When linking to an article, suggest the OP tell us what they think is worth noting about it

This thread was prompted by a comment by @Procrustus in another area:

I heartily endorse this suggestion. There are a few posters (you know who you are) who routinely only post a link that shows up as a headline and a couple of lines of text. They probably think the relevance/importance/salience of the link is apparent, but it isn’t always. I’d like them to call specific attention to what strikes them as worth noting about that article. A couple of pull-quote lines would be helpful, too, especially because sometimes the preview cuts off a sentence in the middle.

And because links to paywalled articles are useless to many posters.

I thought this used to be a fairly firm rule here, but it certainly seems to have been lost since the transition to the new software. I too would like to see it enforced again.

It’s only courtesy. If someone doesn’t want to be bothered to include even a short summary, I wonder why they are even posting in the first place.

That, and if I go to an article that pesters me about my ad blocker and refuses to let me read without disabling it I’m not going to bother. I block ads because it allows me to view your page without waiting forever for those ads to load, and sometimes those ads cause technical issues with the page or blast sound at me or whatever.

So yeah, don’t assume I am going to follow your link and read through it to try to find the point you’re making. Just spell it out for us.

For me, this goes double for links to videos. I virtually never follow video links without some hint as to what it’s about. At least tell me why you find worth sharing.

If the link is in reply to a cite request it is one thing, but if it is just a post, there should be some explanation or summary of what the link is for.

Now as to Ops, I routinely close Ops that are nothing but a link. Those are not allowed.

This part is my opinion, They are not to be encouraged as they are lazy and suck. I would like to see bare links without summaries done away with for the most part.

I sometimes still won’t, especially if it’s longer than a couple of minutes long. It better be a really good video. I read fast and don’t mind reading an article most of the time (as long as I know why I’m reading the article). I don’t have nearly as much patience waiting through someone talking a fraction as fast as I can read, plus sitting through intros and transitions and sometimes ads in the middle of the video.

They’re not permitted in the one other forum I read – mods always delete them.

To add - if you describe why your linked content is significant, if I care but can’t access it via your link then I can usually find some other way to read about it.

IMHO, this too is frequently abused.

It’s very common for posters to respond to requests (or challenges) for cites by simply linking to a very long article, from which it’s not at all apparent what part purports to support the claim being made on this MB. The other poster is then being requested to 1) spend a lot of time reading through a very long article, from which at best only a very small portion supports the claim, and 2) guess as to what exactly is being cited as support for the claim.

IMHO, if it’s a long article, the citer should quote the relevant portion, and if it’s not obvious then explain exactly how the cite supports the claim.

Yes, just cut and paste a paragraph or two. True, sometimes when asked for a cite I will cut & paste from a couple and not for a couple others, but that is just showing other cites agree. (Since we have more than a few posters that if you link to a certain site, they will just say that site is worthless or biased, but not provide a counter cite).

Now sometimes Discourse will show the headline and first paragraph of a story from a cite. If so, and that is enough, great.

Also worth considering: For every person, there is some average number of links on a page they will follow, per page visited. The precise value of that number varies from person to person, but it is always less than 1. There are no exceptions: Mathematically, there can’t be. And that being the case, you can never assume that people will follow any given link.

Not only that, but it occasionally turns out that the link doesn’t even support the argument that the person doing the linking claims that it does. I don’t know if this is usually a conscious deception (based on believing that no one will wade through a long article, so they will get away with it) or an accident (based on the poster not wanting to read a long article and just assuming that it will say what they want it to). Probably both situations occur. But I’m always amused and grateful when another poster - more determined than me, I virtually never read much of the long academic cites that people provide - points out, “that article you linked to doesn’t even say what you claim that it does!”

Agreed. The longer the article, the less valuable the cite without quoting from part of it.

Exactly. I have on occasion been shown a link to an article I want to read about (because the poster gave me a good reason to read it) and if the link is to a page I have trouble with for some reason, I might be able to view it in “private” mode or Google the subject and find another host. Your link may be to an AP article on MSN and I might find it on CNN or a local news page or a even on AP’s own site.

Does anybody perceive any difference between adding a hyperlink to a term, phrase, assertion, or similar and using the (previewed/non-previewed) links we’re discussing ?

Or are they viewed as functionally pretty equivalent ?

Depends. A link to Wikipedia could well have a built-in summary or get right to the point. But far too many posters think a link to the Washington Post or other paywall sites will resolve and be useful. Wikipedia is more the exception than the rule.

If you’re hyperlinking explanatory text which gives context to the link itself I don’t see a problem there at all. Assuming people can tell that there’s a link there, I think it might be subtle on some browsers.

Too many posters think that they can’t access Washington Post articles when they absolutely can. Mods too, apparently. In part, I assume, because we’ve been asked not to explain how soft paywalls* work.

In a GQ/GD non-OP situation, someone sharing a link to relevant information is doing me a favor with their curation. If I’m not interested in or capable of accessing, reading, and understanding the content, that’s on me. They do not owe me even more of their time just because spoon-feeding would save me my time. And demanding that they do so is inappropriate. Not everyone is qualified or capable of participating in every conversation.


Demanding that a person actually participate in a conversation rather than dropping a useless link like a turd? We’re not Qanon adherents wanting to pore over and decipher what a poster is trying to say.

Dropping a link devoid of context is not participating in a conversation. It’s the equivalent of walking up to people who are talking and handing them a pamphlet. Most people are going to either refuse to take it, or toss it in the trash.