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No XP-Smarttags in Europe 211

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the those-lucky-euro-bastards dept.
nils23 writes "There's a story on heise.de that says that M$ won't include their SmartTags (tm - probably...) in the European release of Windows eXPerimental.. The reason is not, they claim, any privacy or Anti-Trust issues, but the problem of maintaining the content/links to Microsoft. It's in german. Use the fish, Luke." I'd be fine with this if they only did it on pages that included a tag that said the author of the page approved the feature. I for one don't want Microsoft choosing where links on a Slashdot story go. Imagine what links they could choose for words like Linux or the GPL. Think I'm kidding?
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No XP-Smarttags in Europe

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    What are they changing? Do you know what SmartTags do? Or are you jumping on the bandwagon?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I was pretty amused to see, on the page MS devoted to explain to us poor mortals the beauties of their Shared Source Model, a passage that read
    A great idea on its own does not constitute innovation. The idea must also be implemented and take the shape of some tangible product or service that can deliver a benefit to a set of customers. This is where great inventors like
    Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford excelled. They were able to build businesses around great ideas.
    I found this to be a particularly appropriate citation, since it is now generally known (as found by the courts) that the original inventor of the telephone was Alessandro Meucci [italianhistorical.org], and that Bell used his money to bully him, deny him the rights to his invention, and establish one of the most successfull companies ever around. Talk about Microsoft's model...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    No offense, sir, but Microsoft can afford better lawyers than yours.

    America has the best justice system that money can buy.
  • Microsoft's WMA page pisses off the RIAA?
  • It is _advertising_, you fool. What business is it of yours whether Microsoft gets to deploy text-based advertising across all of creation without paying for it? Who asked you?

    If they expect to have links IN the content area of anyone's page, they need to expect to pay for it. It's completely absurd to get all socialist on us NOW and give Microsoft such a vast amount of advertising links for nothing. TANSTAAFL, my friend. Ever heard of that one? No free lunch.

    Why are you trying to give Microsoft an advertising handout? They can afford to pay for what they use. Do you think their need for charity is so great that others' wishes must be put aside? You're sounding alarmingly Socialist. Which I think is a good thing- but you're doing it wrong ;)

  • I think what the original poster meant was that, like any web advertising, Microsoft should come to terms with a site and pay them a royalty for the use of their words as advertising links. Whether they make this default in the browser or not is sort of their business, just like with banner graphics (on by default). It makes no sense to deploy smart tags without paying sites a royalty- if anything, it is more intrusive than banner advertising because it is IN the text being read. As such, it ought to equate to a considerable per-word royalty.
  • You can also paste in banners to anything you wish. This doesn't mean that the people who added banner advertising to the actual site didn't need to pay for the privilege.

    Nobody is suggesting that you can't whip out Notepad and do whatever you want. The point is, Microsoft are not doing this. They're gearing up to do a centralised text-based web advertising system. The mode of delivery is not relevant: if they expect to make use of words from other people's web sites as advertising links, they are obligated to pay the content providers like any advertiser. You don't enter into it at all. It's not you doing it. Your freedom to do stuff has nothing to do with this...

  • Personally, I think I would be appeased if they paid me. 1/100th a cent per impression would be reasonable. They have no intention of letting me put content across to a web reader without putting in advertising links, which includes marking up works of fiction etc. so I think they need to pay for it, like any normal advertiser. If third parties want to do this, they can pay too. Otherwise it's "Yeah, we put an ad for Office in the middle of your poem, but it's okay because we let the kid down the street put a link to goatse.cx in the middle of your poem too!" What?? Where the hell is the logic in that?
  • If I wrote a gaming site, what possible reason would I have to expect to get free links on competing gaming sites against their will? Have you never heard of the phrase, "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"? Advertising costs money. I am not sure where you get this idea that I as a content producer get to place advertising on other sites without paying them...
  • You mean 'copyrighted', AC. The content of the web site is copyrighted as per the Berne Convention. So are audiovisual works.

    There's a difference between end users and middlemen here. As an end user, you can go get any sort of work and cross out words, underline them, do any sort of editorial or advertising stuff you want and it means nothing- you're just doing it for yourself.

    However, the middlemen have to come to terms with the content creator if they intend to change things. See the muddled caselaw on 'framing' sites- and that is not even altering the content directly, but containing it in a possibly deceptive environment! You can buy a book and write "Eat At Joe's" on every page, but the publisher, the bookseller etc. don't have that privilege, and your opinion of it as the end buyer is not really relevant- the people transferring the content must enter into agreements with the content provider in order to do any such alteration or even to be allowed to transfer the content at all.

    Common carriers needn't reach such an agreement, but common carriers don't alter or even keep aware of exactly what they're transferring. Publishers _do_ need to reach such an agreement. You go and try to arrange with the publisher to pencil in tiny 'links' under words in their version of the latest Stephen King novel- see if you don't get your ass handed to you in court. Go and bring in an end user to cry 'How dare you tell me what to do with MY BOOK!' and see how flat that falls.

    Microsoft could _get_ the right to change the content of your page. This is through a simple process known as a 'contract', towards a goal known as 'advertising'. All that is well established and is exactly what they're trying to do. The only difference is, they're trying to steal it, and that's ridiculous. They must come to terms with content providers if they want to advertise in this manner. They are more than capable of doing that and can afford it- they're just being criminal because they're a bit out of touch with reality, and because they _want_ free advertising links to their properties in every site on the Web, no matter who gets hosed by it. The fact that they want this doesn't make it legitimate. It's plainly, obviously, not.

  • by Chris Johnson (580) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @01:53PM (#135700) Homepage Journal
    Well, as an American, I know _I_ look to the Europeans on this. I do about as much as an individual can do, but it's not enough. We've lost control of our country- if we start laying plans for a Windows2000YearCyberReich, I do hope the rest of the world has it together enough to lay the smackdown on US. I know which side I'm on, too- it's the side of Judge Jackson, of James Madison the author of Federalist #10, the side of our justice and legal systems in their finest forms- but that does _not_ mean it will always be the side of _America_.

    We'll see. There may be surprises. In particular, the arrogance of Microsoft in trying to seize control of all communications everywhere reminds me strongly of things like the dotcom bubble. News flash: just because _they_ are certain they will triumph and never give an inch and march on a road of bones etc etc chanting "Microsoft, kill 'em!" does NOT mean they are right. That's their fantasy. They can be as 100% convinced of it as anyone ever has, and act as if it's already reality, but there are still many toes that get stepped on by _that_ fantasy.

    One of them is governmental autonomy, in many senses- including the autonomy of the _American_ government. The administration can be stupid, but if the actual power in the world begins to shift (as the money has shifted away from countries and towards multinational corporations) it _will_ be noticed. I would bet you anything that the NSA has many detailed plans in store for use in the event of Microsoft gaining unprecedented power in the cybersphere. The question is whether Mossad or the intelligence services of Iraq or China etc. _also_ have detailed plans for what to do in that event.

    Anyone as arrogant and sloppy as Microsoft is a walking target. We should not so much fear them on a basis of their gaining that much power- we should fear them because, if they do gain that much power, they'll be useless, out of their depth, and easy prey for _many_ different problems not of their own making- indeed, not even acknowledged by them.

    If Microsoft lives to unite all information and communications in one MS-controlled centralised format, that's one thing (and inherently bad, but let's overlook that for now). The trouble is, it equates to a digital monoculture- and there ARE people out there who live to invent digital Monoculture Blight, or to invent systems to surreptitiously enter the databases of such a digital monoculture and do whatever they want.

    Whether Microsoft wants to do bad things to its 'customers' is moot. If I was an enemy intelligence apparat what I would want to do is this: five minutes before the invasion, thousands of key United States individuals and companies are penniless, their funds transferred overseas to a certain hostile nation. Digital hotlines between those people and their financial advisors have had their wirescrambled- DNS lookups no longer relate to anything sensible. All recorded telephone and postal addresses for defense industries have had one number changed. A fair amount of the actual military computer systems are hardened and impossible to compromise... but instructions for use and maintenance were produced in Word, and some small changes in meaning were introduced throughout thousands of hundred-page documents and maintenance manuals, to be proliferated as new materials are printed...

    Good morning, America. Funny how a little dirtbag country would be daring actual physical attack on such a *ahem* powerful, computerised nation...

    (and I'm no chest-thumping militarist but I hope to hell the NSA _are_ reading this, or projecting scenarios like it. Who says Microsoft themselves have to be hostile, or that they have to replace all military systems for there to be a massive risk involved with their course of action? I have to wonder, just how many foreign intelligence agents are working _at_ Microsoft _right_ _now_, and who, exactly, would notice? Given that MS wants to bring so much 'in-house', why would such an operative even need to put 'back doors' into anything? The data is steadily coming right into Microsoft's lap, as if MS was somehow mysteriously endowed with the credentials to be wholly, utterly trustworthy, just because they 'mean well'. What a set-up...)

  • Well, wait - you two are talking about different things. MaxwellStreet, you're concerned as a website maintainer that IE will start to insert links that you don't want. And you want MS to use an 'opt-in' strategy. In other words, IE reads your page and renders it without smarttags UNLESS you give it permission to insert them.

    Asills's post stated that the browser would ship with smarttag rendering off by default. What that means to you is that, as a website maintainer, you have to accept that anyone who enables smarttags before visting your site is going to see them unless you specifically opt OUT.

    Don't stand corrected - two different issues.
  • by Masem (1171) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @06:26AM (#135702)
    Clicking on links and not going to where you expect to go? And how is this any different from /. currently...? (starts with g, ends with x)

    </joke>

  • Didn't NBCi try to hawk a similar feature called QuickClick? Those ads were quite annoying.

    Finally, the sheep brayed all in unison, "See a word, Click it, get Information." And their new corporate masters were happy.

    I'm not sure whether Smarttags are intended to "compete" with QuickClick, or whether NBCi has some incestuous relationship with Microsoft beyond the MSNBC partnership.

  • Our company is located in Sweden, but we only use english software for several reasons (one is shoddy translations). Therefore, we buy US English versions of all software - including Windows 2000. Does this mean that they must deliver a GPS kit with every license, and check in which country you are located?
  • because it is contrary to what the community of web authors want.

    I had no idea that content was published on the WWW for the author's edification. I was under the assumption that it was there for the reader's benefit. My mistake.

    Thanks for clearing that one up.

  • SmartTags technology is obviously troublesome to most of us here, as well as to many people in the IT media. Can we start a grass roots effort to educate people in this and perhaps guide Microsoft to drop the feature? Don't laugh. Remember that, first, Microsoft is a marketing company. Make enough noise and the feature might go away.

    First steps to educate people:

    • Share your point of view, calmly and clearly, with all the Windows users you know.
    • How many letters to the editor have you written lately?
    • How many letters to Microsoft have you written lately?
    • Seek out the Microsoft employees you know (come on, you must know at least one) and share your opinion in person
    • What is the web for? Post, post, post! I would be willing to host a web site dedicated to this subject. Make the domain something smart, not "smarttagssuck.org" or whatever. Publicize it.
    • Get some beta copies of XP and do an analysis of the feature.
    • Explain to HTML content developers the dangers of this feature, and how it will increase their work load by having to use special meta tags to prevent Explorer from steering the users out of the current page.

    Can you come up with some other ways of doing this? Informing the Windows user base at large may be the best weapon against the XP SmartTags.

    Cheers!

    E
  • The generated links will be determined by Microsoft or other companies (hax0rs) who update the file which defines the links. The end user will have no knowledge of what or where that file is.

  • by MenTaLguY (5483)
    "How many Slashdotters does it take to change a light bulb?"

    62% say "CowboyNeal".

  • >So now, every idiot user that doesn't know any better will see these links
    > on sites that haven't had the chance to be updated yet, or are never updated.

    Thank god I don't do tech support any more. I would not want to have to explain this using civil language to some poor schmuck who doesnt understand why there are tags they didn't put ther
  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Thursday June 21, 2001 @07:08AM (#135710) Homepage
    Have you ever noticed that whenever Microsoft calls something 'Smart', it's definitely a feature you want to disable?
  • So I decided to follow those links, and looked through the GPL one a little. It mentions something that Micros~1 has said before, that the GPL is a "viral open-source license." They then go on to explain this wording as meaning that "some open source licenses make it impossible for derivitive works to be distributed under any other license (ie, they infect them)." But thinking about it, I think it is rather obvious that closed source licenses are even worse than that: they don't even give you the chance to see the code, and they still can't be distributed under any other license. So basically that tells me that Micros~1 dislikes the GPL because they can't take code from something GPLed (a viral license) and convert it over to their more restrictive license (a brick-wall license). What fools they are...
  • And screw what the guy who wrote the page wanted.

    If you tried this in politics, you'd make the papers followed eventually by your untimely demise. (Lenin and Stalin to the contrary, nobody who's tried this blatant form of control in this century has gotten from cradle to tomb without either getting terminated with extreme prejudice.)
  • Yeah... It's probably that smart tags enable them to track user clicks, and with the EU's much stricter privacy guidelines, it just won't fly there.

    Too bad we don't get that same protection here. That is pure speculation, but it really does make sense in my mind, at least. RealNetworks wanted to know what we were listening to, Doubleclick wanted to know what sites we visit, and now Microsoft wants to know what our specific interests are...
  • The main thing that makes me mad and say that this is *a really evil thing* is that this is opt-out, not opt-in for the webdeveloper! I, the editor and owner of a website, has to add a meta tag to my website to keep Microsoft from changing it!

    If I want Microsoft to put smart tags om my website, I'll take the time to do add a meta tag to my website that allows it, but why do I have to spend any time simply to keep Microsoft away from my website?

    Ask yourself, if you would think *spam* should be opt-in or opt-out? Thought so!


    Greetings Pointwood
  • Smart Tags aren't spam. Spam (by definition) is unsolicited by the user. Smart Tags are SPECIFICALLY ENABLED by the user.

    I don't care whether they are enabled or disabled by default! That doesn't matter at all!
    Smart tags puts links on my website, links that I haven't put there myself! The links are a part of the content and I would like to be the one that controls that!

    I know smart tags aren't spam, but I want spam about as much as I want the current implementation of smart tags!

    Smart tags could be a cool feature, if it were implemented "correctly"!

    Users have rights. Get over it.

    So do webmasters!


    Greetings Pointwood
  • And if a webmaster doesn't want people doing that to his pages, can he turn it off? Of course not. Is there an uproar at Slashdot about it? Of course not. What does this say about most Slashdotters, especially the editors? I'll let the rest of you answer that for yourselves.

    And no, this wasn't directed at you at all, Phill, thanks for the post.


    Cheers,

  • if mozilla did this but linked to everything2

    IMHO that's not a bad idea (as an optional feature).

    BTW, there is no cabal^H^H^H^H^H united "slashdot crowd".


    ---
  • karma hoe.

  • Bull.

    I for one would still be decrying it as a violation of a writer's right to control what happens to his or her works once published, and I wouldn't be the only one. Adding carefully selected links to articles, for instance, could give a totally erroneous impression of the writer's intent and meaning. Even just adding relevant, but unfortunate, links could do the same thing.

    If this is opt-in, then fine. If it's opt-out, then it's wrong, whether it's MS doing it or mozilla.

    On a related note, I'm getting pretty tired of all these "slashdot crowd" type comments. There are many different types of people here now, with many different points of view. Pretty much the only thing we all have in common is an interest in technology. Just see any story related to Linux or Microsoft, and you'll see a pretty even distribution of comments for and against.

    There is no collective slashdot point of view, and I really, really wish people would stop acting like there is one just to get a rise out of people. (Yeah, so I bit and it worked this time, but I'm having a bad day at work - mini-rant over :) )

    Cheers,

    Tim
  • Have you used XP? I use it daily.

    What do my Smart Tags underline? Company names, stock ticker symbols, and university names!

    If you hover over the dashed underline (YES!, it looks different than a normal link) a dropdown arrow appears above. Clicking on this arrow drops down a popup window with options for stock information, the company's (or school's) homepage, and to have it scan for news on the organization.

    No where have I seen Linux or GPL or GNU or anything be linked to anti-linux propeganda. But you know what, they probably should. Everyone else out there should know how fucking stupid, obsessive, and radical linux zealots are (worse than Mac!). Until you are put in your place, and can respect other people's innovations; why do you expect they'd respect yours? Grow up, stop trash-talking something by saying it does something it doesn't do. You complain about Microsoft making FUD against Linux, well what the fuck do you call it when you start making things up about Microsoft's products.

    Thats my $0.02 for the day. Now go home and cry to your mommy because someone finally put you in your place.
  • Smart tags is a stupid idea anyway. Someone has to look at ALL the webpages on the web, and include tags to them. No wonder M$ wants to change its licensing scheme---the customer has to pay for this!
  • I disagree. My website is mine and no to be changed by anyone beside me.
  • And who is thinking up all those links? And it has to be content-specific. So it still needs a lot of work.
  • You're on shaky ground there, unless you have a click-through licence for your website.

    The way copyright law works, means it only comes into effect if a modified version is _redistributed_ - so, if you've put a copyright notice on your page and then made them publically available without further restriction, I'm free to download them and change them, so long as I don't redistribute them to anyone else - copyright is a restriction on _copying_ - thus, if MS provides a (doubtless deep-buried) "off" button for the SmartTags in the browser preferences, and the insertion of the tags happens on "my" machine, not yours, it's not being redistributed to anybody, so copyright does not apply.

    No, my problem with the system is that it's not opt-in, it's opt-out - that is to say, the default behaviour, and the one that most luser-sheep will never change, is to have the feature enabled, and the nastiest is the proposed "opt-out" meta tag for third parties to disable tyhe feature for theri sites - it really should be an "opt-in" tag...

  • If anyone else -- NBCi, Mozilla, anyone else (except maybe AOL) did it, it would be a feature that the user would have to download explicitly and turn on.

    When Microsoft bundles it with their monopoly browser which is bunded with their monopoly OS, moms and grandfathers end up using it without understanding the true source of the links. Yes, it's "turned off" by default, but i won't be at all surprised to see a popup on the MSIE install screen that says, "SmartTags are this wonderful innovative technology that blah blah blah, would you like to activate them? [ OK ] [Cancel]" and everyone will blindly click OK.

    And suddenly SmartTags are the new standard despite the fact that most of the population doesn't understand them, and out of the remainer, most of them don't like them.

    And you can only do this sort of thing if you have a monopoly to leverage.

    --

  • Besides, while a developer-centric focus could be used to somewhat negate complaints that Mozilla has a confus...

    Okay... I'm going to explain this once again - I'm not saying that it has a developer-centric focus, I'm saying that OS/FS in general needs to be looked at very differently. It's written for the developer. Now, in some cases (like some of the KDE developers I know), their "itch" is to make something that is very simple and easy for novices to use. But that does *not* negate the fact that they are writing it for themselves.

    Another question to ask is why are you using the software? Probably because the solution set that it provides overlaps your desired objectives (hopefully). But that does *not* mean the software was written for you.

    In the case of commercial software, the decisions are based on committee and entirely profit driven. In the end, the objective is to ship more units. OS/FS is different... it's like the complaints about "Linux is Dead on the Desktop". It works just fine on mine. All it takes is one person using it, and the software is alive. If a company only ever sold one piece of software, it would considered a failure. If you write a cool MP3 player that you use, it's a success... if it happens to be XMMS, it's the exact same success, it just happens to be used by more people than you. Linus always said that the first hundred people using Linux were much more surprising than the first thousand.

    Just because a painter doesn't try and sell his paintings doesn't mean I can't comment on his artistic skill (or lack thereof).

    Oh, certainly... you are entirely correct.

    After all, critics who don't contribute are so highly respected in every field.

    --
    Evan

  • Internet Explorer is free, you dont have to pay, so you dont have any right to complain.

    When did I complain about IE?

    --
    Evan

  • Every great application for Linux makes it that much more appealing. That appeal is what turns around and sucks in new Linux users, creating a bit of a cycle.

    You get it... a bit different philosophy than I have, maybe, but you're restating a different facet of what I was trying to say.

    One could argue that, since software's dynamic and more functional in nature, most criticism is more likely to be constructive

    Then you aren't a critic who doesn't contribute. Filling out bug reports and beta testing is part of the process. I'm talking about critics who just say: "It sucks". And you can appear *very* intelligent and have your essay appear on a respectable news source while saying, in essence, nothing more than "It sucks".

    I've added features that I had zero personal interest in, simply because I knew they would be extremely useful to other users.

    Yes, but *why* did you do that? That particular avenue of thought dead ends in a philosophical question of "are selfless acts actually motivated by personal desire?". When a person spends a weekend volunteering to build a playground for the neighborhood, he's doing it for his own reasons. *That's* what I meant when I (admittedly confusingly) said that developers develop for themselves. A more clear phrase would have been: Developers write code for their own reasons, not for yours.

    --
    Evan

  • by JabberWokky (19442) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Thursday June 21, 2001 @07:06AM (#135730) Homepage Journal
    download the source to Mozilla, find the SmartTag-like functionality, comment out that code, verify that nothing else was changed, compile, go back and fix the syntax error that was accidentally introduced by the change, compile again, install a new copy of Mozilla.

    Assuming your (self-admittedly) silly idea that they didn't include a checkbox in the configuration dialog, you ignored my main point:

    Mozilla isn't written for you. It's written by the authors, for the authors. At no point can you gripe, since you are just as equal as them, with just as much potential ability to author the same thing without infernal widget "B" (in this case, "smart tags", which I personally like the idea of).

    Since the playing field is completely leveled, the software out there (in OS/FS) should eventually conform to a developer driven bell curve - the majority of the software fits the majority of the desires of the majority of the people. But there will always be fringeware, patches and forks for those who want it.

    In the traditional software development model, you have a choice - any color, as long as it's black. Microsoft *could* say: "All web pages shall have a light pink background", and the world will accept it. As long as they don't go *too* far, people will just accept the status quo.

    And if you think that my example is ridiculous, remember back when web pages used to have grey backgrounds, and domain names didn't default to .com? (Try typing "yahoo" into any browser... it will 'correct' you to "http://www.yahoo.com". IMO, far worse than smart tags).

    --
    Evan

  • by JabberWokky (19442) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Thursday June 21, 2001 @10:10AM (#135731) Homepage Journal
    Wow! You can be condescendig! Impressive!

    Whups - that wasn't meant to be condescending - more of an admission that I wasn't clear the first time.

    Buggy software is buggy. Buggy is rarely a feature people want. Why does OS/FS need to be looked at differently? If an mp3 player can't play an mp3 it is worthless.

    Okay... I just wrote all the stuff below to answer that. But what does buggy software have to do with Smart links? Anyway... here's your answer:

    No it isn't. *That's* what I'm getting at - first off, it might be an excellent example of a flawed concept. And very often, the edges of software (the infamous CVS version) are quite buggy, but offer features that a more timid (read: commercial) release attitude would prevent.

    Take a mythical MP3 encoder - it fails on about one in twenty songs. But it encodes about 600% faster than anything else out there. Is that inacceptable? Sure, if you're trying to sell it. But I might use it, and accept its flaws... and someone else might add a "drop back to lame on failure" feature to it. With no release or profitabilty pressure, and an acceptance of potential problems, you gain flexibility (how many times do you see programs with a "USE WITH CARE - UNTESTED" option on them in OS/FS? How many times for commerical programs?). It might be five years before someone figures out how to automatically tell if the song was encoded incorrectly, and drop back to a different algorithm... but in OS/FS, it will be passed around and played with throughout those five years until it hits the right person who realizes the code fix.

    So out of that festering pool of code rises the *good* software - that which is stable, has advanced features, and is easy to use. Most of them have been around for a long time - Apache, Linux, bash, gcc... and now that they work, the programs that run on top of them are starting to mature... KDE, Gnome, XFree86, ReiserFS... and soon, once they are mature, we'll have the final end user apps maturing to the level of "stability, features, usability".

    But *THAT* not where the end is. When the "perfect server/desktop experience" is done, people won't stop. There will still be the new OggVideo encoder out there that whups every other ones ass in speed, and crashes on this or that movie. And there will be people who use it.

    And out of that pool of buggy but impressive code, the next great programs will arise. When a commerical company dies, the code and thoughts and concepts die with it. That never happens with FS/OS.

    --
    Evan

  • by JabberWokky (19442) <slashdot.com@timewarp.org> on Thursday June 21, 2001 @06:35AM (#135732) Homepage Journal
    if mozilla did this but linked to everything2, the slashdot crowd would have a field day and claim how "innovative" and "clever" they were...

    There are two major differences... first, Everything2 is (more or less) community built. That implies quite a bit, some of which is good, some of which is bad, but certinly means that one entity can't control the content.

    The second and harder to understand thing for most people is that Mozilla can be changed - it isn't written for you. It's written for the person who wrote it. And you can change that by writing it yourself, taking any of the existing code out there. Like KDE's Konqueror, which can render with either KHTML or Mozilla's rendering engine - open source is all about infinite choice, and a total potential spectrum of all possibilities. That's why software patents damage Open Source and certainly Free Software.

    --
    Evan

  • Call me naive, but I really find it hard to believe that MS smart-tags are going to override existing links with their own; so if you *really* don't like what they're doing to a word, you could just run your web pages through sed to turn all instances of that word into a link of your own choosing.

    I understand that this doesn't make what they're doing *right*, but it's not as dangerous a tool as it might be.
  • Internet Explorer is free because microsofts goal is to put netscape and every other competitor out of business. There is a big difference between microsofts idea of "free" and open source "free".
  • Add this snippet as a bookmark, place on your personal toolbar, select word, click and be taken to everything2 search on that word.

    The code should be all on one line. I've tested it in mozilla 0.91 and it worked ok...

    javascript:q=document.getSelection();for(i=0;i< frames.length;i++){ q=frames[i].document.getSelection();if(q)break;} if(q)location.href='http://www.everything2.com?nod e='+escape(q)

    Its tweaked from the Googles 'Googlet' javascript thing. I've no idea what is putting the odd spaces in, remove them.

    Tweak to suit your choice of site.

  • Isn't this thing in beta now? Where is the lawsuit that needs to be filed?

    Barring that, where are the links to the patches that either permanently disable this feature or modify it to some fair or even nefarious use?

    I would have thought these things would be on the table already. Or is someone just holding them to claim 0-day warez bragging rights? I would have thought that -60-day bragging rights would be much cooler.

    Seriously, where is the EFF? Where are the State's Attorneys General? (We know that the prez won't let the DOJ do it's job anymore.)

    Or maybe with our new US administration, the only folks with the moxy to lay down (and more importantly, enforce) the law are the Europeans?

  • Doesn't SmartTags open MS up to the type of harassment that 2600 got just for having links to stuff that pissed off the MPAA?

    What if a mp3 link went somewhere that pissed off the RIAA?

    I don't think they are thinking this thru...
  • by TetsuoShima (34625) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @06:33AM (#135743)
    I think it's more probable that folks in Europe aren't "whipped" like those of us in the US, and are less willing to accept M$ as the "emperor of links." Maybe they're just trying to avoid the obvious beating they'll take for trying out their antics in non-US markets.
    Yes, by George! If they're going to be fed ridiculous authoritarian rules/regulations and have their mind made up for them, it's going to be by the EU and no one else!
  • by attila_the_pun (40379) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @07:03AM (#135745)
    Could we / should we to add an Apache feature that automatically adds the meta-tag to turn off smart tags to each page served, unless the user specifically requests smart tags.

    This could be a selling point. "Make sure you're web pages aren't cross-linked to a competitors".

    Hell. if it's a popular enough feature M$ might have to copy this "innovation" :-)
  • At least a copy of sites are using this GPL'd copying policy [librenix.com] in an attempt to make the web a bit less hospitable to Smart Tags. The idea is to disallow reproduction privileges for purposes of modifying document content by adding links. Some background is here [librenix.com].
  • My preview vision isn't working... "at least a couple of sites are using this..." it should say.
  • It seems the /. editorial team still doesn't have a clue what Smart Tags actually are, and resorting to name calling (eXPerimental) is just infantile.

    Smart Tags are just an API that allows anyone (not just Microsoft) to write an ActiveX DLL which will recognize words or phrases and provide a list of 'relavent' data for that word or phrase. Go to www.officesmarttags.com and see just how many people are already providing tags that you can use (these will all work in IE6). These DLLs can be enabled or disabled INDIVIDUALLY for each application (read the SDK if you don't yet have a clue).

    The news media has managed to work itself up into a frenzy over something that hasn't yet happened - if you look at the implementation in Office XP, the default set of smart tags are *content neutral* and don't link to any specific company on the web. Sure, you can turn on the ones that link to the MSN stock ticker if you want, but it isn't there by default.

    I've seen no indication from Microsoft (via their SDK, or what's implemented in Office XP) that they are going to do anything different to Office XP in their release of IE6.

    If you want to know how difficult it is to download or enable new Smart Tags on the machine, then consider how most people seem to be able to download the Shockwave or Flash plugins just fine. Smart Tags are no different - just include an OBJECT=xxx tag on your page and you've made the browser download the code (subject to the user agreeing to trust and install it).

    From what I can see, this is pretty much a knee-jerk reaction from all the anti-MS sheep out there. Microsoft does something so it must be bad. Perhaps if people got a little clued up on what the tags actually were, how easy it is to implement your own and how beneficial these can be to the user that wants them then we'd see some intelligent debate rather than the clueless flamage we've seen so far.

    Ask yourself, if someone included an API in a proxy server (say squid or apache) to remove advertising content (ie DoubleClick) would you be against it? If not then you should ask whether you really are a hypocrite.
  • Microsoft isn't changing your web site. Smart Tags can be made by anyone, and far more smart tag filters are currently made by 3rd parties than are made by Microsoft themselves. Microsoft just provide the hook in the browser for them to work.

    Smart Tags aren't spam. Spam (by definition) is unsolicited by the user. Smart Tags are SPECIFICALLY ENABLED by the user.

    Opt-in is a stupid argument. Smart Tags ARE opt-in. The user requests them to be placed on the pages they are viewing. As a web publisher, your rights cease the instant you send the HTTP message to the browser. There is no requirement that the browser do anything with that HTTP data, let alone render it in some way you feel it should. If I decide I want something to grep through the text you send and add extra things, you have NO right to tell me I can't do that.

    Perhaps you also believe in censorship? That's exactly what the opposition to smart tags is. You are saying that a user has no right to annotate any content you provide. That's simply wrong. Users have every right to do anything they like with the content you provide for their own private use. There is nothing you can do to stop that and any attempt on your part is infringing on my privacy in a way that even the most repressive governments on the planet don't attempt.

    Users have rights. Get over it.
  • You can do that at the moment. You don't need any smart tags. Just subclass the browser control and parse out the text.

    Script kiddies just aren't smart enough to do it yet (or haven't thought of it).
  • I'd be interested to see links to the articles that say the Microsoft filter is enabled by default. The articles I've seen say they aren't.

    Reuters [yahoo.com]:
    Although it hadn't publicized the fact, Microsoft also put smart tags in the latest test version of Explorer, though they were turned off by default.

    Given that it appears that at best, only content neutral tags are going to be enabled I don't see your problem.

    Removing ads is not apples and oranges. As a web developer you should know that most of a site's income comes from advertising and removing those ads means that the hits don't go through to the advertiser. That is, in a very real way, more damaging to the web site than a user placing their own annotations on the page via smart tags could ever be.

    Because the tags are enabled by the user, the user is effectively requesting a 3rd party to mark up the page. They have this right in the same way they can send a textbook they buy off to a friend and ask them to comment on it. Denying a user that right is an invasion of privacy and I'm very much against that.
  • you still don't understand that by embedding links
    in my content and making them indistinguishable from the links i placed there
    myself, this feature alters the context of my piece of work and therefore
    violates my copyright. the only way they'll get away with this is that - people
    have to choose to turn it on, or be duped into turning it on.


    They are not "indistinguishable". They look VERY different from a normal
    link. A normal link you click on and it takes you somewhere. A Smart
    Tag pops a "Info" tooltip above the word when you hover over it, which you have
    to click on to access a menu of things that the current set of enabled filters
    provided about that word. Check out a
    screen shot [activewin.com].

    let's look at this objectively. a holocaust webpage where ever occurence of
    "Hitler" turns into a Smart Tag link to purchase Mein Kampf?

    If a user installs a Nazi smart tag filter then that's exactly what they
    get. Let's also see that a web page run by Nazis can also have links to
    factual data about the holocaust. The classic cry of an oppressive
    censorship regime is the removal of offensive material. Are you suggesting
    that the web should be censored so that searching for 'holocaust' would also
    return only "appropriate" things?

    a web page about child abuse or molestation where specific words turn into
    Smart Tag links to adult content?


    If the user has enabled a XXX Smart Tag Filter, sure. Again you are
    advocating censorship over individual rights. Who are you to suggest a
    user cannot install a Smart Tag Filter that does exactly this? You are
    starting to sound like a pro-censorship nut.

    the problem here is, they're assuming the context of an individual word and
    acting upon it - in a way that fools the reader into thinking that's what the
    author meant.


    No. The user is enabling a set of filters that simply look through text
    and provide links to things on that text (in a way that is completely different
    to web site provided links). The simple fact is you are saying that a user
    has no right to annotate a web page. Perhaps you also believe that if
    someone buys a copy of Schindler's List that they don't have the right to scrawl
    Nazi slogan all through it for their own private use? Should people
    be allowed to annotate Mein Kampf with factual data that shows it's political
    flaws? You seem to think not. I believe a person has the right to do
    what they like with published data for their own private use, including
    requesting a 3rd party to annotate it for them.

    whether you realize it or not, this is diabolical. Smart Tags in office are
    very very different- my desktop is a controlled environment, and if my company
    wants every occurence of the word "payroll" and "vacation time" to link to the
    HR site, _THAT_ is useful.


    Exactly. A company can set policies to only permit their computers to have
    these tags. Arguing that a technology has potential for misuse and
    therefore should be banned is one of the most narrow minded viewpoints that can
    be taken. Potential for misuse is not a crime - after all, shouldn't we
    ban search engines because they too can link "holocaust" to Nazi propoganda, and
    "rape" to perverted stories encouraging it. Censorship is not the answer,
    and never was.

    embedding Smart Tags in outside-the-box content is a severe violation of the
    rights of writers & publishers.

    Wrong. Copyright law has no influence on what the end user is
    permitted to do with a work as long as they don't republish the material to
    someone else. You are permitted through copyright law to request a
    3rd party's opinion on a work, and this is exactly what Smart Tags are.
    The user installs and enables the specific filters they want and hence
    those filters are authorized by the user to annotate any works the user views.
    As the tags are specific to the filter, any work sent on by the user will not
    contain those tags. There is no violation of publisher's rights
    because the publisher has no control over an individual's private actions.
    They day they do is the day they change the US Constitution.


  • This is contradictory then. First you agree that the tags are disabled and then you get worried that users just accept what they see (ie no tags)?

    Maybe privacy was the wrong term. Freedom of speech might be more appropriate? If someone asks me what I think of your web site then you have no right to tell me I can't reply. If someone enables my smart tag on your web site, you have no right to say I can't mark it up for that person.
  • Actually you have the important point wrong and that is by default (from all reports I've read) the Smart Tags do NOT link to any Microsoft site. If it's like Office XP, all they link to is your own contact list. According to Reuters [yahoo.com] they are disabled by default - which is even more benign.

    From your own argument then, this means only users clued up on what they are will turn on the tags that link to web content and hence all the other arguments are just knee jerk reactions of the anti-MS sheep.

    HOWEVER: If there are Smart Tags which are turned on by default that link to Microsoft sites (or anywhere really) then I'll join the crowd in saying Microsoft done bad.

    btw - I use Outlook because I haven't found a better mail client. Believe me, I've tried a few (even on Linux) and Outlook XP is by far the best I've used to date.
  • There is a filter that ships with IE6, but appears to be turned off by default that links to the stock quotes, sports news etc. That in itself is mildly disturbing as it's still on the client and at install is the only one available to turn on - of course we'll have to wait and see what happens in the shipping product, but you can be sure none of the default "installed but disabled" ones will be competitors of MS.

    As for email clients (-1, I know), I'm not defending Outlook, just saying I like it - "security flaws" and all. Strangely enough I've never propogated a trojan and only received one on two occasions (which I recognized immediately). Honestly, would you run a bash script before you looked at it, especially if it was called "Love letter for you"?
  • It's not that they will over-ride existing links, but that they will add links that never existed in the original page. For example, if I write a Linux HOWTO and post it on the web, then some PHB looks at it, all instances of the word Linux could have links to MS anti-Linux propoganda.

    Likewise, if MS doesn't like my company, MS could add links to everywhere on the web that my company is mentioned leading to my competitors or to information that portrays me in a negative light.

    This gives MS way too much control over web content and way too much power.
  • So why should I have to go out and edit every web page that I have out there to prevent MS from adding links that I did not intend. They are modifying MY content without MY permission! And do you think that every news site is going to go back and add the META tags to old news stories? I doubt it...
  • The difference is that the end user must actively translate the document, where SmartTags will add them automatically. The real problem with SmartTags though is that MS controls where these new links on your page go. Babelfish just gives you a bad translation ;o) it doesn't lead you to MS approved sites that only contain MS approved versions of reality.
  • > Worm smart tags into webpages to "Enhance the Internet experience with useful links"

    I think you're exactly right about the long-term plan - MSFT will "bundle" an "enhanced" set of "smart" tags with every IE upgrade or (mandatory) phone-home of XP. This will ultimately become a source of advertising revenue.

    Solution obvious: You skr1pt k1dd13z whip up one of those .VBS worms. 0wn a site pointed to by one of those obnoxious "Click here to enhance your browser", or "Your internet connection is not optimized" banner ads.

    Clicking, of course, overwrites the client-side XML file that defines the smart tags, with lots of goatse.cx links. All of a sudden, people start phoning Micros~1 tech support, saying "I clicked on the word 'Office XP-2001' and I got a picture of a goat!". Bill rethinks his plan for world domination.

  • I wonder how many smartlinks will be MS pages with accompanying ads. Also, no one seems to be addressing the larger issue of how many links are too many. I'm sick of hitting every link in a slashdot story to get to the article. Guys, you don't have to link to Sun or MS or whoever's homepage everytime they're mentioned. How about less but more relevant links?

    This just adds more noise to a webpage, wastes the time of the surfer and turns over content control from picking a link from a search engine to MS's idea of what is good for you (read: them).
  • Some time ago, third voice had their own way of modifying pages. When you had the lpugin installed, it simply asked third voice's server if there were comments about that page, then the plugin would modify the html to insert tags to display those comments. This I found unacceptable, so I wrote a little javascript that after tha pge had loaded, would go through the document links array and kill any links that pointed to thirdvoice and remove any graphics that came from third voice.... this worked wonderfully..... would it not be possible to have a jasvascript do the same thing...... create an array in the page somwhere containing allowable external links, then onLoad, loop through the pages links array, and if they are external, see if they are allowed, and if not, kill the links, otherwise leave it alone? sounds like it should be possible. Sicne I will never install XP on my machine, I have no real way of testing this, but if anyone out there has XP and can snag a page that smart tags are affecting, I will give it a shot and see if we can kill thems.

  • So why should I have to go out and edit every web page that I have out there to prevent MS from adding links that I did not intend. They are modifying MY content without MY permission! And do you think that every news site is going to go back and add the META tags to old news stories? I doubt it...


    But they aren't modifying your content. Smart tags are completely different than regular links. The 2 cannot be confused. They are no more modifying your content than running it through Babblefish is. The content is exactly the same, the presentation may be slightly different, but that doesn't change the content.


    Plus, the fact that they MIGHT do bad things doesn't mean a damn thing. Everyone is arguing against something they haven't even seen yet. Maybe Linux will link to Linux.org. Or maybe it won't link to anywhere. If it does link to MS, then yes, there is every reason to complain, but until something actually happens, all this complaining is premature.

  • by DrCode (95839) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @09:17AM (#135774)
    Yes! And when they call something a 'Technology', it's something that others have been doing for at least a decade.
  • There may be another possible explanation: fear of liability. I know that Germany has strict laws that outlaw neo-nazi content from being hosted, this may extend to linking to nazi-content (can a German /.er confirm?)

    Content, and the laws governing how links are controlled and how responsibility is doled out for those links is certainly different than in the US.

    Could this be preventing M$ from deploying smart-gag over there?

  • One of the major problems people have with this is not that it's a Microsoft 'innovation', it's that for a website to be immune to smart tags, you need to opt-out via meta tags on the page itself. I imagine far fewer people would have a problem that is opt-in. Simply disabling the feature by default doesn't quite cut it, either, because I'm sure that if it's turned off by default, MS will go out of their way to make it easy to turn on, whereas if it was turned on by default, they'd bury it somewhere in the long "Advanced" options list.

    The idea of "Smart Tags" may not suck, but the implementation that MS has chosen does.

  • Interesting question, that... If you're of the opinion that links are content, then was the MPAA justified in insisting that 2600 not link directly to DeCSS, as they would still have been hosting "illegal" content?

    I think this brings up a broader question... To what extent are links content? Can we say without contradiction that the MPAA and Microsoft are both wrong? Call it Western dualism, but I'd have to say no, on the balance...


    --Fesh

  • Are you CLUELESS? Its Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center.)
  • by Lizard_King (149713) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @06:52AM (#135792) Journal
    Microsoft does outside of the USA without Smart tags Microsoft will not build the disputed Smart tags into Germany into the new operating system Windows XP

    Way to go BabelFish!! You have sucessfully created a CmdrTaco Post generation engine.

    kudos

  • Are you trolling or just making fun of John Q. SixSlash?

    I have to say, though -- I think the idea of black-icing a browser is pretty cool if you're trying to make a point*. I remember a demo page back in the Early Days Of The Web (tm) that was designed to kill almost any browser it came across. I think Netscape/Mac was the only one it couldn't kill, mainly because the browser was broken in some way or another. Very Goedel, Escher, Bach, that idea.

    /Brian

    * Of course the point would be that Open Source is good because you can edit the source code to work around said hole...
  • FARK [fark.com] ran a thread yesterday where people photoshopped the WinXP logo. There were some interesting results [fark.com].

    ---
    DOOR!!
  • well, I will agree. That is a useful idea. But I still have trouble getting past the fact that with this plan, you wouldn't be altering your content, but the content of other sites. As a content creator, this makes me really uneasy. Unfortunately, many times the person hiring you to design their webpage has very little technical knowledge. So lets say uninformed CEO Bob calls you wanting a website. You whip up a prototype, take it on your laptop to their office, and tailor it to their liking and style. A few days later when you publish the completed site, you tell uninformed CEO Bob to go check his site. When he does, all the sudden there are a bunch of links, to outside sites, which he never approved of, nor wanted. What is his first thought? CEO Bob doesn't think 'wow, what a nice feature of IE', he thinks 'what a crappy web designer. Why did he do this to my site?!?!?!!' If you are lucky, they will call you asking about it, and you can explain to him what happened. If you are not lucky, then when he calls, he is too angry to even listen, says you screwed him, and he is cancelling the check, and hangs up.
    So you say to add the meta tag that turns off smart linking to the page. Ok, simple enough. Even tho I don't feel like I should HAVE to do anything to disable them, if that's what I have to do, then that's what I have to do. What happens tho, when the over 100 customers you have had in the past start calling, and asking angrily why you went and edited their pages without permission to add links to outside sites. Suddenly your stuck in the position of explaining again, except this time, it isn't for your new customer, it is for everyone you have ever done a site for that still has the site up. Sound fun to you? Not me. I have enough to do day to day without having to go re-edit a thousand or so pages on over a hundred different sites. Not to mention the fact that all your past customers may be as clueless as CEO Bob and just blame you for the whole thing. Instead of a cancelled check tho, you might end up with court time and lawyer's fees.
    Sorry if you feel like I'm taking this all too far, but these are the kinds of people you deal with in the business, and I don't appreciate being put into this situation by MS.
  • since I posted my above response, I have already had 2 past customers call me concerning this issue, knowledgeable ones that keep relatively up to date with technology (slashdot lurkers), even tho they themselves are not propeller heads. They were both calling me to ask how smart tags would impact their website. They weren't worried about how it would look to them, but rather how it would look to everyone else that agrees to turn on smart tags during setup. I almost dropped my coffee, the timing was so bizarre. They were not pleased that links would be added to their sites, and rightfully so. These particular site are very stylized, and random links strewn throughout would ugly them up quite a bit.
    As for your comments, altering the user interface to make smart links obvious might work. Or possibly someone could create a plug-in, which will suck all the smart tag info off of a page, and render just the links in a seperate window or something, leaving the original content untouched. As for educating people, not sure how to do that for the average user.
    The truth is we wont know how big a can of worms this will really be until it is widely released and more real people are using the tech. Maybe none of my past customers will even upgrade to XP, and will never know. It is just hard to tell exactly what affect this will have.
    btw, thanks for the intelligent comments/responses. Conversation is not dead after all!
  • by TotallyUseless (157895) <{moc.cam} {ta} {tot}> on Thursday June 21, 2001 @07:04AM (#135798) Homepage Journal
    Erm, why would I want to provide my own smart tag entries? If I wanted something linked, dont you think I would just hyperlink it instead of futzing with making a special tag for it that only IE will see????? I already provided my own smart tag entries. They are called hyperlinks. please leave them alone
  • I for one don't want Microsoft choosing where links on a Slashdot story go.

    It's amazing to me how anti-Freedom many Slashdotters are, including apparently the Chief Editor of this site.

    If you don't like it, TURN OFF THE FEATURE. But it's damn arrogant of you to decide for everyone else whether they can use the feature or not. It's up to me how I want to view a page. If I want to read your page with an encyclopedia next to me in order to look up things that I read in the article, it's my choice. This is no different. The only difference is that Microsoft is supplying the database, rather than the publisher of the encyclopedia.

    In short, Taco, stay the hell off my computer and stop trying to decide how I use my browser.


    --

  • in the server side you have to put extra stuff to disable this piece of crap.

    And I think Microsoft shouldn't even allow it to be disabled. Read my lips: It's none of your business if I decide to use this feature on your web site. Stay out of my browser! Hopefully, Microsoft will have an option to override the page's preference.

    It is an stealth M$ tax taken in time of people deploying *any* web server solution.

    So don't put in the tag. It's that simple. Nobody is forcing you to do it, and in fact, you are violating other's freedom by putting it in.


    --

  • What business is it of yours whether Microsoft gets to deploy text-based advertising across all of creation without paying for it?

    Exactly. It's NONE of my business, and it's NONE of yours. It's the business of the user of the web browser.

    If they expect to have links IN the content area of anyone's page,

    There's where you go wrong. It stops being your page the minute it leaves your computer and enters my browser. At that point, I can view it any damn way I want to. Stay the hell out of my browser!

    Why are you trying to give Microsoft an advertising handout?

    First of all, I didn't say whether I would use the feature or not. My point is that it's none of your damn business how I view web pages on MY computer. If I choose to use Microsoft's feature, then I'll use it.

    You're sounding alarmingly Socialist.

    You have it exactly backwards. I'm on the side of freedom. The Socialist position would be to "protect" the consumers "for their own good" because they might be "fooled" by the evil Microsoft. I do NOT want a bunch of arrogant, elitist, big brothers deciding what I can and can't have in my browser.

    Stay the hell out of my browser!


    --

  • if mozilla did this but linked to everything2, the slashdot crowd would have a field day and claim how "innovative" and "clever" they were...

    That presumes that MS is smarter than it has demonstrated via it's spokesmen.

    The slashdotters, while often religiously fanatic and stubborn, are also notoriously independent.

    I am sure that you could do an ultimate lightbulb joke about Slash.

    (How many Slashdotters does it take to change a light bulb?)(Insert List answer here)

    Where the canonical answer for Microsoft is that "Bill declares Dark the Standard".

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • The one saving grace of SmartTags (which I've repeated quite a bit myself) is that web sites can provide their own SmartTag entries. This would relegate Microsoft's influence with SmartTags to something similar to their influence with default bookmark entries.

    However, if I'm reading the article correctly, Microsoft's problem is the difficulty in providing non-English content for SmartTags. Furthermore, they're completely removing the SmartTag capability (as I can puzzle out from the document) just because they can't come up with default SmartTags. Something seems fishy here -- why can't they leave it up to other people to provide proper SmartTags that the user can later install?

  • There are two major differences... first, Everything2 is (more or less) community built.

    Third-parties can provide their own SmartTags. In one of the previous SmartTag threads, someone posted an example that would goatse Microsoft.

    The second and harder to understand thing for most people is that Mozilla can be changed - it isn't written for you. It's written for the person who wrote it. And you can change that by writing it yourself, taking any of the existing code out there.

    Let's see on one hand, we've got: download the source to Mozilla, find the SmartTag-like functionality, comment out that code, verify that nothing else was changed, compile, go back and fix the syntax error that was accidentally introduced by the change, compile again, install a new copy of Mozilla.

    On the other hand, we've got: open configuration dialog box (which may be buried a few layers deep) and uncheck the SmartTag box.

    Given that people were complaining about the average user not being able to figure out how to disable SmartTags, I don't know what to make of your challenge of having them actually remove Mozilla's hypothetical SmartTag-like feature from the source.

    (And yes, I know I'm being a little silly with the Mozilla case -- I can't imagine Mozilla not having a checkbox to disable such a feature, too. However, I'm just responding to the previous poster's source rationalization.)

  • They are modifying MY content without MY permission!

    I find this statement rather ironic, given that a number of us used Babelfish to view the article in question. Babelfish makes content more accessible in cases where the original author can't or won't translate the document into the viewer's native language. It does this by actually changing words. SmartTags make content more accessible in cases where the original author can't or won't provide every conceivable link (such as in this Slashdot post, where I don't bother linking Babelfish or SmartTags). If I had a quarter for every time I've come across an under-linked page, I'd be a rich man.

    Or, to half jokingly rearrange my argument into standard Slashdot rhetoric: Content providers have no right to try and infringe on my fair use modification of local copies of their web pages.

  • Erm, why would I want to provide my own smart tag entries? If I wanted something linked, dont you think I would just hyperlink it instead of futzing with making a special tag for it that only IE will see?????

    But the thing is, you'd be providing general SmartTags for use on a wide variety of sites (yours and others). For example, let's say you run a really great gaming site, GreatGameInfo.com. Now let's also say that you've got some dedicated readers -- the kind of people that, when they hear about a new game, the first thing that goes through their head is "What does GreatGameInfo.com have to say about this?" Now let's also say you're reading a web forum and someone posts, "Whoa! SUPERDUPERNEWFIRSTPERSONSHOOTER kicks ass." Did this person link to GreatGameInfo? No. Maybe this person doesn't even like GreatGameInfo. Maybe he thinks it's a stupid name for a gaming site, maybe he's too lazy to do a link, maybe the forum doesn't support links, or maybe he's never even heard of GreatGameInfo. So if you, as the GreatGameInfo site author provided your users with a completely optional SmartTag for them to install, then maybe our hypothetical web forum reader could go right to GreatGameInfo's SUPERDUPERNEWFIRSTPERSONSHOOTER game review, without having to go through the hassle of copying that name, going to the GGI bookmark, and pasting that name into the search box.

  • Mozilla isn't written for you. It's written by the authors, for the authors. After digging through the Mozilla site, I won't disagree that Mozilla's focus is very developer driven, with less focus on a final consumer browser. However, they do specificially acknowledge the encapsulation of Mozilla within a consumer browser, and they seem to be open to input by everyone (as under the FAQ entries was a link to their public wishlist newsgroup). And while there's certainly a "personal itch" factor, I'd be willing to bet some of the Mozilla people wouldn't be doing what they do if they didn't think other people would be using it. A painter may paint a painting simply because he wants to paint, but it's still nice to know that other people enjoyed it, too.

    Besides, while a developer-centric focus could be used to somewhat negate complaints that Mozilla has a confusing install process, it doesn't work so well against complaints that Mozilla's buggy. Just because a painter doesn't try and sell his paintings doesn't mean I can't comment on his artistic skill (or lack thereof). Especially when he's placing his photographs up on a street corner where any people strolling along can photograph them (with permission). The only real difference is that you can no longer complain about the cost.

  • The difference is that the end user must actively translate the document, where SmartTags will add them automatically. The real problem with SmartTags though is that MS controls where these new links on your page go.

    Babelfish changes the links (both internal and external) in each translated page to point back through Babelfish. So while you must actively invoke it the first time, it continues to operate on its own. Similarly, while SmartTags default off, they stay on once you turn them on. The only major difference between Babelfish and SmartTags in this respect is whether or not the new mode is kept if you quit the web browser.

    As for the whole MS/control issue, third-parties can provide SmartTags. However, the decision of which SmartTags the user does or doesn't use is ultimately up to the user. Besides, what's to keep Babelfish from translating "Google" to "Altavista" in an effort to warp reality? And, unlike with SmartTags, a user can't actively decide which word translations to accept or reject.

  • In the case of commercial software, the decisions are based on committee and entirely profit driven. In the end, the objective is to ship more units.

    On the other hand, the goal of Linux is "World domination. Fast.", so it's not just the profit-driven entities who want to see their product everywhere. The more people who use Linux, the more the platform benefits as a whole. Every new Linux user may turn out to be a Linux developer. Every new Linux developer may go on to write a really great application for Linux (or port an existing one over). Every great application for Linux makes it that much more appealing. That appeal is what turns around and sucks in new Linux users, creating a bit of a cycle.

    After all, critics who don't contribute are so highly respected in every field.

    One could argue that, since software's dynamic and more functional in nature, most criticism is more likely to be constructive. If I say "I like the painting, but the rays from the sun make it hard to see the people.", there's not much the painter can do (unless he feels like creating a companion painting showing the same scene with different lighting). If I say "Great web browser, but the navigation buttons are a little large.", there's a decent chance that some developer will agree and produce one of the following (in order of increasing developer effort): a patch to use smaller navigation images, a configuration option to let the user select smaller navigation images, or a fundamental redesign of the browser to make it skinnable.

    When I've developed software personally, I've added features that I had zero personal interest in, simply because I knew they would be extremely useful to other users. Sure, it's not enough to necessarily motivate me to do an entire from-scratch project that I don't care about, but I still write some code for people other than myself.

  • well, I will agree. That is a useful idea. But I still have trouble getting past the fact that with this plan, you wouldn't be altering your content, but the content of other sites. As a content creator, this makes me really uneasy.

    You make some good points that I'm not sure how to fully address. Part of the way I see SmartTags is not as adding content, per se, but rather providing a means of accessing an external reference on data you're studying (akin to going to look something up in the encyclopedia, for example). The fundamental problems, however, is that both the data you're studying and the external reference happen to be "the web" and the access is being facilitated in such a way that makes it appear that the data being read is different from what originally written.

    One partial solution might be some user interface changes to make it more obvious to the reader what's part of the real website and what's being added client-side. Also, I think education will help to a degree. In the real world, for example, a reader has no problem understanding that in a Norton annotated edition of Hamlet, the stuff on the left is what Shakespeare wrote while the stuff on the right was written by a bunch of Shakespearean scholars. A more web-oriented comparison might be how most users (I hope) have come to understand that when you click on an external link, you're actually going to another site, maintained by a different person. While some sites have external link disclaimers, most don't bother.

    On the PHB issue, I think you're fairly safe in that either they'll never figure out how to turn SmartTags on in the first place or they'll see SmartTags on everything. Even if they don't put two and two together and realize that the SmartTags are being generated by their web browser, they'll think that the website you created is just conforming to standard Internet conventions or something.

  • by artificeren (189424) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @06:59AM (#135821)
    It's very simple. I downloaded a file from a web server. This file is now MY file on MY hard drive. If I want to view it with notepad, I can. If I want to edit this file to make every single word go to everything2.com, I can. If I want to use services that insert new links into this file on my hard drive which might be of interest to me, I can do that, too.

    Many people get in a big stink if other media publishers try to limit what people can do with the content after it has been transfered ( DeCSS, etc ), so why are web publishers in some magic bubble where it's Right that they own the content after the customer has it? If I want to run any arbitrary program on a file on my harddrive, I damn well can.
  • ...this guy [bbspot.com] that made the decision not to use smart tags in Europe. There's gotta be at least one of them.
  • by rebelcool (247749) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @06:25AM (#135844)
    if mozilla did this but linked to everything2, the slashdot crowd would have a field day and claim how "innovative" and "clever" they were...
  • XP stands for eXPerimental? I could have sworn it was eXtra Profits.
  • I think it's more probable that folks in Europe aren't "whipped" like those of us in the US, and are less willing to accept M$ as the "emperor of links." Maybe they're just trying to avoid the obvious beating they'll take for trying out their antics in non-US markets.

    GreyPoopon
    --

  • Likewise, the links behind Smarttags can be community specified. Just configure your system(s) to use a particular set of them. Share your set with your friends or your community.

  • When I had the anonymous web proxy up on anon.xg.nu we looked at selling add space by having the proxy detect banners on the page that it pulled down and replace it with one of our customers banners. We worked out the programing but when we ran it by legal they put a stop to the idea. It seems that they were of the opinion that by changing the content of a page with out the owners consent we were violating there copyright on the page. We nixed the idea and moved on. I would love to see how this works for microsoft. I would also like to see the class action law suit against them for violating copyrights.
  • Is it just me or is there an absence of activity surrounding the U.S. antitrust case against Microsoft? During Bush's campaign, Bush hinted that the government went too far in pursuing the case against Microsoft. Perhaps Microsoft feels free to pursue aggressive anti-competitive tactics with Bush now in office.
  • by Violet Null (452694) on Thursday June 21, 2001 @06:26AM (#135886)
    Microsoft, the big ol' international company that markets Visual Studio in about 60 different languages, much less Windows, much less Internet Explorer..._this_ is the Microsoft that's pulling SmartTags in Europe because of language issues?

    Excuse me if I don't think that's quite the reason.

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