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but am I supposed to edit them as an end user or draw conclusions from their look?

Here is a data point that may be of interest: On YouTube, since links are filtered from comments, many users link to other videos by posting the "tails" of URLs - some with "watch?v=xxxxxxxx", some "?v=xxxxxxxx", and some just post the random-looking video ID part with nothing other than "see video xxxxxxxx". In other words, there's evidence to suggest that a reasonably large portion of the otherwise "computer-illiterate" have at least a basic understanding of how URLs work and will edit them manually to get what they want.

Edit: or to put it another way, there are people who, upon having made extensive use of YouTube (or possibly other sites), have been able to notice the patterns in all of its URLs, and use that knowledge to succinctly name a video, without explicitly giving the entire link. They are also implicitly teaching others about this knowledge in the process. This is a perfect example of the kind of learning experience that would be deprived from those whose browser hid the path in URLs.

Yeah and the "otherwise computer-illiterate" may also think: oh wow, this is a cool feature I should rely on. Eventhough you can just paste the Youtube URL into the comment field and get a nicely formatted link.

For me this is another evidence that the main argument is broken. Youtube is super successful but in fact it is really restrictive when it comes to hyperlinking and mashing things together.

Update: just for clarification because of the downvotes, Youtube does not filter Youtube urls.

They might've changed it with the new comments system, but I know that links of any sort were completely disallowed not long ago. Nevertheless, I still see the posting of bare video IDs in many recent comments.

(I've basically never participated in YT comment discussions. There's definitely a lot of idiocy, but it's also interesting to just observe and see the sometimes surprising positive things like this that can occur.)

I do think there should be more of a focus on URNS rather than URLs, and his could help.

URLS are pretty rigid. If tommorow http was swapped out for a different protocol what would happen?

You'd be better off referring to the article posted as Allenpike's article on removing urls (or some such).

Fuzzyness feels more natural. I can bookmark a rigid URL, but what if later it moves? I might be better off bookmarking a signature of the article (a very basic form might be Author and Title).

The search engine's have a signature of articles, and if you are lucky that signature will be matched somehow against your loose search query. The success of search engines depends upon how well they order and match against your input.

To me, the question wasn't so much "does it make Youtube more succesful", but rather "does it allow people to notice patterns in the URL and deduct things useful to them from that".

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