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chromatic (983)

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Journal of chromatic (983)

Monday November 24, 2003
02:57 PM

Improve Your Writing (part 1)

[ #15983 ]

Here are two sloppy writing habits that bug me today.

  • Raw URLs as Link Titles

    Links should be inline and should have titles fit for human consumption. Which is easier to read?

    Of course, both are better than failing to link the URL altogether.

  • Useless Summarization

    I kid you not, today I ran across multiple occurrences of the following writing pattern. The topic has been changed to protect the author from public humiliation :). The pattern remains the same, with the emphasis on the galling part:

    Before you can start processing the log files, you have to understand more about hashes, which I will explain now. Hashes are....

    If you weren't going to explain it, dear author, why bring it up? Since it's so important to understand, why tell the reader to pay attention to the very next sentence which, if you'd ended the current sentence in the right place, he'd be reading already?

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  • Raw URLs (Score:2, Interesting)

    Maybe it's personal opinion or the fact that I'm stuck in a programmer's microcosm, but I don't mind raw URLs. To me, it's sometimes nice to be explicit about where a link goes. As an example of why this might be helpful, even though I didn't visit your Web site, I know where it is now (and I didn't have to hover over the link to find out).

    The code that powers this site places the domain of the link's target in brackets (for comments, at least), so it seems that at least one other person agrees with me on

    • That's a reasonable argument. Perhaps I should have said "make links meaningful" and left it at that. On the other hand, there's much room to take advantage of the medium, especially as you can assign some semantic value to links. (See, that means using "click here" as a link title is still horribly wrong!)

      • <PSA>
        And for accessibility, make links meaningful, especially when removed from the visual context of the page. This is effectively done with title attributes.
    • The raw URL is especially useful when the page has been printed out on paper. The "meaningful to humans" URL is just tantalizing but useless in that context.
  • What about the argument of having spent your hard-earned money on a domain name and you really want to show it off.

    jonasbn - the owner of []
  • I deliberately use raw URLs (possibly hidden behind a link shortener, Google's article links are *long*) in the Perl 6 summaries because I generate plain text for the mailing list as well as the HTML that gets generated for and But I'm careful about how things are formatted because of this.