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Since late November 2011, clicking "link" "share" for anwers yields a short (traceable) URL in the "share a link to this answer" dialog, such as http://meta.stackexchange.com/a/75963/84237:

share a link to this answer dialog

These short URLs show no clue about the linked question whatsoever. Also, when different people use a short URL for the very same post, then the user id suffix makes those be different URLs for a browser. Such links will then not be shown as visited.

I know how to get URLs that have a proper slug. But as I see many of those short URLs pop up on these sites (where referrals are not taken into account for badges), I assume many others just don't realize full URLs would be better for use on these sites themselves? Or many don't want to do the little effort to get the full URL?

So: can we please have an easy way to get the full URL as well, in a way that is easily found for those who don't know about the different links?

(Currently for questions, clicking "link" has the same effect. But then one can also right-click the title, or take the URL from the location bar, to get the full human-readable URL. Once, Jeff thought that was important too.)


The short links for answers are not (yet) automatically converted into a clickable question title either, unlike links such as http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/74274/privacy-leak-in-permalink#75963, which renders as Privacy leak in permalink? But I guess that will change soon.

On Meta the CSS for posts doesn't indicate such difference anyway, which is a different issue.

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They're also a problem it seems when mods convert answers to comments using that link –  random Nov 29 '11 at 21:00
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A minor note: the part of the url you're interested in doesn't seem to count. e.g this works too http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/74274/weaponized-ponies/75963#75963 –  Some Helpful Commenter Nov 29 '11 at 21:18
    
True, @Conrad. Also note that SE takes care to tell search engines what the real URL is. (Which also applies to the short referral URLs; that by itself is no reason to use the full URL, I guess.) –  Arjan Nov 29 '11 at 21:22
    
Search results of posts (excluding comments) using the referral URLs here on Meta: 18 within a week. On SO: 120 within a week. –  Arjan Nov 29 '11 at 22:25
    
No, I don't care about short links, not even if they are useless, as I never peek into the URL before clicking. <-- a possible comment for downvoters! (Any other reason for downvoting? Please share!) –  Arjan Dec 16 '11 at 13:00

7 Answers 7

Because jQuery is really great and does all things1, I've been using a GM script to quickly extract the full link for each question/answer. This has just been posted on Userscript.org. Behold the amateurishly written StackExchange™ Slugified LinkSharer.

extra link to reveal full permalink

Clicking on the + instead of link provides the full anonymised/slugified link rather than the shortened referral ones:

Right-clicking then "copy link location" also works as expected to allow copying the link without using the popup.


Of course, providing an easy method to get the link only solves a small part of the problem. The difficulty is encouraging people to use those links when posting/commenting within SE.

Perhaps short links ought to be replaced automatically upon posting, just like how link titles are automatically inserted for intra-site links?

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Nice, now please have The Team add this to any page! :-) (It's not my own links that I am worried about. It's about the links others post.) –  Arjan Dec 16 '11 at 12:05
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@Arjan Even if this feature were added, there's still no guarantee others will use it when posting within SE :( Perhaps short links ought to be replaced automatically upon posting, just like how link titles are replaced for raw links? –  Shawn Chin Dec 16 '11 at 12:41
    
Replacing surely might be nice, but note that currently the URLs themselves are not changed. Changing the URLs (required for usage like [this](http://meta.stackexchange.com/a/75963/84237)) might be confusing to some, but I'd like that a lot. For comments that would require changing the source upon saving. –  Arjan Dec 16 '11 at 12:53
    
+1 for jQuery :) –  Alex Coplan Dec 16 '11 at 12:58
    
True, @Alex, but how does it solve the question...? –  Arjan Dec 16 '11 at 13:01
    
jQuery solves everything... and yes it does because they could implement it like this person has done –  Alex Coplan Dec 16 '11 at 13:03
    
But @Alex, how to make people who don't know about the different types of links (and how the short links are not useful for badges here), install some user script? If one agrees that short links are bad on these site, then anything a user to install won't help fixing that? (It's easy to get the short link, just hold down Control/Command while clicking. But that is not the problem I'm trying to describe...) –  Arjan Dec 16 '11 at 13:19
    
@Arjan I meant it demonstrates how the SO team could implement it... –  Alex Coplan Dec 16 '11 at 13:30
    
Ah, @Alex I see. Sure, the current "link" is also implemented using jQuery; the HTML is just <a href="/a/116234/84237" title="short permalink to this answer" id="link-post-116234">link</a>, all magic is done using jQuery. –  Arjan Dec 16 '11 at 13:37
    
@Arjan: I wasn't even aware that those short URLs were instrumented for those badges; I thought you had to use the twitter, etc. icons to obtain such URLs. –  SamB Jan 31 '12 at 6:17

Like maybe the <a href="..."> can specify the full URL, to copy using the context menu when right-clicking the link? (That might also make using Shift to open in a new window work again; currently only Ctrl/Command to open in a new tab works.) But I know that needs some work to keep the short URL too. And: it is not very easily found when not actively looking for it.

So better yet, killing two birds with one stone:

toggle anonymous and full link options

Likewise, with a different wording based on the link that is currently shown:

Link options Link options Link options

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Though the wording could be improved. Something like: Make this link anonymous/Make this link trackable and Make this a full link/Make this a short link. –  Jeff Mercado Nov 29 '11 at 23:57

In Firefox on Windows:

  1. Ctrl clicking link opens the answer in a new tab
  2. Ctrl+L jumps to the address bar
  3. Ctrl+C copies
  4. Ctrl+W closes the tab

Ctrl may be held the entire time, reducing the number of required keystrokes.

On a Mac, simply substitute Ctrl with Command ⌘.

Depending on your tab settings, you may need Ctrl+Shift click to open a new tab on top.

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Actually CTRL+L seems to work in all browsers –  bobobobo Nov 29 '11 at 23:50
    
True. But why are some people using the short URL while it's totally useless on these sites? That's the thing I'd like (them) to avoid. (Still: nice workaround; I hope many see this and use it!) –  Arjan Nov 29 '11 at 23:55
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@Arjan I swear I'm not trying to be obtuse or belligerent, but I still don't see how it matters. Surely I am missing something. What? –  Mr.Wizard Nov 29 '11 at 23:57
    
Like the link in the following sentence from Add border-radius to make <kbd> look much better: This slight change will make practical uses much better looking. While still preserving the layout of all the art that has been created. I'd rather be able to see what this links to, without clicking. (I dislike URL shorteners in general.) –  Arjan Nov 30 '11 at 0:01
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@Arjan it sounds to me like you need a userscript that automatically expands/resolves the shortened URLs. That way everything would be as you want it, right? –  Mr.Wizard Nov 30 '11 at 0:05
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Yes, if everyone would get that! So, yes, if it would be part of the SE pages. :-) (The example in my previous comment was not written by me. I know how to construct the full URLs.) –  Arjan Nov 30 '11 at 0:06
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@Arjan, I meant a script that would expand all of these for you only such that you personally would always see what you want to. If others share your view, they could run the script. If they do not, it's business as usual. If this isn't about your personal preference, perhaps I am still failing to understand. I hope the existence of my answer above is proof that I am trying to be constructive. –  Mr.Wizard Nov 30 '11 at 0:09
    
Ah, my bad, you mean expanding short links that have been posted by others. True, nice! (And I do acknowledge you're being constructive. I cannot upvote twice though! Thanks so far, I need to go to sleep...) –  Arjan Nov 30 '11 at 0:12
    
Does Shift-click (to open in a new foreground window) work on Windows? It works for regular links on these sites, but not for the "link" links. –  Arjan Dec 4 '11 at 13:53
    
@Arjan as my browser is configured that does not work for link. –  Mr.Wizard Dec 8 '11 at 7:10

Copy Question Link Markdown - Making it easier to copy links to questions! is a userscript on Stack Apps that adds a 'copy' button beneath every question and answer (adjacent to link, edit, and flag). I copied the link in the preceding sentence using this tool.

The 'copy' button produces a dialog with Markdown-formatted text similar to the Link dialog. The text in this dialog contains the full link. Here, I'll show you:

enter image description here

It sounds like you'll want to edit the text of this link, but all the brackets and parentheses are already there.

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Okay, now have The Team add this for everyone, please ;-) (I know how to create full URLs; heck I would even create them manually if needed. But not everyone is!) –  Arjan Nov 30 '11 at 0:04
    
Oh, wait a moment: is this for questions only? This feature request is about the short links to answers. (The HTML source does not include the full URL for that, but of course on could create that.) –  Arjan Dec 16 '11 at 12:43
    
@Arjan - It was originally designed for questions only, but it also works for answers. –  Kevin Vermeer Dec 19 '11 at 13:09
    
Then the upvote is still valid ;-) –  Arjan Dec 19 '11 at 17:52

Is copy-pasting the link into the address bar and hitting enter too much effort? The system will redirect that link to the actual URL. E.g. http://meta.stackexchange.com/a/75963/84237 redirects me to http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/74274/privacy-leak-in-permalink/75963#75963.

As for the issue at hand, I don't think the link needs to be changed or another link needs to be added. The shorter link was meant to add the user's ID for tracking of visitors they're referring to the question. If they're being used on the Stack Exchange network itself and people can't type out the link properly as [Title to the post](url) then yes the system should probably expand them automatically.

But short link or long link, users should still be formatting their links properly by providing a good title or description of the link wherever it gets posted, on the network or not. I see it as an extremely bad habit to "just post a link." It makes you look lazy and honestly I am less likely to follow a link that is just a URL than a link that is formatted with a nice title. It shows the user actually took a little initiative and put some effort into the post.


Anyways, if this is something that really might get implemented, perhaps you could add a small link at the top that allows users to switch between full and short links, and having the system remember this setting on a per-user basis (making it a preference). E.g. share a link to this answer [full] - clicking 'full' will switch the text box to the full link and replace 'full' with 'short, allowing users to alternate between them.

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I got to thinking about it more and how much unformatted links really bother me in general. ;P –  animuson Nov 29 '11 at 22:29
    
+1 for the third paragraph. I've lost count of how many times I've reformatted users' posts to give bare URLs proper titles. –  Neil Fein Nov 29 '11 at 22:30
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Once links are auto-converted, then part of the problem would be solved for me. Still then: folks explicitly trying to post nice links without changing the URL still bother me, like see [here](http://meta.stackexchange.com/a/75963/84237) would not give me any clue. (And seeing that is the very reason to ask for an easier, obvious way to get the full URL.) –  Arjan Nov 29 '11 at 22:31
    
@Arjan: Yes I thought about that, which is why I offered my suggestion after the horizontal bar. I also dislike huge boxes that appear over my content so I'm really against having another box added below it, so as I was typing I thought of a nice way to keep the box the same size and offer both alternatives. –  animuson Nov 29 '11 at 22:33
    
But, @Neil, using like [this](..) (like here) would not add any context? If the URL would not provide such context either, then surely the post looks better, but my "problem" is not solved. –  Arjan Nov 29 '11 at 22:36
    
@Arjan - You're choosing a bad example. Since these were inline to a sentence, I would have had to rewrite the question more than was needed. Feel free to continue going through my edit history, though. –  Neil Fein Nov 29 '11 at 22:40
    
@Neil, sorry, I by no means was trying to "attack" your editing efforts. (Don't know the proper English word for that. Very nice work indeed, kudos!) The example was just the last in the activity history. It's just that many of us are not using the title of the question to link. I myself often don't do that either; just see the very question above. Still, hovering those links gives the reader some clue. –  Arjan Nov 29 '11 at 22:46
    
@Arjan - Oh, no offense taken; I was more amused than anything else. –  Neil Fein Nov 30 '11 at 0:20

But as I see many of those short URLs pop up on these sites (where referrals are not taken into account for badges), I assume many others just don't realize full URLs would be better for use on these sites themselves?

I got in the habit of right-clicking the "link" text next to answers and copying the URL to link to answers before I realized that the various badges related to promotion only applied to visitors outside the network. In fact I was probably expecting that I was helping to improve my chances at a badge for a long time, ever since I saw those badges announced; I think only recently (within the past 2 months) did I learn that only referrals from outside the network count.

Or many don't want to do the little effort to get the full URL?

Now that I know the difference, my behavior has not changed. I'm not really swayed by your argument of wanting to know what the link goes to before you clic on it. (Sorry, nothing personal!) I totally get the dislike of URL shorteners that link to any random site because they could be malicious/NSFW/link to undesired content etc, and it's always good practice to know where you're going on the Internet... but I don't think the same thing applies here. With these short links, you know you're going to a question or an answer on Stack Exchange.

I don't see how including the slug in my links makes my answers any better really. When I link to a post, I am linking to it because I want others to read it and possibly act on it. If I just wanted to show the title of the post, I would post the title of the post. Often times I will do both, for example:

Arjan asked to "Provide an easily discoverable way to get the full URL to an answer" but I posted an answer disagreeing with him.

I really don't think it's a bad thing for you to have to click on the link to see the answer it links to. Because I'm linking to that answer for a reason, and providing you with a way to avoid following my link is counterproductive.

Like maybe the <a href="..."> can specify the full URL, to copy using the context menu when right-clicking the link?

This I like, because it's a very minor change, it means I don't have to change my behavior, and you get what you want. So while I disagree with you that it's bad to use these specific short URLs, I don't think it's totally hopeless to find an easy solution to your concerns.

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I mainly agree, but: having seen many questions, I really don't feel the need to read this one again. (Yes, you guessed right about that link. But can you guess right every time?) –  Arjan Dec 16 '11 at 13:14
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@Arjan - No, I can't guess right every time. However, there are so many questions on Stack Overflow that the chances that I will remember one based on the long URL are very slim. As the author of the linked post wrote, they won't stop coming every day... every hour even. - There are 871 questions tagged [html]+[regex], could you recognize that answer with a link like RegEx match open tags except XHTML self-contained tags? –  Kevin Vermeer Dec 19 '11 at 13:16

Press F6, then CTRL+C to copy the active URL in your browser bar.

This works on Chrome. If you're using Firefox, you should switch to chrome Press tab after pressing F6 to reach the URL bar.

In IE, press F6 twice.

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