As discussed before, clicking upvote (for certain recent "hot" questions) might randomly prompt one to share a link:

Prompt to share

According to Jeff this is by design, which I think is really double bad. Now SE has random (and) unexpected behavior! It also means you cannot use the keyboard arrow keys to scroll down to the answers (as the focus is on the permalink).

It is unexpected behavior because the up-vote and the [link] are unrelated, but all of a sudden the exact same visual effect appears on screen.

This is really easy to solve. Instead of popping up the permalink, a yellow notification box could be popped up with a suggestion to use the [link] link. Maybe at the same time popping up the link a little as well. The non-blocking notification could be visible during some time.

Edit The yellow notification box could also contain the permalink as per Michael Mrozek's example.

This is really not such a big issue, but eliminating small pains result in happier users.

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    Um, what? I neither understand why the current behavior is "really double bad", nor what your alternative proposal is? Why would we suggest that someone uses a link when we could just put that information in the pop-up to begin with? – Cody Gray Aug 14 '11 at 13:34
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    Sorry. When you upvote a question sometimes (random) you get the permalink. This means you cannot scroll down to the answers (as the focus is on the permalink). Normally you can scroll down immediately after clicking on the upvote, so this is unexpected behavior. Random behavior in a User Interface is bad, Unexpected behavior in a User Interface is bad (for the user), so this is double bad. – GUI Junkie Aug 14 '11 at 13:38
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    Sort of like the error messages? – davidsleeps Aug 14 '11 at 13:38
  • The proposal is to NOT show the permalink, but to show a yellow box indicating the possibility to access the permalink. – GUI Junkie Aug 14 '11 at 13:39
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    Maybe I should expand the question a bit. – GUI Junkie Aug 14 '11 at 13:40
  • Right, so: Why would we suggest that someone uses a link when we could just put that information in the pop-up to begin with? You're typically not increasing usability by increasing indirection. (Yes, expanding the question couldn't hurt...) – Cody Gray Aug 14 '11 at 13:43
  • @Cody, you are right, you could do that, just as long as you don't put the focus on it. – GUI Junkie Aug 14 '11 at 13:47
  • By the way, I have absolutely no problem scrolling the page after that pop-up notification appears. What browser are you using that this causes a problem? – Cody Gray Aug 14 '11 at 14:19
  • @Cody, this is about using the arrow keys on the keyboard. When I manually click "link", I get the same behavior as one is kind of scrolling the one-line link text then. (Same problem with the space bar. Page up and down work fine though, in Chrome on a Mac.) – Arjan Aug 14 '11 at 14:44
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    It's not just a problem of scrolling the page; if you are used to use the backspace key to return to the previous page, you will delete the link, when the box with the link is shown. – kiamlaluno Aug 14 '11 at 16:33
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    @Cody, to answer your previous question about increasing indirection. You'd be right if we were talking about a positive user action. Then increasing indirection is dead wrong. But in this case, it's the system that acts and the user is passive. To put it into an analogy. Suppose you go to the bank to get money out of the ATM. When you turn around, the bank director takes you by the arm and forces you to read an AD. You have to shake of the bank director before you can go on. That's what happens when the focus is put on the permalink. Ah, I use Firefox on Linux. – GUI Junkie Aug 14 '11 at 22:09
  • @Arjan, thanks for the edit. – GUI Junkie Aug 15 '11 at 14:03

Following the same line of thought as Michael Mrozek's answer, I don't see any reason why things couldn't be kept exactly as they are with a small tweak to fix the issue of keyboard navigation. However, given that the point of the popup is to make the link more obviously copy-able, I wouldn't want to take the input away.

Instead, I'd rather just proxy the up/down arrow key events back to the body, since they don't serve a particularly useful function in that single-line text field anyway:

$('.share-tip input[type="text"]').keydown(
    function (event) {
        if (event.which === 38 || event.which === 40) {

Additionally, in relation to kiamlaluno's comment on the question and the comments on Michael Mrozek's answer, the input should also likely be set to be readonly, with the possible addition of the event.which === 8 case to the handler to pass along the backspace event as well.

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    Nice! Note that setting the input to be read-only would disallow one to remove their user id before copying. One could of course still remove it after pasting it elsewhere. Also, to explain why the popup automatically shows in some cases, some alternative text might be nice. "Since you like this question, why not share a link to it?" – Arjan Aug 14 '11 at 18:54
  • Good point. I'd be interested to know if the people who are concerned about sharing their user ID as part of the link normally delete that part, or just highlight everything up to the question ID. – Tim Stone Aug 14 '11 at 19:13
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    Very nice. But I have an issue with that. It's visually the same as clicking on the [link]. This means the user is seeing something unexpected without explanation. – GUI Junkie Aug 14 '11 at 22:13

Showing a popup that says "click [link] to get a different popup" is bad, for the reason Cody already explained in the comments. Personally I have no problem with the way the dialog currently works; if you just upvoted your hand is already on the mouse, so you just click anywhere to make the dialog lose focus. If you're already back at the keyboard, you hit Esc to drop focus instead

In any case, if this really is a "really double bad" problem, I'd rather it change to something like this:

Mockup where the link is an anchor instead of an input

I think every browser has the ability to copy a link's target, so it should still be easy to use

  • I agree that I don't think this is a "really double bad" problem either. But this is not a bad solution to it, if it is. The particularly strange thing that this question caused me to observe is the fact that the textbox containing the link is editable. I don't know if there's any easy way to disable that on the web like there is in desktop apps, but it certainly seems like there should be. – Cody Gray Aug 14 '11 at 16:58
  • @Cody There is; I think I like combining that with Tim Stone's answer better than getting rid of the input altogether – Michael Mrozek Aug 14 '11 at 17:53
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    Sure every browser can copy a link, but the "link" was changed as some feel it's easier. – Arjan Aug 14 '11 at 19:42

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