Link, hyperlink, hotlink?

Subject: Link, hyperlink, hotlink?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 29 Mar 2002 13:56:38 -0500


Catherine Ednie wonders: <<I've always preferred to use the term link when
describing text you can click on to jump to another area. In our
documentation, we also have hyperlink (and hyper-link) and hot link (or
hot-link). Is there any justification for using these terms instead of just
plain link?>>

There's always a justification for specific terminology, but whether that
justification really means anything to the reader is another story. <g> In
many cases, applying such adjectives relates more to a description of the
underlying technology than to user needs, and in those cases, the adjectives
are superfluous. The same could be said of situations in which the link
behavior doesn't appear significantly different to the user.

The adjectives only become truly useful when you need them to alert the
reader to a change in behavior, and in that situation, I don't feel that
"hot" or "hyper" conveys any useful information to the average reader. (Nor
to me, for that matter.) If there's a change in link behavior, you may need
to come up with better words to describe them. For example, you might need
to distinguish between clickable links (which take you somewhere) and
unclickable cross-references (which might need to be copied and pasted into
a browser to activate the link), though that's likely more a case of bad
design.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada

"When ideas fail, words come in very handy."--Goethe

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