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Self-linking considered confusing

Discussion topic on the issue of topic links linking to the topic itself. See for possible technical implementation: PreventLinkToOneself

I note from http://twiki.org/cgi-bin/rdiff/Codev/XBRL?type=last&render=sequential&context=9000&_foo=1.2#diff001 that Peter's main edit was to escape the automatic linking to that topic such that mentions of XBRL no longer link back to the topic.

I propose that topic should not link to themselves unless in forced to do so by square brackets. I note that Dakar beta 6 preserves Cairo behaviour.

-- MartinCleaver - 18 Jan 2006

Links pointing back to itself are confusing and should be avoided according to web usability standards (Jakob Nielsen). The proposed change makes sense. I do not see a compatibility issue, this change will not break any TWikiApplications.

-- PeterThoeny - 18 Jan 2006

To misquote the Emperor from the movie "Mozart"...

Too many lines of code

-- AntonAylward - 18 Jan 2006

i think we're agreed that links shouldn't point back to themselves. however, instead of pointing back to itself, it could point to a list of backlinks. that's what usemod and many other wikis do. it also helps provide better navigation and linking; more linking should be encouraged; not less.

-- WillNorris - 20 May 2006

I can see a problem with topics with generated link lists like WebIndex and WebChanges.

And care must be taken not to create different behavior with links that 'suddenly' point to a backlinks result page: you will create confusion unless your links look different.

-- ArthurClemens - 20 May 2006

OK, can we elaborate a bit more as to why this behavior (of self linking) is unwanted?

-- ArthurClemens - 21 May 2006

when is someone (other than me i guess) going to wonder if always applying guidelines that are for 'web sites' to wikis, isn't possibly a mistake? like Cool Uri's, I'm not convinced that this guideline is particularly clever in a wiki context.

-- SvenDowideit - 21 May 2006

We can also elaborate why the current linking is wanted.

-- ArthurClemens - 21 May 2006


In our Motorola ISO9000 TWikiApplication we link to outselves many times.

We link to earlier versions when the earlier version is the last released and the procedure is under revision.

We link to ourselves with compare or rdiff instead of view to show the changes.

So it is important that such a feature does not start removing such links.

Personally I do not see such a huge problem. I think some users will make topics that are supposed to be included in another topic with link to the included topic and will be confused that the WikiWord does not work.

This is adding more code that takes more time to execute and will slow down TWiki a little bit more for a very small benefit that I honestly doubt really causes any problems to the users of TWiki

-- KennethLavrsen - 21 May 2006

Well.. at some point in a past revision of PreventLinkToOneself i wrote : "I wholeheartely agree with that statement for normal sites, _but in a wiki site I'm not so sure_". That comment got lost in the more diplomatic refactoring.

So, Sven, you're not alone. Wikies are not the same as normal sites unless used as other thing like CMS or blogs.

-- RafaelAlvarez - 22 May 2006

Linking to oneself is confusing to the users (see Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox: The Ten Most Violated Homepage Design Guidelines.)

-- PeterThoeny - 01 Jun 2006

I use self-links on a regular base, e.g. I middle-click on the topic title (that links to itself) to clone the window into a new tab. More so if I am in edit mode. I middle-click on part of the breadcrumb navigation to get a new window looking for stuff while leaving the original edit window open. I really won't miss the latter one.

Frankly, InhibitTopicSelfLinking is good bad in a wiki content ... as you can see. The topic (defining some term) links to itself, highlighting the term under consideration all over. This is good as I see where it is used. Sure, you may want to write your wiki pages differently. So for gods sake, we have all the means to do that already using <nop; and <noautolink>...</noautolink>. Use them. A system does not necessarily get more usable if you put in more intelligence. Most of the time I struggle and fight with these kind of features.

Trying to InhibitTopicSelfLinking adds an exception to the wiki fundamentals one has just swallowed.

-- MichaelDaum - 01 Jun 2006

I truley don't think we should be constantly applying one (well known) person's advice for WebSites! to Wikis.

there seem to me to be quite a few places where it can be reasonably argued that a Wiki is not a home page (though you might notice that http://www.home.org.au is a home page, more than a wiki).

it has always bothered me that TWiki does not treat self references in the traditional Wiki Manner: to search for references to that page... and that pattern, while well established in wikis, totally disagrees with Jakob.

-- SvenDowideit - 01 Jun 2006

Linking to oneself can be avoided if desired. InhibitTopicSelfLinking. See? Why are people wasting time on this minor avoidable issue?

  • This style of expression bothers me. Could you tell me when these two implicit assessments became universal knowledge that we were all to agree on by now? (that is, a) - time spent on this issue is wasted, and b) - it is a minor issue). -- SteffenPoulsen - 01 Jun 2006

And, yes, citing one person's non-wiki web standards as inherently desirable behaviour seems a little, well, odd.

-- MeredithLesly - 01 Jun 2006

The pattern Sven describes actually does not exist. It is common that the topic title link creates a search. But putting the topic name in the topic body will just generate a link to the page itself. It is this what people are referring to.

-- ArthurClemens - 01 Jun 2006

Unless one wants to assert that one one will (or should) ever want to do this, it would seem to have to be YACO (yet another configuration option) defaulting to the no-self-link behaviour. It still doesn't seem worth all of this energy when there are far more pressing concerns.

  • Remember this is open source, it is not easy to tell what concerns are pressing to different contributors, neither really allowable to dictate what should be. -- SteffenPoulsen - 01 Jun 2006
    • I think if you read my comment more carefully, you'll see that I was not advocating dictating behaviour nor, for that matter, spending time and energy on this issue.
      • I did read the comment very carefully imho. I'm happy to learn that I am just misinterpreting the intention in it. -- SteffenPoulsen - 02 Jun 2006

-- MeredithLesly - 01 Jun 2006

I am not advocating that we enhance TWiki to not link to itself. I think the manual escape works just fine (although is a bit more labor intensive.)

-- PeterThoeny - 01 Jun 2006

This issue was raised by you Rafael, time to comment on some of the good arguments? I saw you already accepted some of the suggestions of which this was originally part, perhaps you would like to recapitulate your standpoint.

-- SteffenPoulsen - 01 Jun 2006

Impresive how even minor things just blow up all proporsions.

My issue is this: Peter has spent a very big lot of time just browsing pages and "fixing" self-references because he believes this is the RightThing(tm). This creates 3 problems:

  1. He has less time to spend in more interesting/useful/needed things, be then wiki-related or not.
  2. The changes pages are spammed because of it.
  3. He's imposing his view across all content in TWiki. I'm opposed to his opinion in the context of wikies, but I don't want to waste my time playing a "you change it, I change it back" game across my content (specifically, plugins topics).

The last issue is self-contained, as I just ignore the changes in the shipped topics with my plugins. So the first two points are the important ones. And they got lost in the "remove the name calling to be more polite" rewriting of PreventLinkToOneself.

In short, I would prefer Peter to be able to spend more time and energy in other places, and I would really like the webchanges not to be spammed by this changes. There are only two solutions to this: Either Peter stop doing it altogether, or we put a switch to prevent the linking.

Sorry for the name-calling, but it's essential to my point.

-- RafaelAlvarez - 05 Jun 2006

Name-calling and using a person's name are not the same thing. Raf felt that Peter's time could be better spent elsewhere. There's nothing derogatory in saying that.

And whatever happened to the minor edits checkbox anyway? (This relates to Raf's comment about webchanges be spammed by minor edits".)

  • It is called "Quiet save" now. -- SteffenPoulsen - 05 Jun 2006
    • Quiet save was always there as a button, but there was also a checkbox for "minor edits". Perhaps whatever that did isn't iin Dakar. I think one was about sending out notifications and the other was about showing up in webchanges.

-- MeredithLesly - 05 Jun 2006

I still feel having a whole topic discussing one persons behaviour is a bit off (I agree it is not derogatory, though).

-- SteffenPoulsen - 05 Jun 2006

> The topic (defining some term) links to itself, highlighting the term under consideration all over. This is good as I see where it is used.

If we factor out all the factors such as this, and group them in various ways we might determine drivers for these purposes.

Perhaps self-links just need to appear different. Like the icon that appears after links to http://someotherplace.com/

-- MartinCleaver - 05 Jun 2006

Peter's behavior was just the "trigger" for an idea. Nothing more, nothing less. If the idea has no merits, let's let it die silently. If it has it's merits, let's discuss it.

-- RafaelAlvarez - 05 Jun 2006

AFAIK, Quiet Save changes the timestamp in the META of the topic. As WebChanges is implemented using a SEARCH filtered by and sorted by that META timestamp, then Quiet Save is of no use. Only change script and WebNotify users will not see the modification notification.

-- RafaelAlvarez - 05 Jun 2006

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Topic revision: r29 - 2006-07-12 - PeterThoeny
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