How to make links annoying

Note: This post might be a little dated. It was published in September 2006.

OK Everyone knows you shouldn’t have links that say please click here to find out about giraffes instead you should have something more like ‘Giraffes are fascinating creatures’.

The point being that people know you have to click on links so having the text ‘click here’ as the a link is like having a door with sign saying ‘this is a door’. In addition people have to read on to find out where the link will take them whereas in the second example there is an immediate connection between the link and it’s probably destination.

Well. I think it’s easy to overdo this. Metafilter is a prime example.

There is an unpleasant tendency for people to write stuff like: Giraffes have many fascinating qualities that you should know about.
(I’m not exaggerating – about Metafilter that is, not giraffes)

In fact I think links in a body of text should only be used when space is short. I would much prefer something more like…

Giraffes are blah de blah de blah de blah de blah de blah de blah de blah de blah:

There. Isn’t that nicer? It interupts your flow if you’re trying to talk about something else but can’t the links wait until the end of your paragraph?

Even worse than the Metafilter disease is something I’ve noticed at Wikipedia and also at sites that use a Content Management System that tried to helpfully automatically add hyperlinks to any keywords that it spots. Look at the Wikipedia giraffe article (I must be obsessed with giraffes today)

Look at the words hyperlinked in the opening paragraphs. OK. I might want to know what an Okapi is it’s helpful to have that word linked.

But hyperlinking ‘metres’? Hyperlinking ‘animal’?
Why stop there? Maybe I need to know what ‘tallest’, ‘land’ and ‘living’ mean so link to those pages too. There’s still the words ‘all‘ and ‘and‘ left without a blue underline…

And I’ve seen even sillier examples on other Wikipedia pages. At least they don’t hyperlink to a live stock quote on every single mention of a companies name.

5 comments