I currently use external link icons on my blog, by way of an external links plugin for WordPress. It wasn’t until I started including a lot of links to other websites in my Fashion Friday posts for the stores I bought my clothing from that I realised the link icons were getting a bit too much.
Visually, that is.
I initially installed the plugin after seeing the use of the link on Wikipedia and understanding its use as an indicator for a link external to the website. I also saw someone use it on their fansite and thought it was a smart idea. This was somewhere near five years ago, I’m sure.