SL vs. ML? May 14, 2012 8:28 PM   Subscribe

So this double was deleted (as it should be). However, I'm curious if my behaviour regarding the posts is unique or if other Mefites are in my company: when I saw the original post, I started reading it and quickly (half-way through the first sentence) scrolled past it. However, the double, which is a SLYT, was immediately clicked and I loved the content. Of course, my loss as it might not have been reposted, but... what are your browsing habits regarding verbose multi-link posts vs. succinct single link ones?

Not counting the irrelevant posts in the double, it had more comments and a third of the likes in one hour compared to FLT's 5-day old original...
posted by You Should See the Other Guy to Etiquette/Policy at 8:28 PM (84 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I prefer brevity.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:55 PM on May 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't have a preference (except when posts are so brief that they become mystery meat or are so long they require several minutes to read) but the first post I skipped over because a wall of italic text is too hard to read.
posted by Mitheral at 9:00 PM on May 14, 2012 [3 favorites]



posted by Pinback at 9:02 PM on May 14, 2012


(Damn you, Mitheral!)
posted by Pinback at 9:03 PM on May 14, 2012


Unlike many, I rarely bother with following links from multilink posts. I appreciate the craft and effort that goes into many of them, certainly. But I tend to prefer posts that show me One Neat Thing, then step back and let me investigate further, if I'm so inclined.

I realize I may be an outlier in this matter.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:11 PM on May 14, 2012 [31 favorites]


I don't actually like the much-celebrated long paragraphs filled with links. I expect the single links I click to have amazing content, and they usually do, whereas the longer ones are often inflated with filler.
posted by lookoutbelow at 9:12 PM on May 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


*stands beside stavros*
posted by dg at 9:12 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I realize I may be an outlier in this matter.

Maybe, but that's my preference too.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:14 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree; I'm much more likely to click a clearly and briefly described single link than anything else.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:17 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


When creating a post I try to make sure the actual main link appears above the fold, so it's easier to focus on. If needed, I add extra links for context inside the post.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:17 PM on May 14, 2012


You Should See the Other Guy: "what are your browsing habits regarding verbose multi-link posts vs. succinct single link ones? "

I tend to open the thread of a post first before clicking the links. With multilink posts I'll leave the thread open, then open each of the links into tabs.

As far as preference, I appreciate a finely crafted multilink post and they're one of my favorite things about MeFi. But I don't have a preference for reading one over the other.
posted by zarq at 9:39 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


For some reason when I actually post something, it will generally be multi-link. However when I'm reading I'm less likely to read a long post and definitely will not click all the links if I do.
posted by Deflagro at 9:58 PM on May 14, 2012


I wish people would quit with the annoying style of "here's a paragraph-long quote that won't make a lick of sense until you get to the very end where finally link text actually tells you what the post is about." Example:
"We were constantly surprised. Every time we thought we'd seen everything, something new came along and showed us how wrong we were. At first it was just a variety of types of food -- crumbs, frosting, candy shells, mysterious goos of assorted consistency. Then came the dead insects, fingernails, scabs. Occasionally there would be a coin, or a bobby pin; staples and paper clips were regular discoveries. Every style and type of hair from thick beard to eyelash to locks several feet long was represented. But none of us were prepared for the first time we found a set of small bones." -- Stories from the workers at IBM's keyboard cleaning division of the late 1980s.
Argh! You're not being clever, you're just being annoying. I want to know what the post is about, I don't want to read a detective novel and piece it together slowly.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:16 PM on May 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


Even so, I wish, with all my soul, that that had been a real link.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 10:33 PM on May 14, 2012 [35 favorites]


I too didn't even look twice because such a large block of italics it too hard to read. I prefer using blockquote for quotations of more than a sentence or two in posts. Italics is fine for quoting a line or two from another comment when commenting, but when I quote extensively in a comment, especially from an outside source, I almost exclusively use blockquote.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:39 PM on May 14, 2012


We're all outliers on this bus.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:06 PM on May 14, 2012


I've almost posted things a couple of times but found they were actually already linked, buried in some long forgotten post. TBH I suspect that though linkfests are a great way of making a post safe from critisism they're also a great way of burying the link you actually wanted the post to be about in the first place.
posted by Artw at 11:32 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, obit post should have a lot of fleshed out links, other posts should just have just one link. Unfortunately, the opposite usually happens. Like the one with "like a virgin" and a remote control plane. Never did figure out what the hell everyone was talking about, because the what the post was about was to well hidden.

People work really hard to make a nice post by filling it full of extra stuff, when it would've been much better without it.
posted by BurnChao at 11:53 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another outlier here.

It's rare for there to be more than one absolutely fantastic link in a post, and as Artw says, if you bury it in a linkfest, there's a good chance I'm going to miss it.

Where I feel differently about it is when there's a subject or issue that I knew nothing at all about, and a variety of links can give me wider context or a range of perspectives on the issue.

But the 49 link discography posts? I know some people love them but I'm not a fan.

Unless flapjax at midnight made it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:55 PM on May 14, 2012


Unfortunately, the opposite usually happens. Like the one with "like a virgin" and a remote control plane.

Aside from the remote controlled plane clip, I thought that was an example of a music post done well.

But the plane clip was a big mistake, I'll grant you. I watched for about 5 seconds and moved on to the next link, so I didn't feel too bad. If there had been twenty links in that post, I'd have probably just moved on to the next post.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:58 PM on May 14, 2012


My theory about how many-link posts became more common:
When faced with a mega-link post, I will often favorite it with the vague self-deception of "oh, I'll be sure to come back to this later". That type of post gets a ton of favorites, and I'm guessing a fair number of them are of this type (or of the "reward for obvious effort, even if I'm not clicking your links" type). Of course, this means more people think those posts are highly valued, so we get more of them.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:10 AM on May 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think the obsessive multi-link posts feel like almost stunty celebrations of quantity over quality. I wish people saved them for their own blog. Cataloging 147 covers of the Mary Tyler Moore show theme or posting links to every episode of Full House on YouTube does not seem like the best of the web to me.

I'll always get more enjoyment out of a great single link post, but posters will obviously get their accolades for the multi-link behemoths.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:48 AM on May 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I hate the multilink smorgasbord. If folk want to do it, I wish they'd LABEL their links, rather than make it part of a sentence.

When people don't label their links and they've done a sh!tload of them, I check to see how many comments it has. If it has a lot, I scan down to the first few multifavourited comments, read them and then decide. Usually someone, in that instance, will have linked to or quoted the good bit and I can avoid all the detritus. I know, I'm shallow.
posted by taff at 12:58 AM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I appreciate two or three decent supporting links.

I have a bit of a prejudice against slyts. I tip my hat to the large compendia but do not generally read them.
posted by Segundus at 1:10 AM on May 15, 2012


I love epic multi-link posts if they are done well.

Things like kittenmarlowe's wonderful post on bread really get me interested, although it does help that big posts are often about obscure bits of history, which floats my boat in general. Without them I wouldn't inhabit MeFi anywhere near as much as I do.

Single link posts, particularly to youtube fluff, are very unlikely to grab my attention.

Just goes to show, everyone's different.
posted by deadwax at 1:46 AM on May 15, 2012


Speaking of bad linkage, please people, if you have to do a single linke youtube video, make the description clear enough I don't need to follow the link to know what's it all about.

I personally like long, well crafted posts with plenty of good links (that Muppet post last year frex); it's just that it's so much harder to do them right than a post with only one or a few links.

These sort of posts should therefore be relatively rare, which they are, but they do drive a lot of the (meta) conversation even if they may not always get as many comments themselves.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:59 AM on May 15, 2012


I rarely bother with lengthy, multi-link posts unless they happen to be about something I'm especially interested in. too many of them do not give enough information about the content of the individual links, and life's too short and busy to go investigating every one to see if it's actually of interest.

I'm also put off by long text-n-link orgies that scream "I am so trying for the 'Post of the month' award here.'
posted by Decani at 2:43 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I almost never click on the video posts. At work, obviously, video is just a bit too far in casual surfing breaks. I live with people; they don't like listening to me watch videos. Perhaps mostly though, my attention span is short and I can read faster than they talk in the video. Some videos are great, but if I just want to absorb information I would much rather read it than watch it.
posted by caddis at 3:33 AM on May 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


If what's before [more inside] catches my interest, I'll read or skim the rest of longer posts. The size of a post by itself doesn't, as far as I'm aware, influence whether I'm going to look closely at it/follow the links. I also avoid watching videos, but that's because of my bias against videos, not the way those links are presented.
posted by audi alteram partem at 4:06 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The worst, by far, were the ones where each letter in a word was its own link -- thank god no one is making those any longer, they were real wrist-slitters.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:12 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I much prefer single, clearly labelled links (that do not say SLYT!!!)
posted by empath at 4:43 AM on May 15, 2012


I realize I may be an outlier in this matter.

Maybe, but that's my preference too.


Me too.
posted by Forktine at 4:58 AM on May 15, 2012


A well written post trumps all, no matter the size. But rarely do I read most of the links in a huge post, unless I've created it.

This is one of my favorite types of posts and one I don't see a lot of on the site. A single link or two to a well written post/article/whatever that has an interesting perspective and is packed with links. I was so happy to share that.

Otherwise, if you're gonna do a huge post, at least make it an interesting story that conveys the meat or hook in the post itself, while having plenty of links for those who want to geek out on details or back stories.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:04 AM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will often dig deep into multi-link posts, but I prefer the most important, most interesting link to be the very first one. When the first link in a multi-link post of any length is to a Wikipedia page or the like, I get a bit sad.
posted by muddgirl at 5:33 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I mouseover and see a youtube link and nothing else, I skip to another post. (This isn't a snob thing. It's just that if I have my speakers/headphones turned on, it's because I'm already listening to something, and if I don't, I don't feel like hauling out my headphones for mystery meat, and I sure don't want to play whatever it is for everyone in earshot.)

If there's supporting information that looks interesting and a quick peek at the comments looks promising, I'll bookmark and either look at it later or mean to look at it later and forget, because I'm like that.
posted by Karmakaze at 5:40 AM on May 15, 2012


I find the most rewarding posts are those that take two or more connected ideas and join them together with some good explanatory material. Recent examples include this, this and this.

Although I lurked for a long time, I've only signed up recently and in my fpp's thus far I've tried to do the same. Sadly, my most recent one didn't quite hit the spot but I'll keep working my technique.

I read Metafilter because of the research that goes into links. I don't get that from my friends on Facebook who post links to youtube. Single links to videos or articles can be fun, but they are lot more fun when couched in a couple of sentences of background and context. Links without context always feel more like a Memepool than a Metafilter thing.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 5:44 AM on May 15, 2012


I have an RSS feed for certain posters that I save for rainy day reading (I'm looking at you, filthylightthief) and other link-heavy posts I bookmark to read later. I adore the dense information-rich posts, but most of the time I don't have the time to go through them in depth. I'm glad that there are posters that make them, but sometimes I never get to them depending on the pace of life at the moment they are posted. On the other hand, I always feel like I have time to read just one link. Of course, I can lose hours on end that way. One link at a time.
posted by Lame_username at 5:53 AM on May 15, 2012


The ones I hate are the FPPs that are about one thing but are written with some MeFite bait-and-switch tactic...
Did you notice Don Draper staring wistfully into his Old Fashioned glass in this week's episode of Mad Men? Maybe he was just looking for happiness, or maybe he was studying Brownian Motion!
...and then continues on as a science post.
posted by Edogy at 6:29 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I often notice the same problems in overwrought posts that I notice in bad school essays. The links go as the writing goes.
posted by michaelh at 6:45 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I rarely bother with mega posts, even if the subject matter might be interesting. I feel the information overload and don't like how mega posts shatter my illusion that I'm not spending that much time on Mefi...
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:04 AM on May 15, 2012


But I tend to prefer posts that show me One Neat Thing, then step back and let me investigate further, if I'm so inclined.

I think the general rule for these is for others not to poison the well with early knee-jerk sux comments if they think SL posts lower the bar of quality for the site.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:22 AM on May 15, 2012


I rarely bother with mega posts, even if the subject matter might be interesting. I feel the information overload

Same here. I always look to Metafilter for a nice curated and filtered set of posts/links, and those big ones just feel like wading through a Wikipedia article -- too much work, not enough filter. But, different strokes! There are still enough posts that I like to keep me reading.
posted by bluefly at 7:41 AM on May 15, 2012


I like a wide range of different types of posts at different times and in different situations - sometimes a single link youtube, sometimes a mega link dump, sometimes a strange cypher that doesn't become clear until you click the link.

Variety is the spice of MetaFilter.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 7:52 AM on May 15, 2012


Sometimes I read long posts, sometimes I ignore them and scan the short ones, but in every case when someone uses the acronym" "SLYT" to tautologically indicate that their post with a single link to Youtube in is in fact a single-link Youtube post, I imagine stabbing them in the eye.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:10 AM on May 15, 2012


Heh, now it seems I am the outlier. I love context, and stories. I like to have text with my links, as I can read about something in my downtime at work, while I feel like an out-right slacker for watching videos at work.

KokuRyu: When creating a post I try to make sure the actual main link appears above the fold, so it's easier to focus on. If needed, I add extra links for context inside the post.

I think this shall be my new style, assuming it makes sense for the content.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:28 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: " I think this shall be my new style, assuming it makes sense for the content."

I try to do it as much as possible, especially in obit posts, and believe it makes the content more accessible. This way, people can take what they want from a post. A link or three above the fold with a description for casual readers, or more info if people wish to dig down. Examples: 1, 2, 3.
posted by zarq at 9:39 AM on May 15, 2012


I prefer brief posts. But a fair part of that is down to the fact that it's often hard to even work out what the heck a long post is about. (By "hard" I mean it takes needless time and effort. I don't want to read three or four sentences only to decide, "Ok, that's not something I want to know about.")

It seems to be almost a house style with longer ML posts that there's some kind of flowery intro that slides in at a tangent before it even tells you what topic is being addressed.

My pref is to be told the key point in the first line. Ideally in the highlighted text of the link itself, so I can quickly scan down the page looking for things I care about.
posted by philipy at 9:47 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


We have links? I'm just here for the pointless political bickering.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:06 AM on May 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


woo hooo...my second (quasi) call out....
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:10 AM on May 15, 2012


We have links? I'm just here for the pointless political bickering.

It would help me a lot if people marked their posts (PPB) when applicable.
posted by philipy at 10:16 AM on May 15, 2012


After about 200 comments, they all become PPB.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:22 AM on May 15, 2012


I'm bi.
posted by batmonkey at 11:24 AM on May 15, 2012


> Another outlier here.

Me too, except it's beginning to look like we're not actually outliers. I don't mind the existence of long multilink posts, I realize there are those who love them, but I usually ignore them unless they're on a topic I really care about. I would have been much more likely to check out the (deleted) one-link double than the original.
posted by languagehat at 11:35 AM on May 15, 2012


my attention span is short and I can read faster than they talk in the video.

Yeah, this is pretty much why I never watch Ted talks.

I also prefer Single-Link posts to Multi-Link posts.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:15 PM on May 15, 2012


I agree about reading much faster than watching video.

It drives me crazy that eg news sites seem to be increasingly putting a video at the top of their articles.... why? They must have some numbers that suggest people want video.... but I can't fathom why. For things like "video of the landslide", I can see why video makes sense. But for most things, I can't fathom it.... who on earth chooses to watch the video (with a drawn out narrative over pointless B-roll) rather than read?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:42 PM on May 15, 2012


LobsterMitten: "It drives me crazy that eg news sites seem to be increasingly putting a video at the top of their articles.... why? "

It brings them readers (especially if the accompanying video goes viral) and makes them more competitive. See: The Video Explosion. It's an AJR article from 2008.
posted by zarq at 12:49 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is pretty much why I never watch Ted talks.

I've said it before, but VLC with its built-in scaletempo module makes watching talks really great. You can control the playback speed in fine increments without affecting pitch, and if you're not distracted you can usually follow most speakers at 1.4x - 1.7x, and sometimes as high as 2.0x - 2.2x. There's so much redundancy in verbal communication, and this allows you to cut it right out.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:53 PM on May 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it's interesting that the accepted wisdom has long been "single link posts are bad!" and yet when it comes down to it there is a near unanimous preference for single link posts.

Personally my order of preference is
1) multi-link post in which it is clear which is the key link, and the supporting links give context for obscure subjects or further expansion of the idea,
2) single-link posts
3) lede-burying multi-link posts where it's unclear which is the key link
4) multi-link posts which have no key link; the poster just wanted to discuss a general topic so dug up a bunch of links related to it
5) multi-link posts where the supporting links were clearly just googled up on the spot to pad out the key link

The simplest, obvious way to do #1 is to put the main link above the fold, and the rest in [more inside]. I don't know why more people don't do that.

Of course, I haven't made an FPP in eight years -- and 25% of my posts fall into category #4 above -- so it's not like I'm part of the solution.

in every case when someone uses the acronym "SLYT" to tautologically indicate that their post with a single link to Youtube in is in fact a single-link Youtube post, I imagine stabbing them in the eye.

The whole reason the SLYT acronym exists is that people used to complain about single-link youtube posts -- because both video and single-link posts were Considered Harmful by those people -- so SLYT was coined, a la NSFW, to warn those people what they were getting into in the hopes of heading off the complaints. With predictable results.

(My related eye-stabbiness is triggered when people put SLYT on posts that are neither SL nor YT.)
posted by ook at 1:26 PM on May 15, 2012


The money link in any post should be clear, and generally the first link. Additional links should only be used if they add something significant, like the response to an article that is the money link or the web site of a photographer whose work is featured in the money link. Loads of extra links, like YouTube videos of a band's whole discography definitely belong below the fold. Wikipedia links and other padding generally detract from a post and should not be used.
posted by snofoam at 1:32 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like posts of all sizes, but there is something luxurious and even hedonistic about a well-crafted multi-link post. I love it when after reading the main link I think, "hunh! I wonder if that has any connection to..." or "really? I want to know more about ..." and one of the other links scratches those itches. Those posts are truly delightful. I have no problem spending an hour following all the links and reading reactions and being thoroughly engaged.

To be fair, I don't read all the posts - whether from disinterest or weariness of the topic or just not having the strength to even read yet another pitched war of people talking past each other and assuming the worst or something that would push my buttons to such an extent that I'd become one of those people. This selectivity gives me the elasticity to spend a lot of time on a few posts that look like they have potential, including densely packed ones.
posted by julen at 1:49 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting that the accepted wisdom has long been "single link posts are bad!" and yet when it comes down to it there is a near unanimous preference for single link posts.

It's not that all single link posts are bad; it's that many of the bad post happen to be single links. So single links that happen to be ranty op-eds or context free voyages of discovery are less than great while a descriptive single link to an awesome site on the web is just fine. Also most mystery meat tends to be single link but the site is divided on whether that is bad or not.
posted by Mitheral at 1:54 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I think it's interesting that the accepted wisdom has long been "single link posts are bad!"

This is not "the accepted wisdom," it's something thoughtless people occasionally say. They get the facts explained to them pretty quickly.
posted by languagehat at 2:30 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I agree that that's how it should be... But note that the single-link-preferrers here all seemed to assume they were the "outliers" until sheer numbers demonstrated otherwise.
posted by ook at 3:02 PM on May 15, 2012


It's not that all single link posts are bad; it's that many of the bad post happen to be single links.

Are there more bad single-link posts than bad multi-link posts? I think there are waaaaaaay more bad multi-link posts.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:05 PM on May 15, 2012


I think a mediocre single link is maybe more likely to get deleted or get people harping in the comments, exactly because people can follow the link and discover it's mediocre. Whereas a mediocre post with six links and a wordy, somewhat obfuscated description is more likely to slip through just because people shrug and don't click any of the links.

I also think the acronym SLYT is the source of the confusion about single-link posts being "bad". As languagehat says, I don't think they've ever actually been disfavored.

And I think the trend in the last few years toward always including links to Wikipedia etc above the fold for "context" is often a worse option than just including a descriptive phrase in the post.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:30 PM on May 15, 2012


I also think the acronym SLYT is the source of the confusion about single-link posts being "bad"

I'm almost certain it was the other way around, but it's not a hill I care enough to die on tonight.
posted by ook at 3:40 PM on May 15, 2012


I'm interested in other people's recollections about that evolution... I haven't been here as long as you have obviously, but for a long time I feel like most posts were single link posts, weren't they?

I thought the complaint about linking to Youtube videos (when Youtube was first a thing) was just that they tended to be "here's a single video of a cat doing something funny" or whatever, and people thought that wasn't meaty enough. And at that time, there were few enough videos on Youtube that you could just go over there and browse. So it was the "linking over and over again to this one site" aspect too.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:54 PM on May 15, 2012


My recollection was that, back in the day, some people didn't like Youtube posts because they went to a video and not a text article. They would click on the link expecting an article or text, but would get a video instead, and maybe they're at work listening to music and have their speakers on when suddenly "NUMANUMANUMA" or whatever. My opinion always was that the sooner one learns to mouse over links to see their location, the better, but SLYT became the convention to mark that the link was video for those who don't bother.

I think there were several issues that all sort of coalesced into the "SLYT", "SLNYT" etc convention.
posted by muddgirl at 4:00 PM on May 15, 2012


muddgirl: " I think there were several issues that all sort of coalesced into the "SLYT", "SLNYT" etc convention."

Yes, exactly. In addition to the reason muddgirl gives, quite a few people used to complain vociferously when someone posted a single link to a YouTube video:

"That's it? WORST POST EVER! A single YouTube video of a cat eating a banana IS NOT even REMOTELY 'Best of the Web'!!!" Etc., etc.

Which would then devolve into an in-thread argument about the quality of the post, whether single or multiple link posts were superior and the inevitable calls for immediate bannination.

The site would smell like testosterone for weeks afterwards. There are dark corners of the web where the arguments still rage, and they sing battle hymns about the Epic SLYT Wars....
posted by zarq at 4:16 PM on May 15, 2012


am I a bad person because every time I see 'SLYT' I read it as 'SLUT'? Makes the idea of epic SL?T wars a completely different proposition.
posted by dg at 5:17 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


/composes South Lake Union Trolley post. Come to Seattle, ride the SLUT!
posted by Artw at 5:27 PM on May 15, 2012


I was always a little disappointed in Fresno Area Rapid Transit for chickening out on their acronym.
posted by ook at 5:44 PM on May 15, 2012


I skip over most of the long multi link posts, I’m looking for the best of the web, not all of the web. Sometimes I can’t even figure out the main point. On the other hand, I will rarely click on video links, single link or not.

Simple short posts with a couple of good links are the bees knees.
posted by bongo_x at 9:41 PM on May 15, 2012


For me the sweet spot is in the 5-10 link range. I like to see the main link and a few supporting links to give me context and more depth. Single-link videos I'm not likely to watch (unless it's like the fluffy seal with no job -- short and information-free) because it takes too long and that's a tedious way to get information when I could be reading it (TED talks are the worst. The WORST.). Single-link articles I find that probably 50% of them I already saw earlier in the day, or yesterday, because apparently I read the same aggregators as half of y'all. If I liked the article I'll read the comments, sometimes, but I'm less likely to click into threads where I already read the singly-linked article elsewhere.

But I really love something like, "Here is a well-written-but-insane article from 'Outside' magazine! And here are five other links about this obscure sport-like pastime, giving some history and controversy and data so you can understand better where the article is coming from."

I like multi-links, but, like a lot of people above, I don't often have time to read them through. I like them better over the holidays when I have more free time to really dig into them.

I don't link massively multi-linkal posts that are like 200 examples of one type of thing on YouTube. Look, I know where TV Tropes is and I can use the Google.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:02 PM on May 15, 2012


God I hate multilink mystery posts. At least put in some parenthesis or something for what the content is for each link if you have to have the multi. eg (wiki), (Nytimes coverage), (livejournal wankery) etc etc.

Some posts seem to imply that the poster is trying to weed out the hoi polloi by burying the lede beneath a dozen worthless links. That just means I'll comment with out RTFA. Serves them right.
posted by Chekhovian at 1:25 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and transcripts to multihour podcasts and documentaries should be included whenever they're available. I can read much much faster than I can listen or watch.
posted by Chekhovian at 1:33 AM on May 16, 2012


because both video and single-link posts were Considered Harmful by those people

Perhaps the video posts were, but single link posts have always been central to the mefi experience. They just need to be to quality links. Some YouBoob post often fails to meet that criteria.
posted by caddis at 5:33 AM on May 16, 2012


That just means I'll comment with out RTFA. Serves them right.

Let it never be said that chivalry is dead.
posted by Wolof at 5:37 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are there more bad single-link posts than bad multi-link posts? I think there are waaaaaaay more bad multi-link posts.

I have no numbers for this; working it out would be a bit of a process.

My gut feeling is that bad singleish-link (whether it's literally one link or not) posts are more common than bad multilink posts, but so too are singleish-link posts in general more common than multilink posts as well.

Deleted multilink posts are maybe more likely, proportionally, to generate deletion-related discussions in Metatalk, since I think the question there is more likely to be sort of a meta-argument about whether or not there is a post about that topic and less so about whether that link was good.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:53 AM on May 16, 2012


Chekhovian: That just means I'll comment with out RTFA. Serves them right.

That isn't a great solution either. Why not just ask if a transcript is available? Maybe they overlooked including it?

You know, my latest post has been flooded with complaints that it read like an ad. Primarily by people who had actually heard of the company being highlighted and the product they sell. Which I hadn't when I made the post. I know very little about that industry, and thought the trend being highlighted -- design-oriented vibrators -- was pretty fascinating.

So the thread isn't going well even though people are being polite and thankfully not assuming bad faith on my part. But no one is really talking about what I thought they would, because I wasn't as familiar with the topic as I should have been. But it's understandable.

The best we can do is try, you know?
posted by zarq at 9:18 AM on May 16, 2012


You guys were making me think I was taking the crazy pills again doubt my memory, so I spent some time this morning doing a bunch of history-diving (didja know Google lets you filter results by date? I didn't until this morning!) and put together a big ol' detailed and heavily linked History Of Complaints About Single Link Posts which I then lost to a weird browser page refresh and am not going to bother trying to reconstruct in full.

The short, do-your-own-googling-if-you-care version: complaints about single link posts date back to at least 2003; there were more in 2004, many in 2005, and it really takes off from 2006 on. The earliest example I could find (ok, here's that link at least) gave no reason why single link posts were supposed to be bad, they were just "lame"; I don't know whether this was just one guy's personal bugaboo or if he's building off earlier examples that I didn't find. Later examples were generally centered around NewsFilter, OpEdFilter, PepsiBlueFilter, JustTooThinFilter, and soon enough YouTubeFilter. (YouTube started in 2005, so the conflation of YT with SL does seem to have done a lot to perpetuate the misconception that SL is bad, though it was clearly already a Thing before that.) There were also some borderline early cases that I'm not sure whether to count (e.g. a "single links are bad" thread which was actually about posts in which the entire text of the FPP is a link.)

The majority of the complaints about single links I found were in fact meta-level complaints about people complaining about single link posts. Every case I found was immediately followed by people trying to clear up the misconception that single links were bad; many of those were in turn followed by people trying to clear up the misconception that people ever complain about single link posts in the first place.

It's an oddly persistent misconception.
posted by ook at 9:40 AM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's a weird conflict here, where posts should be solid, but not too solid, and that limit differs for everyone. I could be making this up, but it seems that there is more interest in thinner posts now than in the past, when the userbase was smaller. Then again, I'm a relatively new member, and my personal preference is for something a bit (to a lot) longer.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:58 AM on May 16, 2012


While it's true that I'm more likely to read short, single-link posts, I don't think that is inherently to do with length or number of links per se.

It it more to do with things like these that seem to coincidentally correlate with length and number of links...

- Longer posts seem to more often be on arcane subjects, and by definition I am less likely to be interested in any given arcane subject than a non-arcane one

- Longer posts are more often over-written in a way that makes it hard to figure out what they're actually about, esp when I'm just scanning quickly down the front page to see if there's anything interesting today

- Shorter posts more often have the kind of elevator pitch that I need to figure out if I want to read them. ("I am about X. You'll want to read me because Y.") Longer posts that opened that way could get my interest as well, but that doesn't happen so much.
posted by philipy at 10:19 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, there's a difference between a succinct single link post in general, and a single link to a video.

The first can be fantastic. The second can be fantastic, but I'll never know about it, because I skip them all unless someone I know personally demands that I see them, or unless the supporting text is amazing.

I recognize that some truly great things exist only in the form of online video. I also recognize that a few of them are genuinely *best* presented as video. But, the signal-to-noise ratio is so low that it's not worth wading through them to find the good ones. In general, 99% of the world's video isn't worth watching, and 99% of the rest really should be presented as audio instead. Most text isn't very interesting either, but at it takes a lot less time to recognize and skip the dull stuff, and with audio one can at least do productive things while listening to it.

Some day, when I've run out of interesting audio and text to consume, I'll go back and discover some of those great SLYTs that I've been missing.

Which is to say, I guess, "I don't like this thing you like." But, please go on liking it and sharing it with other people who like it.
posted by eotvos at 7:31 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


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