Missing link found, was mislabeled May 11, 2009 7:29 AM   Subscribe

Revising this FAQ to address linking in posts like this.

Lots of MeFi posts contain multiple links. For me, the best such posts distinguish the multiple hyperlinks via anchor text that describes something distinctive about each link (so, in the example provided, one link would show Danielle "playing," another "singing", etc.) -- or, if they are all of the same kind, simply describe the multiple links generically and provide links via a "1, 2, 3" format with hyperlinks at the end. For example, in this popular post, inconsequentialist provides links to videos that do, in fact, have to do with Obama "himself" and his "administration" (good linking), but the association between "few" and "jabs" and the particular linked videos is less robust. I'm sure there are better examples.

Sometimes hovering the cursor tells the story, but often not, and it would be nice (in my view) to deter folks from arbitrarily associating links with words in the description. Might it be better to suggest something like "If you hyperlink to multiple sources, try to do so in a way tells the reader how the sources are different from one another, or if they are all examples of the same thing, simply use a "1, 2, 3, etc." format."

Apologies for terminological errors, but you get the drift of the suggestion -- just thought I would throw it out there.
posted by Clyde Mnestra to Etiquette/Policy at 7:29 AM (46 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

You are free to do this, but I doubt that many will be convinced to change their ways.
posted by schyler523 at 7:37 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think you're making a generally valid observation about the value of attending to the semantics of a post when putting it together. If folks do that, it's nice, and is worth a couple of invisible style points for construction.

But we pretty much don't legislate posting style issues that fall below the Oh My God What The Hell Are You Thinking threshold, and we're certainly not likely to modify something as lean as that FAQ entry just to inject a specific style prescription re: semantic linking.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:45 AM on May 11, 2009


Yeah, not the worst idea at all, but people will post how they want to post, and putting anything in the FAQ, even as a suggestion of something you *can* do, rather than *should* or *must* is unlikely to change the way people do things.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:47 AM on May 11, 2009


Maybe we can just encourage people to use the title tag in these situations.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:05 AM on May 11, 2009


Revising this FAQ to address linking in posts like this.

Would be better expressed as:

Revising this FAQ to address linking in posts.

Or perhaps:

Revising this FAQ to address linking in posts.

Also, this:

For example, in this popular post, inconsequentialist provides links to videos...

could be rewritten as:

For example, inconsequentialist provides links to videos...
posted by DU at 8:17 AM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Revising this FAQ to address linking in posts like this.

The whole point of a FAQ, and the reason why a FAQ is usually more informative and useful than user documentation in general, is that its scope is limited to questions from users that come up fairly often. Nobody asks about how to format their YouTube links, so if an entry was added to the FAQ most people would just skip over it and very few people would actually read the entry and follow the advice.

The only real way to enforce something like this would be to use the same method that the mods use with the annoying "more inside" jokes that people add to posts: edit them out when they see them and wait for the inevitable MeMail or MetaTalk posts asking why their post was modified. At that point a FAQ entry would make sense, but without enforcing the rule through moderation there's not much of a chance of affecting how people format their links through official changes to the guidelines.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:18 AM on May 11, 2009


it is impractical to legislate away s t y l e.
posted by the aloha at 8:21 AM on May 11, 2009


All reasonable replies, except for this one: I think the suggested norm is easily stated, has general application, and is not the equivalent of rewriting a particular post. But I take it you disagree, and find this a clever way of making your point, which must have its own rewards.

The only other disagreement I might have concerns the nature of an FAQ and the need to generate questions before doing anything; the FAQs point to these guidelines, which could be amended. But cortex makes a very reasonable point -- I see that these have to kept lean, and that there has to be a higher threshold.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:33 AM on May 11, 2009


I agree. Linking each word to a bunch of random stuff is annoying as hell.
posted by delmoi at 8:34 AM on May 11, 2009


Well, I agree that it's annoying. But the FAQ isn't a style guide and I don't know if we want to have one.
posted by delmoi at 8:35 AM on May 11, 2009


We try to keep the FAQ as limited to questions that people have actually asked us, often. As much as I'd love to use this site as my bully pulpit to teach people how to use the Internet better style type stuff doesn't really belong there. Maybe there's a page on the wiki that exists (or could be created) for something like this?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:49 AM on May 11, 2009


jessamyn, thanks -- I am sure this is just one of a thousand pet peeves. I was of a mind that this represents a phenomenon that is particularly prevalent on MeFi, and less a matter of general netiquette, but that probably just reflects my lack of experience with similar communities elsewhere.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:53 AM on May 11, 2009


It's a pretty big thing in usability circles. If you're making a website that is a little more useful to people using screen readers, one of the easist things to fix is the way a lot of people (myself included) have a tendency to say things like "For more information click here" and so someone who is scanning a page looking for hte links (because they want to go to one) gets read a bunch of links that just say "here" "here" "here" and it's like someone's taking attendence in fifth grade.

So yeah I agree, better linking would be terrific. But so would people learning its/it's, not making stupid more inside jokes in AskMe which make no sense when you read a question on an RSS reader, not linking entire paragraphs in pull-quotes, not pull-quoting everything you link to, apologizing for typos with additional comments, needling other people about typos with additional comments, "I'd hit it" jokes (we will always be at war with "I'd hit it"), saying "shame on you" to people in AskMe, linking individual letters in a word, putting your question in the title box in the AskMe form and typing sentences into the tag box leading to this sort of thing. Heck, I'd die happy if everyone learned to hyperlink at all.

So yeah, I feel your pain. And I suggest long walks in the woods.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:06 AM on May 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Clyde Mnestra: jessamyn, thanks -- I am sure this is just one of a thousand pet peeves. I was of a mind that this represents a phenomenon that is particularly prevalent on MeFi, and less a matter of general netiquette, but that probably just reflects my lack of experience with similar communities elsewhere.

It is a phenomenon that's particularly prevalent on meFi—that is, there are a lot of people that like to make and to read posts like this. If you don't, well, you're certainly entitled to your pet peeves, but understand that a sizeable number of us really like posts that are brief and to the point. Clicking on links is what the internet's about.

We used to have this argument constantly, as I recall. There used to be a good chunk of mefites (geez, anybody remember mcgraw?) who took this as their whole posting style. There was often a whole lot of neat stuff under those links, and delving through it was a joy; I still feel as though we're not children enough to need everything wikified and explained to us fully and completely before we click on it.

But now, with the settling of Metafilter into its new, much larger user-base (and maybe because of the backlash from the rickroll meme) every single post on Metafilter seems to be a whole lot more uniform and predictable, like we're writing only book reports and no more poetry. I kinda liked the old style, but I'm not one to pine for the past. I can say, however, that that ukulele post is by no means the most obtuse and difficult post we've had. In fact, there are certain people who still do this kind of thing, and I happen to think that Metafilter's better for it.
posted by koeselitz at 9:11 AM on May 11, 2009


So, here's one vote for 'no moral strictures where moral strictures aren't needed.'
posted by koeselitz at 9:16 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


jessamyn writes "If you're making a website that is a little more useful to people using screen readers, one of the easist things to fix is the way a lot of people (myself included) have a tendency to say things like 'For more information click here' and so someone who is scanning a page looking for hte links (because they want to go to one) gets read a bunch of links that just say 'here' 'here' 'here' and it's like someone's taking attendence in fifth grade."

Especially when it's a link to a book on amazon or a movie on IMDB. One goes to all the trouble of searching for the entry for the item and making a hyperlink yet neglects to actually give the title in the comment. Drives me crazy a bit less now that I rarely read offline anymore but still irritating.
posted by Mitheral at 9:28 AM on May 11, 2009


koeselitz, I suspect the phenomenon to which I am reacting is less those making a bold stylistic statement than some subsequent wave that is imitating a style and which could use a contrary stylistic suggestion. But it's impossible to distinguish the phenomena and I didn't mean to suggest that anyone should spend time enforcing a rule doing so, let alone regard it as a moral stricture.

It sounds like you value surprise and obscurity more than I do, which I agree is a matter of taste.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:30 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


fuck mystery meat posts.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:56 AM on May 11, 2009


First, the banned the Mystery Meat posts, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Mystery Meatist;
And then they banned Twitter posts, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Twitter poster;
And then they banned posts about art and music, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t interested in art or music;
And then they banned posts about DIY hamster-powered encryption keychains... And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

Take that, Godwin.
posted by Plutor at 11:03 AM on May 11, 2009


Take that, Godwin.

So I was playing a show with a friend last night, and he had to like tune his guitar or some other time-wasting bullshit in the middle of the set and so I did some i-am-aware-this-is-awkward-banter banter, told a couple of stupid jokes and such. And I end up making a deadpan joke about how Hitler was a pretty funny guy, the sort of thing that you might just say on Mefi in the context (or lack thereof) of something or other.

People in real life are apparently more surprised by ironic praise of Hitler than are people on the internet. You'd think I was Lenny Bruce up there or some shit.

posted by cortex (staff) at 11:08 AM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


IRL Hitler praise does tend to raise eyebrows.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:43 AM on May 11, 2009


Forget mefi changing your writing style, now when you meet someone you hand them a list of mefi jokes to make sure that you aren't seen as a nut.
posted by bigmusic at 11:44 AM on May 11, 2009


IRL Hitler praise does tend to raise eyebrows.

I believe you are thinking of someone else. }B-)
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:03 PM on May 11, 2009


You know who else liked to praise Hitler?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:23 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Henry Ford?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:28 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


RAQ
posted by hermitosis at 12:55 PM on May 11, 2009


I want to buy a Hitler painting. I have a pretty eclectic collection of art, and I'd love to go around my apartment, showing off my art, and say, oh, this was painted by Cheeta, the chimp from Tarzan of the Apes, this is a print from a radical design collective in Minnesota in the 1960s, this is a Beuys, this is a painting of an elephant painted BY an elephant, that's a Hitler, that a Warhol watercolor of a pink cat ...

What's that? Yes, a Hitler. You're aware of him? What's that you say? I'm sorry, I'm not sure why you mean -- I am only familiar with him as an artist.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:10 PM on May 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I want to buy a Hitler painting. I have a pretty eclectic collection of art,

Load up your printer with some nice card stock and print this one out and frame it. What I would find even more privately amusing is to just have a 4X6 in the bathroom and don't tell anyone. See if anyone remarks about it in any way.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:23 PM on May 11, 2009


Having pretty much given up on trying to convince 35 or so staff to write reports in a consistent fashion, I can only imagine the horror of trying to convince ~80k strangers to write using a consistent style. This goes way beyond tilting at windmills and, perhaps, even beyond tilting at whole wind farms.

Give it up lest you be driven insane. Accept the differences in people.
posted by dg at 1:36 PM on May 11, 2009


It will actually be incredibly amusing, and moreover privately amusing in more ways than one, when I show my friends that Hitler apparently painted a “403 Forbidden: You don't have permission to view this page.”

Seriously, bytwerk.com, what exactly is so goddamned frightening about somebody surfing into your site with Firefox or Opera? Oooh, scary, if they're not Microsoft, they might be evil! Honestly, friends, I think somebody forgot to revise the user agent security blocks from 1998 or something.

Anyway: anybody who wants to follow Burhanistan's link in Firefox or Opera (I'm on Vista, dunno if there's alternate behavior on other platforms but I'm willing to bet that there isn't, since a 403 on all but one browser is a pretty sure sign of screwy user agent settings) can just click on the link, copy the address, open a new window or tab, paste the address, and go there. The lockout just doesn't let you get there from another page. It also isn't effective for the folders, so you can alternately go up a directory and navigate down.

</nerdwithtoomuchtimeonhishands>
posted by koeselitz at 1:58 PM on May 11, 2009


It will actually be incredibly amusing, and moreover privately amusing in more ways than one, when I show my friends that Hitler apparently painted a “403 Forbidden: You don't have permission to view this page.”

Try the parent directory.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:00 PM on May 11, 2009


Strange. The parent directory 404's. But if you click Burhanistan's link and then remove "/hitlerart3.jpg" from it, the parent directory opens.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:03 PM on May 11, 2009


They're all just behind a user agent shield. You can't navigate in from another site with Firefox or Opera.

Incidentally, you don't get 403's when you're using IE. I'm not testing the dozen other browsers, but I'm guessing somebody somewhere is under the interesting impression that IE is more secure than anything else—or hasn't changed their server settings in a while.
posted by koeselitz at 2:20 PM on May 11, 2009


bigmusic: Forget mefi changing your writing style, now when you meet someone you hand them a list of mefi jokes to make sure that you aren't seen as a nut.

I have tried this, and it has not had the effect it was supposed to have.
posted by koeselitz at 2:28 PM on May 11, 2009


I'm using Firefox on Vista and can click on the link just fine. You can also just press shift + F5.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:30 PM on May 11, 2009


I'm in Firefox in Vista now, and I still get 403 forbiddens every time I click that link.

And shift + F5 doesn't seem to be a shortcut in Firefox for me—nothing happens. But even when I reload with F5, I get nothing. Do you mean Control-F5 (force reload + clear cache)? Even that does nothing—still 403. The only thing that does it is navigating up a directory and back down, or going to the page in a fresh browser.

Weird. You, uh, don't have a user agent switcher, I imagine... that would make it too easy. Hmm...
posted by koeselitz at 2:48 PM on May 11, 2009


Heh—Marisa, it does work with the parent directory. It's just that you added an 'a' in the middle of '.caom.'
posted by koeselitz at 2:52 PM on May 11, 2009


Eh, Hitler's paintings kind of suck anyways.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:55 PM on May 11, 2009


But, hey, check out the guy's collection of Nazi era postage stamps.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:57 PM on May 11, 2009


Heh—Marisa, it does work with the parent directory. It's just that you added an 'a' in the middle of '.caom.'

I need to stop assuming that most websites are hosted by the Kingdom of Caomalia and Outlying Islands.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:03 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


koeselitz writes "Seriously, bytwerk.com, what exactly is so goddamned frightening about somebody surfing into your site with Firefox or Opera? Oooh, scary, if they're not Microsoft, they might be evil! Honestly, friends, I think somebody forgot to revise the user agent security blocks from 1998 or something."

I'm getting just a regular hotlink blocking 403. Copy pasting shows me the image.
posted by Mitheral at 3:12 PM on May 11, 2009


> Load up your printer with some nice card stock and print this one out and frame it. What I would find even more privately amusing is to just have a 4X6 in the bathroom and don't tell anyone. See if anyone remarks about it in any way.

Clyde Mnestra wept.
posted by nowonmai at 4:13 PM on May 11, 2009


Load up your printer with some nice card stock and print this one out and frame it. What I would find even more privately amusing is to just have a 4X6 in the bathroom and don't tell anyone. See if anyone remarks about it in any way.

I already have an original print from the 30s, about that size too!

Of course, it's in a tattered bright orange book with crumbling pages, with "Adolf Hitler" in 72pt shiny gold fraktur on the cover. Most of the chapters are about what a summer guy Hitler is, with glossy black and white photos pasted in every page. One of the exceptions is a chapter on his watercolors, with color matte reproductions (there are also chapters by Goebbles and Speer).

The whole thing is extremely well typeset in two-column justified blackletter — it's like NAZITEX!
posted by blasdelf at 5:34 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


My, Godwin's Law has certainly evolved; Hitler is still a derail, but now because everyone's so engrossed in his artwork.

If any of you had come up with self-portrait of him playing the uke, *then* I'd be impressed.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:27 AM on May 12, 2009


If any of you had come up with self-portrait of him playing the uke, *then* I'd be impressed.

Will a banjo do?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:56 PM on May 12, 2009


Mitheral: I'm getting just a regular hotlink blocking 403. Copy pasting shows me the image.

I thought that at first too, but this isn't hotlink-blocked in IE.

I guess a much more rational explanation is: whoever developed this developed it in FF (or some other non-IE) and just didn't see that the hotlink blocking was broken in IE.
posted by koeselitz at 1:06 PM on May 12, 2009


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