How do you feel about naked link posting?

There are a handful of people in this community, also the Discord, who post naked links. By naked links I mean someone will posts that contains a URL to an article or story, and provide little or no further commentary. I am guilty of this myself, although there are some who do it more than others. Clearly the implication is that the person posting the link found the content at the link valuable, they believe it is of interest to the people in this community, and they want to share. However, they have not gone through the trouble of explaining the reason for this sharing in their own words.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this, and I want to get some community feedback. Here are all the conflicting thoughts I’ve had about it.

As long as the links aren’t to sites that violate the Code of Conduct, and aren’t spam, what harm is there? at worst, the posts can be ignored.

I don’t want to to go down the dark path of quantitatively measuring engagement and trying to boost it. But clearly the amount of participation in these communities is low. Maybe all-time low? Even low quality naked link posts could potentially spark a discussion here or there. Getting rid of them will make it feel even less active here.

A forum is for discussion. It is not the appropriate platform for naked link sharing. That is best served by something like an RSS feed, a microblog, or a a Reddit-like. If someone isn’t starting or continuing a human conversation, this isn’t the place for it.

I presume everyone reads the Internet news in some form. Most probably don’t do it to the extent I do, but they probably have some kind of data streams they check frequently. People should be choosing their own news sources and reading what they want to read, not attempting to impose their reading choices on others. There’s a reason I filtered retweets out of my Twitter feed long ago, but many people disagreed and said they got value from retweets.

Maybe people, even lurkers, who don’t read the Internet as much as I do actually like the naked link posts. They may not respond to them, but they still find them valuable. The people posting them might have different sources and share things the other users enjoy, and would not have found if they were not shared. Our communities might be a significant portion of their information diet.

The simple thing to do would be to make a rule that any post in the communities must contain some actual ideas and thoughts from the person making the post. If someone wants to share a link, they should at least write a few sentences saying explaining what the link is, why they are sharing it, do they agree with it, how they feel about it, if they have additional thoughts on it, etc. How do people feel about such a rule?

If people really want to do link sharing, how do we feel about having a separate platform just for that? If we think that a news feed that is hand-curated by the GeekNights community as a whole would be an active and valuable resource, we can set something up for that very easily. If that existed, would you post to it and follow it on a frequent basis?


I like the idea of a curated newsletter and agree if you’re posting a link you should at least give a “here are my thoughts/feelings on this”

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I more or less agree with the proviso that meme/shitpost sharing is an obvious exception.

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Excellent point. Sharing a quality gif or meme is self-explanatory.

(And I will say that I definitely am guilty of “Oh, this is self-evident enough that I don’t need to explain anything” only for me to realize that no, it’s not)

I’m not much of an internet browsing human and almost exclusively a Discord member. I think it makes more sense to allow naked links at least there, because the channel is often enough context.

I really like the idea. I’ve been wishing for it for a long time, honestly.

I’ve basically had many of the same thoughts when I see naked links posted. Yes, there is usually the context of the thread the link is posted in. Especially when someone posts a link to a video that is long (I would say anything longer than 5 minutes, but often there are links to videos that are 30+ minutes long) with no context or explanation I wonder if it is going to be worth my time. Basically, is someone posting this “just for the record” or are they saying that this is really interesting content that they found useful and worth their time and think others would agree?

I especially agree that one of the benefits I derive from this forum is the personal analysis, whether I agree or not, rather than just being presented with random stuff from the internet a la StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, etc… I would even derive more value from a link that is posted with the comment “No further comment required” or “I enjoyed this” than a naked link.

Ok, let’s do two separate polls.

Poll 1:

How should we handle naked links?

  • Continue to allow naked links
  • Ban naked links, except for specific exceptions such as self-evident memes
  • Other

0 voters

Poll 2:

If we ban them, how should we do it?

  • A tecnical measure similar to the rule that prevents posts with less than 15 characters of text.
  • Rely on users to flag them using the existing reporting system.
  • Other

0 voters

While I’m all for encouraging fewer naked link posts, I’m not sure I’m cool with calling that a ban. That feels overly heavy-handed.

I’m even less cool with a technical solution, like the 15 character minimum limit. That limit is one of the worst user experiences of this forum software, and is easily bypassed with adding “15 characters” after them original short post. Naked links will just be shared with “posted without comment” messages, which will then render them useless.


You can also add arbitrary HTML to bypass it; at this point it’s a barrier only if you want it to be.


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The discourse link summary, which usually shows up while composing the message, is good enough for most of the links I share. If I’m forced to write something more, it’s going to be the quickest—and possibly the most boring—summary I can think of. I do usually write something if the preview isn’t working.

When I hit my Activity page, most of those summaries have no mention of what I posted because it was a bare url that got mapped into a preview, and those previews aren’t shown in that view.

The preview is good at explaining what the link is, which is of course much better than a bare URL. The problem is that it does nothing to explain why someone felt it was worth sharing. Is there value in simply sharing links? Clearly yes. But is a community discussion platform the place for that?


I wrote a quick script against my posts here since 2022. Here, I’m only showing topics I posted in more than once.

In summary, for some topics my bare link is the message: Notable Deaths, Skeletons, Things of Your Day, and War on Cars.

This is what I assumed was true, but it’s nice seeing it bear out.

Apple Day: bare: 1
Apple Day: text: 2

Cover Songs: text: 3

General Tabletop RPG Thread: bare: 1
General Tabletop RPG Thread: text: 2

Lego: text: 2

Miscellaneous Music Thread (Include a Description with your Embedded YouTube): text: 3

Neon Genesis Evangelion: bare: 1
Neon Genesis Evangelion: text: 1

Notable Deaths: bare: 5
Notable Deaths: text: 1

Skeletons: bare: 9
Skeletons: text: 2

The thread formerly known as “Weekend Coding”: bare: 1
The thread formerly known as “Weekend Coding”: text: 1

Things of Your Day: bare: 12
Things of Your Day: text: 6

War on Cars: bare: 4
War on Cars: text: 1

Why Twitter Can’t Monetize: text: 3

I’m not really a fan, but I wouldn’t ban them. Maybe it would be nice to have a dedicated thread. Useful as bookmarks, or if people are interested, but it wouldn’t clutter up all the rest with unread messages.

That’s a good point. A bare link is very appropriate in threads like Notable Deaths, Things of Your Day, and Skeletons.

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I’m a little both ways about it.

On one hand, a lot of the time, people might be posting links where they don’t have anything more to contribute about it, or it’s self evident what it’s about, especially with embeds giving titles and often subheads now. You post a link to someone’s obituary in the obituary thread, it’s redundant and unhelpful to also be required to add “So and so from this, that, and the other thing died” just to pass an arbitrary checkbox.

On the other, some links it can be useful - A twitter embed with images, for example, is worth throwing the number of images after, because twitter embeds are unreliable at showing all of them. A video might benefit from a note on length, unless it’s under five minutes - after all, posting a 30 minute video from Noah Caldwell Gervais about Wolfenstien youngblood is a very different time commitment to a seven and change hour video from him about his trip along the Lincoln Highway, even though one is no less enjoyable than the other.

I’m not sure where the line is, besides just doing what makes sense, but I think there is certainly some utility to be gained from at least a guideline, though like Luke, I don’t support an outright ban or another 15-character software rule.

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I think you have to zoom out and consider the greater picture. What is the purpose of a thread like the obituary thread? If for some reason people want to stay abreast of which notable people have passed away, there are many ways to do that which are all vastly superior to our forum thread. Are we trying to create an obituary collection? I think the newspapers and libraries have us beat on that.

Why do we have that thread? It’s so people can share their thoughts about the deceased person, no matter how positive or negative. We can grieve together if the person was good. We can party together if the person was a piece of shit.

The only reason to post in that thread is if the poster has something to contribute. And I mean something to say that comes from within themselves. As you put it “so and so from this, that, and the other thing died” is no better than a naked link. That information is all contained at the link itself, and probably will show up in the embed. None of it is any content that comes from the heart or the mind of the person writing the post.

Adding some amount of non-URL text is not enough in my eyes for a link to qualify as no longer naked. The way I see it, the poster must write something that comes from within themselves, however brief. For example: “I once met person X when they made a public appearance. I remember Y happened there. I was there with my best friend Z, and it was a special memory for us. We will always remember person X.”

Way way back in the day in the old forum we would strictly police people’s grammar and spelling. Although I now see that idea was extremely flawed and discriminatory in many ways, the idea behind it was that someone shouldn’t post something in the forum unless they care enough about it to edit and proofread their own words. If it’s not worth the poster’s time to proofread, then it’s not worth the reader’s time to read it.

Similarly, I don’t think a rule against naked links is an arbitrary checkbox for people to just put a little bit of text so that their comment is published. I see it as a warning to suggest to the person maybe they shouldn’t post at all in the first place. If it’s just a link, or maybe a short summary that adds nothing new, then maybe it’s best if they don’t share it at all.

Only if a person has something to say that comes from within themselves should they be making a post in the first place.

Even if it’s something as simple as a very short video in the TotD thread, a person should be able to articulate why they enjoy it and found it worthy of being shared. If they won’t or can’t do that, why should I bother following their link? Why should we host their link on our web site?

There’s also the introspective angle. If a person is sharing a naked link, I would love for them to pause and think to themselves, why are they sharing it? It is just compulsive? Reflexive? Do they truly see value in the thing being shared? If they do, then they should be able to put it into at least a few words.

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Honestly I think you need to have lower expectations on what people want from this forum. I like the more in-depth discussions, sure, but I find loads of value in the short comments and naked links people share.

For many threads, just seeing the name of who posted it is enough to know if I’m going to click it or not, and what people share reveals all kinds of things about them, what they like, what excites them, just what they spend their time doing, their hobbies, etc.

That’s enough to get to know people, and that helps build a sense of community. It’s welcoming, and with all the other other barriers to entry of this forum, not overloading the most enthusiastic participants with new rules and expectations will keep them coming back.

It’s your forum, but please consider the experiences of people who acknowledge that humans have feelings, and that feelings are real.