I generally prefer to actually hyperlink text in my posts, instead of having the URLs stand out on their own. This is the reason hyperlinking was invented in the first place anyway, is it not?
I also like the Discourse feature which shows the number of clicks a link has received. While I don’t find it particularly useful as regular forum user, the geek in me likes the fact that this stat is easily visible.
However, in this topic on How-To Geek (and soon in here, I presume), we can see how the current implementation may not quite be the best.
Here we can see that the click counter has jumped in and interrupted the flow of text. Sure, as it’s in the single-digits now, it’s still relatively unubtrusive. But, should it ever reach the tens or hundreds (and I’m sure some more popular sites/threads could see counts upwards of a thousand), it could quickly become more of an eyesore.
At this point, it’s also worth noting that for forum links the inline counter is actually redundant - the link on the side of the post also has this information. I think it would be better if that sort of display could be used for all links in the thread, internal or not. If this cannot be gracefully implemented, then perhaps click counts for external links should be removed entirely or moved to a “click to show more details” section attached to the post.
As it is, we have a feature that does not really enhance the discussion (IMHO) but is interrupting it.