This is from a post on the SO Blog:
So how do you share questions? I mentioned in an earlier post that we support a shorter URL form specifically for sharing:
You can access the shorter URL form using the twitter and facebook sharing icons on public beta sites, or by right-clicking and copying the link conveniently provided under each question, on any site.
To encourage this sort of sharing, there’s a certain tiny percent chance a little reminder will appear on recent hot questions, or when upvoting questions that have reached a certain vote threshold:
Don’t worry — these reminders are very infrequent by design, and limited to public betas only. They also go away forever if you hold one of the badges.
Well, recently (before I had read the post) I've been trying to share a question. I didn't plan to do it on Facebook or Twitter, so I didn't press those buttons, since I didn't know whether I'll get a chance to just copy the link before it posts it on my profile.
I did remember seeing that little dialog, and now I spent way too much time trying to recreate it, but it didn't help. When I pressed on the "link" link, nothing happened. At no point did it occur to me to right-click and copy the actual link itself.
So I think that there's a number of problems here:
- All the other links on that list (edit, close, delete, flag) provide immediate visual changes on the screen, while the "link" link merely refreshes the screen, and if you're super-observant, you might notice the slight change in the address bar. I'm not sure whether to classify this as a problem with visual affordance, consistency, predictability, meeting user expectations or all of the above.
- When the dialog does appear, it's visually connected to the "link" link, thus stating very clearly that you need to press that link to expose the dialog. Yet, "there's a certain tiny percent chance" that it will actually work - and that only in case the dialog had first appeared by itself, and you closed it. In all the other cases the user feels they're definitely doing something wrong or blame it on a bug.
- Many other places on the web provide short links or permalinks on demand, and the vast majority of them do it in plain sight, so what happens here is quite non-standard.
So, is this bad UI? Should we try to change it?
I wasn't sure whether to post this in Meta or here, but since this is after all a proper UI issue, I put it here.