If an editor finds a link marked up (validly) in one of the following styles:

should he or she alter it to one of the others?

Is this a matter of community policy or simply the application of a personal preference?

  • Are mobile devices also a concern regarding this question - see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/124485/…
    – Jeni
    Oct 14, 2012 at 14:50
  • 1
    This is an aside, but if you need to create links that hide the URL in Comments, the method is described here
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Oct 14, 2012 at 23:26
  • I demonstrated in the question that I know "how to do it". The purpose was to determine policy on "if" it is required.
    – Fortiter
    Oct 15, 2012 at 0:31
  • 1
    Hi Fortier, my update wasn't to explain how to use the markup, but more to explain how to use the markup effectively. I think the reason this came up as an issue is because people like to know where the link goes. If you include the name of the site, like Genealogy SE, then you can tell where the link goes while also making it look good, as opposed to just, "dude, click here", type responses, which tell us nothing about where the link goes. Hope this helps!
    – jmort253
    Oct 17, 2012 at 23:55
  • @jmort253 Sadly, that does not help at all because NONE of the options I outlined will produce "click here". While you do not intend it, you are presenting a straw argument, rebutting something I did not suggest.
    – Fortiter
    Oct 18, 2012 at 10:34
  • Sure, @Fortiter, not trying to say you're question is flawed or rebut anything. I'm just pointing out how the markup was intended to be used. To answer your question more definitively, if you come across a post that needs editing, and there are links that don't look like #1, feel free to edit them to look like #1. Good luck! :)
    – jmort253
    Oct 18, 2012 at 21:43
  • @jmort253 It is wonderful that you will definitively nominate one course of action (viz to edit everything into []() style). As it happens that is not my preference so I won't be launching into that project UNLESS AND UNTIL WE ESTABLISH AN AGREED COMMON STYLE. Yes I know, caps are shouting.
    – Fortiter
    Oct 19, 2012 at 11:53

3 Answers 3


On other SE sites that I started participating in, editors converted my bare URLs to named hyperlinks, so I assumed that was the standard across SE.

However, I just went looking for guidance about this, and so far I've only found a discussion from 2009. I haven't yet found a definitive style guide for links.

  • efgen: that was what prompted the question. One of my displayed URI links was edited to hide it. I do not want to engage in a tit-for-tat exchange of re-edits.
    – Fortiter
    Oct 15, 2012 at 0:33
  • @Fortiter - I know, I'm actually the one who approved the suggested edit for your post. I didn't realize you had enough rep to review the suggestion until afterwards. So let's see what's decided here, and then we can revert the edit if needed.
    – efgen
    Oct 15, 2012 at 0:47


While I don't think we'll find an official answer from the Stack Exchange team on MSO, this answer on the question, Editing policy is contradictory and unclear, explains how to use this markup effectively. Using the text to describe where the link goes inline is much cleaner than a bare hyperlink, and looks a lot better than just saying the answer can be found here.

Most people just use the text-based links. It's a lot cleaner, and I'm sure it's a bit more SEO friendly as well. If I want to see where a link leads, I mouseover the link and look at it in the status bar in the bottom left. Most browsers will do this.

I don't do a lot of mobile browsing. I just can't type as fast as I can on a PC. I'll mobile browse if there's no typing involved, but browsing SE typically involves a fair amount of typing.

With links, consider that anyone who is a regular user is unlikely to post spam. Stack Exchange has little tolerance for spam. If a user does show up and post spam, users who recognize it as such can do one or more of these things:

  • Edit out the spam link, if the answer is valuable. This is highly unlikely, but worth mentioning.

  • Flag it as spam using the [flag] link under the post. Moderators will see the spam flag and can act on it. Furthermore, if enough spam flags accumulate, the content is automatically removed.

In short, we have ways of quickly dealing with questionable content.

Lastly, I will admit that one of the reasons I don't worry about these things is that I don't use Windows, and I don't use Internet Explorer, so malicious infections on my computer are extremely unlikely.

  • 1
    SEO is not an abbreviation that I am familiar with - perhaps a good case for a link to be added to this answer? (I upvoted anyway)
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Oct 14, 2012 at 23:21
  • 1
    @PolyGeo - SEO means "search engine optimization". When other people search for the same problems you asked about, it helps people find that post if the words they use in the search match keywords you used in your question or answer. I'm not really an expert on SEO though.... I just know enough to be dangerous. :)
    – jmort253
    Oct 14, 2012 at 23:38
  • @jmort253 Is it fair to say that your position is a personal preference for xxxx <> but that I should expect links formatted in this way to be edited to []()?
    – Fortiter
    Oct 17, 2012 at 23:39
  • No, I prefer the []() where you describe where the link goes, like for instance, if I were to suggest you check Meta Genealogy Stack Exchange for issues about the Genealogy SE site. This tells people where the link goes while also making it easier to read. This is how links were designed to work, except in pure HTML the markup is <a href="link goes here">text goes here</a>. :)
    – jmort253
    Oct 17, 2012 at 23:58

My personal style is to use text links (ie with the URI/URL not displayed) - for no other reason than this is the style I use on my website and blogs (with SEO in mind).

It also has the advantage of being pithy, carrying no unnecessary (IMHO) detail.

As mentioned by JMort, the actual link will be displayed in the status bar, if you are worried about malware or dodgy sites infiltrating the link.

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