Re: Use of meaningful (and probably non-verbal) hyperlinks
I said I should survey some ordinary people to get an idea of how
the average reader sees this instead of just pushing my own
prejudices. Being lazy, I ended up polling the first table full of
people I found myself drinking with, who naturally were all Linux
geeks (two male, two female; three British, one American).
In summary, hyperlink text consisting of only the verb is okay, but
longer anchors including the verb tend to be preferred.
Justin B Rye wrote:
> Incidentally, I'm assuming there's an unspoken rule that where
> possible we prefer short link anchors, so that the page is a sea of
> normal text containing small islands of underlined blue clickability
> rather than the reverse. But none of those tips pages say anything
> about this, so maybe it's just me.
It was pointed out that for Search Engine Optimisation purposes the
rule is to use a distinctive (i.e. relatively long) anchor text. Do
we care about SEO?
When offered a text like
"John Q Random announced that he had fixed a bug in foolib"
the range of opinions expressed included:
• subject plus verb ("John Q Random announced") makes a good anchor
text - and the subject alone also works, especially for a blog
link, or if John Q Random is enough of a celebrity for it to be
newsworthy that he's the one who said it;
• linking on "announced" is plausible and uncontroversial (in fact
it's probably what they'd expect to see on Slashdot!), but
tacking on a couple more words after the verb usually improves it
("announced that he had fixed", "announced on the mailing list",
• linking on the whole complement phrase ("that he had fixed a bug
in foolib") is possible, but it only works for positive
statements - you can't do it with phrases like "wondered
*whether...*" or "denied *that...*". Linking from all or part of
the complement also makes it harder to predict what it links to -
anchor text that includes "foolib" might link to foolib.org; if
it includes "bug" it might link to a BTS page; if it includes
"fixed" it might point at a VCS commit.
None of them seemed inclined to argue that anyone else's opinions
were wrong - only that there were so many variables that almost
anything might be true sometimes.
JBR - and today's single word in West Greenlandic is:
Pissusissamisuurpalunniavissumik "Trying hard to appear natural"