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Archive: 12 June 2008

Linking Up

The href everywhere” document (which is officially titled “HTML5: More Flexibile Linking”) has been updated, so kindly give it another look and challenge my assertions, use cases (or lack thereof), and any weak points.  Unless you consider the whole idea of extending linkability to be a weak point, in which case, never mind.  You may or may not be right, but attacking the whole premise isn’t going to get much traction.  I’m convinced the general idea is a good one.  Now it’s up to me to make the best case for it and convince implementors that I’m right.

Thanks to comments on the previous post in the series, a few elements were added to the list of those which have plausible use cases, and I added some documentation of the elements that either aren’t on the list or don’t need to be on it at the end.  Eventually, the “Possible Additions” section will disappear entirely, and at that point I’ll be ready to submit it for consideration to the Working Group.

There are a few outstanding questions raised by commenters on the previous post:

  1. Is there a reasonable case for linking any of ul, ol, or dl?  In cases where they represent quotations of other documents, they’re be wrapped in a blockquote anyway, and I’ve already got a use case for that one.  Linking li makes sense, but the whole list?  There are also questions about dd—would it make sense to allow linking to the paired dd?—but I don’t see a use case for dd.  The whole point there is it’s supposed to be the definition, not a shortened reference to a longer definition.

  2. I was persuaded of the utility of linking video, my previous uncertainty having been based in a misunderstanding of how click-this-video worked now, but what about audio?  I haven’t noticed it being common to link embedded audio clips to other sources, but maybe I’m missing something.

  3. Can a table have multiple thead, tbody, or tfoot elements?  If so, linking them starts to make more sense.  I only wish I could find the part of the HTML5 draft that answers this one way or the other. In a like vein, I can’t decide if it makes more sense to add linking to caption or table.  I’m kind of tending toward the former.  Anyone have good arguments either way?

  4. Should embed and object have direct linking, or is that better handled with already-extant markup patterns?  (If so, using param, I would imagine.)

  5. Is there a reason to link a whole pre to some other resource, other than linking part of a program to a codebase?  Because in those cases, I’d probably use the <pre><code>...</code></pre> pattern, and link the code element.  pre is a presentational element, really, and you’ll note that I haven’t proposed adding linking to just about any of the presentation elements, sup and sub being the exceptions.

  6. There’s a list of “(Possibly) Unsuitable Elements” near the end of the document that might bear some review in case I’m missing some obvious use cases.  Obvious to someone other than me, I mean.

Let me know what you think!  I’m definitely moving forward with this, as I’ve received encouragement from a member of the HTML WG,  but I’d like the proposal to be as solid as possible before I do so.  Thanks for everyone’s help!

Excerpts Exacted; Shielding the Admin

In response to my request, the indomitable Hamish Macpherson has created NeverForgetcerpt, a plugin for WordPress 2.5+ that will warn you if you’re about to publish a post that lacks an excerpt.  I’m already using it on meyerweb and it’s working like a charm.  He’s also expressed interest in the idea of a plugin that does that and also warns you if you forgot to add tags or categories, so stay tuned.  Meantime, all hail Hamish!

I have another plugin request, but in this case I’m looking for help in modifying something I’ve already done.  Or half-done, maybe.

I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of comment spam.  As I type this sentence, Akismet has stopped 837,806 spam attempts in total.  A false positive makes it past Akismet and my other defenses to land in the moderation queue about once every four days, on average.

Some of those false positives are really, really, really easy to spot, and they get marked as spam in order to help improve the recognition algorithms.  Others are hard to evaluate just by looking at the comment.  Many are trackbacks from sites in langauges I can’t read, and others that I can read look legit enough.  In such cases, I usually go visit the author’s URL to see if it looks spammy or not.

Now, the way I used to do this was to right-click on the blog link, copy the URL of the target, open a new browser tab, and paste the URL into the address bar.  Why?  To prevent my WP admin URL from landing in the referer logs of a potentially unscrupulous site owner.  But sometimes I forget to do all that, and just click.  I figured, well, why not stop fighting the tendency to just click and write a plugin that routes all outbound links through a redirect service?

So I did.  You can grab it for yourself if you want, but if you do, understand that it’s pretty clunky right now.  Which is the part I’d like help fixing.

The heart of the plugin is simplicity itself:

if (is_admin_page()) {
	add_filter('get_comment_author_url','_mw_obscurify',5);
}

function _mw_obscurify($url) {
	if ($url) return 'http://google.com/url?q=' . $url;
}

There’s a little more to it than that (specifically, the routine is_admin_page(), which I got from someone else’s plugin and wish now I could remember whose it was) but that’s the core.  So any time the URL of a comment author is fetched, it’s prepended to turn it into a Google redirect.

That’s true for both href values and displayed URLs, though, which is the clunky part.  The end result is that on comments from the aforementioned mighty Hamish, for example, I get the following markup on the “Comments” page:

<a href="http://google.com/url?q=http://hamstu.com">

http://google.com/url?q=http://hamstu.com</a>

What I’d very much prefer is:

<a href="http://google.com/url?q=http://hamstu.com">

http://hamstu.com</a>

Or even:

<a href="http://google.com/url?q=http://hamstu.com">
hamstu.com</a>

So what I’d like to know is if there’s any way to make that happen short of rewriting and replacing get_comment_author_url, which I’d prefer not to do since it could change in future versions of WordPress and I’m not particularly interested in turning a basic plugin into a continuing maintenance headache.  I mean, I will if absolutely necessary, but I’d like to find a better way if there is one.  Thus the request for help.

Also, are there better redirect strategies than using Google the way I have?  It’s very slightly annoying that I have to click through the Google redirect page, and though I absolutely understand why they do that, I’d love to find an automatic redirect that wouldn’t expose my referer to the target site.  Anyone know of one, or have a related sharp idea?

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