First things first. June 29, 2008 8:55 PM   Subscribe

Can we more strongly encourage posters to make their first link their most important one?

Call me short of attention, but I appreciate it when long multi-link posts put their main link first, to be followed by explanation and context, etc. However I notice that many posts (such as this Emo Philips post, to take the latest example) require readers to sift through a bunch of links to find the one that's supposed to deliver the strongest punch.

I know that the posting screen already implicitly encourages posters to begin with the main link, by including an "optional" "link URL" entry field. However, I'd suggest that the posting screen (or at least the posting guidelines) be revised a bit, to more strongly suggest that as a matter of policy the the best link should go first, unless there's a compelling reason to do otherwise.
posted by washburn to Feature Requests at 8:55 PM (70 comments total)

Declined.
posted by xmutex at 8:58 PM on June 29, 2008


Why do any of the links above the [more inside] jump have to have precedence over the others?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:01 PM on June 29, 2008


You are totally short of atten...Let's ride bikes!!
posted by special-k at 9:04 PM on June 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


You can do whatever you want, dear, but you can't make me. In other words, there aren't any policies here. There are a few rules, and then a bunch of guidelines. Other than that it's free form, go nuts.
posted by carsonb at 9:08 PM on June 29, 2008


Also, maybe we could encourage less link padding while we're at it. Googling a name and working the results into a sentence doesn't always support the main link.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:08 PM on June 29, 2008 [9 favorites]


I think washburn is right in principle. Too many posts lately are poorly crafted with the important link essentially hidden. It does not need to be the first link, but it should be easy to discern. All too often you look to the one link that looks like the important one and it turns out to be some crappy background link to wikipedia. meh.
posted by caddis at 9:09 PM on June 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


By the way, that is my all time favorite religious joke, just barely edging out the top Biblical ways to obtain a wife.
posted by caddis at 9:13 PM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


MiguelCardoso bought up this same main link thing 6 years ago in a MetaTalk thread. I humored him the same day by clearly marking which link was the main one in a post I made to MetaFilter. Walrus noticed, and later in the same Miguel Cardoso MetaTalk thread, he mentioned my MetaFilter post and attempted to link to it, but linked to another thread by mistake. Later on in the same MetaTalk thread, user winterfell drolly mentioned that she would follow my lead and use title tags to identify which links in her posts were ones that people should pay attention to. In six more years, I will link back to this post, particularly this very comment, and explain what happened again, for anyone who may have missed it the first time or the second time.

There will be a test on this in six years. Start gathering your test hacks now.
posted by iconomy at 9:30 PM on June 29, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yeah and also, how come people only ever post hyperlinks to things just on the Internet? Medium-ist much? Just once I'd like a hyperlink to a delicious IRL pie.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:41 PM on June 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Seriously? Are blessed with some sort of magic ability to decide what is important for the "class" and what's not?
posted by Kloryne at 9:42 PM on June 29, 2008


Sure. I'll do my part.

Posters: I strongly encourage you to make your first link your most important one!
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 9:58 PM on June 29, 2008


Screw that. I'm going to make a random link within my post the most important one, then randomly use bold and uppercase on my other links.
posted by Artw at 10:03 PM on June 29, 2008


Screw that. I'm going to make a random link within my post the most important one, then randomly use bold and uppercase on my other links.

So you'll just keep doing what you've been doing, then?
posted by tkolar at 10:09 PM on June 29, 2008


Artw: Or you could hide your links inside punctuation marks.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:10 PM on June 29, 2008


Give me an M! Give me an E! Give me a... oh, fuck it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:15 PM on June 29, 2008


You should see what I do to spaces.
posted by Artw at 10:15 PM on June 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's a nice sentiment, but it's a style question, and largely unenforceable. We can argue the pros and cons here but there's no making the horse drink, so to speak. Barring more-inside failures or really bad, awful style blunders that sometimes lead to an approved-by-poster edit or deletion (which I guess you could think of as a kind of hardcore feedback), style is pretty much laissez faire.

For my part, I do like it when the meat link (if it's the sort of post where one link in particular is the meat) is presented clearly and early—whether it's the first link or just among the first links—and I think it's probably a case of posters causing trouble for themselves when their first link is something apparently a lot weaker than their meat. So I hear you. But there are all kinds of exceptions that can come into play there, and in general there's a sense of variety being the spice of life that I hold pretty near and dear with mefi.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:37 PM on June 29, 2008


People should, but there will be those who don't. Of those who neglect to make their main link their first, some of them will do it to be contrarian, many will do it because they are too stupid to understand why it aids readability, and a very few will do it for a legitimate reason causing rejoicing. That rejoicing will invigorate those contrarians, unduly fortify the stupid, and maybe, just maybe, spark a good idea from someone else.
posted by klangklangston at 10:51 PM on June 29, 2008


What's this about horses, then?
posted by tkolar at 11:00 PM on June 29, 2008


I should note that my idea isn't to force anyone to put their most important link first, or to decide for them which of their links is of greatest interest.

As klangklangston observes, it seems like a lot of people don't begin their posts with their most important link simply because they have no idea that it's standard mefi practice to put the main link first. So, to my mind, providing a bit more encouragement to follow this practice would help people construct better posts and improve the general readability of quite a few front page posts.

Contrarians and artistes would of course be free to do as they please, but imho it would probably be helpful to the site to do a bit more to promote the notion that it's usually a good idea to begin posts with their most notable link.

It's just a small thing, but I do think it might help.
posted by washburn at 11:15 PM on June 29, 2008


Since when is there a main link?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:16 PM on June 29, 2008


What's this about horses, then?

They're apparently hung like a horse.
posted by jonmc at 11:24 PM on June 29, 2008


Chuck Norris isn't hung like a horse.

Horses are hung like Chuck Norris.
posted by C17H19NO3 at 11:34 PM on June 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


i wish we could hang Chuck Norris.
posted by slater at 12:02 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


washburnPoster: "... it's standard mefi practice to put the main link first. So, to my mind, providing a bit more encouragement to follow this practice would help people construct better posts and improve the general readability of quite a few front page posts.
... imho it would probably be helpful to the site to do a bit more to promote the notion that it's usually a good idea to begin posts with their most notable link.
"

Based on what evidence? The only thing that is "standard mefi practice" with regard to links is that there must be at least one. Everyone is free to format/arrange their posts in whatever way they think suits the subject and/or will attract those who will be interested in the content. Or not. Or to do whatever they want.

The concept that there is a format that must/should be followed in crafting posts is totally flawed in my very humble opinion Otherwise there would be written guidelines about it, right?
posted by dg at 1:26 AM on June 30, 2008


What if you have a lot of links that are strongest punching? I'm going to start using ratings to indicate the relative punch of links. Three exclamation points for the most important link, going down to one for barely worth clicking on. While I'm at it, if you see an i dotted with a heart, that means that I'm linking to something cute. I'm still working out which symbols to use for NSFW, and for linking to a picture of something with no face.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:24 AM on June 30, 2008


It's really okay to discuss how you think posts could be made better in general without it becoming a guideline or enforced by moderator fiat.
posted by grouse at 3:31 AM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


You are right washburn and it is the practice I follow in my own (astoundingly entertaining and informative) posts, because I'm an all-round good guy with impeccable manners and a sexy speaking voice. I positively tut-tut out loud when I see these lesser wannabes deviating from the hallowed norms. They are unmitigated bastards, every man jack of 'em, and probably motivated by a pathetic need to be innovative and different, the curse of youth in today's shallow consumerist society.
posted by Abiezer at 4:27 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can we more strongly encourage posters to make their first link their most important one?

How am I supposed to know when I first join the site which will be my most important link of all time?

Or wait, were we talking about making sausage?
posted by Eideteker at 5:02 AM on June 30, 2008


What's this about horses, then?

Dunno. Seems to me like they're just REALLY BIG PONIES.
posted by kittyprecious at 6:30 AM on June 30, 2008


When I was a kid, I thought my state song was depressing:

"Where 'seldom' is heard, a discouraging word..."



















Still do.
posted by cog_nate at 6:32 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


In Soviet Russia, Chuck Norris hangs you. Also, it's the same in America.
posted by Godbert at 6:39 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thank you for pointing me to that excellent Emo Phillips post.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:43 AM on June 30, 2008


The only thing that is "standard mefi practice" with regard to links is that there must be at least one. Everyone is free to format/arrange their posts in whatever way they think suits the subject and/or will attract those who will be interested in the content. Or not. Or to do whatever they want.

Give that man five silver dollars. When people make substandard posts, their penalty is that fewer people bother with the post. When the posts are really substandard, they get hauled into MetaTalk and pelted with stale muffins. The system works.
posted by languagehat at 6:53 AM on June 30, 2008


I'd prefer more low-quality posts, because the stale muffin poundings are so entertaining.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:04 AM on June 30, 2008


I would have gone with "Norris chucks you".
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:05 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


First things first.

Whatever happened to saving the best for last?
posted by TedW at 7:11 AM on June 30, 2008


Can we use English muffins? Cupcakes?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:11 AM on June 30, 2008


cog_nate: What about the 'curlews' that you 'love to hear scream'?
posted by tellurian at 7:40 AM on June 30, 2008


It's just a small thing, but I do think it might help.

It might help what? Your OCD?

I'm personally a fan of certain posts that are structured with backstory and information first before presenting the main showcase link.
posted by loquacious at 8:37 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Gets teapot, brews tempest therein, has tea and far too many stale muffins.
posted by Cranberry at 8:47 AM on June 30, 2008


If the first couple of links in a post are to wikipedia or otherwise not terribly interesting, then I don't read the rest of them. In my opinion, a good post gives an indication of what it is about (I hate mystery meat posts) and some context as to why it's important enough to deserve my attention if that's not otherwise evident. Some posts have a bunch of links of equal importance, but others have a main link plus supporting cruft to 'flesh it out'. In those cases, it would be really helpful if the post indicated which link to read.
The issue reminds me of top-posting on Usenet or of browser-specific websites; you don't have to make the stuff you write convenient for other people to read. Your precious creations can be as obfuscated or as coy as you like. But in that case they will likely be ignored - there's plenty other reading matter out there.
If your reason for posting to MeFi is because you want to share something interesting you've found on the Web, why not make it easy for the readers to quickly find the interesting part of your post?
posted by nowonmai at 8:51 AM on June 30, 2008


*presents meat link clearly*
posted by danOstuporStar at 8:54 AM on June 30, 2008


How much hung would a Norris chuck if a Norris could hung chuck?

I got nothin'.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:02 AM on June 30, 2008


I could give a crap about link order. I'd just be happy to see mystery meat posts hunted to extinction.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:03 AM on June 30, 2008


When the posts are really substandard, they get hauled into MetaTalk and pelted with stale muffins.

Why does my head hurt? Where the fuck did all these crumbs come from?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:10 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


All the links are important in my posts, tyvm. But, maybe if we had a brief write-up on the virtues of the inverted pyramid on the FAQ page, or hey, perhaps a style guide on the wiki, with an after school mentoring program...


... or, what dg said. Sheesh.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:18 AM on June 30, 2008


I'm personally a fan of certain posts that are structured with backstory and information first before presenting the main showcase link.

Me too. Some buildup and then, tada! This does involve reading and comprehending, though, so I can understand why some might not find it appealing.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:21 AM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Now wait. You've specifically called it out, so I need to know. Which one of the Emo Phillips links do you think is the one with the "strongest punch"? Not a snark on Emo, I'm really curious. What was too buried? Or is it more the fact that the first link is to a picture? Or, um, something else?

How would you have organized that post differently?
posted by dirtdirt at 9:29 AM on June 30, 2008


I like that structure, I’m also not all that opposed to big-link-first (I pretty much default to it), but really the guiding principle should be that the text should offer decent context for the links whatever the structure.
posted by Artw at 9:29 AM on June 30, 2008


*gives stavrosthewonderchicken an "oh, fuck it."*
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:31 AM on June 30, 2008


> When the posts are really substandard, they get hauled into MetaTalk and pelted with stale muffins.

Why does my head hurt? Where the fuck did all these crumbs come from?


And that's the etymology of "crumby post".
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:33 AM on June 30, 2008


Artw : You should see what I do to spaces.

A while back, I was thinking of using this very device in a post on optical illusions. It seems like something where it would either be very well liked, or I would immediately be vilified and then torch and pitchforked. Or maybe both.
posted by quin at 9:34 AM on June 30, 2008


^languagehat: When the posts are really substandard, they get hauled into MetaTalk and pelted with stale muffins. The system works.

Mmmm, I love stale muffins! My first quasi callout: This is now my happiest MetaFilter moment.

Anyway, to stand up for my Emo Philips post, and my own (everchanging) philosophy regarding FPP's:

- (And lord knows I've posted shite FPP's before)

- The way an FPP is worded can give you lots of clues. If you just *WHAM* hit the first link in any FPP expecting it to be the meat, a lot of the time you'll end up disappointed. In my post in particular, The beginning links are the appetizer, to delight the palate, and the final sentence, clearly marked, is the main course (Rattus Norvegicus served in a light bernaise). After the jump: dessert (for those who deserve it). As long as the meat is apparent, and/or there is some sort of interesting context surrounding the meat, is it going to harm you to have to read the FPP before clicking willynilly? (Most FPP's are one ¶ long or less.)

- Now if the links provided are just filler, padding, or have nothing to do at all with the main thrust of the FPP, then the OP should be encouraged to trim it down, GOOGLE MOAR, or... ooo is that a carrot cake muffin? OM NOM NOM NOM!!

- But (munch) as long as there is a meaty treat, a snausage of goodness, then MeFi has been served. The wording, the order--those illustrate to me that everyone here is different, in their own special snowflake way, and it helps make MeFi a more human place, rather than just a receptacle for links.

Sometimes it is useful to have the main link right out in front! Sometimes it would undercut the FPP. Thanks for your encouragement and the brochure.
posted by not_on_display at 9:49 AM on June 30, 2008


Sometimes I think that some of you are smoking weed laced with crushed ritalin between posts.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:51 AM on June 30, 2008


^Burhanistanistanistan: Sometimes I think that some of you are smoking weed laced with crushed ritalin between posts.

Smoking it? What a great idea! You know also that the way I worded my post was to also sidetrack people into looking at the neat psycholinguistic things that are garden path sentences and paraprosdokians. Hey by "some of you," do you mean me? Are you gonna eat that muffin? I think it's blueberry. So yeah, it was like a two-pronged FPP in a way... Dear AskMe, Do I crush the ritalin into the bowl and smoke it first, or do I crush it and then put it into the brownie mix? Wait, ooo, I need to sit down and have a puff first before I try this ... thing ... ummm ... what was I talking about?
posted by not_on_display at 10:00 AM on June 30, 2008


Metafilter: a snausage of goodness
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:01 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sir, you appear to be dangerously high on life.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:35 AM on June 30, 2008


"Based on what evidence? The only thing that is "standard mefi practice" with regard to links is that there must be at least one. Everyone is free to format/arrange their posts in whatever way they think suits the subject and/or will attract those who will be interested in the content. Or not. Or to do whatever they want."

That they are free to deviate from standard practice does not mean that there is not a standard practice, or that there are not reasons for the standard practice. People can post here in other languages, they have and will; people can post in quatrains or Morse code, or rot13—but the standard is English prose.

Looking at the front page right now, 33 posts have their main thrust in their first link; 16 either do not or are ambiguous. The 33 have a higher percentage of what (based on a superficial survey) seem to be newsfilter; the 16 have a higher percentage of what seems to be both artiness and thin, crappy posts (unrelated).

But that the standard exists should be immediately obvious to anyone with any experience reading or posting on the Blue—that the posting form encourages a main link seems obvious, and the 2:1 ratio seems pretty overwhelming.
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 AM on June 30, 2008


Christ, please no post-critiquing. If you don't like it, but it doesn't violate the rules, just ignore it. Your aesthetic tastes are yours.

this is taking metafilter too seriously.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:33 PM on June 30, 2008


Capital letters should be optional.
optional, i tell You!
posted by Dizzy at 1:34 PM on June 30, 2008


I AGREE. MANDATORY CAPITAL LETTERS WOULD BECOME TIRESOME VERY QUICKLY.
posted by quin at 1:40 PM on June 30, 2008


capspunctuationspacesevenfullwordswhoneedsem
posted by caddis at 2:32 PM on June 30, 2008


How about no? Does no work for you?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:02 PM on June 30, 2008


I FIND IT MUCH LESS TIRESOME IF YOU FORGO PUNCTUATION
AND STAND UP WHILE TYPING
POUNDING THE KEYS HELPS TOO
AS DOES MAKING FISTS AND YELLING A LOT

ALSO TRY TYPING ENTIRELY WITH HAMMERS
IT IS VERY SATISFYING TO TYPE WITH HAMMERS
posted by loquacious at 4:52 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]




I totally agree with this, and basically these kind of posts where like, each letter of a word is a different random link and you have no idea what the fuck is supposed to be so interesting, are the reason I just stay on the green.

Which, you know, is fine. I like it there.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:57 PM on June 30, 2008


Sir, you appear to be dangerously high on life.

NEED MOAR RIT N WEED PLS MEMIAL KTHX
posted by not_on_display at 11:46 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Find the most important link in this post. Is there even one? Did the poster even really care about the links?
posted by smackfu at 6:12 AM on July 2, 2008


^Did the poster even really care about the links?

Yes. I think the poster did great job of telling the story he wanted to, and that the links provided were chosen carefully as jumping-off points for those interested in the story to find out more. And the FPP seems to be somewhat of a hit.

To me, it illustrates how there are many ways to approach constructing an FPP. It's obvious that MeFi goes way beyond memepool, allowing for this type of injection-of-personality through posting, but stops short of a blog (which this does resemble--my only beef with that particular FPP), so it becomes: personal expression with links, or personal expression through links? Do you tell a story or make a point and then have the links provide more information, or do your links themselves tell the story? I think it's totally an issue of how you choose to use MeFi, who your intended audience is, etc. So long as the links are interesting(YMMV), the FPP has some reason to exist. If not, then flag, snark, or move on.
posted by not_on_display at 10:44 AM on July 2, 2008


« Older Fred and Sharon go to Hollywood?   |   They erased his face! Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments