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On this question, the question came up what's the recommended practice for linking cards...

  • link only the first instance, and text-only references to the card name for all following mentions
  • link every single instance of the card

The way I've seen it done most often is to link all cards, which (as in the question referenced above) tends to make the post more useable, and more easily identify text from card names. However on other platforms such as Wikipedia, the recommended practice is to only link the first instance within given reason.

Should MTG card links be added to more than the first instance of the card name?

  • Can you link to an example of a question (other than the one you edited) in which every instance of every card name is linked? I don't believe that this is what I've generally seen, or how I have generally edited posts. – murgatroid99 Jul 17 '17 at 20:03
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  • @murgatroid99: The very related link Jefromi posten (and the question linked within) aside, I'm actually having trouble finding examples, whereas the practice of linking exactly the first instance and nothing else is overwhelmingly omnipresent, making me doubt my initial impression. I suppose I picked up habit on a few posts I've seen one after another a while ago, giving me the impression of being the way to go... – TheThirdMan Jul 17 '17 at 20:27
  • @TheThirdMan or perhaps others are editing out the extra links as was mentioned by Gendolkari in the linked question? – Malco Jul 17 '17 at 20:41
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    @Malco: Possibly, but either way, it's the dominant practice by a great margin now that I look at it. – TheThirdMan Jul 17 '17 at 20:44
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I am more in favour of only Linking the first instance of the card as per Wikipedia standards.

One thing that I find when looking at questions or answers that have every instance of a card linked, is that all the blue can get a little visually overwhelming. I find it is a lot easier to accidentally miss a link if there are a lot in a question or answer. I believe that it is a better idea to link cards only once, so that each link stands out better individually.

Additionally I believe that additional links is just duplicating information, as in if you clicked the link the first time it is unlikely that you will need to click it again. Though it might be handy to have the link there to click if you skipped it the first time around. I think it will be easy enough to go back and find it if you have to, if there are less links overall.

As far as I understand the choice of linking every time, or just the first time is probably pretty dependent on personal preference. But there is some reasoning behind when to duplicate and when not to duplicate links out there.

Edit: As per the comments I think best course of action is to use your common sense. Try to reduce the number of duplicated links as much as possible, but if linking the card again makes for a better reader experience then go for it. This shouldn't be a hard and strictly enforced rule, more just a guideline for better readability.

  • Just my 2cents, it would probably be worth getting some of the more active MTG users to contribute since they are the ones that it will affect the most. – Malco Jul 17 '17 at 20:03
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    Note that the Wikipedia standards do leave room for extra links when it'll help (e.g. infoboxes, separate from the main flow), so I'd say here, use your best judgment. If you're repeating the name a bunch (You attack with your X, they block with their Y, you activate X's ability, giving X double-strike, ...) then it's obviously excessive, but if it's in very different parts of the answer, far enough apart that the reader might've missed or forgotten the previous link, maybe it's helpful. – Cascabel Jul 17 '17 at 20:20
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    @Jefromi I guess like most things it boils down to "Try to do X, but use your common sense". Though it is handy to have a meta post in case someone wants to know the generally accepted practice. – Malco Jul 17 '17 at 20:44
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    To clarify, are you proposing only linking the first instance on the page, or per question/answer? – JonTheMon Jul 17 '17 at 23:31
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    @JonTheMon: Personally, I'd say per question/answer. Due to search engine and anchor link redirections to specific answers, it makes little sense to assume that any reader will start at the top of the page. – TheThirdMan Jul 18 '17 at 6:21
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    @TheThirdMan Agreed, good answers should be able to stand on their own if possible anyway. – Malco Jul 18 '17 at 13:15
  • Normally I'd say if it's been a page or two, an extra link is rather welcome. I hate scrolling up to the top to click on something I've now decided to further research. That said, if your answer is more than a page or two, you might want to Pascalify it. Also, when making a list of cards, I'd repeat the link so someone can middle click down the list. – corsiKa Jul 25 '17 at 21:33
  • @corsiKa does have a point. There are times where some questions or answers do take a lot of text, particularly those that involve the interaction of a lot of rules which are copped into the answer. We may not want to discourage relinking cards once we get to that point, particularly considering users on the mobile app will see less content at a time and will need to scroll back quite a ways to find the link again. – Andrew Jan 15 '18 at 17:17
  • @Andrew feel free to use your better judgement when writing or editing the "one link per instance" is more of a style guideline, no one is going to yell at you if you link more than once and it makes sense. That said in regards to multiple page answers, those should be few and far between in the first place, so you should treat those as a special case from the get go. – Malco Jan 15 '18 at 17:47
  • @Malco True, though I do have a few answers that are long text walls, if you need three rules that is alot of text, and that's on top of explaining the significance of each, plus I've had questions asking how to deal with a situation and laid out all the options for handling it, like my answer to this. – Andrew Jan 15 '18 at 17:50
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I'd encourage us to adopt a style of "link only the first time, but feel free to break this rule if it aids comprehension to do so."

Like, if you mention a card once and then mention it in a different context four paragraphs later, linking to it again is no big deal. Because readers might forget about the card's little details by the time they get to the second reference, or skim to the part of the answer that seems most relevant to them. That's not a link anyone should remove for the sake of making the site "more proper."

However, linking every single instance is likely to overload the reader, as Malco points out, and it actually gets in the way of understanding by making it harder to recognize "oh, I just read about these two cards already two sentences ago, only this third card is a new thing I have to look at."

That means that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, you're probably going to only link once. Since most of our answers aren't, like, ten paragraph essays. (Some, however, are ten-paragraph essays.)


For example, if you've got a decklist, it makes sense to linkify all of them instead of going through to identify which are first references. E.g.

"Why is Jace, the Mind Sculptor, banned in a bunch of formats?"

[paragraph of text discussing CawBlade] Note the interaction of Jace's Brainstorm-like ability with other cards, like Squadron Hawks, which can functionally turn "draw 3, replace 2" into a pure "draw 3."

[later on, you present a modern-day Legacy Countertop/Miracles list to explain how JTMS holds up even in an environment where average card power is amazingly high so the rest of the deck doesn't need filler just to make Jace better]

Spells:

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    +1 I'm on board with this. Linking to every instance is definitely unnecessary, but there have been times I've felt it's totally necessary to link to a card for the second time for contextual reasons, so I dislike the idea of disallowing that. – doppelgreener Jul 25 '17 at 13:17
  • +1 this makes sense to me, basically just a better written version of what I was trying to say :p – Malco Jul 26 '17 at 13:26

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