I've searched the web for a standard on when to open links in new tabs, found no standard but found a lot of posts in which clearly experienced web users were saying that they needed control over the UI.
I know that you can always open a link in a new window by using shortcuts but I had the following experience on Stack Exchange and in forum software:
- when I had to open posts/threads I was naturally right clicking the link and hit "open in new tab" when I wanted that.
- but when I was reading a post and I found a link in the middle of a sentence I was just clicking (I was doing this automatically).
I was wondering from where did I caught this reflex...and one place is the e-mail:
- if you are using an e-mail client obviusly the links have to open in a browser -> but you don't have to ctrl+click them... or any of new tab link opener shortcuts.
- also I've tested a few webmails (yahoo, gmail, roundcube, aol ...) they all use new tabs for links in messages (not for the rest of the site)!
So I thought a little at this, also found this website again about "when to open links in new tabs" that suggested an interesting approach for web-developers: to show a small link will open in new tab warning to users when they were hovering a link that would open in a new tab.
From that my idea: A new feature for links in answer/question content, when hovered a small text can be showed that will open the given link in a new tab like "open link in new tab".
This way the default function of the site/links won't be changed, the user will not loose any control over the UI and the user will be able to get one-click new tab for links that are in a place where he would expect them to open in new tabs.