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Background

Often I wish to quote other answers in my own answers or comments, at that time I need a direct link to the answer. That is of course what the share button is for.

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Crazy work arounds

However, until today I was unaware of its use and would use mad work arounds to get a direct link to the answer, these included:

  • Clicking the edit history and then return to answer
  • If no edit history (and I hated this one) going to the answerer's profile and find the answer there

Share as a social networking word

I think its fair to say that the word "Share" is heavily associated with social networks and what I was expecting to find under the share button was facebook, twitter etc logos that would post the answer to those services; this wasn't what I wanted so I never clicked the button. The "share" button actually does have these logos but it also has a direct link to the answer

Proposal

I would suggest separating out the "share" button from a new "direct link" button to avoid this confusion. Or alternatively renaming the "share" button to indicate its dual use.

Justification

Since the original feature request to add this direct link, several people have been confused sufficiently to post questions to find how to get direct links

An interesting question (that I have no answer for) is of the people who need a link to an answer what proportion are sending to a social network and what proportion are reposting on stack exchange itself. The button seems to designed primarily for the first use case with the second use case as a secondary function.

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My +1 goes for more clear name, not for separate buttons. But I agree something should be corrected if it causes problems. Personally I do my best to keep myself away from social networks, and my browser filters filter away most of FB-related stuff, so share was not confusing to me. I just never got used to any particular meaning ;) –  Mołot Oct 16 '13 at 10:27
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I think it is a good idea to separate permalink from share functionality. Most news pages i visit provide a permalink at the bottom of the news post and also functionality to share the post to Social networks (FB, Google, etc.) –  Jehof Oct 16 '13 at 10:33
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Since you were unaware of direct links to a post, I should also mention that direct links to comments also exist. :) Click on the time stamps after any comment and you get a direct link to that comment. –  hjpotter92 Oct 16 '13 at 10:44
    
@hjpotter92 Yeah, i was aware of those, its a bizarre way to get the link but as comments are "not important" and linked to rarely I’m more content with that –  Richard Tingle Oct 16 '13 at 10:49
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The first version of the "share" was simply "link" - it was changed about a year ago. –  Shadow Wizard Oct 16 '13 at 11:21
    
We could keep the share link in place, but move the permalink to a small icon next to flag. That might reduce visual clutter. –  Duncan Oct 16 '13 at 12:12
    
If we did have separate share / link buttons I guess the difference would be the share credits you with the share (includes your user id at the end) whereas the link doesn't (no user id). –  George Duckett Oct 16 '13 at 13:38
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