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The Web 2.0 Conundrum - How Much Control is Too Much? 59

CrashRoX asks: "One of the big hypes with Web 2.0 is that users should be able to control their content. We then end up with all assortments of mash-ups, widgets, feeds and customized pages/profiles. Given this, where do site admins draw the line on what users can do? MySpace is the best example for this question. Their popularity is based on promoting the fact that you can have a page that displays your personality, customize it and pretty much do whatever you want to it. Over time, they've had security problems with users using JavaScript. That privilege was revoked not too long after. Most recently, they've limited the use of flash controls and have started banning certain widgets (like YouTube and others). Sites like Google let you create your own widgets using an API. How much control from a programming, security and usability point of view should we give users? What guidelines should developers follow for building web 2.0 sites?"
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The Web 2.0 Conundrum - How Much Control is Too Much?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @05:42AM (#16606512)
    With Web 2.0 the user have no control over their content whatsoever. They give their content to the webmaster. It sits on the webmaster's server and that is effectively beyond the control of the users. Web 2.0 trades the illusion of control for valuable content. I can't edit this comment after clicking submit. Is it my comment or Slashdot's?
    • by tres3 ( 594716 )
      An intelligent first post!! OMG, what is becoming of the slashdot we all know and love to hate? :)
      • by Anonymous Coward

        We're sorry. It won't happen again.

        - CmdrTaco

    • Yours. See the bottom of the page:

      All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the Poster.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I thought it meant that all posts belonged to this guy. []
    • by grazzy ( 56382 )
      You shouldnt be able to edit a previously written comment. I'd agree to a revision history where you still can see all original comments though. Or a "appending changes" feature. But never to remove. Diggs way of doing it (for instance) sucks, you can basiclly troll by writing something and then change it in the 300 seconds window you get.
      • by kchrist ( 938224 )
        I've always thought that the best approach would be to let people edit or delete their comments up until the time someone replies to it, at which time it's locked. Or moderates it, if we're talking about /.
    • It's always been this way, users trade control for free web space. You can get free hosting on tripod or whatever, but you have to follow the rules, and put up with the software they provide you. You get a little more freedom once you get shared hosting, but there are still limitations, such as the number of databases you can have set up. If you get you own dedicated server, then you have a lot better control of what goes on it, and what you run on it. I don't know why people are surprised when free ser
    • The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.

      IANAL, but it looks like /. says it belongs to you. They are just storing it and showing it to whomever possible. Kind of like that annoying 8-year old who keeps telling everyone what he heard Grandma say last Christmas when she poked herself quilting...
  • No more than two animated gifs, no bigger than 100x100 pixels, on each page. That'd remove half the dross from the web.
  • When I think of End user I think of the person viewing the page, not someone who is making the page? Ie.. if the End user doesn't want Java Script or Java Applets or funky back grounds... adjust the settings on their browser! What do you mean by End User?
    • Just because everyone has fast connections doesn't mean people should quit designing webpages that are efficient to load. Myspace is like any other site, basic rules of web page design still apply. I have flash and java disabled specifically to keep myspace profiles from pissing me off.
      • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
        MySpace is designed to get the maximum amount of ad impressions without pissing users off to the point where they stop using the site. That would explain why it's so fucking hard to do anything and why you have to navigate through like 50 pages to do anything.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How much control from a programming, security and usability point of view should we give users? What guidelines should developers follow for building web 2.0 sites?"

    As much control as reasonably practical, without intruding on other users' security.

    For example, a page that only gets seen by me (e.g. a plugin for my customised google homepage) might as well let me write Javascript: to do so wouldn't mess with anyone else's security.

    On the other hand, a public page in the domain could use javascri
  • Is this an issue with web 2.0 (whatever that turns out to be) or with the ability for people to host content in general? Surely JS, Flash etc are old tools?
  • by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @06:20AM (#16606662) Homepage
    Nothing in MySpace is "Web 2.0". All the control you have on that site is within the very limited bounds of a form that accepts HTML and CSS. Geocities had a pagebuilder that gave users as much back in 1996. Web 2.0 is about rich interfaces and client side applications. As yet I would argue that there are only two popular Web 2.0 sites. Those are GMail and DeviantArt (and DevArt is flakey at best). The rest are just sites that claim to be Web 2.0 but aren't (Digg, Flickr, MySpace, etc).

    As for how much control to give users, give them whatever your resources will allow. If you've got the team strength to be able to firefight a javascript worm (MySpace) then give them a lot. If you've got the bandwidth to give them video upload (YouTube) give them space. If you're a one man team working on a toy website give them a couple of checkboxes and a button.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Now whoever came up with the term Web 2.0 in the first place? It is really a phrase with no specific meaning in the first place. I never even noticed there was a switch-over or a release of HTTP protocol v. 2. So it is really anyones own make up of a defintion for Web 2.0 (when is 2.1 getting released? can't wait) . One is as good as the other.
      • web 0.1 html text,
        web 0.5 html text with pictures!
        web 1.0 html text, pictures, javascript
        web 1.6 html text, pictures, javascript, java, flash, shockwave, ad nauseum
        web 1.9 html text, pictures, javascript, java, flash, shockwave, ad nauseum in frames
        web 2.0 sctrach frames and replace with spans!
        • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
          Frames were replaced with Ajax. Typical Ajax use loads shit into another fucking unsemantic div element, not span.

          Oh, and Shockwave isn't really used much anymore (except for some games, but Java applets are being used for about the same thing nowadays as well).
      • Now whoever came up with the term Web 2.0 in the first place?

        I've heard people credit the term to Tim O'Reilly [] but I'm not sure
        how accurate that is.

        It is really a phrase with no specific meaning in the first place.


        I never even noticed there was a switch-over or a release of HTTP protocol v. 2. So it is really anyones own make up of a defintion for Web 2.0 (when is 2.1 getting released? can't wait)

        Just wait until you see what we announce at the Gopher 3.1 Expo [].
    • by brunes69 ( 86786 )
      Other examples - Yahoo! Mail Beta, Google Home Page, Windows Live!, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps. All of these allow you to take content from either themselves or someone else and stick it into a different page. That is the crux of "Web 2.0" - mashups of content.
    • by LargeWu ( 766266 )
      You are basing your definition of Web 2.0 around technology. There is another camp that bases the definition around community, i.e. sites that are based on user-supplied content, vs. than content that is posted by the site and consumed by users.
    • by kchrist ( 938224 )
      While I mostly disagree with your assessment of what should be considered "web 2.0", I've been trying to tell people this about MySpace [] for quite a while now.
  • Preventing access to external content(like most free web hosting providers do) will reduce security risks significantly but then that might be 'too much control'
  • Hands off content. Let the users post whatever CONTENT they wish. Restricting what code they can post (i.e. JavaScript, etc) is a safety measure that's perfectly reasonable. After all, even the most free nation has laws. [] is a great example. No rules on content. Everyone can edit anyone else's content even. But it's not like they let you post huge scripts. It's about as free and open as a website gets without handing out ftp passwords.
    • by searchr ( 564109 )
      "Let the users post whatever CONTENT they wish."

      If only. But "Web 2.0" isn't just for MySpace. User created content pretty much defines FLICKR, for example. But Flickr has decided to keep a quite narrow field of what can be posted and viewable in the public areas. Adult materials, nudity and sex, those are out. But also interestingly, so are "non-photos", such as screenshots or artwork. Flickr wants to be a family-friendly photo site, thus the content allowed is only photos. As the user base grows, it will
  • Myspace and other blogging sites are a different story than the rest of the internet. They are places where users can easily make their own personal webpage. If they want their webpage to be fucked up they can make it fucked up. It's no different than personal geocities or angelfire pages of the past, just easier. Users cant fuck up websites whos purpose is something other than having their own personal website, IE. Slashdot, porn sites, etc. (Yes users can make stupid comments on slashdot but that is diffe
  • by subreality ( 157447 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @08:06AM (#16607174)
    The question is ambiguous and too broad, just like "Web 2.0".

    Until you frame the question by defining what the heck you mean by that, this discussion will be useless.
  • The question is asked from the developer's point of view: what should we let users do?

    Hopefully, the developers know who the target audience is for the webiste. So, thinking like one of the user's... what would you expect to be able to do?

    This is different from what you want to do. You may want to access the personal details of every user... but do you really expect to be able to do that (would you want everyone to access *your* personal details?)

    The question's a little too generic. It depends entirely o
  • guys said it best. []
  • by Jester998 ( 156179 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @08:35AM (#16607412) Homepage
    Never give users a choice, they'll invariably choose the wrong one.
  • If the features and controls you give the user add to and aid the overall functionality, them yes, it's a fit.
    While features for features sake can hinder the user.

    It's a pretty simple equation really.
  • by Chacham ( 981 )
    Back in the day, noone normal used Flash. Why? Mostly because it crashed Netscape quite often. The other reason was the lack of control the user had. As such, i don't install Flash on my browsers. Even today, and i am happily without those annoying ads. Though, if i really want to see something on YouTube i'll fire up IE on my other computer which has it installed. (*hangs head in shame*)

    People just gave in at some point. It's what companies have going for them. Just stop using Flash, or other nasty user-co
  • Eventually too many options and widgets just get annoying.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.