For inter-forum links it is usually preferred to use the Share link provided when you click the “chain” button.
(They appear beneath each post and at the bottom of a topic, so you can point someone to a specific reply within a thread, or the whole topic.)
For extra-forum links, such as links into the User Guides, I have been doing the same 2 step shuffle.
I find myself (more and more) using the
[link text in here](url goes here) markdown format
more than the ol’ bbCode
[url=url]link text[/url] format, because it is easier for pasting using the 2 step process.
It would be nice to have “autolinks” for Discourse.
Similar to what happens when you type an @ or : symbol.
We already have a personal bookmarks list (for bookmarking posts and topics.)
It would be nice if when we type, say # symbol, a popup bookmark insertion list appears.
Since we have already entered links, and will do so again, it would be nice if Discourse collected each person’s links as they publish them, and then later when they are entering a link, ie they type a [ which indicates they’re making a link, a popup menulist of their previous links appears, which they can choose from. (This would encourage good categorical naming of links you would wish to reuse later.) Perhaps even a manager via the profile pages, where the list can be cleaned up manually removing miscellaneous or one time links that we do not want on our popup menus. (or perhaps a special link input mode, ie ![ begins a new reusable link I would want saved into my links list. Discourse would strip off the leading ! when the post was published.)