Change behaviour of square brackets without link text

+5 votes
When people put square brackets around URLs, with no link text, the default behaviour is to turn it into a numerical index. This causes a bunch of problems, in cases where there are also numbered references... the indexes can conflict, and then you end up with all sorts of hard-to-interpret mess. It's also a problem, semantically, because there's often no indication of what the link is supposed to be, until you click on it.

Unfortunately, for some reason, lots and lots of people stick square brackets around all their urls by default, and have no idea about link text. It's hard to explain why not to do it, and hard to get them to change their behaviour, and hard to go around and clean up all these links.

I'd love it if, instead of turning a link into a clickable index, we could just display the full, clickable, url if there is no link text in the square bracket. This would solve all of the problems I described above.

Is this possible? Would other people like to see this?
in WikiTree Tech by Brad Foley G2G6 Mach 4 (48.7k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

1 Answer

+4 votes
Brad, I don't know if it's possible, but doubt that it is, because using single brackets for an external link is part of the wikicode markup language.

I understand that people not adding the text they want to be "hot" to the link has all the bad things about it that you mention and I also realize that it is found here fairly frequently.  In spite of that, my opinion is that the best solution is for people to understand that particular code and how it works when they use it.  If they can't do it correctly then I would prefer to see it not used at all and at least the URL would show as the link then.

Perhaps it would be possible for an error check to be added for this, which could at least put it on the suggestion list and the data doctors could then fix these links.
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (910k points)
That was kind of what I thought? But I was hoping we could add some conditional behaviour to the default markup ... I don't know exactly how it's implemented.

The idea of another error check is pretty good, though!

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