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[dupe] Ask HN Mods: Can you make submission URLs human-readable?
137 points by 3rd3 on Apr 5, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 71 comments
By now, I probably stumbled a dozen times upon the problem that HN links do not reveal at all what they are about. To solve this problem you could maybe simply add the title string to the item ID like this:

   https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7535606-can_i_delete_my_skype_account
I think that would be fairly easy to implement and it could be easily made backward compatible by forwarding the old links to the new format. With a dash as separator it’s still possible to select the ID with a double click (at least on my system). I think that would be a great improvement. Thanks!



I like StackOverflow URLs; f.e.:

  /questions/22881084/couldnt-find-bar-with-id-472021-polymorphic-associations
And every URL that matches /questions/22881084 redirects to the main URL.

The URL of this news would become:

  /items/7536719/ask-hn-mods-can-you-make-submission-urls-human-readable


I hate those. They contain duplicate information, mostly for the sake of Google rather than users. The fact that /questions/22881084 still works is a nice touch, though. Guess why it's there? People sometimes still type URLs by hand. In that case numerics are actually much nicer than a long-winded textual URL. (An interesting approach would be to use alpha encoding, like ba, bc, bc, etc for the index. More information, easier to type on mobile devices.)

The only case when I like title-based URLs is when they're hand-crafted, memorable and short. Something like example.com/movies/terminator2. Even then you run into problems, because it could be terminator_2 or Terminator_II, or whatever. The moment that URL turns into Terminator_2_Judgment_Day I begin to question its usefulness.

What's wrong with synthetic IDs, anyway? People go on and on about "readability" of URLs, but you have to evaluate it in the proper context. Where are they more readable? If I'm in the browser, I already have the title at three places on my screen (tab, window title, page itself). Sequential numeric ID gives me additional information about order of the articles and sometimes even allows for neat tricks, like skipping to the next article by incrementing the number.


Readable URLs are for whenever you write the link somewhere: I hate when I have to click to bit.ly/4/srkue4oiu, or youtube.com/watch?v=e498hRSUvf, and I have no clues about its contents.

And I read much more the URL than the page title; I totally disagree with the approach "They are URLs, they are for browsers, I don't read them". I read them all the time.


Expecting users (or even yourself) to manually enter URLs like "/movies/terminator2" is just not going to work long-term if you can generate the URL based on the title of the page.

It's also not necessarily duplicate information (more like extraneous information), nor is it a disadvantage to have readable URLs. I'm going to explain why by weighing the pros and cons of the main options as I see them.

/questions/how-do-i-foo-bar

Doesn't allow renaming, can't have duplicates with similar titles. Since the lookup key is "how-do-i-foo-bar" it's a variable width string, which is less ideal than a fixed width number/string.

/questions/342993123

Doesn't have the problems above, but now it's not readable. Users can see these URLs in search engines and perhaps more significantly, when hovering over links to see where they go. Google's own SEO guide recommends readable URLs.

/questions/342993123/how-do-i-foo-bar

Best of both worlds. If you redirect "/questions/342993123/*" to "/questions/342993123/how-do-i-foo-bar", you can even allow users to rename titles without having to store the old URL, all while having one canonical version of each "question".

One last thing, those IDs aren't sequential, they're just unique. If you increment a HN news article URL you'll probably end up in a comment (because articles are just root comments), or on other sites, a deleted/spam submission. Sequential only works for content that doesn't change, and most content changes.


"One last thing, those IDs aren't sequential, they're just unique. If you increment a HN news article URL you'll probably end up in a comment (because articles are just root comments), or on other sites, a deleted/spam submission. Sequential only works for content that doesn't change, and most content changes."

Same kinda thing in StackOverflow, everything is a "post", regardless of whether it's a question or answer, for example:

Consider this answer:

http://stackoverflow.com/a/22884084

If I change the url to replace "a" with "q":

http://stackoverflow.com/q/22884084 or do http://stackoverflow.com/questions/22884084

...it takes you to that "post" which happens to be an answer.

With regards to the parent question, I wouldn't object to seeing human readable slugs. I have a stash of HN article links hived away in OneNote, you be handy not to have to manually type in a description of what the article was about.


When I said "duplicate", I meant that both the number and the title are in themselves sufficient to locate the article.

I get the renaming scenario, but I think it is an edge case.

Most duplication can be avoided by appending date or user name to the title if there is already a similar title in the database.

/questions/foo_bar-by_mherkender /questions/foo_bar-2001-01-01

At least this way unique URLs will be short(er) and more memorable.

Overall, though, I think you overestimate the usefulness of named URLs, because you concentrate on specific cases like people linking to something bad on YouTube (that still has an appropriate title) without giving coherent description. There are other cases too. A lot of them. They just aren't as annoying/memorable.

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/22883751/this-is-not-so-h...?

I read a small magazine about PC games, and I recall using ID jumping for navigation a lot. When the numbers are below 1000, it is easier to remember and type "article=234" than "/article/Does+Assassin's+creed+break+new+ground?".

Also, I sincerely think that the trend for named URLs has more to do with Google that what users want or like. If Google liked super-long URLs with lots of punctuation, most websites would do just that and people would find ways to rationalize the trend. This doesn't automaticall mean title URLs are wrong, but it's somewhat different from "everyone like them".


Using dates is a good alternative, but they're not a universal solution. If Microsoft open-sources Windows XP you can be sure that dozens of articles titled "Windows XP open-sourced!" will end up on HN that day, and a site that rejects articles because they have the same title as another has a bad user interface. That said, if there's a small enough amount of content, it might be good enough.

I'm not saying sequential ID URLs are bad, they're still possible in my suggestion, I was just explaining how navigating by incrementing a number isn't plausible for sites with large amounts of user-generated content. It usually doesn't scale.

Anyway, I'm not overestimating the advantage of readable URLs. You haven't given any reason why readability isn't an advantage in URLs, and I've given several explicit reasons why they are (SEO, hovering over links, etc).


I find these links aesthetically appealing too, however, it seems strange that the title is a sub-path of the item ID. I think something like this would make more sense:

      /items/7536719-ask_hn_mods_can_you_make_submission_urls_human_readable


If you don't need to pedantically follow RESTful approach, that is if you are not developing Web APIs, I believe user experience should be preferred


Here are two bookmarklets which might accomplish what you are requesting:

    javascript:window.location=window.location+'&title='+document.title

    javascript:window.location=window.location+'#'+document.title
I don't mind the simple IDs for HN URLs.

The thing that I have the most trouble with is when bookmarking comments sections by dragging the "XX comments" link to my bookmarks bar, the title then saves as "XX comments" rather than the title of the article. This might be a browser / HTML issue though, I tried adding a "title" tag but that didn't fix it.

Updated bookmarklet below:

    javascript:window.location=window.location+'&title='+document.title.replace(/[^A-Za-z0-9]/g, "_");


If you add converting non-url-safe characters to dashes I would call that bookmarklet a >90% sufficient solution that doesn't need any server-side changes.

Users who need a readable URL just use the bookmarklet.


Just replace document.title with document.title.replace(/[^A-Za-z0-9]/g, "_"); and it should work with all titles.


That is a good request. What will make the old url does not need any forwarding is add a new get parameter, such as:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7536719&title=Ask_HN_Mo...


Or by using anchors, it's backwards compatible by design.

    https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7535606#can_i_delete_my_skype_account


One would want to ensure that the anchor was guaranteed to be distinct from every id on the page (e.g. if this submission had title 'up_7536771', browsers would jump to your upvote button if the title was just appended).


You can just prepend a character that is valid in the URL but invalid for an id, like a colon. E.g.

  https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7536719#:ask_hn_mods


Why not actually have separate resources (and URLs) for each story, rather than have all stories ever as 'item'?

    https://news.ycombinator.com/items/7535606/can_i_delete_my_skype_account


I never understood why people are so hell-bent on advocating https://example.com/item/7536855 over https://example.com/item?id=7536855, or even https://news.ycombinator.com/?item/7536855 in human-readable websites.

The last form is short, allows for the simpler routing and much easier linking on the backend as you don't have to do any magic to resolve relative URLs. That's a tangible benefit, and it can make some code and operations much simpler. (For example, you could add an alternative page called item2, and it would happily reuse all the resources of item just via relative URL resolution.) Ability to use direct links (<a href="?comment/111">) also means more readable templates and easier time finding what links where.

The first form is supposedly "hierarchical" and "more semantic". What does that buy us in practical terms?


Most modern routing systems I've worked with can match against any of the URL schemes you describe, without any difference in flexibility. Segments of the path can be tied to hardcoded routes, or passed into handlers as parameters, or any combination thereof. And relatively URLs work just fine as "/comment/123". I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "direct link".


With enough code you can parse anything. My point is that query-based linking can greatly simplify your overall codebase and let the standard URL resolution in the browser do most of the work for you.

Let's look at two examples: example.com/?article/123 vs example.com/article/123.

In the first case you can link to example.com/assets/main.css by simply using <a href="assets/main.css">. It will work with no additional code. It will work from the root of the website, from ?article/123, or ?article/456, or ?any/other/place/you/want.

In the second case you need to reverse your routing logic, because "<a href="../assets/main.css">" will work on some pages, but will break on paths with more nesting (such as example.com/articles/about_it/123).

In ASP.NET MVC, for example, linking looks like <a href="@Url.Content("~assets/main.css")">. They've added a shorthand for it in Razor 2, but that means that the overall codebase is even more complex: your templating engine parses the content of your templates, find things that look like virtual URLs, reads the routing table, performs reverse relative resolution, and spits out the altered URL. It is extremely difficult to debug if something goes wrong. Is all this complexity really warranted?

If you're using PHP/Apache, query strings have an additional benefit of not needing any routing setting in .htaccess. Makes deployments somewhat more straightforward.

Also, you can easily implement "areas" with different assets by creating an actual sub-directory with an alternate index script, then copying and editing assets. This is way, way easier and more maintainable than all of the dynamic solutions I've seen.

"Wait", some people say, "but what if you change stuff?" If you change something on the backend, you change your routing tables to match it, so the external URLs stay the same. Yes, you still need routing. But now it only does one thing. You've decoupled routing from other components and made templates much simpler and more readable.


IMHO the most important reason for not doing so: queries are not made for that! Queries are queries, not routes. You should route with routes (completely unexpected), not with queries. The difference between query and route actually means something to the software interacting with your site.

I only hate one thing more that using queries where you should use routes: using routes where you should use queries (especially common in shady SEO stuff).

> query-based linking can greatly simplify your overall codebase and let the standard URL resolution in the browser do most of the work for you.

It does not simplify my overall codebase at all. In fact, query routing will add lots of unnecesary code to my codebase if I have to parse the query as a route, while the route is already parsed as a route.

> In the second case you need to reverse your routing logic

Id's just <a href="/assets/main.css"> with a leading slash. Again, that's what / is for.

> If you're using PHP/Apache, query strings have an additional benefit of not needing any routing setting in .htaccess.

I think that was exactly what early 2000s forum developers thought, but as they learnt soon it was a really bad idea.

Don't do that. Please.


IMHO the most important reason for not doing so: queries are not made for that! Queries are queries, not routes. You should route with routes (completely unexpected), not with queries.

This does not highlight any practical or even realistic theoretical benefits of using routes over queries. Besides, it's called "path", not "route", and I don't know of anything in URI spec that would support your vision.

   The query component contains non-hierarchical data that, along with
   data in the path component (Section 3.3), serves to identify a
   resource within the scope of the URI's scheme and naming authority
Id's just <a href="/assets/main.css"> with a leading slash. Again, that's what / is for.

This breaks if you need to re-deploy to a sub-directory.

I think that was exactly what early 2000s forum developers thought, but as they learnt soon it was a really bad idea.

The only reason I know of that it was bad idea in 2000s is because early search engines arbitrarily assigned different values to words in query strings. This has changed.


> Besides, it's called "path", not "route"

Path and route are synonyms (I might be confused because of my mother tongue) and I wanted to highlight that fact: you should use routes (paths) to route.

> and I don't know of anything in URI spec that would support your vision.

http://tools.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3986.txt section 3.4 the very first sentence says: "The query component contains non-hierarchical data"

Your proposal "?article/123" seems very hierarchical to me. You even used path-like syntax and "routing via queries" sounds inherently hierarchical. You should use a path instead.

> This does not highlight any practical or even realistic theoretical benefits of using routes over queries.

Of course it doesn't if you strip the important part of my comment :P Quoting myself: "The difference between query and route actually means something to the software interacting with your site."

It's akin to inventing your own HTTP verb.

> This breaks if you need to re-deploy to a sub-directory.

Then you should use <base>. That's why it's there, so you don't have to jump through hoops.

Using queries for navigation is just as bad as the defunct habit of using hashbangs, which served a purpose when there was no alternative. The technology moved forward and we have better solutions.


Firstly, routing is not inherently hierarchical. It's a process of mapping pieces of URL to variables with the purpose of figuring out which action to call. So your argument that implies routing it inherently related to URL paths (by the virtue of their names) is invalid. It can and often does involve queries.

Secondly, if you ever tried to implement a web framework from scratch, you would quickly see that routing something like "?controller=blah&action=blah&id=123" is MUCH easier than dealing with virtual paths. Aside from relative URL issues in templates, you also need to deal with differences between real assets and everything else.

Thirdly, my proposal does not go contrary to rfc3986. "The query component contains non-hierarchical data" is not the same as "query component must not contain any hierarchical data". If it did, you could also argue that it's "wrong" to put an address int query string, because, hey, it's a hierarchy. (And again, routing is not inherently hierarchical.)

Fourthly, base tag doesn't deal with the original use case I described and is a PITA to maintain.


You can just do

  <a href="/assets/main.css">
and it'll work regardless of the level of nesting. Your example is a non-problem.


> For example, you could add an alternative page called item2, and it would happily reuse all the resources of item just via relative URL resolution.

I don't understand. If you wanted, for some odd reason (you hate search engines?) for the same resource to have two URLs, you could simply do:

    app.get('/items/:itemID', itemController);

    app.get('/item2/:itemID', itemController);
Though that seems like a very strange thing to want.

> What does that buy us in practical terms?

I can crawl it, and expect to find different resources at different URLs, like every other news website.


I'm not particularly advocating either, but I suspect a lot of us have a lingering notion of the latter part of a URL literally being a file path. Web development for beginners (used to?) consist of pooping handwritten html and image files into a directory that a webserver happened to know about. No dynamic stuff or indeed any programming involved.


Its easier to parse both for humans and for many libraries paths than queries.


While I agree that HN URLs are are very non-descriptive, one problem of the proposed solution might be submissions that get their titles edited by mods later?


That's not an issue if only the ID is used to identify the submission, whereas the title slug is only human-readable fluff. E.g

    /item/1234/original-submission
    /item/1234/edited-title
    /item/1234/arbitrary-string
    /item/1234/
This could also be done with the current query string approach, e.g.

    /item?id=1234&title=original-submission
    /item?id=1234&title=edited-title
    /item?id=1234&title=arbitrary-string
    /item?id=1234
OP's suggestion of having the title be part of the ID would be quite inelegant, but possible if the real ID is only the digits up to the first hyphen.

Ideally, the title would be completely ignored, but other titles would redirect to an URL with the current title.


I actually think the OP's suggestion is the most elegant of everything I've seen here.

It's a matter of aesthetics.


With the query string I'd expect the arbitrary title would actually be rendered in the served page :)

    &title=get%20a%20load%20of%20this%20guy


My thought was that it could just match ^\d*?(?=-) and ignore the title. I think the adantage of the dash over a separate parameter is that it would look more compact and the advantage over achors is that it does not misuse the URL semantics ("The fragment identifier #fragment, if present, specifies a part or a position within the overall resource or document"). And the title is an identifier of the item, so it would still make sense regarding the semantics of the id-parameter.


Search engine spiders, scrapers, etc. would end up hitting a bunch of dupes when the title change causes a new URL to be generated that really points to the same content (not that spiders don't already have to deal with that mess on other websites).


HTML headers can include a `<link rel="canonical" …>` that points to the up-to-date URL of this item. Furthermore, outdated or invalid titles could be redirected with a "301 moved permanently" to the current title.


What about items which do not have titles, like comments?



It's an interesting suggestion, but I'm not sure I clearly see the value, especially compared to the other things we have to do.

(I'm going to demote this thread now, rather than kill it, so anyone who wants to can continue discussing.)


Why is this a "problem"? I frankly consider it a feature: the URL is shorter, and it encourages people to put a real title next to the URL that is actually designed for humans to read and understand. Schemes that embed titles either lock tbe title in for all time (which is clearly problematic and confusing once the URL changes) or make the title just ancillary URL cruft. (I believe Wordpress goes with the former, while most other websites go with the latter, including reddit and Stack Overflow; I would be willing to believe that I'm wrong about Wordpress, though.)

The ancillary URL cruft version of the feature means the page effectively now has an infinite number of possible URLs and no effective "canonical" one without running into the "title changed" problem. It doesn't let you know what's on the other side before clicking, because you can change it to read whatever you want (or remove it entirely, for the people who like the intrigue or surprise). By making the URL longer it is more likely to be broken apart and formatted horribly. It causes people to go "engh, the URL is sufficient" and then not provide their own title, leaving the reader to have to read the mangled "all lower case, no punctuation, space characters missing, truncated" version of the title out of the URL; and even when the mangled form is clearly confusing it makes adding the title again more costly (longer message that night no longer fit that feels horribly redundant).

Of course, if the URL is further designed to be human rememberable or human guessable, where you can reasonably expect the user to type the URL in is, that's great! restaurant.example.com/menu/ is an amazing URL; but restaurant.example.com/8364928/restaurant-s-daily-menu/ has neither of these features: these "embed the title" schemes are just abusing URLs as storage for content that simply should not be in the URL.

It certainly isn't like this is some requirement for success: YouTube has done very well for itself without succumbing to the "embed the title" mistake. Facebook does not embed titles of posts in their URLs. Pinterest and Instagram could easily build such a feature out of the short descriptions attached to images, and Twitter could have snipped some of the tweet text, but thankfully none of them chose to. Even after being "in the game" for many years, Google (of all people) did not do this for Google+ either (though some might say Google+ isn't highly successful, and some even blame the URLs, it should be clear that tacking a title to the end of the URL would not solve any of their problems ;P).

Really, there is only one benefit I've ever seen for putting the titles in the URLs, which I think was most eloquently described by a user on reddit a few years ago in a thread on this very topic. I have provided a link to this thread, but will point out that this is a very niche use case that itself should probably not be encouraged :/.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1gbl0u/why_does_reddit_put_titles_in_their/


"these "embed the title" schemes are just abusing URLs as storage for content that simply should not be in the URL."

I don't look at it this way. I think readable URLs are part of the way the web was designed - this idea that URLs map to individual documents and not to an application that has to translate between the URL and the resource it represents.

Quite to the contrary: Having a database id in the URL is sticking model/data layer logic where it doesn't belong - the view layer of the APP.

As for the permalink problem on changing titles you can simply store a history of redirects for every title that the article has ever had to the current, active URL.


Having an id in the URL lets you have a key to uniquely query. Without it, you would have to disallow identical titles.

What benefit do you get from having a title in the URL?

I think of a URL as simply an easily repeatable parameter of a web request. The URL is only one parameter of the request, but it's the only one that's easy to repeat.


I think the idea that the OP is proposing is so that the link can be used like this, inline, in a comment or a story:

"Hey if you feel differently give this a read:"

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7535606-can_i_delete_my...

At least that is the way I read it.


That’s one way I thought it could be beneficial.

I had two more scenarios in mind: (1) When handling multiple links at once I had the problem at least twice that I confused them. (2) Working offline made it difficult for me a couple of times to sort my tabs and bookmarks when the browser messed up the page titles or when I managed URLs in text files.

Oh well, maybe it’s just the unusual way how I manage things I read and watch online. It’s just that I realized that it was much easier to sort a couple of reddit and StackOverflow links that were lying about. On the other hand, I don’t think that the HN crowd is exactly the kind of audience one needs to hesitate to present more information to. Quite the contrary HN people can probably benefit a lot more from more information than most other groups.


"maybe it’s just the unusual way how I manage things I read and watch online"

I think it's quite typical actually.

Think about phone numbers pre speed dial and obviously smartphone. Much easier to hit a button now which is a visual indication of who you are calling rather than seeing a list of phone numbers and remembering that a certain sequence is who you want. Definitely less chance for error. And that's even if presented with a list.

I don't think that anyone can argue that for a "normal" user there is less chance of error with something descriptive.

Or take medications. Medication names aren't always easy but whatever they are they are much easier to not make mistakes with because they aren't numbers. For both doctors, patients and pharmacists.

"Viagra" vs. "#348976" "Nexium" vs. "#2390045"

Not to mention the other obvious example, domain names to solve essentially the issue of remembering IP addresses.


> no effective "canonical" one without running into the "title changed" problem

As pointed out below one could make the newest title the canonical one and redirect everything else to it, or am I missing something?

> YouTube has done very well for itself without succumbing to the "embed the title"

I think it is a problem with YouTube too. It happened to me a couple of times that a video was removed, I only had a dead video ID in my watch-later playlist and there was no way to find out which video it was. By the way, even YouTube has an URL shortener called "youtu.be".

> where you can reasonably expect the user to type the URL in

I think in most browsers this is by now a combined URL and search field and, quite frankly, I don’t know anyone who accesses long URLs without auto-complete or Google anymore.


Wordpress adds cruft because it's good for SEO, or at least used to be. You're right, HN doesn't need that.


if you do it right, human readable URLs are good for the user, for links (as URLs are the most used anchor text you get sensemaking anchor text if you have descriptive URLS) and for SEO (i.e.: if they get displayed in the SERPs)- but adding a non content relevant cruft to the URL "just because" is a bad idea. wordpress (together with the yoast SEO plugin) does it right.



Although I like this idea, I wouldn't want this feature to get prioritized over making the layout "responsive" on mobile browsers.

(I've tried a few HN "apps" on both iOS and Android. Either they reinvent the UX too much for my taste, or they're no-login/read-only ... or even if they get those points correct, they have intermittent "no comments" errors when there are in comments. Sigh. Really I just want the web site. Albeit updated to work better on smaller screens.)


What's wrong with the desktop version?

It works great on my 320x480 screen in landscape. The only thing that would make sense would be to limit the viewport width, other than that I don't see anything wrong.


I personally find reading HN on a mobile device really frustrating. Horizontal scrolling is awkward and navigating between comments is frustrating. HN isn't winning any awards for UX.

I really do believe that HN is poorly designed for end users. The UI is not forward with intent, or pleasurable to use. It's been literally years and the expired link issue hasn't been addressed. ---No, I'll stop you right there. It's been acknowledged as an implementation bug, but not addressed. PG's lack of user empathy and stubbornness make HN worse.

The only reason people come here is the content.


Although I haven't done this sort of thing myself, it seems like it might not be quite that simple. The most recent thread I could find about it:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7330107


I agree, but it's probably easier to implement a simple URL forwarder somewhere else to not mess with HN for now, specially that things are changing a bit: http://blog.ycombinator.com/meet-the-people-taking-over-hack...


Wouldn't this be the perfect time to suggest changes? It's important to let the new people in charge know what the community would like I think.


Yeah totally agreed on this. +1 for this and for other suggestions.


here are (my) URL rules which have served me very well over the years.

• URL-Rule 1: unique (1 URL == 1 resource, 1 resource == 1 URL)

• URL-Rule 2: permanent (they do not change, no dependencies

to anything)

• URL-Rule 3: manageable (1 logic per site section, no

complicated exceptions, no exceptions)

• URL-Rule 4: easily scalable logic

• URL-Rule 5: short

• URL-Rule 6: with a targeted keyword phrase

one is more important than two to six combined, two is more important than three to six combined, and so on.

adding a "human readable text thingie" slug is number six. least important. meanwhile it makes 1 to 3 much harder, and runs against nr. 5.

so basically: don't do it, never. it complicates everything. if you can give a fulfil "human readable" and "short" and every other rule, do it. i.e.: www.example.com/a/contact is great. even www.example-shop.com/a/blue-coffee-maschine is great, but www.example.com/b/343435354-you-can-write-here-everything-you-want-and-i-will-trigger-a-redirect-if-its-wrong is a very very bad idea.


If you feel you need to append a title to the URL, why not just do https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7536719&title=Ask HN Mods: Can you make submission URLs human-readable

It shouldn't break the URL and the user will see a title in it.


I'm just guessing here but one of the reasons might be to prevent ranking high in search engine results. Search engines bring in lots of misguided traffic and lots of users which don't fit into the HN community. Again I'm just guessing...


#shit_HN_says


No, as fun as I'm sure that glib comment was to write, he's not making that up. HN does keep a low Google footprint. I don't know how much it has to do with keeping the community small, but I appreciate that comments I write here don't immediately get nailed to the front of a Google SERP.

Here's Paul Graham, briefly, on the subject:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5808982#up_5808990


thanks for providing the link. couldn't find it myself, but this was the statement I had in the back of my mind.


Can't you just not allow in robots.txt? All mejor search engines respect that.


There's something really wrong with that statement, but I can't describe in words what.


Elitism?


is it really that or just avoiding social media marketers?

I don't know but it doesn't seem so clear cut.

Maybe someone can chime in on that angle.


I'm sure there are many more useful changes that could be made which would bring greater benefit to the community.

Adding the 'initial scale' meta tag so that people can more easily use the site on their mobiles would be a great start.


Can we start please with many far more annoyUnknown or expired text.


Instead of changing the URL you could use the "title" attribute on the "a" tag. On most browsers hovering over the link will display the attribute.


How does that help in situations where HTML isn't being used, though? I'm thinking of plain text emails, discussion forums that don't allow custom markup, discussion forums that generate markup automatically for URLs, and so forth.


I find long URLs to be annoying in email since you never know if they will get wrapped and broken somewhere along the way. And, if you're emailing a URL to someone you are presumably providing some text to explain what it is, so why do you need extra junk in the URL?

You can already add whatever you want to the URL if you really think it needs to be verbose:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7536719&title=whatever-...


I think he's talking about making the URLs readable out in the wild, e.g Twitter




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