Is the ... to view ... click here ... style of linking ever useful/appropriate?

There seem to be two main styles for linking to content on the Web:

[ol]
[li]"… Boards like the Straight Dope Message Board, on the other hand, …"[/li][li]"… Boards like the Straight Dope Message Board (click here to view that site), on the other hand, …"[/li][/ol]

The second style, in my opinion, should only be used on the online Internet web site of the Department of Redundancy Department on the web, because “click here to go to content indicated by the anchor text” is semantically implicit in the link being a link.

So, why hasn’t the second style gone the way of 1200 baud modems?

I think there are several reasons. For me, if I describe something and then write explicitly click here or link, it probably means I wrote the descriptive text and then searched for the material in the link. Getting the formatting right is not exactly difficult, but is just hard enough to make making the link separate from the interesting text sometime desirable.

Also, using words like click and link make it more explicit that you have used a link and the format changes are not just used to emphasize the material. This may be especially useful in contexts with new users–who don’t always recognize links.

Thirdly, many things on message boards, in e-mails --and sometimes in other areas suffer a bit from a perception that when it’s electronic, the details don’t matter. People are careless or lazy, and they don’t bother to reread to check spellings, etc. So if the describe and include the word link technique works, why bother hiding the link in the text?

Usability guru Jakob Nielsen says:

Explain what users will find at the other end of the link, and include some of the key information-carrying terms in the anchor text itself to enhance scannability and search engine optimization (SEO). Don’t use “click here” or other non-descriptive link text.

More at www.useit.com

Depends on the thing I am speaking of relative to what I am linking to.

  • If I describe a book and I link to an Amazon listing, I want the reader to understand that I am taking them to site that isn’t about the topic, but has info on the topic.

  • If I am linking to a site that “has an agenda” - e.g., a particular point of view about the topic or an intented purpose for anyone visiting (e.g., they want you to sign up, buy something, etc.), I want other posters to know that going in…

With these examples the 2nd approach is preferable IMHO…