Disable Link Tracking

As many of you are probably aware, Discourse tracks which links are clicked on to display a count next to them. In my experience, this causes more harm than good:

  • It breaks URLs because now they have "forums.swift.org" junk in front of them
  • It breaks websites you navigate to (for example, GitHub doesn't show star counts for repositories)
  • It breaks Force Touch in Safari, causing the main page to redirect instead of showing the website in a popover
  • Navigation occasionally fails with an error like "App is offline" or similar
  • It tracks what you click, which some people may find objectionable

How do others feel about this? Is it just me that's annoyed be these?

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I think the click tracking is unnecessary and I don't understand what the point is. That said, I'm not seeing any of the other issues you mention in any browser or platform. The URLs aren't prepended with forums.swift.org, it doesn't break stars on GitHub or the peek preview in Safari, etc. Hovering over URLs shows a normal link, and so does right clicking and copying the link address. Do you have some part of your browser disabled (JavaScript?) or an ad blocker or similar?

I have JavaScript turned on, and I see this behavior even when turning ad blockers off.

Yes, but actually clicking on the link will cause navigation to a forums.swift.org/whatever… link. Peeking in Safari works until I lift my finger from the trackpad, which causes the preview to disappear and the page to go to the new website.

Ah, right, I see what you're talking about now. I always open links in a new tab so I hadn't seen it, if it happens there also. I still don't see the various issues that you're talking about, though. It goes to https://forums.swift.org/clicks/track?url=etc then redirects to the real URL almost instantly, for me. I'm not clear on what behaviour you are seeing, though.

I'm not getting a redirect at all. It just stays on the https://forums.swift.org/clicks/track?url=etc URL unless I manually reload.

For the Swift forum? No point at all.

As a general Discourse thing it's used for awarding certain badges. But we don't have badges enabled on this site (thankfully) so I'm pretty sure there's no point at all to having the tracking here.

I find the link counters to be useful indicators of activity. It exposes drive-by replies, where people comment without reading through the linked source material.

FWIW I don’t see any of the issues @saagarjha reported.

FWIW, I believe link tracking also enables the “popular links” feature in the thread summary. (In this case it’s a shame the ping HTML attribute didn’t make it, since it would make the whole process much less cumbersome.)

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Is this really an issue you've been faced with? These sort of comments tend to be relatively rare on Swift Forums in my experience (unless it's just me who's doing it ;), and I've just been annoying everyone else here).
Even if this was an issue, though, how does the link tracking help resolve it? Are you going to not going to drive-by reply because you're scared that others will see that you didn't read the linked material? Will you call out people who don't click on links? How do you know they didn't just ⌘+click it? I'm not seeing the benefit you're proposing here.

Focus on positive aspect then! When you look at the latest voting on evolution proposal, you can see how many people opened the spec. I find that helpful. For me this feature is very well worth it. I was trying to provide positive feedback, my initial formulation of the benefit fell short of that intent.

I do agree that there are positives: it provides a quick way to judge engagement in a proposal and, for readers, provides a quick way to judge whether a link might be worth clicking on. What I'm saying, however, is that I feel the drawbacks outweigh the negatives. Seeing as you're not experiencing many of these, I guess for you this is a net positive. Maybe there's something we can do to fix the issues I'm experiencing rather than removing link tracking completely?

FWIW, I'm seeing these issues too, including the fact that opening in a new tab works around the issue.

@sam.saffron are you aware of issues like this?

hmmm not heard of any particular issues, though it is a fairly tricky feature so it is possible edge cases exist.

I am unable to repro any issues with peak though on my iPhone X with either "open in new tab" enable or disabled.

Is there anything specific you can repro now that I can look at?

I don't have an iPhone with 3D Touch, so I can't comment there, but this happens all the time on Safari on my Mac. I have "open links in a new tab" disabled.

It's working for me on one machine's Safari and broken on another, so now I have to go figure out how the two machines are configured differently…

Anyway, I find the feature distracting and meaningless, so I'd be happy if it were turned off even if it didn't cause problems. (No offense to those who implemented it!) But maybe that's just me.

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