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Maybe using a different font or a small site-icon.

Hijack edit: ~~~~ jco - Based on this discussion: Hodofhod Asks About Intra-network Related Questions

Example. In the below answer from Justin is a link to a Super User post. The current "linked questions" box doesn't show the SU link, but it could. In addition, that site should have a linked question to this question across the intra-site network. This opens a few new possibilities.

One example is when Database Administrators links back to questions on Stack Overflow, with enough time we can start to see where the actually hottest "resource" questions are, not just from within SO proper, but from across the network. This adds some new insights on how the links are farmed across the network, and within the site itself.

Obviously this requires some specific data processing, such as "this thread has a link to another SE site" but those can be updated per-post-update, in the already present process queue. Chat has already shown that there's some API for grabbing the related site information, so that could be put to use here for fetching the right slug and favicon, and the process that requests can insert a slug-like link into an arbitrary non-site-specific DB that could be used for cross-network lookups on post update (aka: update on SO Q causes it to briefly check that table for the SO Q #, if found, spawn off updates for each record in that table to the other sites).

These are all just ideas on how to accomplish it, given what is known about the SE architecture.

Here's the benefits, as best I can figure them now:

  • promotion of related sites in a totally organic fashion
  • determining how-referenced a question really is (think English Language and Usage vs English Language Learning or GameDev vs Arqade or SO vs Programmers)
  • determining if one person is engaging in spammy behavior by constantly linking to their own questions (this can be a useful mod-tool at times, I expect)
  • determining what meta questions get linked to from non-meta sites frequently (potential about-page changes or the like)
  • potential traffic spike or other behavioral analysis in a longer term (possible example: most linked topics come within the first 24 hours or after more than 1 month?)

Note I would like to stress that this request is not about extra-network links, this is strictly for in-SE-network links, which we already have some auto-title-slug-recognition-generation for in posts and this would only extend the existing process a little bit.

Scouring other sites for useful information and including in the sidebar / analytics is beyond the scope of this request.

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it is not a bad idea but a bit of a micro-optimization; implementation would be kind of a pain, too, making me wonder if it's worth it. –  Jeff Atwood Mar 14 '11 at 5:17
@Jeff it might become even more useful if linked question have been migrated which of course would be even more painful, but as a benefit a high rate of linked off-site questions could assist in finding migration candidates as well –  Tobias Kienzler Mar 14 '11 at 6:11
@jcolebrand Great edit! Thanks for bringing this up again, I'd still love to see this implemented... –  Tobias Kienzler Feb 8 '13 at 7:36
Thank Hodofhod for bringing it to chat, and thank Shog for getting involved in the discussion and helping us flesh things out a bit. –  jcolebrand Feb 8 '13 at 15:46
Very well, although I'm afraid without any comment here @Hodofhod/@Shog'ing won't work... –  Tobias Kienzler Feb 8 '13 at 15:53
Well in that case, thank you @HodofHod for bringing this up again :-) –  Tobias Kienzler Feb 9 '13 at 8:02
@HodofHod You'd deserve the bounty for your edit, so please feel free to post a dummy-answer (or a mock-up screenshot with freehand circles) –  Tobias Kienzler Mar 8 '13 at 12:30

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I like the icon idea.

Example post with the links added:

I recently found a question on Stack Overflow: alt textWhat are the correct version numbers for C#? and wondered what it would look like if the link had a icon in front of it. It seemed like having the icon would help distinguish it from links to other SE sites: alt textWhat are some “must have” Windows programs?, or other non-affiliated sites Microsoft developer network.

Possibly the icon should be a little smaller than it is in the above example so that it isn't larger than the text.

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+1, although my main point was the "Linked" list on the right side –  Tobias Kienzler Nov 8 '10 at 12:24
No please. Too much noise. I agree with @tobias that this should be on the RHS. –  Tshepang Feb 24 '11 at 12:44

This question is well over four years old as I type this answer. The passage of time makes me think this is possibly more relevant and more desirable now than it was when Tobias Kienzler first posted.

The SE network is growing. Its distinctive model has been highly successful in provoking rich content and generally making the web a better place. But some of that success is lost through failing to capitalize on the potential connections within the network.

The use of the Hot Network Questions listing in the sidebar is evidence of the attractiveness of exploiting the "ecosystem". As has been noted already in this thread, this is in a fairly haphazard fashion. There is something to be said for serendipity -- I have benefitted from the random find there myself!

But this isn't really adding value. As the network grows, so too do the organic connections between the specialist sites. Here's the current scenario:

  • if in an answer or comment I "share" a link to a related Q&A on the same site, it is pulled out and linked in the sidebar under the "Linked" heading;
  • but, if in an answer or comment I "share" a link to a related Q&A on a different StackExchange site, ... nothing. It languishes.

If a user active in related sites goes to the trouble of cross-linking related SE posts in a different site, that adds value in a significant way. Pulling them out for sidebar linking increases their visibility and value to interested readers, especially if those cross-links have been offered in comments (one of the significant ways in which comments can add value, in fact). The "Hot Questions" coding suggests it is already possible to use the site favicons to identify the home site the link belongs to. We also see site favicons used in the Community Bulletin, including MSE posts on other sites' bulletins.

I can't see a down-side here, but can see plenty of "wins". A good idea whose time has (finally) come?

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In the last 90 days, there have been 1592 SO posts that link to other SE sites and 5537 comments (some of which might be to MSE). That's really a tiny number relative to activity on the site. Therefore the feature won't have much of an impact on the whole. But for those questions where cross linking does occur a link in the sidebar could be very valuable. (An example: this answer about brute force decryption that links to an answer on Cryptography.SE. The link is valuable, but currently buried.)

Linkbacks, of course, are the real win here. It's impossible to know that there's another take on a question at a different site unless someone goes to the effort of pasting a link in a comment or something. Last month, I wanted this functionality a handful of times on per-site metas that have questions about hats.

I suggested this feature to the dev team. It turns out the linkback feature makes it difficult to implement and expensive to put in operation. Remember, we have 133 (and counting) sites with millions of questions. If a crosslink is added or removed anywhere on those sites, the sidebar on both questions must be updated.

It might possible to optimize this and make it reasonably performant. But remember that these links would only appear on a tiny fraction of questions. So while we think it's an interesting feature, it's not one we will be investing in anytime soon.

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couldn't the devs have a posted cross site link trigger the automated addition of an invisible linkback comment on the linked to post? I don't think that would require too much performance since its a one shot thing –  Tobias Kienzler Jan 8 at 5:04
I wonder if the ratio of cross-linking is consistent across the network. My instinct is that there would be small clusters of sites that tend to cross-link amongst themselves, and the ratio might be higher there than, say, SO+anybody. But I don't know how to write the queries to test that hypothesis. –  Monica Cellio Jan 8 at 16:29
@MonicaCellio: After I wrote the first half of this answer, I discovered that there is a way to find cross links via search. For instance, you can find the posts on Mi Yodeya that link to Christianity.SE with this search: judaism.stackexchange.com/… –  Jon Ericson Jan 8 at 16:37
Thanks, didn't know that. (That doesn't find links in comments, right? And the current links list does?) Ideally we'd want to (a) do many-to-many searches (not just pairwise) and (b) discover these clusters, which aren't always obvious. –  Monica Cellio Jan 8 at 16:49

I'd put this request in the 'It would be neat to have' column. But I don't see a huge benefit from it.

There is such a small percentage of questions that link to other sites, it would hardly be seen.

share|improve this answer
with all the new sites coming up I'd think this will increase. Especially if migrated questions were smartly forward-linked, too –  Tobias Kienzler Nov 2 '10 at 22:43
"There is such a small percentage of questions that link to other sites" - not in superuser/serverfault/unix&linux/ubuntu/webmasters/database admin family of sites! These are thematically very similar and it's often hard to choose where to place your question. For example superuser.com/questions/566958/… –  Tomas Feb 2 '14 at 18:22
@Tomas Considering that there are two links in the three comments on the initial question post, that is actually a very good example. It isn't all over the place yet, but it definitely is showing up in more than just there. I would place the current grey area generally around shell scripting (e.g. Bash and Windows Batch) and Linux programming. –  impinball Mar 1 '14 at 19:41

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