A post share link and a normal post link have these orthogonal advantages:

  • Share link:
    • has poster ID => get a sharing badge/track its usage
    • short => useful in a severely space-constrained media
  • Normal link:

This results in a dichotomy for users, as they have to decide each time which of the properties are more important for them at the moment.

(I personally almost always choose the normal one: link rot is a serious problem on the Web so I don't contribute to it; I don't use space-constrained media like Twitter; links that lead God-knows-where and page reloads on jumping to another post of the same Q&A are damn annoying and I'm not someone who would violate the Golden Rule.)

Now, all of the listed link properties are important. And they aren't mutually exclusive (except the shortness). So, why do I have to choose only half of the benefits and lose the other half each time if it's technically possible to get all at once?

Tech-wise, it doesn't look like rocket science to concoct something unambiguous. From the top of my head (just an example, feel free to suggest others): https://<stack.site>/questions/<question-id>/<dashed-question-title>/<post-id-if-any>/<user-id>.

I would even propose to make this the default link sharing format (this is a separate concern, however, so vote on this separately, please) since space constraints are nowadays mostly a non-issue. The short form is going to stay, too, of course, because for a minority of use cases like the aforementioned Twitter, they still are.

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    How does the share link suffer from link rot while the full URL doesn't? Post titles change too so those links are often "wrong" – Cai Jan 9 '18 at 12:36
  • @Cai IIRC when a question title changes, the URL remains the same. AFAIK both formats are resistant to link rot. – S.L. Barth Jan 9 '18 at 12:36
  • @Cai with question title in the link, I can google any copies of the post that still remain and/or deduce what information the link was supposed to contain. – ivan_pozdeev Jan 9 '18 at 12:39
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    @S.L.Barth the title in the URL does change (e.g. before > after). It will redirect to the correct URL regardless of what the "title" bit says anyway so link rot isn't really an issue – Cai Jan 9 '18 at 12:44
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    @ivan_pozdeev With the share link, even if the link is broken, you can click on it and it redirects to the page with the question title in the URL, even if that URL happens to be a 404 page. You can for example test it on meta.stackexchange.com/q/305465/349538. – Donald Duck Jan 9 '18 at 12:45

If I want to share a verbose link, I get the title's URL.

If I want to share a short link and/or get "credit" toward the badges, I get the URL from the "share" link. (Usually I want a short link, because it has to fit in a comment or tweet.)

Link rot isn't a concern; both URLs contain the post ID, which doesn't change. The verbose URLs are misleading if the title changes, so to me that's actually a reason not to use the verbose links outside of the SE network.

The only thing this proposal adds that I can see is combining verbose links with badge credit. I don't see a use for that. I realize you tagged this and not , but you're still asking about a change to the system and the reasons need to be stronger than "why not do this?".

  • I don't think the short links are more resistant to link rot–the full URL has the ID too so will redirect to the correct page regardless of what the title part contains (e.g. https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/305550/this-isnt-the-correct-title still points to this question) – Cai Jan 9 '18 at 19:29
  • @Cai fair point. I've edited. – Monica Cellio Jan 9 '18 at 19:33
  • "If I want to...", "if I want to..." -- and what if I want both? Why do I have to choose? – ivan_pozdeev Jan 9 '18 at 19:47
  • The title in the URL isn't supposed to stay accurate. The title is supposed to tell what there is on the link without visiting it -- so I can decide if I even want to! If the title changes, the gist of its contents still stay the same, so the old title is still a decent summary (questions where it isn't do not deserve linking to). – ivan_pozdeev Jan 9 '18 at 19:50
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    @ivan_pozdeev I've seen lots of titles completely change after being created. The title in the URL doesn't necessarily tell you what's there; it tells you what was once there. – Monica Cellio Jan 9 '18 at 19:54
  • Yes, but due to the SE's format, a question is not worth linking to as a reference before its content is stable, so that is not an issue (I can elaborate if it's not clear why it is so). – ivan_pozdeev Jan 9 '18 at 20:01
  • Finally, the reason is not "why not do this?", it's written clearly in bold: "Why not combine them into something that has all the advantages at once?" Implying that with this, we would stop losing half of them each time as we do now. Maybe this implication wasn't clear... I reformulated the relevant paragraph. – ivan_pozdeev Jan 9 '18 at 20:27

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