SLYT, ROFLWTFBBQ! August 26, 2012 5:27 AM   Subscribe

Do unexplained YouTube links annoy you? I don't mean FPs with a pattern of clearly identified YT links, or someone making a topical and fairly obvious post like "I like this version better"; but just an inline link with zero context.

I see this as similar to the annoying friend who seems convinced that if only he can trick you into watching enough JPop videos, you'll eventually become a fan - Yet when I receive emails that say only "check this one out!", I delete them without a second glance.

I can't do the same on MeFi, obviously, but I feel that if people have something to say, they should say it with as few external dependencies as possible. A cite should support your argument, not make it for you; I feel that linked videos should do the same.

And most of the above assumes the link actually does have some relevance to the FP post - Continuing from my FP text, when someone posts a Jay-Z video with only "I like this version better" in a thread about Kate Bush (as a random example, I don't have a specific post in mind here), I consider that a derail barely better than Rickrolling.

I'd love to hear the thoughts of the rest of the MeFi community on this - Do we have an official (or even "unstated") policy on this? Not looking for any sort of ban on no-context links, mostly just wondering it this annoys everybody, or just me.

Full disclosure: I have really crappy internet service, and need to carefully consider every media-heavy page I visit lest I blow my monthly cap in under a week. Perhaps most people really don't care about blowing 50MB here and there with a stray click.
posted by pla to Etiquette/Policy at 5:27 AM (122 comments total)

Just you.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 5:30 AM on August 26, 2012


These are called blind links, and yes, they really bother some people. IMDB links, YouTube links, Amazon.com links, anything that doesn't indicate its destination with descriptive text either in the link itself or on the status bar. Burn them with fire.
posted by cgc373 at 5:35 AM on August 26, 2012 [28 favorites]


I have no problem with these, unless they're really irrelevant (and I think there's a flagging category for that). Sometimes it's just better to show, not tell.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:49 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm personally not fond of blind links in comments (though I can be more forgiving for posts, depending – I'm assuming it's going to be something interesting if someone bothers to make a front page post), especially of the type cg373 mentions, and when choosing to click only for myself, usually don't click unless some other commenter later remarks that it was a great / fun / interesting link. But we do not have a Metafilter policy about this.

One thing that I now try to remember for myself is that links will die, so when you say "this is a great version," sooner or later that link will probably go to nothing, and will be completely useless, whereas if you say "[Particular Artist] does a great version of [Song]," if the link rots, any interested party can still look it up for themselves.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:49 AM on August 26, 2012 [48 favorites]


Not just you.
posted by Sailormom at 6:13 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not a fan of blind links for the reason Taz mentions above.
posted by arcticseal at 6:15 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't like blind links. I could be accessing Metafilter from a variety of places (work, home with offspring, public place) - loud sound, sudden eye killing blitzes, nudity etc - it means that I don't open a blind link because I can't control results. I might be missing awesome stuff that people want to spring on me by surprise because it is so awesome - but it aint gonna happen.

Look, trust me. Trust that if you say this is an awesome pole dancing vid (there was one - I loved it) then I can choose to watch it when I can do it appropriately, and I will. Tell me it's naked nude bodies - yes - cool! I'll watch that too, but not where people will throw up their lunches. Surprise is overrated. Very much so.
posted by b33j at 6:16 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't mind the YouTube links, since I pretty rarely haves chance to check them out. The other stuff though, the amazon links that just say "this book" or the blind imdb entries, if you're taking the time to put in a link, maybe you could spare some extra keystrokes for people who otherwise won't be clicking on that thing you think is so keen.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:18 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honest question: what's the problem with Amazon links and IMDB links specifically? Particularly in the latter case -- it would never occur to me that links to IMDB needed to be specifically labeled.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:27 AM on August 26, 2012


Do unexplained YouTube links annoy you?

Look, Sir Squeaky Tickle Dick of Gonad, lots of things bother me, but I try not to bug the community with my butt puzzling, taint mongerish pet peeves (i.e. a single link obit post for Neil Armstrong that links to a page that has his name wrong).

So why don't you take your yeasty, rump feed, son of motherless goat self outside and leave all these semi nefarious tubal butt noid concerns behind you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:29 AM on August 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


the blind imdb entries

Oh hell yes those drive me batshit in recommendation threads. In any threads, actually, but it just got sunny outside so I think I'll go on a bike ride instead of a furious rant.
posted by mediareport at 6:39 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


it would never occur to me that links to IMDB needed to be specifically labeled.

Must....go.....outside....
posted by mediareport at 6:40 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suppose handheld computers don't let you hover over the link and see the urls like desktops, do they?
posted by crunchland at 6:46 AM on August 26, 2012


Okay seriously, are any of you going to explain the IMDB thing or is everyone just going to obliquely refer to how angry it makes them?

I don't want to be a jerk on the internet but I kind of need some information to understand what the problem is.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:47 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


it would never occur to me that links to IMDB needed to be specifically labeled.

It's sort of difficult to adequately explain why having to waste 3-5 seconds on clicking something is annoying when one must also accept the fact that it is kind of a stupid and insignificant thing to complain about in the larger scale of things. It's still fucking annoying, though.
posted by elizardbits at 6:49 AM on August 26, 2012


Narrative Priorities, it's not links to imdb or Amazon, it's that the URL doesn't display any information for the reader. Unless you actually say what the link is to, both websites just have indecipherable code in the URL. The only way to find out what the link is to is to click it. If, in the link, the writer told us what the link is to, it'd be much less annoying, since bond links suck.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:49 AM on August 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


AH. It's not those sites specifically. It's the incomprehensible URLs.

Okay well that makes sense. I appreciate y'all humoring me.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:51 AM on August 26, 2012


Narrative Priorities : Okay seriously, are any of you going to explain the IMDB thing or is everyone just going to obliquely refer to how angry it makes them?

Sure - Without visiting it, tell me where This IMDB link goes.

Borderline NSFW, BTW. Which you also can't tell just by the link itself.
posted by pla at 6:52 AM on August 26, 2012


Without visiting it, tell me where This IMDB link goes.

To an IMDB page?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know what annoys me? When you go to a faculty meeting and for some reason the dean asks everybody to proclaim the neatest thing that happened to them that summer and 2/3 of the woman were like 'I had a BABY' and 2/3 of the entire population was like 'I went to EUROPE' and I was like I made PESTO and nobody laughed.

That annoyed me. Not anything related to the thread. Probably annoying that I wrote it. Sorry.
posted by angrycat at 6:59 AM on August 26, 2012 [48 favorites]


Sure - Without visiting it, tell me where This IMDB link goes.

Debbie Does Dallas Again (TV Series 2007–2007) - IMDb. Copy link, paste into Google, hit search.
posted by Hobo at 7:03 AM on August 26, 2012


Oh Hobo, you ruined the surprise!
posted by iamkimiam at 7:06 AM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I suppose handheld computers don't let you hover over the link and see the urls like desktops, do they?

On iDevices, just press on the link and hold. A display pops with the link and the option to either Open, Open in New Page, Add to Reading List or Copy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:08 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh Hobo, you ruined the surprise!

But at least I haven't spoiled the ending.
posted by Hobo at 7:11 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I made PESTO and nobody laughed.

I would have laughed. That is funny and your coworkers are jerks.

I am not a huge fan of blind links but they fall, for me, into the giant chasm between "Things that drive me crazy that I think I can reasonably expect other people to do something about" and "Things that I am embarrassed that I even care about so I will learn to stop worrying and love them"

So the only thing we have that even approaches policy here is to not be a jerk with gotcha unmarked NSFW-ish links (like if you hadn't said your link was NSFW, pla) and don't Rickroll people. We're a little more churlish about this in posts than in comments. I mostly think of it as a usability/accessibility thing. Someone who is using a screen reader to cruise links would be happier with a bunch of links that said what they were about and not just "Click here for more information" and yeah, linkrot.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:11 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Unnamed links can be annoying but nothing like those posts people used to make, seventeen letter words and each letter in the word a different link. Jesus christ. Methamphetamines, is all I've ever been able to figure, the end of a week-long run on bad speed, tweaking, the shades pulled.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:27 AM on August 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


It doesn't bother me so much in comments on the blue, especially with the little pop-up player icon next to YouTube links, but in Ask, it bugs the crap out of me. The answers should be self contained and spelled out, and the links should support them.

"This is the book you want" is a terrible answer.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:32 AM on August 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't mind blind links at all as long as when I follow them I think, "Ah, ok." If I think, "What the hell?" Then I get annoyed.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:49 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


My take is pretty much the same as what Jess said: they can annoy me but usually in a "eh, whaddaya do" sort of capacity. I agree very much with the idea of erring on the side of description as a general practice (though there's room for exceptions for style) since, yeah, blind links to non-descriptive URLs makes for trickier conversation and vulnerability to linkrot. Better to let people know where your now-dead link goes, at least, or to what movie/product/etc you're linking to so people know it came up and don't repeat the pointer unnecessarily.

That said:

I can't do the same on MeFi, obviously, but I feel that if people have something to say, they should say it with as few external dependencies as possible. A cite should support your argument, not make it for you; I feel that linked videos should do the same.

I think it might be going too far to suggest that youtube links come along primarily as an argument. Unless "cats are ADORABLE" is the argument, or "this IS a music video" or so on. There's plenty of times when people end up linking, possibly pretty blindly, to a youtube clip of something mostly because everybody's just being silly and riffing on something, etc. Descriptions still probably the smart way to go there, but it's kind of a shruggo thing at that point and if you're finding yourself cheesed off in those situations it may be a sort of readjust-your-cheeseometer thing more than anything.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:50 AM on August 26, 2012


I hate blind links but the mods don't, so it's just something us haters are gonna hafta hate with a frustrated hate that has no useful outlet.
posted by languagehat at 8:09 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


My Friday would have been poorer without this blind link.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:29 AM on August 26, 2012


I do the thing Brandon mentioned, where you click and hold to get the menu for the link. If I can't figure it out from that I don't open it.

Then again, I don't go on the Internet in my work machine at all now, because I had a friend in network security at my old job and the level of analysis they did on everyone's Internet usage freaked me out. It wasn't that they looked specifically at everyone, it was what the report they could pull looked like if someone made the request.
posted by winna at 8:45 AM on August 26, 2012


I'm curious how you guys who despise blind links handle twitter, a veritable weed field of blind links, compounded by the link shorteners.
posted by crunchland at 8:54 AM on August 26, 2012


I only dislike color-blind links.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 8:55 AM on August 26, 2012


I'm curious how you guys who despise blind links handle twitter

I mostly only pay attention to people who I'm following on Twitter, so there's some pre-screening going on there. That said, I basically don't click most Twitter links on my phone and pretty much only click on random blind links [i.e. no description AND no URL context clues] when I've got the free time to screw around. MeFi is different, serves a different communicative purpose and the folks who are linking to things may themselves be unknown quantities which is just one more data point I am missing when I am deciding whether to click links. Also the fact that, occasionally, people here just make jokes via links (which I sometimes get and sometimes do not because I am sort of dense like that) and it makes it more confusing. The succinctness of Twitter means that even if a link is blind, I have a lot of context about it and it's rarely going to be more than one-of-two links as opposed to some set of 15 mystery links, for example, which I like a lot less.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:58 AM on August 26, 2012


But at least I haven't spoiled the ending.

Was it happy?
posted by zarq at 9:05 AM on August 26, 2012


I hate blind links. The worst, and these ones make me want to stab someone with a rusty spork, are the blind links to comedy central that get redirected to the home page of the Canadian licensee.

crunchland writes "I'm curious how you guys who despise blind links handle twitter, a veritable weed field of blind links, compounded by the link shorteners."

I don't use twitter. Besides the blind links the twitter speak imposed by a completely arbitrary character limit drives me crazy from both an English view point and a technical viewpoint.
posted by Mitheral at 9:05 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


pla: “Full disclosure: I have really crappy internet service, and need to carefully consider every media-heavy page I visit lest I blow my monthly cap in under a week. Perhaps most people really don't care about blowing 50MB here and there with a stray click.”

Maybe you already know about this, but I think you should consider going to your "Preferences" page and clicking the "YouTube & Vimeo video inline?" option. What this will do is put a little "play" button next to each and every Youtube or Vimeo link. Ostensibly, that's so you can play the vid without leaving the page, but a whole bunch of us just find it helpful that videos are marked visually so we can choose whether or not we want to watch them without having to hover over and preview the link address beforehand.

Just a thought.
posted by koeselitz at 9:09 AM on August 26, 2012


Yup, hate blind links, especially of the "This is the book you want" or "Here is what I think about that" variety.
Sure, do that with links where I can hover and discern what you mean by a descriptive URL. But don't do it where I can only figure out what you mean by clicking.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:09 AM on August 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


The weird thing is that I am annoyed by "Is this the book you're looking for?" links when other people make them, but I make them myself. Why? Because that's what feels natural for me, I guess. I still haven't quite adapted to the idea of writing for linking, so I write things the way I'd say them if we were having the conversation in real life, and then I link them awkwardly, and then I hit submit, and then I think "That's a shitty link!" but by then it's really too late to do anything about it.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:14 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


That annoyed me. Not anything related to the thread. Probably annoying that I wrote it. Sorry.

a) I like to think I would have laughed.
b) I am slightly worried that you were only annoyed, rather than angry, since Annoyedcat is a silly user name.
c) I am kind of agnostic on blind links. In FPPs, they are more annoying, because it generally makes me not read to post. In comments, I pretty much ignore them unless the context is really clear.
d) On the other hand "Here is an amazon page for the book" is descriptive but kind of graceless to read.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:17 AM on August 26, 2012


Just voting that I *hate* blind links and all the people that make them.

I just looked back at that sentence and for some reason I need to clarify, I absolutely, unambiguously do *not* hate blind people.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:17 AM on August 26, 2012


For whatever it's worth, I dislike youtube blind links because they launch a separate app on my phone, and may have an unexpected audio track.

I personally prefer it when NSFW and pdf (and other document) files are labeled. So I try to remember to do so.

Brandon Blatcher: Look, Sir Squeaky Tickle Dick of Gonad, lots of things bother me, but I try not to bug the community with my butt puzzling, taint mongerish pet peeves

Feel free to disagree, but I don't think asking a simple question is "bugging the community." He specifically said "Not looking for any sort of ban on no-context links, mostly just wondering it this annoys everybody, or just me."
posted by zarq at 9:22 AM on August 26, 2012


Brandon Blatcher: "Look, Sir Squeaky Tickle Dick of Gonad, lots of things bother me, but I try not to bug the community with my butt puzzling, taint mongerish pet peeves (i.e. a single link obit post for Neil Armstrong that links to a page that has his name wrong).

So why don't you take your yeasty, rump feed, son of motherless goat self outside and leave all these semi nefarious tubal butt noid concerns behind you.
"

Here's something that drives me crazy. Either you're an incredible asshole (and being familiar with you, I don't think you are), or else (and I'm going to assume this is the case since it hasn't gotten deleted) this is a reference to some TV show, movie, or book that I have never heard of and so therefore makes you look like an incredible asshole.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:24 AM on August 26, 2012


...this is a reference to some TV show, movie, or book that I have never heard of...

Check the first link in the post, which is one of the funniest things the mods and community have ever done.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:27 AM on August 26, 2012


They also contribute directly to web rot, link decay, and, some say, the inevitable creep of chronic link degradation (or CLD [see their ad in Golf Digest])... since this post was not calling for any actions, this is my yearly lobby for using socialism to turn the whole internet into an immortal links memento-Project compatible zone (it would have the wonderful side bonus of keeping the Media Conglomerates web-journalism community honest, no going back and silently doctoring stories with ninja-edits).
posted by infinite intimation at 9:29 AM on August 26, 2012


Another blind link hater here, especially for those with undecipherable URLs.

As for Twitter, aside from the pre-filtering mentioned above, I still only click on links if the tweet explains what they contain and why I might find it interesting. I try to do the same when I tweet.

And anywhere--here, message boards, blog posts, Twitter--it's only polite to label links that go to PDF files or videos. You never know what people are using to browse, or where they're doing it.
posted by Superplin at 9:29 AM on August 26, 2012


These are called blind links, and yes, they really bother some people. IMDB links, YouTube links, Amazon.com links, anything that doesn't indicate its destination with descriptive text either in the link itself or on the status bar. Burn them with fire.

Then sow the charred input fields with salt.

I'm curious how you guys who despise blind links handle twitter, a veritable weed field of blind links, compounded by the link shorteners.

URL shorteners are the most significant reason for my reluctant and limited use of Twitter, which I continue to view with suspicion. (Their recent "promoting" Tweets and hamstringing independent developers are obviously bad, but the corruption at the company set in with their tolerance for breaking with proper linking.) URL shorteners, especially third-party ones, combine the worst of blind linking with a vast potential for broken links and bit rot. And while they may serve a purpose on the truncated Twitter, they have no business showing up on Metafilter.

They need to be nuked from orbit - it's the only way to be sure.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:30 AM on August 26, 2012


You can do the long press on Android devices as well (which had it before iOS). It still won't solve all cases of mystery links, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:34 AM on August 26, 2012


I do not like blind links either. It's a little more annoying than referring to me as @yaymukund and a little less annoying than multi-page top-10 articles.

One of my friends used to work at a shady internet market research company. On their website, they would have tiny or hidden links to websites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Then, they'd use JavaScript to check the color of the link to determine whether you had visited it. For example, on MetaFilter, the link turns from bright yellow (http://somewebsiteyouhaventvisited.com) to a slightly less bright yellow (this thread). If the link to Facebook is dull, there's a good chance you have a Facebook account. This was just one of the strategies they used to try and identify you.
posted by yaymukund at 9:36 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Without visiting it, tell me where This IMDB link goes

Right-clicked on link, chose Open in New Tab, observed title of newly created but undisplayed tab change to "Debbie Does Dallas", closed new tab without bringing to front. Done.
posted by flabdablet at 9:39 AM on August 26, 2012


Are people still uptight about @username? I thought resignation and acceptance had pretty much prevailed with that one. I'm not terribly fond of it, but it doesn't chap my hide any. It's actually a bit more useful identifying who someone is responding to in long threads than just quoting a sentence of a long comment.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:39 AM on August 26, 2012


I said that I was a little MORE annoyed at blind links than @username. That means that my level of annoyance could be anywhere between 0 and x, so you actually have no idea how I feel about @username. I could really love it, for all you know.
posted by yaymukund at 9:45 AM on August 26, 2012


Thanks, people.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:54 AM on August 26, 2012


Sorry, don't know what happened there. I don't mind the @username though.
posted by yaymukund at 9:56 AM on August 26, 2012


I don't even need that, though
Now it's just somewebsitethatiusedtonothavevisitedyet.com

posted by cortex (staff) at 9:56 AM on August 26, 2012


Are people still uptight about @username? I thought resignation and acceptance had pretty much prevailed with that one.

Good lord no. Yes, it's still ridiculous and yes site culture still frowns on it. It's easy:

@username: BLAH clutters up the screen with noise.

username, BLAH does not.

Simple.
posted by mediareport at 10:01 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


(I mean, my take on site culture, I should add, before anyone else does, even though it's obvious, I mean, come on)
posted by mediareport at 10:01 AM on August 26, 2012


Their recent "promoting" Tweets

I need another bike ride. Seriously, that's the fucking worst. It's driving me away, and I was never too committed to begin with.
posted by mediareport at 10:03 AM on August 26, 2012


Since I guess we're voting or something here – I love blind links. They're part of the poetry that was the internet before people stopped having a sense of wonder about it and started demanding wikipedian contextuality for everything. The point of the internet is to click on things and find out what you get; rickrolling and shock sites have made people cynical, I know, but it's still nice for me to see it that way, as a world of stuff you might not have known existed and might be impressed by or interested in.

And also sometimes I still miss mcgraw.

But I know I'm kind of on my lonesome on those things. People have gotten kind of jaded with the internet, and they don't really have the patience for looking at links unless they have some assurance beforehand that it is going to be interesting to them. And that is understandable, in its way, even if I don't feel the same way.
posted by koeselitz at 10:17 AM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I'm curious how you guys who despise blind links handle twitter

Don't use it.

> Since I guess we're voting or something here – I love blind links.

Damn, man, you used to be my hero.

*tosses "koeselitz" button into the river, shuffles off sadder but a little bit wiser*
posted by languagehat at 10:44 AM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes, they annoy me. Many things are annoying; it's okay to ignore them.

I rarely follow youtube links. If bandwidth was an issue, I'd put a line in my hosts file to redirect youtube to a local file.
posted by theora55 at 10:48 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a Chrome extension that previews YouTube links by displaying a screenshot when I hover over them, so no, it doesn't really annoy me. (There are many extensions that do this, or have similar functionality; I also have autoplay turned off.)

But a good rule of thumb is, if it's annoyed you, about half the time, it's already annoyed someone to the point where they already created a solution.
posted by lesli212 at 11:02 AM on August 26, 2012


Every blind link is an annoying stunt post, a "look how clever I am" exercise in pointless obfuscation.

People who post blind links are the same people who call you on the phone and just say "hi." And when you ask "Who is this?" they say "Guess!"
posted by LarryC at 11:53 AM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sorry about that. I thought you would have recognized my voice.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, a glance at the front page right now shows a sea of links with little or no indication of what the links go to. YouTube? Vimeo? PDF? HTML? It's mostly all a complete mystery. Are you guys suggesting we fundamentally change the way people make posts?
posted by crunchland at 12:26 PM on August 26, 2012


> Well, a glance at the front page right now shows a sea of links with little or no indication of what the links go to.

Is this performance art, or do you really not understand what we're talking about? A link labeled Example.com is not a blind link. This is a blind link.
posted by languagehat at 12:39 PM on August 26, 2012


Burhanistan writes "Are people still uptight about @username? I thought resignation and acceptance had pretty much prevailed with that one. I'm not terribly fond of it, but it doesn't chap my hide any."

Using @username here makes you look like an ignorant hick who should have lurked more.
posted by Mitheral at 12:54 PM on August 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


It'd be nice if at post time the site could scrape the target site and get the page title and display it as a tool tip. I don't think pb will go for this because unless it was done in some asynchronous way it would introduce a point of failure or at least delay in the posting process.

Still, if I were maintaining a lofi mirror of mefi I'd be very tempted to add URL lookups to the mirroring process.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:56 PM on August 26, 2012


I mean – honestly, "context" is not really a very specific thing, anyway.

Check out this spectacular post by vronsky, one of my favorites of his. It's a post about a photographer, even though it does not say "photography" in the text of the post. (It does say "photography" in one of the tags, though.) Nevertheless, it starts with the name of the photographer and a Wikipedia link for those interested. It seems like an elegant and economical post to me, and there's a poetry in its simplicity and the immediacy this creates – nothing but some text pointing to beautiful images, and not three paragraphs of biographical text like lots of posts nowadays.

But lots of people would complain about this. My god, they sure as hell complained when vronsky posted that Woody Allen post – people were absolutely apoplectic about that.

Still, as I've said, it seems like it can be elegant. And again, I debate whether "context" is really such a concrete, obvious thing. How about this other post of vronsky's? We gather from the title what it's about – the Soviet Union after the Berlin Wall fell – but you have to click through to find out how exactly the link deals with that subject. In this case, it's not music or an essay or a documentary, but photographs. And really interesting photographs, to be honest.

I really think a lot of posts that people here would say have plenty of "context" actually don't have much at all – and likewise many posts that people claim don't have context actually give a lot of clues as to what's going on. But there's always a certain amount of discovery that has to happen when following links. That's okay, I think. I don't mind. Clicking doesn't take very long.

And anyway, like I said, sometimes I miss mcgraw, although mcgraw is long gone. Even posts like the last post under that account, from way back in 2005 (good lord, seven years ago?) are still interesting and fun to me, even though they're surreal and kind of wacky. Sometimes I wish Metafilter still had a space for the surreal and the wacky like that, but c'est la vie.

Since I am the only one here arguing for mystery meat, I don't expect anyone to find any of this compelling. Just thought I'd mention my take.
posted by koeselitz at 1:05 PM on August 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


i've thought about writing a metatalk post about this too.

what annoys me most is when the single link text is some inside joke you'd only get if you know something about the topic.

it may be fun to make a quirky FPP about a cool youtube clip you just found, but if you want people to actually watch it you need to provide some description that anyone can understand.

bad: Wolf 359 was pretty bad, but this in inexcusable.

good: Patrick Stewart sings a cute alphabet song on the set of Star Trek the Next Generation.
posted by cupcake1337 at 1:35 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


@Mitheral: I disagree, it makes me look like the cool outsider who doesn't care for your stodgy otumoded ways and is gonna flashdance his way in your hearts anyway.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:36 PM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


What I made most (in this particular category) is people who blind link to IMDB entries, which as established are not labeled, but much worse, 9 out of 10 times don't have any real information on them anyway. Oh, you're talking about a movie.

How interesting.

Why not link to the Wikipedia entry instead which at least has a chance of being informative?
posted by MartinWisse at 1:40 PM on August 26, 2012


koeselitz writes "Check out this spectacular post by vronsky, one of my favorites of his."

That is a very good example of the kind of mystery meat post I don't bother exploring. The same effect could be garnered typing random words into google and clicking I'm feeling lucky.
posted by Mitheral at 1:48 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why not link to the Wikipedia entry instead which at least has a chance of being informative?

Define "informative". Both IMDB and Wikipedia have different information sets and both are useful depending on what you're looking for.

No one can read anyone else's mind.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:49 PM on August 26, 2012


That is a very good example of the kind of mystery meat post I don't bother exploring. -- But that's not mystery meat. It says it's a post, so you know that it's probably something off the front page of one of the three subsites here, probably the blue, and it was written by vronsky. There's definitely context there.
posted by crunchland at 1:55 PM on August 26, 2012


crunchland: "I'm curious how you guys who despise blind links handle twitter, a veritable weed field of blind links, compounded by the link shorteners."

I never click on Twitter links. Maybe I'm missing something, but eh, I'll live.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:56 PM on August 26, 2012


Are Mystery Meaters lazy or do they think they're really clever? Or maybe both?
posted by Brocktoon at 2:02 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Geez, vronsky's post is the mystery meat not koeselitz's.
posted by Mitheral at 2:15 PM on August 26, 2012


> Are people still uptight about @username?

File me with the "resigned" group. Whether I like it or not, it's not going away, so I may as well learn to live with it.

It's even useful in the context of trying to refer to somebody whose username is, for example, a complete sentence which overlaps the subject matter of conversation.
posted by ardgedee at 2:33 PM on August 26, 2012


I miss hama7.
posted by homunculus at 2:38 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am never going to give in to the @. I have nailed my flag to the mast.
posted by winna at 2:44 PM on August 26, 2012


Mitheral: “That is a very good example of the kind of mystery meat post I don't bother exploring. The same effect could be garnered typing random words into google and clicking I'm feeling lucky.”

Okay, I'll bite. Why? I mean, obviously those photographs are pretty beautiful, and I don't think you'd get them with a totally random google search, but – why wouldn't you bother exploring the links?
posted by koeselitz at 2:52 PM on August 26, 2012


I accept chaos.
posted by philip-random at 2:54 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Time's to short. Dozens of posts make it to the front page every day and I no longer have the kind of job that allows me to explore each one. Vronsky's post and others like it could be about something I'm interested in or it could be an extensive run down on Japanese reality TV. There were several posts that same day, several photography posts no less, that were interesting and well explained so why bother with a mystery post.

I realize there is a large part of the user base that likes that sort of surprise revealment so railing against it isn't going to have any effect. I compensate by just ignoring nonsensical posts.
posted by Mitheral at 3:27 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can understand the filtering aspect of it. Time and bandwidth can be tight. It's the deprecation that they're nonsensical just because you don't want or have the time to invest in checking them out. There are hundreds of streets and alleyways in Washington DC, but I don't have the time or inclination to go down every one. That doesn't mean that the streets are stupid, nor are the people who planned the city or drew up the maps.

We have a variation on "mystery meat" posts about every 6 months, and we end up resolving that there's no right way. There's your way, and there's my way, and both ways are valid. I'm not going to lose sleep over you not clicking a link I make that might not live up to your standard.
posted by crunchland at 3:41 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


As someone who used to have to spend a fair amount of time testing sites with screen readers, blind links are horrible. They're incredibly disruptive to people who can't easily hover with a mouse, read quickly, have visual impairment, etc.
posted by introp at 3:46 PM on August 26, 2012


> There are hundreds of streets and alleyways in Washington DC, but I don't have the time or inclination to go down every one. That doesn't mean that the streets are stupid, nor are the people who planned the city or drew up the maps.

No, because the people who drew up the maps labeled the streets.
posted by languagehat at 4:44 PM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Would it be tractable to automatically fetch the video's title and then format Youtube links with the video title as the link's title-text? Then it would at least be visible on mouseover. (A tech solution to a social problem, possibly, and maybe hard to code. Also I don't know how it works on phones.)

Alternatively we could encourage people to add title text to their own links.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:46 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


P.S., title text goes like: <a href="http://a.url/" title="a title">
posted by en forme de poire at 4:51 PM on August 26, 2012


labeled the streets -- Yeah, but the gave no indication of what's on the street, and the names are quite confusing. I'm almost certain that Pennsylvania Avenue goes nowhere near Pennsylvania.
posted by crunchland at 5:49 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


But lots of people would complain about this.

Sure. But here's the thing, people here will complain about anything, anything at all.

The fact that doing something a certain way results in complaints says nothing other than our users are still alive and breathing. This can make moderation difficult and can sometimes result in stagnant feature requests since someone will complain about anything and some days we just feel more conflict-averse than others. But just like flags alone aren't a reason for mod action [though they're a data point we use] isolated user complaints aren't really a good metric either. It can be hard to sort of take people's temperature here--as pla has done pretty effectively--to figure out if something is just disliked by a few crabby people (who may have a point, or may just be kvetching because they like to) or really resoundly disliked by a large swath of the membership (i.e. the @replying). I try not to use "someone disliked this" as a reason to do or not do anything, unless it's someone whose opinion I value and/or share.

People have all sorts of reasons they post here and things that motivate them to participate. Over time, some people seem to be doing something more akin to performance art than actual community interaction and the community usually responds in kind. Most people do some performing, some interacting and some combination of both.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:34 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


People have all sorts of reasons they post here and things that motivate them to participate.

Big one for me is that Metafilter looks and works nothing like Facebook nor Twitter, both of which make me sad.

Not fussed at all about the occasional mystery meat link, though a diet of mystery meat alone would obviously be unwholesome.
posted by flabdablet at 6:53 PM on August 26, 2012


Yeah, I don't care for it when others use blind links, but I'm ashamed to say I know I've done it. I think I've done it less and less over the years. Other than being annoyingly obnoxious and inconvenient at the time they're made, the historical cost that taz explained above really does make it much, much worse. I'm glad for this MeTa. It will help me focus on hopefully never doing this again.
posted by marsha56 at 7:11 PM on August 26, 2012


Actually MeFi itself taught me not to click blind links way back in the day (dinosaurs roamed the comments!) when it also taught me what goatse was (ugh). After that I got really serious about not clicking anything that I couldn't suss out with a mouseover. (Though I am thankful to the mods that it now won't ever be anything to melt my eyeballs. Probably.) So sadly I will miss any lovely linked surprise of glee and gumdrops from those who don't realize what a happy cynic I've become about all blind links.

It doesn't make my head explode with anger - but it does insure that I'm not going to take time checking out each link. I'm looking for a sentence or two from the poster to get me interested in what's linked - not just a tease to something I must click in order to understand what they're even referring to. I'm ok with posts like that - I'm just probably going to skip over them.
posted by batgrlHG at 8:19 PM on August 26, 2012


Mitheral: “Time's to short. Dozens of posts make it to the front page every day and I no longer have the kind of job that allows me to explore each one. Vronsky's post and others like it could be about something I'm interested in or it could be an extensive run down on Japanese reality TV. There were several posts that same day, several photography posts no less, that were interesting and well explained so why bother with a mystery post.”

Well, we're talking about browsing styles, so it's really going to be subjective ultimately, and what one person does is not right or wrong necessarily for another person. However, I can't read Metafilter this way; it wouldn't make sense to me.

I mean – I don't click over to metafilter.com thinking to myself, "I will read any post that has to do with photography, the Wright brothers, or cheese." I click over to metafilter.com because I want to spend five minutes looking at something new. I could try to 'streamline' that, I guess, by having a list of my interests and only clicking those things which strictly fall within my interests, but that seems kind of boring, first of all, and second of all I don't think I could approach anything with that much rigor, really.

Maybe it's just a reflection of how I personally approach this site, but I get the feeling the issue is that people have a limited amount of time and would like to "keep up" on the posts of the day and be able to review them all by filtering through. And that does seem kind of attractive as a goal, I admit; but I found I had to give this up a few years ago. There's just too much going on here. And I honestly find that very freeing. If everything on the front page is a mystery meat post and I'll never get around to clicking all those links and I will never know exactly which ones had something which I personally would find interesting hidden inside – fine. That's okay. I am never going to be able to tell myself I know everything that's going on on metafilter, which frees me to come here just to spend a few minutes clicking links and seeing what's behind them.
posted by koeselitz at 10:12 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty much the only thing that annoys me is a big wall of text with little punctuation.

I'm not here for reading efficiency, and I like surprises, so I just ramble around and peek into links. It baffles me how something like @username or mystery links would frustrate anyone per se (though now at least I understand the bandwidth problem).
posted by Omnomnom at 11:59 PM on August 26, 2012


Oh man I totally just did this in "The Wire" thread, using a song called "Why Can't Everything Be Easy" to illustrate the black/white simplicity of the conservative mindset. Sorry. I believe this is only the second time I've ever done it.
posted by MattMangels at 12:36 AM on August 27, 2012


I dislike blind links because I live in a place where my only options for Internet are dialup or the marginally better satellite. I have the latter, and it comes with bandwidth limits, so if someone can't be arsed to explain their link — as taz mentioned near the beginning of this thread — then I can't be bothered to click on it.

We had a similar discussion a while back that this can be somewhat remedied with a title attribute; but again if someone doesn't want to spend the time explaining their link with text that is visible, why would they be bothered with typing html that would be visible with a hover?

Like jessamyn and cortex said above, this is not something that is worth spending time worrying about. People who want to communicate well will, and I don't worry when others decide to be obtuse.
posted by terrapin at 5:08 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dislike blind links because I live in a place where my only options for Internet are dialup or the marginally better satellite. I have the latter, and it comes with bandwidth limits, so if someone can't be arsed to explain their link — as taz mentioned near the beginning of this thread — then I can't be bothered to click on it.

That's it exactly. The blinder the link, the more cryptic the context, the more the author is forcing you to follow their exact script. It is them saying "unless you click every one of these links, you won't understand the post." I fundamentally disagree with the idea that you should hide the things you want to expose, because the curious monkeys like to "discover" things.

It was fun when Suck.com did it, because that's what you went there for. It is not nearly as fun here. Especially when the links are just the first 8 pages of google results for whatever the topic is.

This is supposed to be the best of the web. Not the cleverest link farm.
posted by gjc at 7:08 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't care about blind links, and I'm a bit surprised at some of the vitriol here. I highly doubt people are making blind links because they are lazy, hate you, hate everything, just made a post out of google, or are control freaks who want to dictate your every click.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:21 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm curious how you guys who despise blind links handle twitter,

That's a pretty telling question. I hate Twitter and I don't use it; the "blindness" of the links is one reason. The "Twitterfication" of the internet sucks.

I don't click on blind links. I don't suppose anyone is choked up that I am not reading their context-free links, but there you go. Too often, they are a waste of time, or some stupid throw away joke.

To be fair, I almost never click YouTube links even if they are explanied, becuase nearly 100% of internet videos are too long, uninformative or annoying. Why be talked out when I could just read text with greater speed and clarity?
posted by spaltavian at 8:47 AM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's interesting. I'm just the opposite. I'd rather watch a short documentary with visuals than read an article even with illustrations and photographs. Maybe it's a left-brain/right-brain thing.
posted by crunchland at 8:58 AM on August 27, 2012


I don't like YouTube links in general, regardless of how well they are explained. I've never liked that you can't get any info out of the URL, just some random text that could mean anything. And some days it's like MeFi is just a front end to YouTube, which actually has a nifty search feature of its own.

But some are worth looking at, so I don't think a total ban would be a good idea (though a "MeFi Day Without YouTube" would be fine by me) or even possible.
posted by tommasz at 9:36 AM on August 27, 2012


Blind links in comments are only mildly annoying, since you can at least assume the link has something to do with the topic of the post.
FPPs that consist only of non-descriptive single word or phrase, like "Awesome!" and the little video link thingy should be instantly deleted by the mods, IMO.
posted by rocket88 at 9:57 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I use the Youtube Title Adder for greasemonkey in Firefox which adds the video title to the link text in parentheses. (It sucks for multi-link youtube posts assembled in paragraph rather than list form as it can be very hard to read).
posted by TwoWordReview at 10:01 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm curious how you guys who despise blind links handle twitter, a veritable weed field of blind links, compounded by the link shorteners.

Generally, if someone I follow blindlinks on twitter, the surprise is part of the effect, such that I might recoil or guffaw or shriek upon clicking through. But then, that has to do with having filtered out people who blindlink to uninteresting things, which I can't do on mefi. So if someone I don't know here says "Click this for the love of fucking god", I'm less likely to do so here than for someone with a good track record on twitter.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:47 AM on August 27, 2012


Life is short, the internet is big, and I can rarely be bothered to even hover over links. If I can’t figure out what it is from the description I’m just skipping over it. I’m sure I’m missing something cool, and I’ll be OK.
posted by bongo_x at 11:46 AM on August 27, 2012


And some days it's like MeFi is just a front end to YouTube, which actually has a nifty search feature of its own.

You can even do it the other way around: videos on YouTube linked from Metafilter.

I've seen videos pop up in my YT feed and then gone to check out the thread, and vice-versa.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:56 PM on August 27, 2012


LobsterMitten: "Yup, hate blind links, especially of the "This is the book you want" or "Here is what I think about that" variety.
Sure, do that with links where I can hover and discern what you mean by a descriptive URL. But don't do it where I can only figure out what you mean by clicking.
"

This also is a great way to demonstrate the tragic reality of link rot. Fortunately, you can find a list of linkrot tools here.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:12 PM on August 27, 2012


the young rope-rider : I highly doubt people are making blind links because they are lazy, hate you, hate everything, just made a post out of google, or are control freaks who want to dictate your every click.

Personally, I don't think any of the above (though in some cases I might pick "lazy" from that list). I usually believe the person posting considers their blind link in some way "clever", either in a "you'll smile when you see what I meant with that undefined preposition", or a "haha, I'll smile to see how many suckers hit that useless link" way.

But while a nuisance, neither of those really bother me so much as the fact that if you had a good point that I may have loved, I will never know it because I don't have fifteen hours a day to sit around clicking nondescript Youtube links; I also don't have the bandwidth to do so even if I did have the time.


Deathalicious : This also is a great way to demonstrate the tragic reality of link rot. Fortunately, you can find a list of linkrot tools here.

For FireFox, "CacheIt!" works fairly well by just giving you all the major web caches right on the context menu. In my experience, though, you can almost always get the text of a page back, sometimes images, but almost never any video content - Which seems to nicely go back to my original point, that people should include their intended meaning right in their text, with the link merely the optional bonus content.
posted by pla at 3:43 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blind links are often elegant.
posted by koeselitz at 8:08 AM on August 28, 2012


Blind links are often elegant.

Are you thinking of the Blind Men and the Elephant?
posted by bongo_x at 10:07 AM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guess some people still read Metafilter without a script that lets you see youtube titles? That would drive me nuts!
posted by chaff at 1:16 PM on August 28, 2012


Honestly, how is "Oh now, this really is ridiculously cute. slyt" preferable to the simple original link's description of "11 Month Old Twins Dancing to Daddy's Guitar"? Metafilter labels a whole host of subjects "cute", from cats, puppies, and crows to giant squids, insect macro–close-ups, and the Hulk. Are clicking on a video link shouldn't be cute video roulette.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:37 PM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


That lazy, clever motherfucker.
posted by crunchland at 4:42 PM on August 28, 2012


Yeah, that baby video could have used some clarification. I try to avoid posts on subjects I don't like and I don't really like babies. That vague, editorialize-y post....no thanks.
posted by troika at 7:24 AM on August 29, 2012


I just hate.
posted by the cydonian at 9:39 AM on August 29, 2012


Blind links in comments annoy me because they make it hard to identify new information.
Say I read a post and it makes me think of something that seems relevant yet obscure, maybe I want to share it. But before I comment I have to go through every commenter's previous links and ensure that none of the "This book" links refer to the author I was thinking of. Use the name in the text, and it cuts down on accidental double-referencing and increases the likelihood of people with patience issues (hi, that's me!) contributing. (oh, wait, maybe you don't want that)
posted by aimedwander at 9:44 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anything wrong with this Greasemonkey/Tampermonkey script that highlights heavy links such as Youtube videos on Metafilter? I use it and I think it works well for this sort of thing.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:04 PM on August 29, 2012


Yeah no, he just thinks he's clever. BIG difference.

I think it boils down to the quality standards of the site, and the idea of "filtering" with high standards. Drive-by linking is not high quality.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:20 PM on September 1, 2012


You're going to love this post...
posted by Artw at 2:02 PM on September 8, 2012


« Older This is a very profound MeTa.   |   Help me find the log in my eye, please. Newer »

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