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How Many People Don't Understand Links?

Elliot Temple:

Benedict Evan's tech newsletter seems to believe many (tech-interested!) readers don’t know what links are, and can’t recognize them, without the “Link” label:

i wonder if that’s an issue with FI newsletter

Justin Mallone:

My reactions in order

1) that can't possibly be a significant issue, can it?

2) you should test it

Elliot Temple:

there’s no good way to test. 280 newsletter ppl. suppose 5% don’t understand links. that’s only 14 ppl. these ppl are less engaged than avg, presumably by a lot. so maybe 3 open the test newsletter, and maybe none of them would have clicked any links today even if they knew how

however, by similar logic, it’s not that big a deal

plus i have in fact explained how links work in at least one newsletter

plus there are sometimes more obvious links to clue ppl in who aren’t TOTALLY lost

like maybe they will realize “Buy now” is a link

and from that learn what all the other links look like

if they are too dumb for that, well, i am not planning to do ALL my links as a post-sentence “Link” text just for the small minority of my worst subscribers

even if it’s like 50% of subscribers … are they really the kind of ppl who matter to me and understand anything i say?

and do they know how to buy things online? or join an email group? or even post a blog comment? zzzzzz

or share the newsletter with their friends? you know by sending them a link? or forwarding an email?

i’m still curious how widespread a problem it is. i bet more than .01%. hard to get a good estimate tho

lots of ppl are really, really bad at things

ppl “forget” they can google things

that is partially a skills issue

a lack of understanding of the very basics of the internet

ppl also seem to DISLIKE links, in many contexts. which i think is partly skills. not, primarily, failure to know what a link is. but instead things like: being bad at using the Back button, getting lost online easily, and fear of going to a malware or scam site and being unable to recognize it

and just generally being bad at understanding what’s going on on a new website they haven’t been to before, b/c they aren’t familiar with standard layouts, and they don’t know how to recognize if it IS a standard layout or not, or otherwise quickly figure out what to make of it (including accurately knowing when to judge it as a bad site and just leave)


Elliot Temple on July 30, 2018

Comments (1)

I click links on topics that interest me. I am not lazy about clicking links.


FF at 4:46 AM on August 9, 2018 | #10595 | reply | quote

What do you think?

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