one, the print version.
posted by majick at 2:32 PM on September 25, 2007


I agree with jacquilynne.
posted by davar at 2:52 PM on September 25, 2007


I disagree, and not just because print versions have been obsolete since print CSS was invented.
posted by joeclark at 3:24 PM on September 25, 2007


Sometimes print versions get around user registration forms, as well.
posted by empath at 3:31 PM on September 25, 2007


I'm always irritated when I click on the link and see that there was a perfectly good print version that could've been used instead.

I agree. If you want an "original" version, post it in the thread. Don't make the poster do your work for you.
posted by languagehat at 3:43 PM on September 25, 2007


What would be great is if people would just stop linking to news items.
posted by Eideteker at 3:55 PM on September 25, 2007


I'll link to the print version if the site has split 50 paragraphs of content over 53 pages. If it's just a couple pages then no sweat but I think the massive ad impression attempt should be discouraged.
posted by Mitheral at 5:51 PM on September 25, 2007


I myself have, to be perfectly honest, always linked to print versions because I thought it somehow was the MeFi convention. The points raised here are very valid, I'll try to link to both in the future.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:56 PM on September 25, 2007


I agree. If you want an "original" version, post it in the thread. Don't make the poster do your work for you.

I disagree. There are points on both sides, but ibmcginty's right: jacquilynne has the better of the argument here.
posted by mediareport at 7:00 PM on September 25, 2007


I think linking to the print version's a perfectly sensible option if it would otherwise point to one of those impression-whoring multipage monstrosities.
posted by genghis at 7:59 PM on September 25, 2007


Amazing. I was just going to make this my first MetaTalk post and it was already here. I guess I'm not the only person that hates this. Print version sucks on wide monitors and there is very rarely a link back to the non-print version. Please kill this "convention."
posted by AstroGuy at 8:33 PM on September 25, 2007


I believe this started way back when magazines and newspapers hadn't figured out how to put their printer-friendly versions behind registration walls. Now it's just the way people do things.
posted by Kattullus at 9:12 PM on September 25, 2007


Print version of a link about Chagall or Shakespeare? Content dictates.
posted by vapidave at 2:06 AM on September 26, 2007


one page, no ads. the humanity!
posted by chunking express at 5:47 AM on September 26, 2007


Huh. Well I honestly had no idea people would have such strong negative feelings about this. Sorry, folks.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:54 AM on September 26, 2007


Uh, sorry for what?
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:07 AM on September 26, 2007


I've found that URLs often expire for print versions -- i.e., they're non-canonical. They're not intended to be permalinks, so hosts feel no compunction about orphaning all their print URLs when they change the method for displaying print versions.

I think the "standard" version should always be primary; give the print version separately (perhaps as "[print]" or the like).
posted by lodurr at 8:07 AM on September 26, 2007


miss_lynnster, as callouts go, it's more of a waggled finger than "you know who else posted print versions, yeah that's right!" So I don't really think apology is warranted.
posted by lodurr at 8:09 AM on September 26, 2007


Huh. Well I honestly had no idea people would have such strong negative feelings about this. Sorry, folks.

For what it's worth, I deliberately didn't include your post, or any other specific post in my post. It wasn't meant to be a callout, as linking the print version isn't rude or against the rules, just not great from an ease-of-use perspective. This was just a general request for the future.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:12 AM on September 26, 2007


Okey dokey artichokey.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:28 PM on September 26, 2007


I prefer the print versions. Cleaner. Fewer ads. Less unnecessary clicking.
posted by MythMaker at 3:24 PM on September 26, 2007


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