[Mediawiki-l] How to make external links open a new window?

Rowan Collins rowan.collins at gmail.com
Wed Feb 23 13:21:55 UTC 2005

On Wed, 9 Feb 2005 14:11:18 -0800, Jan Steinman <Jan at bytesmiths.com> wrote:
> Before you snort derisively about not knowing how to use a "back"
> button, think of someone you know that can barely use a VCR -- a parent
> or grandparent, perhaps. Shouldn't we try to make the Internet as easy
> as possible for them?

The assumption you are making here, which maybe you realise, but you
haven't mentionned explicitly, is that closing the window to reveal
another "underneath" is easier ("more intuitive" as the jargon goes)
than clicking a button labelled "back" to reveal the page you've just

I'm not sure this is a safe assumption, as people tend to browse with
their windows maximised, and novice users aren't generally very aware
of the taskbar (assuming they're using Windows) as a clue to what is
still open. Consequently, they may not be aware that a new window has
openned, and that closing it will only take them "down" a layer,
rather than being what you do when you've finished everything.

What's more, I've watched people get confused because their back
button [which they *have* learnt to use] ceases to work - indeed, I do
it myself - because a new window openned without them realising [a
behaviour they have rightly *not* learned to rely on].

The best you can do to distinguish between internal and external links
is to go really over-the-top on the [CSS] styling you apply to them.
You could even, I believe, have your MediaWiki:monobook.css add the
words "[External Link]" in small red letters after every single one of
them. If people failed to notice that, they really would be beyond
your help.

Rowan Collins BSc

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