Start a topic by pasting a link (like Reddit)

We looked over the checked in work with @neil and are going to make it work this way, which I think is much simpler – it obviates the need for some categories to be “link only” as it will work everywhere the editor already works:

  1. The helper text will indicate you can type a topic title as usual, or paste a link into the title field

  1. After pasting a link, the editor will pre-build the body and title for you. So if I paste this in…

(the editor spins a bit as it issues a HTTP request and…)

  1. We auto-populate the title and body from the link that was in the title

Of course the rest of the behavior will be identical, the link should still be properly tracked in the metadata of the topic.

Is there any reason you didn’t go with this simpler design originally @fantasticfears? Am I missing something here? cc @commonpawn


When the plugin starts to develop, @commonpawn wants to prevent editing any content.

This category thing and composer change are simply preserved for the initial spec.

Hi all, excited about this!
@casperovergaard and I have a bunch of ideas and thoughts on this we would love to share with you all. We will put some thoughts together and share it here


I’m really struggling to find this feature… I don’t see anything obvious in category settings… How does this thing work?

EDIT oh I see the site settings now:

I like the suggestions you’re making here.

What about also adding a checkbox to feature the first link found in the post?

If the link is pasted in the title bar, that could be checked by default.

If not, it would appear after the first link is pasted in the body of the composer, but it would be unchecked.

This would allow the user to check it prior to posting, and give them some visual feedback of the different state they are in whether they paste the link one way or another.


I don’t know if the checkbox is needed since I think everyone would want it checked.


This way the feature can be always-default on with no configuration, as well.

As I mentioned in a different topic, Google Inbox has a similar feature. When there is an URL in the clipboard they offer the “mail link” action in email automatically, right next to the “new email” which is conceptually identical to what we’re getting to here.

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OK here’s what we have so far with the editor – paste the link into the title field as the help text indicates.

The topic list will appear as usual, with the link next to the title if it is pasted in via the title field.


This thing seems to be moving forward pretty quickly now, so the sooner you can add your extended thoughts to this the better :wink: I’m very curious to hear your perspective on this seeing as you’ve been tackling this problem live for months.

I’m now sure what to think about our latest iteration since I’ve never posted actively on any link sharing site. Transporting a link from one box to another strikes me as dodgy UX though. Sudden context switching like that certainly Makes Me Think.

We could also make it so pasting in a link in the body sets the title, too, but then you’d complain that “one box changed another box” :wink:

(Assuming the user hasn’t already entered a title, of course.)

A thought I had this morning would take this in a very different direction, but thought I’d throw it out there for consideration in the future.

What if, instead of, or in addition to, this explicit link sharing, all links shared in any post were visible in one, centralized place?

In some ways, this would be similar to how the links are displayed in the topic summary, but with a UX that looks more like the topic list.

Metadata which could be shown alongside the link or in some expanded detail-view of the link:

  • total aggregate clicks
  • references back to the posts where they were originally shared
  • who shared them
  • how many times they have been shared
  • when they were first and most recently shared

Not following, I’d need to see a mockup of the UI you are proposing? Obviously we grant badges based on link sharing and we already show click counts so we have much of that information.

Sure, I will try to put something together.

On Reddit, they opt to give you a link saying “use suggested title”. Clicking it will copy the title into the title field. But they’re quite different because they have two different “Create Topic” buttons which lead to different forms.

I don’t think we want to have a separate button for these types of topics. Also, in their “new link” form they put the link first, but we want to have the one input that can be either text or a link.


Jumping to different “box” is always unexpected no matter which box I started to fill. It also makes me wonder how could I know I am creating a topic with link? I can fill in the title and paste the link in the composer manually and then I can’t see it’s being promoted in the topic list.

I came up with a little modification in the process.
If “Type title, or paste a link here” is enough to be aware of this feature, it can also shown as a clickable text after the label.

By clicking the “with Link”, the composer can expand a little bit.

In this way, filling in title and content should be easier to understand.

How exactly does that tell you the link will be promoted? I think a simpler UI is better. Why add two extra clicks or taps?

I think the argument is that people simply will not know its an option. There is a lot of magic going on with the current design which makes it less inviting to dump links.

I think a pretty cool thing that could be done is to add a tick box on categories:

This category is exclusively used for links


  • When browsing the category you do see: new link as opposed to new topic

  • Composer becomes super minimal, no category selector, no textarea to enter body

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Eh, I am not a fan of adding more complexity and fuss here. How would a user know that oneboxing works, that pasting a link on a line by itself in the body has this special hidden behavior? Easy to learn and quite analogous.

Also I might want to add some intro text after my link why prohibit me from doing that?

Plus the prefilled text in the title says

Type title, or paste a link

Which I think is fairly clear.


I think there’s something to consider in what @sam is suggesting here. It’s how I first assumed the feature would work and went looking for a category setting I couldn’t find.

I was considering adding a “Links” category to our site to experiment with and setting it up to be “links only” and “hidden from the latest”.

This way:

  1. There’s a place for people to share interesting links without adding clutter/noise to the main listing of discussion topics.
  2. People can feel free to share links without the burdens of:
    • worrying that they are cluttering the site
    • thinking about whether they need to editorialize with extra commentary

In other categories, the behavior would be discouraged (don’t just drop a link here with nothing else).

Now, we could still try this and enforce things by convention. Maybe we will… but I’m not sure yet. If we do, then I think there will be some guidelines to train people with that the software won’t be helping to reinforce:

  1. In the links category, please paste the link in the topic title. Feel free to create the post with that content alone.
  2. In other categories, it’s discouraged to post a link by itself without any explanation of what you’re sharing or why. Posts like this will be deleted or moved by the moderators to the links category.

And I also worry if we try this, many posts in the Links category will be created without the special link icon in the topic listing for this category because people won’t understand immediately that they have to paste the link in the topic title rather than the body in order for it to show up there:

The main motivation for having the checkbox is so it would be there to allow people the check it if they posted the link in the body (as opposed to unchecking it when they post it in the title).

This line of thinking is also what led me to my other idea above, where links could be gathered in one place and displayed in a consistent manner site-wide, regardless of where they were posted. I still owe you some mock ups for that…


On every forum I visit there is a regular influx of this type of link topic across all categories. Sometimes people elaborate in the first post on what they found interesting about the article, other times they barely post more than the link and “what do ya’ll think about this?”

I think burying this in category preferences would be counterproductive. It is quite natural to start a topic with a link, across all categories, across all sites. The only point of debate is how much “extra text” one should require with a link, and people are completely capable of self regulating here in all the forums I’ve ever visited. I can’t ever recall people complaining that others were starting a bunch of link only topics to the detriment or exclusion of other types of topics.