Currently all the links in the new Closing > Off-Topic dialog open in the same window, causing an unnecessary amount of repetitive clicks and the question you're on to be replaced.

For example, if I thought the "Questions must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved" reason was appropriate and I wanted to check out the "Stack Overflow question checklist", I would click the link and the question I was reviewing would be replaced by the checklist. I then have to click the back button to get back to the question, click the close link (again), click the "off-topic because..." radio button (again), and then click the appropriate reason.

The repetition of having to navigate back to the question and then go through the same steps to select the close reason seem like a bad UI choice, when simply spawning the links in a new tab would make much more sense. Keep the question in the current tab, open the informational link in a new tab. Seems like adding target="_blank" to the links would resolve this. Can we get this fixed? enter image description here

  • Erm... you mean for the OP when they read it, right?
    – AndrewC
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 14:07
  • @AndrewC - no, for anyone who votes to close a question and clicks any of those links.
    – j08691
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 14:08
  • ..but... you're happy that the OP gets similar links? We can just right-click if really necessary?
    – AndrewC
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 14:10
  • @AndrewC - well, the same could apply to their links as well. I didn't try creating a question to test those links, but if it applies to them then change them too.
    – j08691
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 14:13
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    Haven't people learned the pattern yet that if you want to keep looking at the current page you right-click and open in a new tab/window, and if you want to traverse the link you just click? Even IE has this by now. We should not violate user expectations here; in addition, your approach takes away one of the options. (Yes, sometimes people use the close dialogue as an entry point for those links and don't intend to actually close the question.) Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 15:00
  • @MonicaCellio - I wouldn't call it an established pattern (got any references for it?), especially when referring to links in a dialog, and citing IE as an example is rarely a good sign of anything. So you're telling me you think it makes sense in this case to have to re-navigate to the question and re-select the close options? I don't.
    – j08691
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 15:23
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    @j08691 my point with IE is that it's always late to the party, so if even it has this functionality, it's pretty common. Firefox and Safari have had tabs and "open in new tab" for many years now and Chrome had it from the beginning AFAIK. The folks over on User Experience probably have data, but my impression is that it is a common pattern for anything that looks like a link. For your last question, I think it makes sense that someone clicking a link expects to see his current view change, and if that's not what he wanted he'll right-click. Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 15:29
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    Related: Can the links be disabled in the vote-to-close dialog?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 16:22
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    @MonicaCellio "Haven't people learned the pattern yet that if you want to keep looking at the current page you right-click and open in a new tab/window, and if you want to traverse the link you just click?" - in order to let people consistently recognize and use links, they should be implemented like that (i.e. work consistently all over the web and kind of look the same everywhere). On the current web, none of that is the case. Links don't look like links (ref: visited links on SO are near invisible) or don't work like them (ungracefully degraded AJAX-sites like GMail and Facebook).
    – CodeCaster
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 7:19
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    @CodeCaster, I know some sites have links that don't look like links or are otherwise badly-styled. All I'm saying is that users all across the web expect that if something looks like a link, clicking on it loads it in the current tab and right-clicking on it gives you other options. Whenever sites violate this, as SE does with the "bulletin" links, they cause some amount of user surprise and confusion. Yeah, the web isn't perfect, but we don't have to contribute to that surprise and confusion. We should follow the well-established convention, not decide that we know best for all users. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 12:27
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    It's done. :) Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


I think this is a bad idea for two reasons:

  1. target=_blank" is evil. Websites should not open new windows/tabs by themselves. Like the usability guru Jakob Nielsen says, this is user-hostile behavior:

    Opening up new browser windows is like a vacuum cleaner sales person who starts a visit by emptying an ash tray on the customer's carpet. Don't pollute my screen with any more windows, thanks (particularly since current operating systems have miserable window management). If I want a new window, I will open it myself!

    And that is precisely what you should do: hold down the Ctrl/ key when you click on the link, or right-click on it and select the appropriate option in your browser's contextual menu. Everybody has that habit already from using the rest of the web.

    If that's still too hard, maybe you can get someone to send you a mouse with a middle button.

  2. Nobody who is using that dialog (that is, everyone with vote-to-close privileges) is clicking those links. They've already read them all and they already know what they say. You're just picking from a list of known options, not starting over from scratch every time. (And if you are starting over each time, we want to make it as tricky as possible for you, hopefully discouraging you from ever getting around to voting.)

    Even if you have to go through and read them all the first time, this is not the case we should optimize for. You always optimize for the common case, which is that 99.9% of the users of that popup never click on the links.

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    Usually I would agree with your reasons but in my opinion the close dialog is an exception. I like to see what I do and might click those links to see where they're leading. Having them open in the same window cancel the close voting, which is not really desired. Can't see any evilness in having them open as new window/tab. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 7:03
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    @ShaWizDowArd, you have the ability to open them in a new tab already; why take away others' ability to not do so? If you want a use case, here's one: the close dialogue is the fastest path to the meta links for the new off-topic reasons, links that I use to guide users in other contexts (chat, meta discussions). That is, there are times when I have no intention of closing a question; I just want to get to that meta post. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 12:32
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    @MonicaCellio I'm aware of middle clicking and sometimes using it, but in this specific case of internal dialog I think asking the links to always open in new tab/window is valid request. As for fastest path it's a good point, but we always have the browser's bookmarks. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 12:50
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    @ShaWizDowArd, in UI design, consistency is more important than what one thinks is convenient in a particular situation. See my comments on the question. And by the way, if you're one of those people who keeps a bazillion tabs open, getting a new one that you have to go find to see the thing you clicked on, so clearly wanted to see, isn't such a small matter. When I want to deal with something right now but don't want to change the current tab, sometimes I'll actually open a new window instead of a tab so I can deal with it and immediately dismiss it. Less typing/mouse movement/RSI. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 13:10

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