Hyperlinking Jihad!

Hypertext links must not be used as inline commentary. Where links are provided, the rendered content of the link (e.g. the highlighted text) shall describe the target of the link. This description may be direct; it may be oblique. Nouns referring to web pages or their contents may be linked directly to those pages. Phrases referring to the action described in web pages may be linked to those pages. Table-of-contents material, site-navigation features, link farms and favorites lists: theses are acceptable uses of linking. Keyword definitions, footnotes, jumps to the first use of a given concept: these links expand upon or intensify that which falls between the A and the /A. They are all acceptable.

But there is to be no more snide commentary through the attachment of a link to what is and remains body text. There are to be no more words in which every letter references a different site. Other web sites will not be mocked by linking to them from random words of disdain. Paragraphs will not be broken by a stream of random discolorations of unrelated words whose links have been assembled solely to demonstrate the excessive erudtion of the linker and his tone of sarcastic superiority. Such links advance nothing, they contribute not at all to the argument whose text they cannibalize for their anchors. To create inscruitable links and leave their targets to be displayed in the status bar -- this is to insult the autonomy and the intelligence of the reader. There are other and more effective ways of making the points these parasitic links try to make, ways that are not forever undercutting themselves. There is a time for irony, and a time to refrain from irony, and linking now requires the exercise of this restraint. The limited potential of ironic linking has been exhausted, and it is high time to do better. Linking deserves to be dealt with as the powerful rhetorical device it is; irony cries out to be turned against more richly deserving targets.

I accept the terms of this statement of purpose, and I renounce the use of ironic linking. I have engaged in such linking in the past, and I accept that I was wrong to have done so. My only excuse is that I shall atone for my past actions by my future ones. Our work stretches out before us, and we must boldly link to it, not shy from the task by speaking one thing with our words and another with our links. There will be time enough for irony once we have navigated to those far pages.