8

Someone recently edited my question on a SE site and made the source citation more visible.

The editor replaced my

[Source]

with

From the Wikipedia article about Entropy (Source view via The Internet Archive):

What is the point of such edits?

Thoughts

When I write on SE, I usually try to make source citations as unintrusive as possible, in order not to distract from the question or answer. Most readers will probably not be interested in the source citation for a definition.

Readers who are interested in the source citation can still find out what it is by opening it. Also, if on desktop, they can hover over the link with their mouse to see the website in the status bar. If on mobile, they can hold the link and most browsers would show where it leads to without opening it.

I do not see the point of this “correction”. I checked the Guidelines for Reviewing for relevant information, but couldn't find any.

2
  • 4
    Do you believe it detracts from the answer? Having more information that you can see without visiting an external link seems like a good idea. Now I know what can lookup later without clicking the link. And knowing it's a web archive link, I might be reluctant because I know those take a while to load, perhaps I will look at it when I have more time. Or just open it in a new tab and come back to it later. – VLAZ Nov 24 '20 at 7:23
  • Problems I see are that the description might actually be misleading, somebody might change a link and not the description and it takes up screen space and may distract from more important content. I would at least make it small print, wrap it in a sup tag. Now if it would be autogenerated from the link content, that would be something. – Trilarion Nov 24 '20 at 15:18
14

(converting comment to an answer)

The information being shown directly rather than just being visible when examining the link has several advantages:

  • The information in the link but it requires hovering over which might be a problem:
    • there is also screen readers - reading out the sentence "From the Wikipedia article about Entropy (Source view via The Internet Archive)" is more informative and easier to understand than trying to read out the link
    • anecdotal example (but I doubt I'm alone), I sometimes have to zoom in a page to make the text readable. But the hover tooltip remains the same size as before which means it's hard to read for me. The way to do it is to copy the link text, paste it in a text editor then zoom that. It's not very convenient.
  • Another problem might be mobile devices where reading the full link text can be hard.
    • on a smaller screen the link https://web.archive.org/web/20161220075809/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy#Reversible_process takes a lot of space and it's annoying to read.
    • anecdotal again, I don't browse often from my phone but in my experience that involves pressing and holding on the link for more than 5 seconds (Brave browser on Android. Not sure if there is a setting for it). Even then, that doesn't show me the full link, just the beginning. Your particular link shows up as web.archive.org/web/20161.... The way to see the full thing is either to open it (also not ideal) or copy it out somewhere (ditto). That's significantly slower and less convenient than just reading what the link is about and where it leads.

Even assuming normally sighted person on a desktop, there is still no downside to providing more information about the link without requiring people to hover over it. The miniscule amount of extra characters doesn't negatively impact the message of the post. It can only enhance it or, at worse, leave it the same.

3
  • 2
    You raised some good points. I see that it improves the post now, but I also agree with Rob in the other answer's comments that it's a bit verbose. In the future I will try to go for something in the middle, like [Wikipedia (Archived)]. – hb20007 Nov 24 '20 at 15:04
  • 2
    For screen readers, aren't there tags like the alt tag? But we cannot set them with markdown on links unfortunately. – Trilarion Nov 24 '20 at 15:15
  • 2
    @Trilarion to be honest, I'm not very well versed there.I think screen readers use the aria-* attributes which describe the content for accessibility. It's still something that cannot be set via markdown on links, however. Even if it is made possible, I'd hazard a guess that the majority of people won't set that. Like they don't set the text for embedded images. – VLAZ Nov 24 '20 at 15:21
22

I support such edits because they provide the reader of the post with more information upon which to decide whether they need to visit the link. Perhaps they followed it on a previous visit to the post or perhaps it is a link they were aware of before visiting the post the first time.

6
  • If they would like to see the source of the quotation because they doubt its validity, then they can visit the link. I don’t see how providing “more information” would help them decide if they want to visit the link. Also, if they followed it on a previous visit to the post, they will still remember that they clicked to see the source of the quotation. I don't see how the extra information would aid memory. – hb20007 Nov 24 '20 at 0:17
  • 1
    How does the edit add "more information"? All of what the new text in the edit says is already contained in the link, it just takes more words to say it. – 1201ProgramAlarm Nov 24 '20 at 1:58
  • 8
    @hb20007 Your version is (too short) short enough to complain about, the editor's fixup might be a bit verbose; but is an improvement. Mentioning that it is not the current version of the Wikipedia webpage, but instead a deliberate use of an Archived (and thus unmoderated) version is important. --- Disclaimer: If I am able to reject an edit for a valid reason, I will. – Rob Nov 24 '20 at 2:03
  • 9
    Might also add in that having all the information is great for mobile devices where it is not as easy to see where the link is going. – Joe W Nov 24 '20 at 3:09
  • 3
    @1201ProgramAlarm it's in the link but it requires hovering over which might be a problem. For example, I sometimes have to zoom in a page to make the text readable. But the hover tooltip remains the same size as before which means it's unreadable to me. The way to do it is to copy the link text, paste it in something like Notepad++ and then zoom that. I think you'd agree it's not very convenient. Another problem might be mobile devices where reading the link text can be a pain. Then there is screen readers - what you claim is "uselessly verbose" is definitely clearer. – VLAZ Nov 24 '20 at 7:28
  • @VLAZ Those are all good points and just the sort of clarification I was looking for. They should probably be either edited into the answer, or posted as a new answer. – 1201ProgramAlarm Nov 24 '20 at 13:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .