Jeffrey Zeldman, a well known author on Web Standards comments in his journal on the ratio between users clicking or simply reading over a link, when they read an article or paragraph online. Interestingly a lot of people, 4 out of 5, would read or skim a link without actually clicking and following the link further, he shows this by making references to the statistics of users clicking on his website.
This is a particularly interesting discussion as it brings up several things which are noticeably affecting readers (users) today more and more.
Firstly, is the readability relationship between Offline and Online reading (a much documented area), secondly the changes in reading speed from offline and online writing, and finally more importantly, the new changes in the reading styles and speeds in relation to new genres of online writing, such as Weblogs, Journals in comparison to more existing Newspapers and other forms of online Periodicals.
While reading a recent entry in Ole Eichhorn’s W=UH Critical Section site, there was an interesting link to an article by Steven Den Beste on Blogrolling and his distinction between ‘linkers’ (bloggers who’s posts are centered around links to other blogs) and ‘thinkers’ (bloggers who write articles with original content themselves).
These days, there are more and more people “skimming” text online (extracting information quickly) rather than actually reading, examples of this is seen in the study by Jakob Nielsen on readability and writing for the Web. Both articles bring up an interesting discussions – I agree with what Zeldman is saying (on early observation only), that “on daily periodicals (such as blogs) that provide on-page comment forms, you can tell that some commenters have not read or seen the linked piece that gave rise to the original post. They are responding to the blurb, not to the thing it describes.”