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Example: (questions' title here are an example indeed)

You're in ux.stackexchange, reading the question Links in a page pointing to same page? (as in Stack Exchange questions' title) You can follow us on Twitter.

I often see content that offer links to itself (not referring to links in navs, side bars and pointing to other part of the same page, but in the content itself) and I can't imagine why it could be useful apart from obtaining the functionality of a link, which allows you to:

  • Copy the URL with right click more easily than triple click the URL bar and then Ctrl+C or rightClick+Copy, thus making sharing easier.
  • Open it in a new tab with middle button (which I don't think is a common use at all)

Maybe these are the only uses and due to its lack of harm, there's no reason not to keep them.

So, what's the real purpose of this? Are there other situations when this could be useful/harmful?

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    Well, the header for this question points to this very page. And on topic, you're not talking about anchor links pointing at certain sections of the same page? – locationunknown Aug 4 '15 at 12:28
  • @locationunknown You're right, I've forgot about that example. And no, I'm asking about links which make you leave the page (and then enter again). – Alejandro Veltri Aug 4 '15 at 12:35
  • pretty sure this can never be useful. We have it on some pages on our sites where I work and when we find them we add them to the backlog of things to fix. It happens a lot online weirdly. Maybe it's helpful if information is pulled into other sites with an iframe or something as it links back to the source? I'm interested to see if someone comes up with a good reason for them – Chris Aug 4 '15 at 13:11
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    I think at least for this site it is just to make it easier to share the question. You can see in the bottom just above the answer box it says "Know someone who can answer? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook." With "question" being another link here. So like you said you can then copy it easily. Once they implemented that they probably just did the same for the title. – DasBeasto Aug 4 '15 at 13:30
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    @rewobs Yah I figured that was your implication, and thats just my 2 cents for this site. I certainly don't know why many sites do this I never realized before this question. Good question – DasBeasto Aug 4 '15 at 13:38
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As explained in the comments already, the fragment identifier (the part after the # in a URL) can be used to link to an element within a page. In this case it can be useful to link to "the whole page" from within the page itself.

Apart from that I am pretty confident that there are is no "real purpose", but there are technical purposes. When putting together the page on the server, the context (i.e. the URL) for the content is not always know in that place of the code. This limitation can be unintentional, but it can also be intentionally designed to increase performance and minimize complexity in the code.

  • On sites like SX there can be a number of URLs pointing all to the same page. That’s not limited to hash-anchors. Here, for instance, removing the title from the URL, leaving just the numeric ID, would still resolve. Self-links can be useful to promote the canonic address. – Crissov Jan 6 '16 at 23:07
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I find it useful if I want to copy the title of a blogpost with its URL and paste it into a wysiwyg editor.

Example: I am writing a blogpost in WordPress and want to link to other blogposts about the the same topic. If I go to the blogpost, I can highlight the title and the HTML will get copied too. It saves having to copy the title and the URL separately.

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Wikipedia recommends self links in two cases, one doesn't apply to Stack Overflow and the other isn't a self link. So basically Wikipedia certainly wouldn't recommend them for SE.

I think however it might be used as the Permalink to the page. The interwebs cared more about these when SO was first created.

Permanence in links is desirable when content items are likely to be linked to, from, or cited by a source outside the originating organization.

...

Permalinks frequently consist of a string of characters which represent the date and time of posting, and an identifier which denotes the author who initially authored the item or its subject. Crucially, if an item is changed, renamed, or moved within the internal database, its permalink remains unaltered, as it functions as a magic cookie which references an internal database identifier. If an item is deleted altogether, its permalink can frequently not be reused.

It's typical that you actually include a permalink as a link on the page.

If I'm copying links from SO or and SE site into the code I'm writing I usually like to use the full URL rather than the share URL as it contains the text of the question so that I don't have to click on the link in my code when I come back to it.

So I just use it in the first case you suggest which is to allow right-click and copy when I'm just in the flow of using the mouse rather than the keyboard.

Also the link is useful as occasionally when I'm editing my answer based on a comment, you can't see the comments, then I just middle click on the title to open the question in a separate tab.

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This may be an artifact of component based design/development. When you build and app from reusable components there are sometimes feature like this that are not harmful in any way and have a cost to fix. These items will always be prioritised low in backlog and never get dealt with.

One obscure/rare use is opening in a new tab or copying the link. Users may distribute the link more readily if they can copy the link from the title rather than using the address bar. We'd need to see some analysis to prove that though.

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I think you're referring to the 'permalink' with the title of the page (generally as a Header tag) as the anchor. Although that doesn't serve much purpose from UX POV or sharing POV (too many 3rd party tools help achieve that), it has a direct relation to SEO.

  • could you explain what the relationship to SEO is? – Yvonne Aburrow Dec 7 '15 at 15:43

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