This Means War With Hyperlinks

After reading the article “The Hyper Link War” by Laura Miller it really made me realize the emphasis most writers place on hyperlinks.  Hyperlinks are used so writers can help readers understand the material they are talking about better.  However, some people like Sarah Hepola would say “jokey links that don’t really add anything to the story; they strike her as “lazy,” an inconvenience to readers who are prodded to check out how clever the writer is.”  I totally agree with her stance, in fact I feel as though when you are transferred to a meaningless link, the content of the writing loses some of its value.  Readers would tend to lose focus on the previous content, and the article itself won’t be as meaningful and strong.

Miller talks about the difference between hyperlinks within the text and hyperlinks at the end of the text.  She performs an experiment by writing with end text, placing the hyperlinks and references at the end of the article.  She was able to achieve this by using Readability, which is browser plug-in that takes away all hyperlinks within a text and transfers them to the bottom.  The significant result from the experiment was, hyperlinks at the end of text forced writers to explain the material in more detail.  It becomes harder to write because you can’t place the task of having your material explained by someone else.  The writing has to be expressed completely and the author needs to decide what to leave in and what to leave out.  More writers should start using end-text links and instead of in-text links because it clearly evaluates the writers true potential.  The in-text links are only bothersome and most of the time people don’t even look at them, I know for a fact I don’t bother with them.  This only makes their writing confusing since the material doesn’t fully explain the topic.

I really like how Miller compared writing with end-text hyperlinks to the stages of cooking.  Without using the hyperlinks, the writer shows originality in their work.  This is just like how a chef prepares a meal from scratch with fresh ingredients to make a delicious meal.  With in-text hyperlinks on the other hand, the writer uses the links as a basis for their article.  The text isn’t fully explained unless you read the hyperlink, which is a substitute for doing actual work.  In comparison, it would be like chefs using frozen preservatives and premade vegetables to make a meal just for the convenience.  The end result, the use of preservatives isn’t as good as the use of fresh vegetables and this applies in the use of hyperlinks as well.

Writing should be able to explain a topic without the need to rely on hyperlinks; the links are only there for support.  The use of hyperlinks may be helpful in some cases, but it shouldn’t be the focus of the article.  Good writing is a balance between the use of hyperlinks and a detailed explanation.

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17 comments

  1. mjdenis38

    I like when authors use hyperlinks in their writing because I can understand the material better. Often, a lot of articles will connect with other stories, so implementing hyperlinks of those stories will help the reader understand the material. I don’t the writing loses much value. If your content is a regurgitation of the hyperlinks, then I think the quality of the writing will suffer, because it isn’t completely an original idea. I think the use of end-text and in-text links is important. Sometimes, I find too many in-text links to distract from the material presented, but a few are ok. If a writer has a lot of information he or she is drawing from, then end-text links would be better to use so the reader can check them out at the end of the article. In this way, more emphasis is being placed on your article, while drawing information and connecting ideas from other articles. I agree with your point that a writers true potential can be evaluated with end-text links rather than in-text links. I also thought the cooking comparison was interesting–again it shows originality and creativity. Finally, your point is correct that the links are there for support for your article, not for your article to rely on. For the most part, content should be mostly your own, but hyperlinks do add to your content, and help the reader understand what is happening.

  2. moegor94

    I actually enjoy writings that contain hyperlinks a lot because I feel like it makes the article more interactive and engages the interested reader more. However, I also do feel that hyperlinks can be misused in ways that definitely take away from the writing. One of the misuses of hyperlinks that I find particularly detrimental to an online post or article is when the author does not check the link and winds up posting a link that doesn’t lead anywhere. The reason that this is so detrimental to an article is because hyperlinks are often used to as a tool to help the reader better understand what the author is saying or to add a visual to the text. When the link is dead the writer can wind up completely left in the dark about a point made in the article of sometimes even the whole point of the article. Another typical misuse occurs when writers try to let the hyperlink do to much of the explaining. This is bad because it makes the article entirely dependent on the link and if the person reading the article only has a slight interest in the topic they won’t want to have to dig further and further to get info and they will most likely stop looking for information on the topic or find another site that gives them what they’re looking for right away, in a brief summary or post.

  3. hillary601

    I think that hyperlinks are really cool. I love the fact that sometimes when you use a big word you can define it by attaching the link to the big word you may be using. I love the concept of sharing information with people that they may not necessarily be familiar with. Hyperlinks is a great way to keep people informed and in touch with what you may be talking about. Sometimes it can be a bit distracting so I can see where it may take away from the article view point comes from but for the most part I find this really informative and helpful. It took me a very long time to figure out how you use hyperlinks in WordPress or in general but I think it is a great fact that I do. I think it would be a great idea for me to incorporate this into my personal blog. What I can do is attach a website to the band name so that the reader can check out the bands website or the song lyrics.

  4. gisellehernandez412

    I think hyperlinks are pretty helpful when used correctly. They can be distracting and alter one’s attention from the original article which is why I can see how using hyperlinks at the end of an article might be a good idea. However, I feel that the distraction shouldn’t be much of a concern as long as the proper links are being used and explained. That being said, I actually do like when there are hyperlinks within the article; they can help explain and provide evidence for a specific point made that the reader may forgot about by the time they finish the article. I’m not sure if I agree with the idea that a hyperlink negatively affects the quality of the writing though. Reading on the internet is different than reading print–comprehending online text is more difficult. Writers thus adjust to their audiences–if they’re writing for an online audience they should try to make it less complex and easier to read. I think that hyperlinks help make online text easier to comprehend. Although hyperlinks can be distracting, they provide a way for the readers to engage in the text which can make an article more interesting for the reader. Placing hyperlinks at the end of an article may be helpful for additional information or examples regarding the text but I feel as though most people would ignore them. I know I don’t really pay attention to them but maybe that’s just me. If the writer really wants the hyperlink to be clicked, I think it should go within the article.

  5. Miss Bombshell

    I have mixed feelings about hyperlinks and reading others comments makes me even more confused because everyone has valid points as to why hyperlinks are helpful and others have good points as to why they are a distraction. I believe that hyperlinks can sometimes be helpful because they allow the reader to fully understand the topic and content by having the chance to view other sources. It also allows the author to give an in depth analysis without using so many words. But, on the other hand I believe hyperlinks allow writers to be lazy and defeat the reason why people look to blogs or websites for information. As a website people rely on as a source, they expect to get the full details and not have to surf and click on links in order to understand the content. Readers want to feel like they are getting information from credible source where all their questions can be answered. And I believe that hyperlinks take away ones credibility as a credible writer who can fully explain a topic because isn’t that a writers job?

  6. wilschiu

    I agree that hyperlinks shouldn’t just be thrown into text without regard for context or reason. I hate when authors put it hyperlinks with little meaning, but what is probably way worse is when they place a hyperlink that doesn’t open in new tab. Like this is probably one of the most disruptive things in the world when you are trying to read and it also directs people away from your site, a distraction that might actually cause them to forget to return to your site. Personally though, I think well placed hyperlinks can really add to the content of a post. If we are still continuing this cooking metaphor, there are some things that just can’t be made from scratch easily. A good chef knows when to save his time and energy using some pre-made ingredients rather than using a simpler version of something that he made from scratch. I often use hyperlinks to explain something that I do not want to go into detail in on my post or to just show what it is that I’m trying to explain. The delay period in reading something and opening the hyperlink to view something is also a very valuable tool for a humor blogger. You can’t always control the speed the reader goes through the text, but you can insert something into a hyperlink to force a short delay as they click and let the link load. Build-up can be pretty useful in making people laugh. This effect is totally lost if you just included all of your links at the end of your post, the delay is too long and the context is mostly forgotten.

  7. karencronin

    I agree we should not have to be subjected to meaningless and waste of our time hyperlinks. In my opinion, if you are going to add a hyperlink, it should be to link the reader to more information on what they are reading. It should no be to find out what the heck the writer is talking about. They should be explaining to the readers what the hyperlink is for and why they have added it to their writing. In my own blog writing, I add hyperlinks to products/services that I am writing about, in the event a reader is interested in buying or finding out more about that particular product/service. But I do fully explain what the product/service is, either before or after the hyperlink. I do find hyperlinks to be somewhat distracting when I am reading online, and most of the time I do not even click on them unless it is something I am really interested in. I have to honestly say that I do not come across to many unnecessary hyperlinks. A majority of the time they seem to be relevant to what I am reading. Perhaps this means I subconsciously seek out quality writing! I think Miller’s idea of putting hyperlinks at the end of a writing piece is actually a great idea. This gives the reader an uninterrupted flow of reading, and if you want to check something out that you are interested in, you can do it after reading.

  8. Brian

    I personally love the use of hyperlinks. I believe that it is mostly a good thing since it really only enhance the reader’s understanding as well as the credibility of what you the writer are saying. I would be more inclined to believe what is being said if I can see for a fact that other people agree and show proof rather than just take your word for it. That’s just the way cynical people like me are. In terms of “jokey hyperlinks”, I think it depends on what the theme of your blog is. If it is very information- based then yes, I do believe that these joke-links only weaken your writing. However, if the idea of the post is very light-hearted, sarcastic, or funny then these joke links are perfect and fit your theme well. There is one point that I do agree with though. These hyperlinks, when put within the written part of the post, do affect your flow of information. The readers may get distracted from what you are saying to read what other people are saying. If one were to put the hyperlinks at the end it may solve this problem. However, at the same time it may weaken the hyperlinks until the point where they have no use. Sometimes the hyperlink needs to be placed at certain places of the post to accentuate the point being made. If it is placed at the bottom, it is really just a bunch of random links. Despite all of this, I think that the benefits of hyperlinks out-weigh the negatives.

  9. briellebuis

    I agree with many of my classmates about hyperlinks. I really have a love / hate relationship with them. Sometimes hyperlinks can be super helpful. They are able to help me learn about a specific word or topic that is placed in a story, without the author having to explain it and add long annoying text to a article. On the other hand, hyperlinks can be a HUGE distraction. If I am reading a paper, and I click on a hyperlink, I could be taken to another page, there I could click on another hyperlink! Before I even realize it has been two hours and I have not finished the article that I was on the internet to read in the first place. Hyperlinks can become even more distracting if they are on Facebook or some other social media site. It just really becomes a major distraction. So really, sometimes they are helpful, others not. I guess it depends on how focused I am and determined to get my work done, or if I am in the mood to be on the internet for hours.

  10. yadyayala105

    I really like hyperlinks. The place I see them the most are in Wikipedia. When I am looking up a tv show or a movie through Wiki they have hyperlinks to similar try shows, the actors profile or other works the actor has participated in. This really saves me the trouble of opening up another tab and looking it up myself. Another time I have observed hyperlinks, usually through wiki, is on words they know most people do not understand. A hyperlink on a difficult word sends you to a definition of that word. This is great because I don’t have to look up the word; I just get directly sent to a clear definition just by one click. I personally prefer the hyperlinks in the text compared to at the end of the article; there is no use of it at the end of the article. The author mentions that Sarah Hepola uses her hyperlinks in a jokey manner. That must really be annoying because the hyperlinks are supposed to help you. They are not there to decorate your article or story; if they are not necessary do not put them in. One thing I do dislike about hyperlinks is when it sends me to a website that doesn’t exists anymore or a website that is not relevant. I really hate that! I personally think hyperlinks are a lazy person’s best friend and saves a lot of time and energy for the reader.

  11. ktomiak25

    The analogy of hyperlinks like frozen foods to a chef was really thought provoking. I never saw that side of the hyperlink debate before reading this. I think it all depends on how they are used. Some websites auto-insert links in to text to send you to shopping links, which is extremely annoying. Others link words to a dictionary which is just as annoying. Even links that “help explain” what the author is trying to say I don’t necessarily agree with- it either means the author isn’t a good enough writer, or they are assuming the reader is uninformed/unable to look up information on their own, which is just insulting. I am totally capable of looking up not only word definitions but also general topics on my own outside of the reading if I need further instruction. One of the reasons I like bringing my laptop to class is to be able to quickly look up something the professor was talking about without having to stop the lecture to ask. I think links in the middle of an article can kind of be like that- they may help you understand better, but its a lot like stopping the speech midway, and then you lose track of where you were.

  12. mlew210

    I never really saw the practical side of hyperlinks. In most cases, I just used it to link a funny youtube video to my posts. Whenever I had a research paper, I never included hyperlinks because it was never graded digitally. If I have to write an article online, I don’t know if I would use hyperlinks since I was taught in school not to do that. I get the part about being a chef though. That was a great analogy that really helped me understand how people use hyperlinks. I think that if you can write without hyperlinks, your writing is clear and readable. If you need to use a hyperlink every time something needs to be put into context, then the writer is probably slacking off. I wouldn’t say that hyperlinks make people lazy, but rather they teach people a different way of writing. In my opinion, this way of writing is convenient since a lot of information is put directly in front of the reader, but it also hurts the writer’s ability to actually form a coherent argument without the aid of hyperlinks. It’s kind of like how we don’t really need to have an expansive vocabulary anymore to type up an essay. Auto correct fixes our problems, and the thesaurus can help us vary our word choice. Without these simple tools, I think a lot of people would be much worse at writing than they are right now. The same can be said about any piece of technology that has made our lives easier. Hopefully, people will learn how to use hyperlinks in moderation. I personally hate it when an article is filled with them.

  13. hg163

    Reading something that contains hyperlinks can be really helpful to the reader. For example, in my blog, I use hyperlinks to explain something about hockey that I think a lot of people probably don’t know (like rules). They give the reader a better understanding about whatever point the author is attempting to make. I enjoy then (as much as hyperlinks can be enjoyed) and do think that they add more to an article. However, I also agree that hyperlinks can be misused, like if an author links to something else that can easily be explained without the hyperlink. Using it like this just screams “lazy!’ to me. For the most part, though, I don’t think that the blogs and sites I’ve visited misuse them much.
    I never really thought much about hyperlinks within and at the end of a text, but I guess her experiment does make sense; an author wants to engage as many people as he/she can and hyperlinks have a chance to take away a reader’s attention. I sometimes find myself clicking on a hyperlink only to wander around that site or even click on the hyperlinks that are in the article that was hyperlinked. And if a YouTube video is hyperlinked, forget about it.
    I ultimately agree with your final point, that hyperlinks should at most support the writing, not be the focus. If the writer doesn’t explain whatever the hyperlink is about, why wouldn’t I just read that site instead of yours? Unless the writing is hyperlinking to videos, I thin the fewer the better.

  14. tedrihn

    The comparison that was made between hyperlinks and the quality of a chef’s cooking was very odd to me. Not only did I feel like they are two completely different things but I didn’t really understand it. I agree that inserting a hyperlink in the text is similar to using prepared food in a meal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the food or the article is going to be terrible. The quality of the meal, much like the article, depends on how the ingredients are used. For example, a chef can use 2 day old bread for garlic bread, croutons, and even stuffing, but that same bread would not be very appetizing served as a sandwich because its more stale and not fresh. The same with a hyperlink, as long as it is used in the text in a tasteful manner that doesn’t take away from the rest of the content in the article, then you would be using that hyper-linked article to better your own. Also keep in mind that I’m not saying that in-text hyperlinks are the best. End-text hyperlinks are also just as valuable because they force the writer and the reader to finish the article before becoming less interesting. I’ll put it to you this way, if you know you have the questions that are going to be on your next exam, are you going to study everything as hard as you would have if you didn’t have those answers, or would you just memorize those questions? That’s what I thought.

  15. lisak0

    It’s interesting how she compares the usages of hyperlinks to cooking. I agree with Miller partially! If authors minimize their usages of hyperlinks, it seems more genuine. But sometimes, people want to know more about the topic, and if authors provide hyperlinks, it saves the time of searching around the web for the perfect site. Hyperlinks are so helpful, but too much is indeed detrimental to a post! It may be confusing! I agree with Miller that if all the hyperlinks were at the end of the text, more explanation would be needed. Some people do not quickly grasp the concept of those randomly placed links. Hyperlinks placed within texts are helpful and useful. Especially for businesses who have their own blogs! When talking about and updating information about their products, they need to provide hyperlinks to make sure their customers and readers can quickly go visit their products page, instead of deviating from their site. For authors it would be helpful to link with a site that sells their books. For daily bloggers and news sites, it shouldn’t be used as much, unless it is linking to a past post.

    I agree that writers should not solely depend on hyperlinks though! Sometimes, it is helpful but other times it seems messy and unorganized. I am guilty though because sometimes I lose control and hyperlink different websites and videos!! I haven’t really thought about what readers would say though! Writers should know how to properly announce their work without much links. I now learned a bunch. Thanks!

  16. Megan Murray

    In my opinion, hyperlinks in text are great. Wikipedia surfing is a very fun, informative, and interesting – an activity created through hyperlinks. I think that links in a list at the end of a text look sloppy, and are not intuitive for a reader who wants to learn information. Links should be present near relevant information. They add useful things to text. And hyperlinks, to reader, are always optional! If the link is just a cheesy aside, the reader doesn’t need to go there. This is perfect, because some readers would love to read this extra content and some would not. This way, the author isn’t making the article super long or forcing readers to read less than important information.
    Sometimes, hyperlinks can explain concepts to the reader. In this case, while i can see the argument that it makes the author seem lazy, really I think that the hyperlink is again doing the reader a favor. Why go into a topic if a professional groomed website always explains this subject very clearly? Also, why make the reader go over information that he or she may already know? An informative, optional hyperlink allows the reader to grab this information if he or she wants to. Again, this makes the article shorter and tailored for different types of readers to enjoy.
    However, too many hyperlinks is definitely overwhelming and unnecessary. And where you link is important as well; a site that literally has all the information you are talking about just makes your site less valuable.

  17. dmhgs

    I like to think of using hyperlinks within a text online is kind of like using quotes in an expository writing class. (We all hated that class didn’t we?) It was very easy to pick out quotes that may have been related to your writing but it was also very easy to utilize them the wrong way. However when you did use the quote correctly, that quote then became essential to the claim that you were producing within your paper. So in this way I do not think that links within writing are neccesarily detrimental to how people read your work. If you need the link in text then by all means use it within your text so that the reader can get a better idea of what you are trying to say. If you don’t neccesarily need it within your text then you can safely say that link would just be something to support you and can be put at the end of your writing.

    It’s all about how you are able to utilize the links. (It might be kind of hard though because I don’t know about you guys, but when I took expos I felt like the worst writer in the world.)

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