Links pointing to remote sites is not surprising. For sites that are densely linked, however, most links will be LocalLinks. In this case, giving a visual indication of whether a link points to a remote site is of more interest. (On this wiki, remote links that could be mistaken for local links are shown in square brackets; NearLinks and InterLinks are the exception.)

The reason this is important involves a certain mistrust of remote sites. We know that the current wiki is getting a lot of PeerReview (at least we should hope it does). This is why we trust it. Some other sites we also trust, thus we put them on the InterMap or the NearMap. This is why linking to these sites doesn’t require the same kind of visual cues like links to random unknown sites. LocalLinks, NearLinks, and InterLinks are trusted links.

There was also a time when Javascript, CSS, and HTML were changing fast and browsers had many bugs, that many felt that unknown sites present a potential security risk: Before visiting a remote sites, people wanted to examine the URL carefully and be given enough warning to allow them to enable them to choose appropriately. I’m not sure this concern is still valid.

One argument that is as true today as it was back then is the existence of bad usabilty sites: Sites that take too long to load, that create numerous popups, redirect to porn sites, sites that disable the back button in your browser, etc. Making external links visually distinct from trusted links gives users a second chance to examine the URL and choose whether they want to follow the remote link or not.

See Also



I don’t think it has much to do with not trusting the remote site. It’s more of a matter of InformationManagement. We want the content on this wiki and the NearLinked wikis to function as one corpus, to some extent. – BayleShanks

I think CliffordAdams gave an explanation somewhere that amounted to “principle of least surprise” for users (ie. usability), and potential HTML exploits (ie. security). Unfortunately I don’t remember where he said that. – AlexSchroeder

Yes, if you assume the user has already learned that the “default” is for a link to go to this site, then the PrincipalOfLeastSurprise? is the reason for coloring NearLinks. – BayleShanks

I had an idea recently.

When you follow a RemoteLink, encase it in a frame. Leave an eety-beety-beety little sliver at the top, and then the page fills the rest.

In that tiny sliver, it says:

 departing: CommunityWiki:FooBar  - closing in 5 seconds (abort)  - (correct this link)

That “5 seconds” counts down: 5… 4… 3… 2… Thanks for visiting!.. …and then the sliver de-frames. (No frames left when you’re done.)

But: if you’re on the wrong page, (the page has gone out of existance, or it now says the wrong thing, or whatever,) you can hit abort.

Now it says:

 departing: CommunityWiki:FooBar  - (close)  - (correct this link)

Now you do your googling or whatever, to find the actual right place for the page.

When you find it, you hit “correct this link.”

You receive a special thank you from CommunityWiki, and then continue on your way.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the CommunityWiki WikiEngine locates the page, locates the link, updates it, gives notice to the appropriate feed.

Mission accomplished.

Probably too much work to do, but it’s the sort of things we should hold in our imagination, I believe, looking forward- at the possibilities for wiki.


Define external redirect: PrincipalOfLeastSurprise

EditNearLinks: PeerReview CliffordAdams InformationManagement WikiEngine