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It's a minor question, but I was wondering what people think about links on StackOverflow..

Should we backquote a link that contains code, like "See printf" vs. "See printf"?

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(Answerers note that it's obviously a link on SO, even though meta's style makes it look like plain text) – Michael Mrozek Jul 28 '11 at 14:39
I do it all the time. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jul 28 '11 at 14:40
@BoltClock: I do it all the time as well, but I'm not sure if it's actually helping or hindering readability. – Mehrdad Jul 28 '11 at 14:46

No, except if it's a keyword and you're using the convention of 'highlighting' keywords with code-tags. Example:

  1. See the documentation for the substr-Method.
  2. See the documentation for the substr-Method.
  3. See the documentation for the substr-Method.

Additionally, depending on the style of the site, Links in Code-Blocks might be hard to distinguish from normal code. Also, #2 or #3 is always preferable in my opinion.

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I prefer #2 by a wide margin. It makes the link visible and the link text actually contains enough content to describe what it links to. – Joachim Sauer Jul 28 '11 at 15:01

The rules I follow are:

  • If I'm referring to something that's exact syntax, I always use backticks. This is sometimes important for disambiguation--for instance, if a language has a type called list, it may be necessary to distinguish between talking about lists specifically vs. talking about lists in general. For consistency, I do it even when there isn't an ambiguity issue.

  • If I'm linking to a reference, I generally put the link on the term being defined, the thing being described, or for general information I'll mention the name of what I'm referring to and put the link there, e.g., if I wanted to tell someone that they should consult the Stack Overflow FAQ.

  • If the above two overlap such that the link and backticks would coincide, I'll extend the link to a surrounding phrase to make it more visually distinct as a link.

This basically amounts to #2 in Bobby's list.

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