Sometimes, I encounter a post by an established user that contains plain URLs, like:

See my three-part series of articles on that:


I think it's much better to not show the URL and use proper link formatting, so I edit those posts, e.g. a post from Eric Lippert quoted above, or a post from JaredPar.

If those were beginners, I would edit their posts without any doubts. But those are established users, they know what they are doing and I'm sure they know Markdown, so it makes me think: Do they have some reason to show URLs like that? Should I edit posts like that?

(I'm aware formatting issues like this are minor, but I still think it's worth doing those edits.)

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    Because they couldn't care less how the link is presented – random Jan 7 '12 at 17:52
  • I'm a stickler for formatting and presentation, but I would have left the link intact. – ThinkingStiff Jan 7 '12 at 20:10
  • +1 because this is an interesting topic. As an aside, how does up-voting questions work on meta. Never thought about it. I upvoted this because I think it's an interesting discussion topic, but I disagree with the OP's point. – ThinkingStiff Jan 7 '12 at 20:22
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    @ThinkingStiff, see the FAQ. (But above all: vote as you see fit, like I first upvoted the question, but eventually also your answer! And note that the question is in fact indeed a question, not a feature request or a statement.) – Arjan Jan 7 '12 at 20:23

Don't look too much at who posted, but focus on what was posted.

If you think the post would be better with prettier links, edit it just like you would for a post from a brand new user - some people care more about formatting than others, and that doesn't have much to do with reputation (initial markup learning period aside).


I disagree with that particular edit. If the link is inline and is tangental to your point, I think formatted links make sense if they are properly qualified (contain enough info to locate the source). I think sentences with links should be self-contained and work without the link as well as with.

I found this code at Google Page Speed, and it makes a lot of sense: ...

I could read this sentence in a book and it still contains all the information I need. I could copy-paste it into an email (without links) and it's still clear. I can Google "Google Page Speed" to find the source. The link in that case isn't the information being presented.

You have removed information from the original post with your edit.

It is educational to see how you might implement virtual methods in C# if C# did not have them built-in. See my three-part series of articles on that.

By looking at the link I can tell when it was written, where it was posted, and perhaps who wrote it. All that information is now gone from the post. If I copied that post (as a perfect example, I copied it from the answer to paste here... no links) and emailed it to someone, they could never find the source of that blog. It would never work in print either. Someone could put all that information in a sentence (which would be a more complicated edit), but it's already in the link.

At the very least, the title of the landing page should be there.

See my three part series Implementing the virtual method pattern in C#.

That may be enough to find it. This would be better.

See my three part series Implementing the virtual method pattern in C# (17 Mar 2011) on my blog Fabulous Adventures In Coding.

That is certainly better than a link if the OP or editor wants to do it, but a link is better than "three-part series of articles" by itself.

The worst examples are the "here, here, here" ones.

I've mentioned that before here, here, and here.

I can tell nothing about "here, here, and here" without hovering over it. Sentences, especially ones in posts meant to endure and be helpful to future readers, need to contain enough information to be useful without links.

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    I agree very much, though for the two examples in the question I feel the information could still be found, albeit a bit harder. And the posts themselves should be able to exist by themselves too, without the need to link elsewhere. – Arjan Jan 7 '12 at 20:12
  • Pretty much all websites don't show URLs of their links. Are you saying they are all wrong? – svick Jan 7 '12 at 22:14
  • @svick There is a difference between links on a website to within the website (which have context built in) and forum or blog posts (like SO) that are referring to a piece of content elsewhere. Look at wikipedia sources. About half are visible URLs (as they should be, IMO). At the very least, the title of the landing page and the site it's on should be there. "See my three part series <a>Implementing the virtual method pattern in C# </a> on my blog Fabulous Adventures In Coding". That would give enough info to find it. – ThinkingStiff Jan 7 '12 at 22:34
  • @ThinkingStiff, Wikipedia articles should have external links only in specific sections. And they shouldn't have visible URLs, but they should indicate the source, especially if they are used as references. And I think I haven't seen a blog that shows URLs of its external links. – svick Jan 7 '12 at 22:45
  • @svick I updated my answer with a specific example of an alternative. Do you agree with it? Or do you think your edit is preferred? And on Wikipedia I was referring to the references section at the bottom. They either have a visible link, or a description with title and publish date. It never says "an article I wrote". – ThinkingStiff Jan 7 '12 at 22:49
  • @ThinkingStiff I think your way is an overkill. It should be clear from the text of the link where it leads, but I think „my article about it” or similar is good enough. If you want more information, you can either hover over the link to see the URL or actually click it. – svick Jan 7 '12 at 22:54

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