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View Full Version : Google Autolinks



Dodge
02-28-2005, 11:34 PM
Has everyone seen this "new" feature Google is coming out with soon?

Seems that they will be able to add links to your site (if the googlebar is installed on the client machine).

I saw this article on Steve Rubel's blog:

Rip, Mix, Burn, Autolink - http://www.micropersuasion.com/2005/02/rip_mix_burn_au.html

You can sign a petition against it here:
http://www.petitiononline.com/autolink/petition.html

There is a JavaScript code already available here _ http://www.zeldman.com/daily/0205f.shtml - to disable this feature.

I really don't like the idea of ANYONE else having the abilty to alter and/or add to my html. I hated the smart tags (microsoft - ala 2001 or so) but to their credit they also provided a meta tag to disable these tags - Google will not (at this time) be so helpful.

Any thoughts on this? I'd be curious to hear how others react to this.

Dodge

whizard
03-01-2005, 12:14 AM
This is a good post, but it should probably go in the Geek news and humor section.

Also, a question. The changes are just on the user's computer right? They're not permanent in the actual source code, are they?

If not, as I assume, I don't see any real problem (maybe i'm missing something) to letting end users screw around as much as they want. After all, if they really want to, then they can copy your source code and alter it locally, anyway.

my $0.02

Dan

hemebond
03-01-2005, 03:06 AM
I fail to see the problem here. It's purely client-side. It gives the user more control. It (currently) requires direct user action to work. It can already be done, even without the Google Toolbar. And really, you should be linking significant text anyway (such as book numbers, whatever they're called). Do things properly, and the user probably won't have a reason to use this functionality.

I realise some may have issues with advertising conflicts and such but, eh. More power to the people I say.

rmedek
03-01-2005, 05:06 AM
I've noticed the same people who are concerned with "rewriting content" don't have any argument about using pop-up blockers or Adblock-- both of which could be said to do the same thing. It's a user-controlled option, it's off by default, and it's part of a third-party extention... so I say it's fine. If the user wants to add tags to my content, fine... I may not be too happy about it, but if I had ads on my page I would be equally as unhappy if they were circumvented.

zro@rtv
03-01-2005, 05:42 AM
the potential for lameness seems great.
while i agree the USER should have reasonable control....

lots of end users arent the savvyiest of CF addicts... but rather lost little pups clicking every little flashy emoticon promising big bucks they see. (well maybe thats a little exaggerated, but the fact remains that the average end user has the potential to NOT UNDERSTAND that this is a feature added not by the 'webmaster')

This fact in conjunction with the potential for unwanted AD content seems rather disgusting.

While i would support some third party effort to cross lnk all sites to wikipedia or pertinant informational resources, I do not feel comfortable having links to commercial sites flooding well constructed articles. or even worse, what about the postential for assisting in the effiency of things like unnoticed comment spam, or even just simply linkning to inaccurate referances, thereby scewing and confusing the article.

seems sorta lame, but ill look into it more.

hemebond
03-01-2005, 06:36 AM
the average end user has the potential to NOT UNDERSTAND that this is a feature added not by the 'webmaster'I think it would be quite obvious to them. After all, they downloaded and installed a 3rd-party toolbar, and manually clicked to add these links. Something they have to do each and every time they visit a page.

whizard
03-01-2005, 01:11 PM
Yeah. I really don't see any problem here.

Dan

Daf
03-01-2005, 02:02 PM
Yeah. I really don't see any problem here.

Dan

I do.

Regardless if its client-side or whether or not a user is smart enough to know the origin of the "new" links I DID NOT intend for my page(s) to become an ad field NOR did I authorize the use of my pages by another agent for this purpose.

Imagine preparing a printed flyer (the webpage) for distribution - the nature of the content is not important but let's say it's it's a missing dog/cat/person alert (intended content/original code) - and after handing a stack of these flyers to another agent (served up to the internet). That agent then sees the opportunity to make a little money on the side and, with a red pen, adds a few lines of their own hawking their line of ID tags (unwelcome ads) with phone/address info.

Your flyer has now been hijacked and contains content you did not intend or authorise.

Well... at this point I don't care if the people who get the flyer say... "wow, looks like these ads were added after the fact..." - that is irrelevant - the ads are still there - the content is still altered and the alteration was not sanctioned by the author.

That's my take on it - bare bones. Excuse the example, I in a bit of a hurry this morning and the coffee hasn't kicked in yet. :)

I have signed the petition and also sent an e-mail directly to Google with my polite opinion concerning this matter.

Thanks
Daf

hemebond
03-01-2005, 09:25 PM
after handing a stack of these flyers to another agent (served up to the internet). That agent then sees the opportunity to make a little money on the side and, with a red pen, adds a few lines of their own hawking their line of ID tags (unwelcome ads) with phone/address info.

Your flyer has now been hijacked and contains content you did not intend or authorise.No, not your flyer, his flyer. Only his flyer. If someone else wanted these changes made to their flyer, they could do it themselves, or go see this agent, and have him do it for them.

Also, what kind of adverts are you sceptics imagining when you think of this? Big banner ads? Or simply links to an item on Amazon, which is the type of link I think of.

rmedek
03-01-2005, 09:51 PM
Imagine preparing a printed flyer (the webpage) for distribution - the nature of the content is not important but let's say it's it's a missing dog/cat/person alert (intended content/original code) - and after handing a stack of these flyers to another agent (served up to the internet). That agent then sees the opportunity to make a little money on the side and, with a red pen, adds a few lines of their own hawking their line of ID tags (unwelcome ads) with phone/address info.

Your flyer has now been hijacked and contains content you did not intend or authorise.
The difference is, in your scenario the agent would still have to give the flyer out to recepients to make any money (hoping that someone would read his ads).

The Google feature, though, only works client-side. The client says, "I'd like to push this button that adds links to my page," and then links are added to the page. No other clients see this, only the one who had Autolink installed and actually used it.

Imagine this: I buy a book for school, and then underlined passages I thought were important and wrote notes in the margins. Then two weeks later I get a letter from the author of the book saying it was his content to begin with and he would appreciate it if I didn't write any additional info in his book.

I don't know about you, but that seems to be a little overkill. :)

channy
03-01-2005, 10:02 PM
From what I've seen it is a feature that users must activate after it's installed. They will still see the website as it is intended, but if they choose to click the "autolink" button it will create links to (supposedly) relevant pages.

I really don't see any issues with this; the user can already manipulate the way the page looks as it is by, disabling images, CSS, changing font sizes, etc., in their preferences. Moreover, with simple add-ons and extensions, they can right click on any word in your page and be linked to online dictionaries, maps, bookstores etc. If you think users aren't already using these features when they browse your website you're living in a dream world.

It is simply an enhancement to the users' browsing experience. It's not something every google toolbar user will be interested in using, nor will they have to.

Daf
03-01-2005, 10:16 PM
Ah - I misunderstood and flew off the handle a bit it seems...sorry about that. I did say it was early... ;)

I'm still smarting from the "MS Smart Tags" it seems.

If it has to be activated then that is a different scenario altho.... I'm still not warming up to the idea.

Anyway - thanks for additional info and patience with the rant. :)

Take care
Daf

hemebond
03-01-2005, 10:37 PM
Here is a Boing Boing entry (http://www.boingboing.net/2005/03/01/google_toolbar_like_.html) about this very issue, which contains links to some interesting posts.

channy
03-01-2005, 11:40 PM
Personally I'm of the mindset to try before I cry...wolf that is. I've run into several situations where "he said, she said" has led me down the wrong path.

Download it, test it out. :thumbsup: That's the only way to know for sure if what people are saying is of value or if they are just regurgitating information that may or may not be accurate.

jkd
03-02-2005, 12:32 AM
The main argument I've heard, which is precisely the same argument against MS Smart Tags, is that this gives Google control of the Internet.

Before, it searched pages and let you find them. With Google Autolinking, it can then modify these pages (on the client, of course), and point links to Google-friendly relevant sites. People didn't want Microsoft doing this because they could link "security" to Microsoft, or "operating system" to Windows, and effectively control what people associated with words. Just because Google is less evil doesn't mean they should be doing this either.

At least, that's the argument if smart-tagging is enabled by default and automatically used. If the individual user chooses to enable it, then there really shouldn't be any problem, as the user already has indicated trust in Google.

hemebond
03-02-2005, 12:53 AM
The online review of a great new restaurant has the place's address but no map. You could type the restaurant's street, city, and ZIP code into the search box, but why bother, when clicking the Toolbar's AutoLink button will automatically create a link to an online map (US addresses only)? AutoLink can also link package tracking numbers to delivery status, VIN numbers (US) to vehicle history, and publication ISBN numbers to Amazon.com listings.I don't see anything in there about advertisements or random Google searches. If it is just these items here, I fail to see any problem (in fact, if you have this kind of thing in your content, you should be linking them anyway).

hemebond
03-02-2005, 01:16 AM
It's interesting to note that Google must have some type of arrangement with Amazon.com on this one. I searched for a book directly from the Barnes & Noble database. As soon as I visited a page for a book with an ISBN, the link button on the browser that was labeled "AutoLink" changed to read "Show Book Info." When I clicked on the button I went directly to the ISBN link on the B&N page. However, if I selected the arrow next to the button, the ISBN appeared with a hotlink to the book's page in the Amazon database. In this case, we're going to have to wait and see if Google will allow a user to choose their favorite book merchant or even query a libraries local catalog?After reading this, I installed the toolbar and went to this Barnes & Noble page (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=Al47R52BLp&isbn=0425132781&itm=51) and, just like the quote above, the button changed to "Show Book Info". However, even after clicking the button, nothing happened to the page at all. Clicking the drop-down option though, opened a new window the the Amazon page for the same book.

To be honest, while at first I thought I suddenly understood the objection, I'm now back to my original opinion. So what? It gives the user instant access to another source for the same information. In this case a rival company.



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