Best practice: previously, previouslier, and ALL THE PREVIOUSLY July 25, 2014 10:28 PM   Subscribe

When a subject of an FPP has been posted about once or twice, it's easy enough to include the usual (previously) link or two. If that applies to more than one subject in a post, sometimes it's easy to provide the details in the extended description area in one way in another. Lately I've started to notice that some posts I make have subjects that have been visited too many times to list individually, so I have just been linking the (previously) to the MeFi search results. However, this is imperfect because it will sometimes include unrelated posts. As a poster, how do you deal with (previously) links? As a reader, what is your preference regarding format and labeling conventions?
posted by Room 641-A to Etiquette/Policy at 10:28 PM (57 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

As a poster, I include those links for all the previous related posts I'm aware of. As a reader, I sometimes add relevant-seeming links that the poster didn't include.
posted by flabdablet at 10:37 PM on July 25, 2014


So let's say you make a Weird Al Yankovic post and there are 20 specific previous Weird Al Yankovic posts. Would you include 20 distinct (previously) links somewhere in the post? Or something like "Previously: 1, 2, 3, etc."?
posted by Room 641-A at 10:54 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


In the past I've used the Previously and Previouslier links, but if I had more than that, then something akin to Room 641-A's suggestion seems best.
posted by arcticseal at 10:57 PM on July 25, 2014


I would link to a tag rather than a search result - they tend to be more specifically relevant to the post, and I prefer the layout of posts on the tag page to the layout on the search page.
posted by Phire at 11:16 PM on July 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


This is what Tags are for.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:27 PM on July 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


I hate the 1, 2, 3 thing since there is no context. I'd much rather just look at the tag link if there is more than 2 or 3 priors, especially if you aren't going to provide any info on what the prior posts were about.
posted by gatorae at 11:35 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I also think a culture of conscientious tagging all round is best practice here.

When I use 'previously' links, it's to specific earlier posts which are directly (not just topically) relevant. Example.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 11:43 PM on July 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think maybe you shouldn't make the post at all in a case like that.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:22 AM on July 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


There's usually at least one tag that threads itself through previous posts related to the one I'm making, and I link to that.
posted by carsonb at 12:44 AM on July 26, 2014


I tend to use previously only for post directly relevant to what I've written and sometimes for secondary links posted before to show awareness of it. You shouldn't do more than 2 or 3 such links though, or they overwhelm your post.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:57 AM on July 26, 2014


The tag option hadn't occurred to me, but it makes complete sense so I'll use it in the future.
posted by arcticseal at 4:37 AM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think maybe you shouldn't make the post at all in a case like that.

I'm not sure you mean no more Weird Al posts ever again, though? Or just that something might end up really being a double?

I can see how I may have overestimated the importance of (previously). I do try to be thorough when I use tags, but I know I underestimate how how people use them.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:05 AM on July 26, 2014


However, this is imperfect

Posts have to be perfect now?
posted by telstar at 5:08 AM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought Chocolate Pickle was referring to the example in my comment!
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 5:08 AM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I have just been linking the (previously) to the MeFi search results."

I avoid that because if people aren't logged in then a link to search results just sends them to the login page. There are plenty of people who read the front page who haven't signed up.
posted by Kattullus at 5:11 AM on July 26, 2014


In almost any case just linking to the last two or three (or the most important couple of previouslies) is going to be sufficient. Even if there have been 20 Weird Al posts, not all of them are actually relevant to this new one, are they?

I know people like to overthink things, but this really is something where if you make even the slightest gesture of trying to do something, you are fine.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:34 AM on July 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


You don't have to link to any previouslies at all if the subject is very widely known imo. Weird Al has been an international music figure for 30 years, we don't need to see every time he's appeared on Metafilter. It's fine if you want to link them but it's not necessary.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:56 AM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


One can never have too many Weird Al posts.

I usually link to the previouslies whose links are still active, or that sparked decent discussions. If there are a ton I may link to a tag url.
posted by zarq at 6:02 AM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Weird Al has been an international music figure for 30 years, we don't need to see every time he's appeared on Metafilter.

I do! I do!
posted by zarq at 6:03 AM on July 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


I thought Chocolate Pickle was referring to the example in my comment!

Oh, that makes more sense! I blame my phone's tiny screen for the lack of context.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:15 AM on July 26, 2014


They're not necessary at all. Too many links in a post make it difficult to follow. I feel this way about things like wikipedia results and official homepages, too. People can search for those things! Make your post about something that is different and difficult for people to find on their own.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:27 AM on July 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well if something is even a tiny tiny tiny bit not extremely well known to Gen X white IT professional dudes you're better off linking to a homepage or Wiki entry just to mildly curb the self-righteous "Who is this person they aren't Tom Waits who cares?" comments right off the bat.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:03 AM on July 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


Serious question. Do you find this post difficult to follow? I ask because my larger posts now follow a sort of organizational template, and that's a decent example of it.
posted by zarq at 7:03 AM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Megaposts are a different thing I think zarq. They are rare and require a different sort of browsing where you read the whole thing and then poke around through different links which are all equally interesting. Usually a normal length MF post has a single focus link and then several follow up links. It should replicate the way the poster came to find out about the thing being posted about: one starter link and then more depth for the curious. This is my o.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:10 AM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Another kind of MF post is: "hey this thing just came out/happened by/in this person/subject we all know. Here's the thing and a little background."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:12 AM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Zarq, I just don't engage with more than one or maybe two links on any given post, so while it makes sense I probably wouldn't be particularly interested.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:26 AM on July 26, 2014


I can take or leave 'em but rest assured, if a post isn't perfect, or if someone made a comment in 2007 even tangentially related to the subject, there'll be a helpful mefite there to drop a link in the comments. Not that it feels like a "your post sucks!" thing, it's just part of the discussion.
posted by Lorin at 7:32 AM on July 26, 2014


If there are a ton I may link to a tag url.

I'm confused by why anyone would do this. Are you linking to tags you aren't actually using on the post? Otherwise, the tag list does this automatically.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:47 AM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I really only care about previouslies if they are very closely linked to the present post, such as articles or videos in a series, and to a lesser extent if the subject is something or someone that has only been discussed on The Blue once or twice in the past. If the subject of the post is of sufficient interest that I want to keep reading more about it, I'm fully capable of tracking down additional material, such as, for example, by clicking on the weirdalyankovich tag that surely has been used for a post about Weird All. Linking to the tag in the post, when it should also be sitting there at the right side of the post, seems redundant.

Linking to a metafilter search also seems less than ideal (not wrong). A post, IMHO, should contain [am I allowed to use this word?] curated links; an uncurated search may dredge up a lot of by-catch along with the fish you were fishing for. For example, in your BALLS BALLS BALLS post, your link to a metafilter search for Neko Case, which turns up a lot of posts that mention Neko Case only tangentially. The ones that are truly focused on Neko Case (a) kind of get lost in the pile and (b) would have been as easily found by clicking on the nekocase tag (which, see above, doesn't need to be linked in your post because it should be one of your tags).
posted by drlith at 7:53 AM on July 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have just been linking the (previously) to the MeFi search results

That is not what I'm expecting when I click a "previously" link.
posted by Rash at 7:58 AM on July 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


As a reader, what is your preference regarding format and labeling conventions?

I pretty much never click previously links. I do often click the tags though so make sure they're good. Linking to a tag page in the post seems redundant but I guess it might be useful on mobile devices. Linking to a search result also seems weird but I'll probably not notice it anyway since I'm not clicking the previously links.
posted by shelleycat at 12:32 PM on July 26, 2014


Potomac Avenue: "Well if something is even a tiny tiny tiny bit not extremely well known to Gen X white IT professional dudes you're better off linking to a homepage or Wiki entry just to mildly curb the self-righteous "Who is this person they aren't Tom Waits who cares?" comments right off the bat."

I guess I qualify as a Gen X white IT professional dude. I would rather listen to a tree chipper grind up broken pianos and banjos than listen to Tom Waits.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:10 PM on July 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hmm, I guess my instinct was right that linking to the search result was kind of weird. I'll continue trying to tag well and leave the (previously) to specific situations and not worry about the Weird Als of the world so much.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:35 PM on July 26, 2014


I agree with drlith: previously-on-Metafilter links are part of the curation that an FPP is providing. How do previous posts and discussion fit into the context of this post?

So linking to a tag or MeFi search seems a bit of a cop-out -- it's pushing the burden of identifying which results of that link are meaningful onto the reader. (And as already noted, linking to a tag that your post already uses is redundant.)

It does seem a harder problem when there are many previous posts; and not one I've faced yet. But I think in that case it's perfectly OK to curate and cull the previouslys.

To take the hypothetical Weird Al case: if you're posting the current video, no need to previously every other Weird Al post; sufficient to link only to the the other videos from this album? If your posting is more general -- his process, maybe -- no need to previously all the "here's a new Weird Al video" post; more useful to pick out a few of the best related/complementary previous posts. Or if your post is some new unconsidered facet of Weird Al-ery, maybe omit the "previously on Metafilter" altogether?

(Bob Dylan's another good example: 74 posts tagged with 'dylan' alone. No way that every new Dylan post can -- or should! -- link to all the previous Dylan posts.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:25 PM on July 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: I blame my phone's tiny screen for the lack of context.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 3:37 PM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I personally like it, in circumstances where the previouslys are related but of different... sub-subjects, for that to be noted. Like, say you're posting about, I dunno, goats. A previously like "Goats previously: on towers, on trampolines, pygmies, taxonomy, as a milk source, Goat Simulator, as a sacrifice to the Old Ones, demonology, cheese recipes, Popes who were secretly goats in Pope suits." That way, I know what I'm getting into, and I get a rabbit hole of links I probably missed the first time they were posted.

and now "previously" is doing that strange moon-word thing because I used it too many times
posted by NoraReed at 3:55 PM on July 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah goats!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:05 PM on July 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Linking to a tag page in the post seems redundant but I guess it might be useful on mobile devices.

Mods, would it be possible to include a post's tags in mobile view? I think this would add a lot of value for those of us who experience MetaFilter mostly via mobile devices.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 4:24 PM on July 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ooh, that would be nice. Or maybe (to reduce clutter on the mobile screen) have it as a menu option down at the bottom: "show this post's links" or something like that.
posted by Lexica at 4:39 PM on July 26, 2014


I like not having the tags when I'm on the mobile view.
posted by grouse at 5:43 PM on July 26, 2014


If we continue to allow Weird Al posts eventually we'll run in to an obituary thread. Why do you hate Weird Al so much?
posted by blue_beetle at 6:02 PM on July 26, 2014


previouslylylylyly
posted by aydeejones at 9:05 PM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I felt amused typing "sup, lee, sup, lee" over and over
posted by aydeejones at 9:05 PM on July 26, 2014


goatse π + i = ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by aydeejones at 9:08 PM on July 26, 2014


Gen X white IT professional dudes

dah! * pulls blankets back over head *
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:25 PM on July 26, 2014


Mods, would it be possible to include a post's tags in mobile view? I think this would add a lot of value for those of us who experience MetaFilter mostly via mobile devices.

I'm not sure if there's anything on the table for this; I know it's come up a couple times previously, and the big problem with the idea is that tags take up some space, and in some posts potentially a lot of space, relative to the size of the viewport in mobile view. Some sort of compromise expanding/collapsing thing might be less of a problem there and it might happen at some point, but again I don't know if that's actually on anybody's to-do list.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:01 PM on July 26, 2014


In my opinion:

Including "Previously" links in a post is always optional on the part of the poster. I include them because I like furthering the interconnectedness of Metafilter, and they might lead the interested reader deeper into the subject, and they also remind everyone what we've said about it before.

I suggest, if there's a great number of "previouslies," too many to track down without being annoying, that you only link to the more popular/relevant of them.

A problem with linking to a tag is that there is no organized system of tagging, suggested or otherwise. A search is practically bound to find stuff not related, and miss related stuff, to the extent that a tag search link isn't really helpful except as a source of leads. If I was going to link to a tag, then I might as well do a little extra legwork and do the search myself, and then instead include links to the best results.
posted by JHarris at 3:59 AM on July 27, 2014


limit to previous and priviouser only. rest they gotta find. You're clogging the post if all 13 times its been on the blue you have down to previouser-er-er-er-er
posted by Ironmouth at 10:36 AM on July 27, 2014


limit to previous and priviouser only. rest they gotta find. You're clogging the post if all 13 times its been on the blue you have down to previouser-er-er-er-er

I really liked the goat example above but yes, it's silly to have a SLYT with 15 previouslys.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:34 AM on July 27, 2014


I'm confused by why anyone would do this. Are you linking to tags you aren't actually using on the post? Otherwise, the tag list does this automatically.

As someone said above, tags aren't visible to people viewing posts in the mobile stylesheet.

I think I've done it only once before, tbh. Not frequently.

--

Question for the mods: When I just tried searching for "https://www.metafilter.com/tags/" on my activity, I got no results. Which may be true. But weirdly, the search field is stripping out "/" for some reason. Searches for "https://www.metafilter.com/tags/" report back: "Sorry, no matches for http:www.metafilter.comtags by zarq." Is that a bug?
posted by zarq at 8:28 AM on July 28, 2014


That's mostly a pb question specifically, I think. Go ahead and poke the contact form.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:33 AM on July 28, 2014


If you are going to include a "previously" in your FPP, there's another good reason not to just rely on a search link. When a reader comes across your post months or years after you have published it and clicks on that link, he will find results published not only before yours, but after yours as well. If and when that happens, your "previously" label becomes semantically inappropriate.

In addition, forcing the user to ferret out the most relevant context from a search page rather than just doing the work of curating a few links yourself seems lazy and disrespectful to your audience.

This is how I formatted an in-line "previously" in a FPP I crafted a startlingly long time ago, on the release of George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons.
Recently, the saga was adapted for television on HBO [Previously: 1, 2, 3, more].
As you can see, if you wish to include multiple links of past context there is really no need to do anything so tacky as a "previously-er-er-er," and though the "more" link is semantically inappropriate in retrospect, this deficit is ameliorated by the presence of curated links, presented in chronological order.
posted by The Confessor at 8:44 AM on July 28, 2014 [3 favorites]


In addition, forcing the user to ferret out the most relevant context from a search page rather than just doing the work of curating a few links yourself seems lazy and disrespectful to your audience.

My Weird Al example was not great, so to be clear I was only talking about linking just to the search only when there were more than three or four prevouslys and a search's results were narrow enough to be relevant. That being said, this:

Recently, the saga was adapted for television on HBO [Previously: 1, 2, 3, more].

is exactly what I was hoping to get out of this MeTa! It seems obvious now, but I was having a hard time figuring out what do do when there are just a few too many relevant previously posts. This may not be everyone's favored approach, but I love it, thank you.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:04 AM on July 28, 2014


That's mostly a pb question specifically, I think. Go ahead and poke the contact form.

OK. Was hesitant to bother him. Thanks!
posted by zarq at 9:27 AM on July 28, 2014


OK, done. It looks like the in-site user activity search is stripping out backslashes, and plugging in anything beyond a basic .com domain is turning up zero results. So http://www.youtube.com is fine. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9YoR8uGzA2g5cPPebeq7Oc8XKMejYLSE is not.
posted by zarq at 9:35 AM on July 28, 2014


I like the 1,2,3, more version.
posted by shelleycat at 9:47 AM on July 28, 2014


Can't really take the credit for it, though; there are too few things new under Metafilter's sun for me to assume I didn't remember and appropriate the structure from some earlier FPP.
posted by The Confessor at 6:36 AM on July 30, 2014


« Older If You Use IFTTT Then Consider Sharing Recipes   |   I think this Pony would be loved by many:... Newer »

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