Can text links be automatically linkified? January 26, 2011 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Occasionally Mefites post links without making them linky.

Would it be possible to have these text links automatically linkified?

I know about the Linkification add-on for Firefox and that works pretty well. However, when I'm using my iPad, or my phone, it would be nice to be able to easily use the link.
posted by jonesor to Feature Requests at 7:09 AM (80 comments total)

It's surprisingly difficult to determine what someone means to do when they post. If someone includes http://something... we can't automatically make that a link because we don't want to assume they intended to make it a link.

We can edit them after the fact. If you flag the comment as display error we can take a look at the comment and see if it makes sense to turn part of their text into a link.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:14 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


pb's right. You're best off flagging it. The flags do work!
posted by Eideteker at 7:17 AM on January 26, 2011


Well, they don't do work, but they do accomplish things.
posted by Eideteker at 7:18 AM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]




The flags are based in America, so about 10% of them don't work these days.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:20 AM on January 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


I see your point pb. But how about something that scans the submission and if it sees a suspected text link prompts the Mefite to say:

"It looks like you have included non-linkified links in your submission. Such a thing is a scourge and should be stamped out -- would you like us to automatically linkify them?"
posted by jonesor at 7:26 AM on January 26, 2011


The flags are based in America, so about 10% of them don't work these days.

Actually, it's closer to 20% if you don't use some fucked up deflating methodology which excludes the "offensive/sexism/racism" flag.
posted by gman at 7:35 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Encouraging people to just post plain text URLs instead of making it a link is Not A Good Thing.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:35 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


How can they accomplish things without doing work? What are they, aristocrats?
posted by Mister_A at 7:39 AM on January 26, 2011


"It looks like you have included non-linkified links in your submission. Such a thing is a scourge and should be stamped out -- would you like us to automatically linkify them?"

It's definitely a thing we think about, how to err on the side of being able to help people do the thing they WANT to do, but not seem like some sort of nanny-state website where you have to post in a specific way or else you'll get in some sort of trouble or see your post vanish [anyone remember webdesign-l from back in the day?]

So, both cortex and I were like "Oh hellz no!" to this request but we understand that other people may feel differently. When MeFi first started, it was pre HTML-buttons and people had to know how to do the little code themselves. Now we have the buttons, and people don't want to or can't figure out how to use them. So mathowie made a little movie about how to use the link button which makes me a little itchy to think that it's necessary to do that, but people have said it's helpful. More and more people are posting from their phones where making a link requires a lot of extra poking at the screen and some people just don't bother. Others don't know how and/or don't care. Others think we'll do it for them.

On the flip side we have people who email us or threadshit whenever someone spells it's/its wrong. It's a tough crowd. Those people see an unclickable link and it gives them the fidgets, knowing that they can't fix it, seeing it there, unclickable. But we feel that automatically making links clickable may be solving a problem that, for some people, doesn't exist. Even though that sort of behavior is more typical on websites in 2011, it's not a foregone conclusion. And we'd feel weird doing something that was unrevocable [and yes maybe we should talk about the edit window again] if it wasn't what the user wanted. I feel that "did you mean...?" sort of warnings are non-starters since they're somewhat patronizing and a barrier to posting.

I know this sounds sort of petty and dickish, but we really feel people should make their own links. The technology is there, it's available on every platform. We don't want to second guess people and we'll happily fix any unlinked link that appears [flag as hTML error].
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:47 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


METAFILTER: Some Sort of Nanny-State Website Where You Have to Post in a Specific Way or Else You'll Get in Some Sort of Trouble.

From jessamyn herself. Socialism 2.0, man.
posted by Mister_A at 7:54 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am your fire department.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:57 AM on January 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


On the flip side we have people who email us or threadshit whenever someone spells it's/its wrong.

Thats weird.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:59 AM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


People email you about other people's its/it's mistakes? In comments, or just FPPs?
posted by Gator at 8:01 AM on January 26, 2011


How can they accomplish things without doing work? What are they, aristocrats?

Work = mass x distance
Flags have no mass and don't go anywhere so:
Work = 0 x 0 = 0J
∴ Flags do no work.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:05 AM on January 26, 2011


"It looks like you have included non-linkified links in your submission. Such a thing is a scourge and should be stamped out -- would you like us to automatically linkify them?"

Friends don't let friends reinvent Clippy.
posted by zamboni at 8:06 AM on January 26, 2011 [23 favorites]


Thank you Jessamyn. It's a difficult balance. I don't think it's dickish to expect people to make their own links. Anyway, I will continue to ignore non-linky links and/or let the flags do the work...
Actually, it did cross my mind as to whether it was dickish to flag text links as HTML errors. After all, is it too much to ask to simply cut-and-paste the link into a new browser tab?

On preview: aaagh, I can't believe I proposed something like Clippy. If I do it again please ban me. :)
posted by jonesor at 8:12 AM on January 26, 2011


president hopey changey will fix all the brokey so people don't have to be dicky if something is not linky, and that's truthy.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:19 AM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


president hopey changey will fix all the brokey so people don't have to be dicky if something is not linky, and that's truthy.

Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!
posted by gman at 8:28 AM on January 26, 2011


it did cross my mind as to whether it was dickish to flag text links as HTML errors.

Nah, that sort of thing is fine. We'll fix them if we have time. We'd prefer people did the work themselves but sometimes they don't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:32 AM on January 26, 2011


I KNOW MY RIGHTS!!
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:57 AM on January 26, 2011

On preview: aaagh, I can't believe I proposed something like Clippy. If I do it again please ban me. :)
But if they ban you, your pain will be over too quickly. I propose a mass pile-on meta thread instead.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:59 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


You could always use this ancient linkify Greasemonkey script.
posted by Plutor at 9:00 AM on January 26, 2011


I post plain links when I comment via my iPhone or iPad because it is too hard to paste the link into that pop-up.

If Mefites really are that particular about whether links appear as text or live links, then they should come up with a system that allows for easy insertion of links via mobile communications devices.

Else, quit complaining.

Thanks.
posted by dfriedman at 9:07 AM on January 26, 2011


On the flip side we have people who email us or threadshit whenever someone spells it's/its wrong. It's a tough crowd.

Talk about your missed opportunities!
posted by ODiV at 9:14 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


...it is too hard to paste the link into that pop-up.

I know stuff in general is harder on the iPhone, but why is it prohibitively harder to paste into that pop-up? You just need to tap, hold, paste.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:21 AM on January 26, 2011


I paste links into the text box and type up all the HTML to make them into links myself, while on my BlackBerry. Because I love you all that much.
posted by SMPA at 9:27 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


dfriedman: "I post plain links when I comment via my iPhone or iPad because it is too hard to paste the link into that pop-up."

I usually just manually put code links with [a href="http://www.example.com]example.com[/a] when commenting on my BlackBerry. It's not hard to remember, or a lot of effort.

On preview, what SMPA said.
posted by zarq at 9:28 AM on January 26, 2011


I know stuff in general is harder on the iPhone, but why is it prohibitively harder to paste into that pop-up? You just need to tap, hold, paste.

It can be frustrating. I have sort of stumpy, wide fingertips, and tapping in just the right spot on my iPhone is sometimes an exercise in frustration. I have tied to post links from it a couple of times and gave up in exasperation after hitting the wrong spot on the screen again and again. Selecting a range of text is beyond my comprehension, somehow. I may be a special case because I've got a big callous on the tip of my index finger that might inhibit the touchscreen in some way, but either way, it's a minor PITA.

Essentially, I end up just not commenting much at all from the phone. If I need to post a link, I will walk to an actual computer. Mind you, I'm really not complaining about MetaFilter here -- just anecdote-alizing. I don't know what you could do interface-wise short of writing a Metafilter.app.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:30 AM on January 26, 2011


...short of writing a Metafilter.app.

Yeah, but even a native MetaFilter app would have the exact same problems. You still have the issue of writing raw HTML in a text field. I don't know how an app would handle it differently.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:35 AM on January 26, 2011


Friends don't let friends reinvent Clippy.

No need to reinvent anything -- there's now a clippy jQuery plugin.

Work = mass x distance

Work is ∫F⋅dx which for constant force along a straight path equals F d cosϴ which simplifies to force times distance if they are parallel.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:35 AM on January 26, 2011


The iPhone firmware 3.1.3 has a bug that prevents me from pasting into the Javascript "what link?" popup, but I don't blame you.

Gmail breaking in Safari in that way is more frustrating. Here, I can type the <a href=" stuff, at least.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:38 AM on January 26, 2011


Posting links from a mobile device is cumbersome to me too, hence I don't do it. Applying bold and italics is also, but that's more manageable. It feels like a better solution is needed to post links from a mobile device, but I'm at lost as to what it is. Or maybe not, thinking about it, posting from a mobile breaks the cardinal rule, it makes me go slower, which is very frustrating when I used to operating at a faster speed.

Maybe I just need to fsck myself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:41 AM on January 26, 2011


I don't know how an app would handle it differently.

Big giant butans for my stumpy fingers, plz. (Maybe a HeyYouBlindFool.css file for the mobile site - I think part of the frustration is zooming in on the tiny B I link buttons below the comment field because when they're actually large enough to tap, the text field is ginormous and 80% out of the view)
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:45 AM on January 26, 2011


Wow, EndsofInvention made my comment for me. I love this place!
posted by Eideteker at 10:06 AM on January 26, 2011


http://dontlinkmebro.com
posted by klangklangston at 10:08 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


On preview: aaagh, I can't believe I proposed something like Clippy. If I do it again please ban me. :)

A talking plate of beans maybe?
It looks like you are trying to post a relationship question ...

It appears you are posting a question about a computer problem.
Please be sure to specify your operating system.
Maybe the Plate of Beans could only appear for designated problem users as an intermediate measure short of banning them.
You seem to be about to post a fighty comment.
Did you really mean to say "Fuck off, you fucking troll"?
Click OK to continue. Click Back to edit your comment.
Posts containing words and phrases like "fuck off" and "troll" may be deleted by the site's moderators. Repeated posting of comments with fighty content may lead to your account being suspended.
Click OK to continue.
Fortunately, the mods are not mean people.
posted by nangar at 10:15 AM on January 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


both cortex and I were like "Oh hellz no!" to this request --- I get it. Job security, right? You and the autoworkers, don't want a machine taking your gig. Maybe you need to unionize?
posted by crunchland at 10:17 AM on January 26, 2011


Another reason for not making links clickable is that it does impact a pages search ranking. So, if you want to link something, but not give them the little boost of a referrer link coming from a popular website, it's not a terrible thing to make people copy and paste into the address bar.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:21 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am looking for a script that will automatically flag every comment in a post. I need this script for the purpose of SCIENCE. Please hope me, you're my only hope.
posted by Mister_A at 10:22 AM on January 26, 2011


I post plain links when I comment via my iPhone or iPad because it is too hard to paste the link into that pop-up.

Yeah, no, it's not that hard. I sometimes comment from my iPod, and it's just not that difficult or time-consuming to use the link button.
posted by rtha at 10:36 AM on January 26, 2011


nangar: " Fortunately, the mods are not mean people."

Thank G-d.
posted by zarq at 10:37 AM on January 26, 2011


Wow, EndsofInvention made my comment for me. I love this place!

Great Minds think alike, and all that.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:53 AM on January 26, 2011


Links insufficiently linky
Can drive us poor readers to drinky
And to misuse its/it's
Merely causes thread-shits
That's why MeFi is so fucking stinky.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:54 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


You and the autoworkers, don't want a machine taking your gig.

Oh man, believe me, if I could build a machine that could reliably take a bare url and figure out an acceptable word in the accompanying comment around which to relocate it as proper hyperlink, I would build it and turn it on and gladly recapture those bits of my day for something more entertaining.

As it is, the machine that's easy to build is also a piece of crap that would actively encourage more lazy bare-url linking, and so I say fie.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:01 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's all about degrees. I definitely sympathize with people who have a difficult time posting links from their phones. At the same time, there is a bit of a "we expect you to do a little bit of the work here" philosophy in terms of stuff like quoting, basic HTML, capitalization and spelling. We definitely see questions in AskMe where people don't do the work to use caps and punctuation [and I'm not talking about ESL sorts of errors I'm thinking "what d u think" sorts of things] and I sort of feel that there's a low barrier to entry here but there is a barrier, and that that's okay. We'd like you to take the time to do things right. If you can't post [or look up] a link from your phone, maybe you need to wait til you're somewhere where you can do those things to comment. Or make a linkless comment. Or, rarely, just paste the URL and we can fix it.

I know this is definitely a "reasonable people disagree" sort of case, but I feel strongly that we don't want to go down the path of lowest-common-denominator communication, I just don't know if making a hyperlink is far along that path or not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:08 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the flip side we have people who email us or threadshit whenever someone spells it's/its wrong.

Good god. I never knew. I owe each of you several beverages of your choice. Maybe several cases.
posted by bonehead at 11:08 AM on January 26, 2011


it's too hard to post a link on a mobile device? the html code for link isn't hard to remember. this excuse makes even less sense for bold and italics. we're talking about 7 or 11 characters here...
posted by nadawi at 11:27 AM on January 26, 2011


Those people see an unclickable link and it gives them the fidgets, knowing that they can't fix it, seeing it there, unclickable.

The only solution is community editing of all posts.
posted by doublehappy at 11:31 AM on January 26, 2011


When you all are modding, is it a proactive thing, like walking a virtual beat, or do you get so many flags and emails and things that you spend most of your time running down complaints and things? Or somewhere in the middle?

Also, do you have big mod meetings before special days like 9/11 where you try to identify problems and formulate responses before they arise? Kind of like the daily morning briefings on Hill Street Blues? What is a day on the MeFi beat like?
posted by Mister_A at 11:31 AM on January 26, 2011


When you all are modding, is it a proactive thing, like walking a virtual beat, or do you get so many flags and emails and things that you spend most of your time running down complaints and things? Or somewhere in the middle?

More to the latter. Not really only because the flags and email and such keep us reasonably busy (they do) but because there's enough content on the site on a daily basis that just looking at all of it would be a recipe for eye-strain and burnout.

So we look at what comes to our attention, and we also will deal with stuff we just happen to trip across in the process of reading for reading's sake, and that latter bit is kind of like working a beat I suppose but there's no pattern or organization to what we look at. There's lots of potential dark alleys we don't ever look down, and if no one else is looking either than who knows if anything is up.

Fortunately, we've got a lot of pairs of eyes on the site, so most stuff gets glanced at by someone and if there's obvious trouble they'll let us know. For some of the weirder edge cases we've got tools that help us look systematically at potential problems in the archives or with new users, etc.

Also, do you have big mod meetings before special days like 9/11 where you try to identify problems and formulate responses before they arise?

Now and then, though its more "quick email conversation" than anything. Big days like that, yeah, or if something crazy is happening or looking likely to happen, we'll sometimes toss some mail back and forth to try and figure out if there are any specific things we want to watch for or plan for or respond to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:40 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I once by way of accident hacked my way into the flag queue. Not wanting to lose the data, I put it on a CD.

Then I got arrested for burning flags, tee-hee
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:55 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


So there's no MeFi war room then, eh?
posted by Mister_A at 11:58 AM on January 26, 2011


Mister_A: "Kind of like the daily morning briefings on Hill Street Blues? What is a day on the MeFi beat like?"

I now have this mental image of mathowie in a MeFi uniform saying, "Let's be careful out there."
posted by zarq at 12:01 PM on January 26, 2011


Also, do you have big mod meetings before special days like 9/11 where you try to identify problems and formulate responses before they arise? Kind of like the daily morning briefings on Hill Street Blues?

Do ya'll have suit up and take survival supplies for big threads? Like jessamyn flies the Mod-copter and drops you into a Palin thread with a week's worth of supplies, bowie knife and signal flare?

Or have ya'll already set up teleportation stations around key subjects, so quick travel between threads? Or do you prefer wormholes? I bet pb can wormholes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:01 PM on January 26, 2011


I bet pb can wormholes.

You are totally right.

And yeah we don't have morning briefings [morning?] but we do talk about big topic stuff. So when there was a bunch of Wikileaks stuff [and associated fatigue] happening, every time there was a new Wikileaks post we'd have a quick chat about "Is this going to be today's Wikileaks post, do you think?" and move on. If there are a bunch of posts on the same topic or if someone's having a bad day and sort of acting up in threads all over the site we'll usually try to catch up with each other and talk about it a little.

Basically between flag queue, contact form inbox, MeMail inbox and just reading and commenting in MetaTalk that's mostly what keeps us busy. Every now and again there's some downtime and cortex goes off doing some data crunching and I usually work on the Wiki.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:06 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


we don't have morning briefings

Then when do you get to eat donuts?
posted by mmmbacon at 12:13 PM on January 26, 2011


I now have this mental image of mathowie in a MeFi uniform saying, "Let's be careful out there."

Then a quick camera cut to cortex dressed as a rabbi, growling and biting some dude's ear.
posted by zamboni at 12:13 PM on January 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do you have like a special work keyboard that is only for work, and then a really fun one with unicorns and stuff for later? I'm asking cortex.
posted by Mister_A at 12:18 PM on January 26, 2011


MetaTalk: Maybe I just need to fsck myself.
posted by languagehat at 12:21 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why do links have to be clickable if they're just in a comment?
If you're that interested in a link you'll paste it in your search bar anyway and if not who cares?
posted by Omnomnom at 1:33 PM on January 26, 2011


Because one is easy on the eyes and user-friendly and one is not

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=mcminnville+oregon&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=McMinnville,+Yamhill,+Oregon&gl=us&sqi=2&t=h&z=12

For those who drop raw html in rather than making a link because you're on a mobile device: it's easier to click a linkified link than to highlight a string of text, copy it, open a new browser window/tab, and paste it, right? Some of us actually like to click links when we're on mobile devices; maybe you do too. Do unto others.
posted by rtha at 1:45 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I once by way of accident hacked my way into the flag queue. Not wanting to lose the data, I put it on a CD.

Then I got arrested for burning flags, tee-hee


I KNEW there was a way to make that joke - I just couldn't get there on my own. Thank you.
posted by doublehappy at 1:56 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know it was already mentioned at the top of the thread, but the Linkification Firefox add-on really is terrific.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:23 PM on January 26, 2011


take a bare url and figure out an acceptable word in the accompanying comment around which to relocate it as proper hyperlink --- I don't suppose you couldn't just search for "http://" then select it to the next hard space, glom an [<a href=" on the beginning of it and a >link</a>] on the end and be done with it?
posted by crunchland at 3:40 PM on January 26, 2011


I'm against this pony because sometimes you don't want a URL parsed as a link and if this pony was implemented we'd have to try and remember how to escape the autolinkification.

dfriedman writes "I post plain links when I comment via my iPhone or iPad because it is too hard to paste the link into that pop-up.

"If Mefites really are that particular about whether links appear as text or live links, then they should come up with a system that allows for easy insertion of links via mobile communications devices."


I'm amazed this is a problem; we're only talking a dozen or so extra characters. Minus automatic linkification how do you conceptualize an easier way to make links on mobile devices?
posted by Mitheral at 4:54 PM on January 26, 2011


jessamyn: "cortex goes off doing some data crunching"

whither the music podcast?
posted by boo_radley at 7:21 PM on January 26, 2011


MetaFilter: Don't Fuck Up My Beer, Now
posted by not_on_display at 7:56 PM on January 26, 2011


1. Double-click the URL
2. Press Ctrl+C
3. Double-click the URL in your browser's address bar
4. Press Ctrl+V
5. Press Enter
6. Marvel at how simple that was
posted by Sys Rq at 8:34 PM on January 26, 2011


(Correction: Step 1 may require a triple-click.)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:37 PM on January 26, 2011


jessamyn: "More and more people are posting from their phones where making a link requires a lot of extra poking at the screen and some people just don't bother."

Have you guys considered making the link bigger only for iphones?
posted by yaymukund at 8:52 PM on January 26, 2011


6. Marvel at how simple that was what a pain in the ass it was to do that on a mobile device. A moblie device that' probably a lot like the one used by the person who put the link in.

Maybe it's just me, but I find it much easier to make a linkified link on my ipod than I do to go through the process of selecting/copying/pasting html.
posted by rtha at 9:02 PM on January 26, 2011


I'm kind of surprised that you can't get some sort of browser or plug-in that automatically "linkifies" URLs.
posted by ODiV at 9:20 PM on January 26, 2011


I'm kind of surprised that people actually read MetaFilter on their phones, considering how dreadfully "inconvenient" it apparently is.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:25 AM on January 27, 2011


But reading is convenient. Posting isn't.
posted by crunchland at 4:23 AM on January 27, 2011


ODiV: "I'm kind of surprised that you can't get some sort of browser or plug-in that automatically "linkifies" URLs."

Ahem
posted by Plutor at 4:56 AM on January 27, 2011


I'm kind of surprised that you can't get some sort of browser or plug-in that automatically "linkifies" URLs.

Ahem - at the top of the page:
I know about the Linkification add-on for Firefox and that works pretty well.
posted by jonesor at 5:35 AM on January 27, 2011


Ahem --- call us when it works on Safari for the iPhone.
posted by crunchland at 6:15 AM on January 27, 2011


Mobile Safari is the new IE.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:23 AM on January 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I meant specifically for phones since copypasting URLs seems like a much bigger issue there.
posted by ODiV at 8:55 AM on January 27, 2011


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