"Oneboxing" and quote preview integration with other Q&A and Wiki-like platforms

I think we should be able to quote or link to posts in a nice Onebox (rich link preview) from other platforms, namely forks of Codidact, SE but also sites like Wikipedia, Quora, Yahoo Answers, Gamepedia, Fandom and similar Q&A and wikia platforms.

By the way, here’s a url which looks like this https://meta.discourse.org/t/what-is-a-onebox/78060 to a discourse post explaining what a Onebox is, but because we’re on a discourse-based forum, it converts into a nice onebox:


To help other people find this topic through search: Other platforms refer to this behavior of expanding external links inline as a “link preview”, an “embed”, an “unfurl” (Discord), or a “card” (Twitter). The text and image in the preview is often derived from the contents of <meta> elements following the Open Graph protocol or the Twitter Cards spec.

I’m not yet comfortable with the term “onebox” for this functionality because it sounds like the opposite of “multiboxing,” which in online video games refers to playing multiple characters, one on each of several computers.

I imagine that not every user will want to see unfurls. One user on a Game Boy-related Discord server doesn’t like unfurls:

can you please delete the MASSIVE link previews
Discord is really annoying with that [expletive]

I directed him to Discord’s Settings > Text & Images > Show website preview info where a user can turn off unfurls. I’d consider adding a similar user setting to Codidact.

I also imagine that spammers could abuse it. One of the larger Discord servers I’m in disabled unfurls in most channels because a few bad actors were using it to self-promote and crapflood. Might it be tied to trust level, so as not to expand them by default until the user has more positively received questions or answers than negatively received ones?


I’m not sure it is a good idea for the Q&A format.

Generally questions and answers should be self-contained; automatically previewing text from the linked page would encourage to treat that text (which may change later!) as part of your answer.

An obvious idea would be to actually include the preview data in the stored answer (so that the box actually contains a saved snapshot of the preview), but that could lead to copyright issues (from my non-lawyer understanding, if the poster explicitly adds content from the linked place, he’s the one potentially violating copyright, but if the site does it automatically, the site owner — that is, us — may be liable).


Large unfurling of a onebox (especially with images) is often undesirable. Vertical space in many systems is at a premium.

However, oneboxing is essential for sharing content in the modern web. Be it on twitter, discord, slack. or even SE’s chat system - being able to see the headline and first bit of the content is much more useful to see (set expectations and draw a person into) than a bare link.

Discourse does oneboxing much better than SE does (linking to an answer in Discourse will unfurl that answer while linking to an SE page - be it comment, question or answer always displays the question.

A bit on developing for slack and unfurling: https://medium.com/slack-developer-blog/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-unfurling-but-were-afraid-to-ask-or-how-to-make-your-e64b4bb9254 … and Medium doesn’t have the information presented in a way that Discourse can use… but in slack I see:

Everything you ever wanted to know about unfurling but were afraid to ask /or/ How to make your…
Let’s start with the most obvious question first. This is what an “unfurl” is:
Reading time
10 min read

… and that is useful.

This isn’t so much (as I understand it) about having content onebox/unfurl on the site being developed, but rather making sure that the site that is developed presents itself better than raw links when used on various other social sites.

And even if it is that (and I’ve misunderstood some things - quite possible)… unfurling is only presenting what the site presents too. A link is not copyright infringement. Some reading on the matter: http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/linking-copyrighted-materials

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