Usability is nice January 2, 2002 10:58 AM   Subscribe

From a usability standpoint, this kind of thread seems counter-intuitive. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. This thread, on the other hand, allows me to mentally parse consecutive words with different links, thanks to that magical grammatical feature known as "commas."
posted by insomnyuk to Etiquette/Policy at 10:58 AM (8 comments total)

Aww.. the bold part got screwed up. I suppose the < > characters are disabled from front page posts? It was supposed to look like this:

posted by insomnyuk at 11:04 AM on January 2, 2002

<a> does not make things bold.

So, I guess I don't get what the problem is, are you arguing that one is better written, even though it is much longer due to commas?

I don't follow your "because you can." Because you can do exactly what? Make additonal links? Make new sentences?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:15 AM on January 2, 2002

Oh, now I see. It's up to the person composing the post to decide if they want to be obvious or let others discover the links upon hover.

There have been links discussed here, where every letter of a word links somewhere different. (IIRC, the consensus was it was overkill).

If I want to link to three things I feel are all strong, I usually come up with a grammatical way to force non-linked separation between the links, so users can see there's more than meets the eye. If the links are just supplimental information, I link alongside other links.

It's pretty simple, just make the important ones stand out in the text appropriately.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:18 AM on January 2, 2002

I think isomnyuk is talking about making three different links, each one in consecutive words in a sentence.

So 'because' links one place, 'you' links another, and 'can' goes to a third.

I don't know what the problem, is, though, since it's a tactic used throughout the web, not just on metafilter, but on home pages and even corporates.

Maybe a complaint is that the links aren't necessarily obvious without mousing-over, but I don't think it's a majore useability thing.
posted by rich at 11:18 AM on January 2, 2002

Yeah, that's all I was saying mathowie. And for some reason, my attempt to put <a> in my post made it bold... I swear I have no idea how it happened, just some crazy glitch...

I don't know what the problem, is, though, since it's a tactic used throughout the web, not just on metafilter, but on home pages and even corporates.

I'll have to take your word for it, because I have never seen it done on a corporate website. The goal is usually to make things simple and easy for the user, and I would argue that lots of consecutive words linked to different things with no clear demarcation is not a good idea. I must admit, the first time I saw it used on MeFi, I thought it was clever, but now it's just annoying.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:34 AM on January 2, 2002

Surrounding things with <a></a> makes things bold in the MeFi stylesheet. Not having an href, however, makes them not a link, so the standard link formatting doesn't happen. However, the title attribute still works.
posted by rodii at 11:59 AM on January 2, 2002

Well, that would require every Metafilter user to be conscious of and interested in design and/or usability issues, Insomnyuk, and that's an impossibility.
posted by gsh at 2:15 PM on January 2, 2002

On most sites the kind of linking being discussed looks like this instead of looking like this. Perhaps some posters had underlined links turned on in their preferences, so they aren't aware that the links may be non-obvious.

This kind of linking is common on memepool for example, but they have links underlined so it doesn't matter there. This is something to keep in mind.
posted by bobo123 at 4:37 PM on January 2, 2002

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