I have observed several posts that say click here or here or here, which I find quite annoying since it requires the reader to click or hover over the link to find out what the author was referring to.

Do we have guidelines on this in any of the Stack Exchange sites?


4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I don't know of an existing guideline, but as a general good practice for writing web pages, I've heard that the text of a link should be an indicator of what the link is pointing to. In other words, if you just take the displayed link text out of context and ignore the rest of the content on the page, it should tell you what you'd see if you click on the link. Example:

Take a look at the Wikipedia page on hyperlinks for more information

I guess one way to do this would be to do your writing at first without any hyperlinks, and then go back and add in the links in appropriate places without changing your wording.


I want to add this suggestion to linking guidelines: When linking to another question on TeX SE, the link text should have the question title in it. Compare:

See this question for more information


See "I've just been told I have to write a minimal example, what is that?" for more information.

The second indicates where the link is going and gives important information about why it's relevant.

This is boilerplate so there's no reason it can't be detailed. For more general use, copy both. (There exist Firefox addons such as Copy with URL and Debate Copy which add a feature when you select linked text to copy both the text and the URL. It's in the contextual menu that appears after selection. So when linking to a question page, select the document title (which contains a link to the page itself), select "Copy with URL", paste into your answer, and reformat.)

(For Mac users, TextExpander + AppleScript + Curl can do this for you automatically with any URL, but let's not go there.)

Edited I now noticed that in answers SE URL's get their question titles inserted as the link text automatically. So to achieve the above output, it's easiest to type

See "<http://meta.tex.stackexchange.com/q/228>" for more information.

The <> is needed because of the quotes. Note that the quotes won't be part of the link with this method. Moreover, this doesn't work in comments.

This correction isn't active in the edit preview, which makes it a little confusing. I don't get the "Copy with URL" with Firefox 3.6.13 under Ubuntu 10.10. However, I found this plugin which gives you such an entry. –  Martin Scharrer Feb 23 '11 at 13:40
@Matthew: You have a point here. I think you should update your answer, remove the first (or second :-)) case, and explain the feature of SE (doesn't work in comments so far, AFAIK). Moreover, you might want to be clearer which of the four (three) alternatives is best in your opinion. –  Hendrik Vogt Feb 23 '11 at 13:58
@Martin: I don't have that plugin, nor any other I could find related to this menu item, so I'm not sure where it came from. I did add some links to addons which add it. –  Matthew Leingang Feb 23 '11 at 15:22
@Hendrik: edited. Hope it makes more sense now. –  Matthew Leingang Feb 23 '11 at 15:23
@Matthew: Yes, that's a lot better, thanks. –  Hendrik Vogt Feb 23 '11 at 15:26
doesn't work in comments, but does work in chat (where it includes a complete preview). –  Caramdir Feb 23 '11 at 17:35
@Matthew: Feel free to improve my recent edit! –  Hendrik Vogt May 17 '11 at 17:42

I've actually edited a few questions/answers that just pasted url's with no indication of what were they pointing to. Do people think this a kind of acceptable edit?

Mods can edit comments? –  Caramdir Oct 8 '10 at 20:06
Since comments have no edit history, editing them is probably a very bad idea in general and why us mere mortals cannot edit comments. –  TH. Oct 8 '10 at 21:20
Ok, I probably should stop doing that. But how about editing in questions/answers? –  Juan A. Navarro Oct 9 '10 at 7:20
Usually acceptable, in my opinion. –  Caramdir Oct 9 '10 at 15:33

I actually find this kind of linking better, because it doesn't disturb the normal read flow, especially if the URL happens to be long and hairy. I wouldn't need to click on a link most of the time, especially when only browsing through questions and not looking for something in particular. If I want an answer, I'm going to click anyway, and the browser does good job letting me know where I will land.

AFAIR, there was a blog post or a discussion over at meta.SO or blog.SO, where this is recommended (I can't remember where exactly, if I manage to find the link, I will post it, ironically, in an edit later).

If, however, you are referring to putting the solution in your post instead of just linking to it, I am all for that, and this is also kind of a recommendation from SO (although I am myself guilty of doing the opposite).

My idea was to give a clue about what's behind it; keywords would be more helpful than here, here, here all over the place. I'm sure most people know about it as a web design best practice. Some are just lazy to decide on a keyword, myself included sometimes. –  Kit Sep 30 '10 at 9:19
I understand what you mean. I've seen some websites cite the domain name automatically next to the hyperlink included, something like "[example.com] here". I think that's a reasonable compromise, as you get a general idea where are you going, and still don't obstruct reading. –  Martin Tapankov Sep 30 '10 at 9:26
I agree that the whole URL breaks the flow, but if it's worth putting in a link then it's worth indicating what that link will bring you to! –  Loop Space Sep 30 '10 at 12:29

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