New ways of linking
We started a trial this week on the website of a different way of linking from within the body of news stories to related background material - our own and other people's.
There's an early example on this story:
The trial will last for about four weeks, for technical reasons is confined for now to the UK edition of the site (which you can select from the left hand side navigation) and is designed to gather your feedback and help us work out the editorial and practical implications of linking in this way from stories.
Linking to relevant background obviously isn't anything new on the site - we've always done it, mostly from the right-hand side of story pages, where we put our own related links, external ones and often a "Newstracker" box listing other news sources. We also do it regularly from textboxes within the main story.
As a rule though we haven't embedded links throughout the text, except for example when listing web sources or in diary-type pages, and of course we do it in our blogs. One of the reasons is we don't want to interrupt a news story by sending the reader off the page in the middle of a sentence.
The idea of the system we are trying out now (called Apture) is that it shows the related content in a smaller window within the same page, whilst also being quick and simple for the journalists to add. So it's a way of testing whether we can make background content quicker and easier to add, find and access, without getting in the way of those readers who don't want to be distracted by it. And it's part of our ongoing work to improve people's experience on the site in general.
For the trial we're linking to our own content as well as relevant external sources, including Wikipedia articles, YouTube and Flickr content. We wanted to include these sources because they promote sharing of content, have a huge array of material of potential editorial relevance, are technically easy to work with and also we wanted to gauge your thoughts about us linking to these user generated sources.
We're not taking an exclusive approach to which sources we link to, the whole idea is to try out and develop a system that is flexible enough for pretty much anything. If you get time to have a look, let us know what you think - there's a feedback button on each link.