Now, I can see the logic behind external linking, at least to some small extent. The way I see it, the policy on external linking doesn't screw with E2's format; it would be confusing to click the node Milkbone, and end up at The possibility of something like that happening is not acceptable. That's the extent of my consideration of the matter, and I suppose that, ultimately, my view of it is a little shortsighted. I guess that this matter (external linking, not my shortsightedness) was probably considered upon development of ECore, so I don't know how much support is given to actually creating an outside link. I know it can be done, but I don't know if it's for e2gods, or for a select few e2gods, or editors as well, or whatever, but I do know it's there.

The Proposal

What I propose is to create a list of web pages (probably some superdoc akin to the Reference Desk) that can be permitted outside links, and to make those outside links more readily available to John Q. E2'er. Because I, for one, find the outside links a little out of the way, and rare to come by.E2's Reference Desk is nice, but not totally wonderful, in that it's easily forgotten by the people who are already good writers and researchers to some extent at least (I didn't think of it until I thought of this writeup, for example).

Great! Where the hell do these outside links appear?

Easy. On the Duplicates Found page. Say you're searching E2 for "Hell". The Dupes found page comes up, saying there's a user and an e2node with that name. Underneath that, it could say "Or, would you like to go to the "hell" website? That'd be the external link, to or whatever.

There would have to be a limit as to what sites can be outside linked, of course, and E2 powers-that-be could keep the list small, for example:

And there should be, in my opinion, a few other sites that have a chance of appearing on the "Duplicatess Found" page: (shut up, Microsoft-haters, you know what I'm trying to say)

Who knows? Maybe even K5 or somethingawful, or whatever (but then again, maybe not, seeing as how I despise K5, for absolutely no reason), and a few others. I lost the bright ideas for the sites. OSDN was one, and sourceforge. All within convenient reach of the E2 user. There are sites that are, of course, far better explained on their own pages than in a small body of text here on E2. It has its place on E2, of course, being that we should feed everything everything. But the convenience of going directly to an important website (read: copyleft, haha) is important, if everything is to be used, as I do, for a teaching tool. What better option for the user than to show them the real thing, when necessary?

Sounds cool, kid. The question is: However Does a Person Implement This Wondrous Change In The Course of Human Events?

I haven't the slightest idea. The extent of my Perl knowledge goes little beyond defining the term "sleep()", so I won't bother with any of that. Given that there is support for outside linking in the core code, I doubt it would be too difficult to whip a project like this, especially for our illustrious JayBonci and N-Wing. And that, my friends, is all I have to say about that. Comments? Suggestions? Mail that makes a ticking/humming sound? Gifts? /msg me. On to the next idea.

Why external linking is a really bad idea, in several easy steps; or, things we don't always think about when dreaming up schemes for E2. Please leave these writeups intact, this is a common idea.

  • So external linking is really a problem for the purpose of creating self-standing content. We'd have a lot of people link to certain sites to pull in external content into our database. E2 doesn't depend on any external forces to work. We don't require anything else to retrieve our content. E2 is supposed to be an entanglement web of ideas and things, and compositions and people.
  • Even linking to something as simple as our good friend Slashdot would encourage people to discuss /. posts for XP. This as with many other things in fortune cookies is true. Google? Nope, Google, can pull off stuff from a cache, so that's virtually every web page. Again, that violates the main point, in that people would refer to heavily to external sites to pull in node material.
  • Screening of URLs would be a horrible process, especially with CGIs and such. With so many legal concerns over what is cool and not cool to "link" to, do we really want to pull our precious E2 into any sort of legal hot water? If someone C&Ps work here, then we can catch them, remove it, and apologize. We do our best here to remove offending materials. There's little way to police the links.
  • People would link to more than just HTML files. It really wouldn't help much, but people would be doing things like pulling in graphs, and pictures and diagrams into their pages. While at first not such a bad idea, this could lead to widespread abuse, and would change the flavor of our db too much. It wouldn't be as solid and independent as it is now.
  • External linking wouldn't encourage people to add anything here. We'd be a giant bookmark hive, and that really isn't what we are about. Small holes would be filled with external sites. Even if people mostly used them to claim their sources, there is little restraint on them as to how they would be used.

  • We currently parse tags with the (I believe) parseTags() function somewhere in the nodebase, and it takes a setting and rips all but those HTML tags out of the nodeage. This is kind of suck, but that's how it works. It keeps people from adding shit like <table> tags to writeups when they shouldn't be there. Now that doesn't stop us from doing anything revolutionary, but there is no easy jive that sort of approach with our current system, but it still causes a problem.
  • In parseLinks, there is an external link type, that I don't think ever gets used anywhere on E2. This is for the best. We use stuff like urlGen() and just flat string dumps to put together our href= strings for the like two external links we have here (in the footer and the like). This is really for the best. There will be more problems with people trying to figure out the new link type than there would be in its gain. Plus, we'd end up in a situation like eBay with a myriad of different URL and page tricks being pulled if we lightened up on the control of those tags.

All in all, these ideas about linking have come up a bunch of times, and more often than not, it's determined to be a rather bad idea. It "breaks" what we do here in general with writeups and overall content. Now there is a question for linking on thing like non-standard nodes, such as user nodes (homenodes). That is a completely other debate based around what we feel people should have, and what they would do with them. For writeups however, I am most certainly against any sort of addition.

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