Re: External Link (Was: Spiral symbol)

From: Mark E. Shoulson <>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2013 20:55:01 -0500

On 01/31/2013 08:36 PM, Asmus Freytag wrote:
> Mark,
> in my view, the key aspect of the notice cited by Debbie, is the
> rejection of an "external link" semantic, which would act as a kind of
> generic code and could be rendered in many different ways.

Fair enough, I guess. I think we've done some of these, but I
understand the reluctance to encourage the practice.

> Instead, the notice leaves open a request to standardize a particular
> shape, which then could be used as external link symbol by anyone
> wishing to use that particular shape for that purpose.
> I happen to believe that the UTC got that one right, but I do see room
> for encoding a particular shape, if there's a user community behind
> it. whether based on passive evidence or preferably, in my view,
> active support.

I weakly disagree; I think it should have been encoded. But the points
against it are important too. A quick check of Google images (search
for "external link" or "external link icon", select "Search Tools" and
under Size choose "icon". Yes, this description was shorter than the
link that results.) brings back a nice fleet of images. By far most of
them are the Wikipedia-style box-with-NE-arrow-coming-out.

    Passive evidence is usually the preferred method for support, but in
    this case you may well run into a chicken and egg problem, unless
    you can find, say, a significant set of PDF documents where actual
    glyphs were used.

There is certainly a chicken-and-egg issue in terms of seeing use. The
rejection notice includes the rationale that most sites are doing fine
with images--well, yes, because they don't have characters! That's
really not a fair reason to reject. But the symbol, at least in that
one basic layout, is quite widespread outside of Wikipedia. Follow back
to the pages of some of those icons and you'll see.

So if a generic "external link" symbol isn't acceptable, I definitely
see reason for at least the adoption of box-with-arrow, possibly
*called* EXTERNAL LINK or something.

Received on Thu Jan 31 2013 - 19:56:19 CST

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