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This 187 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 187 ( 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 > >     
Google Toolbar AutoUpdate Includes AutoLink Feature On
Are Webmasters Losing Control of their Websites?
martinibuster




msg:1101629
 7:26 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google forced an update to their toolbar that activated an autolink button feature by default. What this means is that this button, when activated, will allow Google to place links on your web page to Amazon, among other places.

The autolink feature has been controversial [theregister.co.uk] since it came out. In fact, there's a javascript for killing google autolink, which indicates how much webmasters are against the autolink feature.

It's surprising to see Google pushing this onto toolbar users like myself who don't want it. Unlike non-webmaster users, they may not know how to disable it.

Does Google's use of your website exceed what you feel comfortable with?

 

uk_webber




msg:1101719
 11:36 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google is a listed company. The company only exists to make the share holders richer.

Google will do everything possible to maximise their profits and keep their owners happy / rich.

Accept it or open a bookshop up in your town.

Visi




msg:1101720
 11:50 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Don't like the privacy terms with the toolbar so don't use it...however if I have an ISBN in a link. will the toolbar option overrule my affiliate link? Have to wonder if my quarterly cheque from amazon is not going to happen antmore?

MoneyMan




msg:1101721
 11:56 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google is always holding themselves up to being so white hat and severely "spanking" anyone they perveive to be black hat. However, it seems that whatever they want to do is okay.

They've always stated to create web pages for the user not the search engine. This tool supports their goal of providing a better user experience, putting the user first, and giving the user access to quality information. Without wanting to take the thread offtopic into a blk v. wht debate, i believe most would agree blackhat tactics typically do not support the "user-centric" notion.

With this tactic is G hypocritical on the ďdo no evilĒ notion? It depends on whose perspective of evil.
I always thought that was a ridiculous statement because of it's reliance on relativity.

Please note, I'm not stating I support this feature. I think it will likely do more harm for G than good and I wouldn't want anyone messing with my sites either. But in the end, my opinion as a webmaster doesnít really matter. In enough volume this opinion might, if it starts to affect Gís profit in other areas because of backlash (e.g. adsense boycotts).

Assuming G doesn't change their mind thinking this is too risky, then the market and/or the governments will decide. If the markets decide this is the best thing since sliced bread an there is major adoption (I donít think itís likely) then this would be a shift in how the masses browse the Internet. Then whether you think it's right or wrong, or if G is a evil-doer or Godsend, as a website owner you will have to adapt.

arubicus




msg:1101722
 12:06 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

"That's fair. The "tool" in my scenario would be one that alters the display to present you with the competitorís items. The point still stands, though. The tool is opt-in and user enabled with explicit intent on the user's behalf under the premise of added convenience."

Which also makes my point of altering material for "added convenience". The display is altered not the actual store shelf. Your example is like the toolbar showing a special built in opt-in window of ads which is completely different. The toolbar ALTERS presentation. The point I was making is that it does not always matter if the customer "opts-in" or not. It matter of what is being violated. What is being intruded upon. A customer may "OPT-IN" and the device may show an item on screen. Is this actually intruding on property rights of Wal-mart? If the device ALTERS the items on the shelf in any way does this intrude on property rights? Sure does. It is like me altering a magazine and placing ads to my affiliates then reprinting it on Joe Bob's behalf without payment for advertising to the magazine owner. The thing is Joe Bob does not have permission to alter the content of the magazine. Nor do I. Permission must be granted by the magazine FIRST before anything can be altered. Lawfully this is how it works. It is not altered FIRST and the magazine has to figue out how to "OPT-OUT".

NoLimits




msg:1101723
 12:10 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is going to without a doubt adversely affect AdSense EPC.

If you were an AdWords user; Would you pay as much, knowing that Google now has a chance of stealing that visitor back from your site and turning a profit on both of you?

MoneyMan




msg:1101724
 12:50 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

arubicus, I understand that the toolbar alters presentation. The user is choosing to use the feature in this tool knowing this is case. They are doing it for the convenience factor. That is the guise of this entire toolbar. It's on the up-and-up in terms of a user's intent.

As far as the violation of copywrites by altering presentation, I agree that this is very suspect and pushing limits. I'm not going to claim to be a legal guru and predict what will happen in this case. Which is why I state it will be up to the markets or government agencies to determine the fate of this feature or type of manipulation. If this is a legally egregious act, the courts will handle it.

The fact is right now G is doing it and Iím sure they considered the implications and determined they have a defensible position. Time will tell if they do. In the meantime Ė its here and if a webmaster views it as a threat then itís up to the webmaster to adapt.

bose




msg:1101725
 1:01 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think Arbicus stated this quite well as follows:
It is like me altering a magazine and placing ads to my affiliates then reprinting it on Joe Bob's behalf without payment for advertising to the magazine owner. The thing is Joe Bob does not have permission to alter the content of the magazine. Nor do I. Permission must be granted by the magazine FIRST before anything can be altered. Lawfully this is how it works. It is not altered FIRST and the magazine has to figue out how to "OPT-OUT".

When you look at it from that angle, it does not make it any better if it is turned on by a "user action" or by "default." Similarly, I find it difficult to buy the argument that just because this is being done (currently) on a smaller scale (a few keywords), it should be considered entirely benign.

I currently don't have any content (book review sites, or any price comparision site for books, etc.) that would be affected by this. However, as a matter of principle, I would expect Google not to attempt something like this.

I think this is just a warning shot across the bow.

Depending upon how this gets perceived/received, I would suspect this to be expanded to cover more "money words" and eventually may even be "turned on" by default.

MatthewHSE




msg:1101726
 1:19 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure where the current AutoLink feature fits in the scale of good vs. evil, given that it has to be manually activated for each page. Personally I lean toward not liking it, but then that brings up the issue of many other browser tools out there, such as Greasemonkey. While most of these tools have legitimate uses, I can also see them being misused. For instance, say I want to register for a website but don't want to abide by the terms of service. There are tools that will allow me to edit the page to say what I want, then I can take a screenshot and "prove" what the page said "when I viewed it." (Surely something like that wouldn't stand up in court?)

Not to mention all the discussions on Norton Internet Security, which blocks all kinds of things, or the AdBlock extension for Firefox, which is the only drawback I'd see if Firefox became the mainstream browser. Then there's hotlinking images, the Google cache, etc., etc., etc., which all tie in with the question of who really has the right to a webpage's content?

The root of the issue is, whose page is it? I contend that, as the designer or site owner, it's my page and nobody has any right to change it (except for user-stylesheets in case of special accessibility needs). But that's something that's impossible to enforce. So the next question is, how much changing of a webpage is acceptable?

Don't look at me - I don't know the answers. I just know the questions! ;)

<off topic> I'd have to disagree with you, MoneyMan, on the "evil/relativity" statement. History alone proves to my satisfaction that right and wrong are absolute - or, at the very least, that any society based on moral relativity is in for serious trouble.</off topic>

arubicus




msg:1101727
 1:38 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the input bose!

" arubicus, I understand that the toolbar alters presentation. The user is choosing to use the feature in this tool knowing this is case. They are doing it for the convenience factor. That is the guise of this entire toolbar."

User convenience/intent does not make it right. Like the magazine example above.

Google's intent needs weighted in there also. A user's intent may be "convenience" of the toolbar but Google's intent for the creation of this feature is to PROFIT from the toolbar through the DIRECT use of other people's material without permission. Even if the user wanted the convenience the makers of the software has no right to alter(through any means) a someone else's page for it's own profit or even not for profit. The right to profit from websites are reserved by the owner - Not any third party unless by contract(permission)! It should and must gain permission to do so BEFORE any altering occurs. Now if they threw up some ads directly in the toolbar that is a different story, they own that space. Or if they gave webmaster a special piece of code that lets them know that "hey, it is ok to alter my website for your gain".

texasville




msg:1101728
 2:15 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Google's intent for the creation of this feature is to PROFIT from the toolbar through the DIRECT use of other people's material without permission."
Absolutely correct! I look at it this way...my site is MY real estate. Don't bring your cattle to graze. That's my grass! If this is truly for the user's benefit then why is "for profit" and aren't there a lot of other things google could be working on to enhance their site without running their cattle on my ranch?

MoneyMan




msg:1101729
 2:20 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>User convenience/intent does not make it right.

I agree with your statements and position about use of materials. But aside from a good discussion on the boards, morality has little to do with the issue. G and any public company are guided by the market, the law (and its accountability), and profitability. All three of those variables have yet to weigh in conclusively on this issue.

Obviously there was enough belief by G to bring the product to market.

MatthewHSE, I would have said the exact opposite about history more often disproving moral absolutes than proving them. But thatís a better conversation over beers at the next pubcon, or at minimum Foo. :)

texasville




msg:1101730
 2:23 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, we'll see the first time they drag off a customer of someone big..like goldman sachs or a firm of equal wealth. 10-20 lawsuits might drive the stock into the ground.

NoLimits




msg:1101731
 3:18 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

What would this look like in my logs I wonder?

What percentage of people browsing use the G-Toolbar?

outland88




msg:1101732
 3:24 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I negated AutoLink by converting to images. This would be a royal nightmare for many sites though. At the same time I was testing my site dropped 40 places within minutes. Coincidence, you just never really know. To me itís just a hop-skip-and a- jump to something Gator like or a yellow lining toolbar. I would suspect that drop-down list will grow longer once other businesses want on it. I also suspect they'll que on other things once work-a-rounds cut into a revenue source.

twist




msg:1101733
 3:31 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I should start distributing software that manipulates windows O/S and removes the need to activate. Why not, i'm not personally manipulating the software, the people using my program are. I am just giving them a "convienent" way to infringe on someone else's copyright. Maybe G should add that to their next toolbar update, a cd key for the next windows O/S.

tallis




msg:1101734
 3:48 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I should start distributing software that manipulates windows O/S and removes the need to activate. Why not, i'm not personally manipulating the software, the people using my program are. I am just giving them a "convienent" way to infringe on someone else's copyright. Maybe G should add that to their next toolbar update, a cd key for the next windows O/S.

precisely.

how can google seriously expect to hide behind the opt-in feature for users, if anything it simply extends the copyright breach to include the user.

debating on what exactly is a precise analogy for the way in which google is taking potential customers away from a site is specious, the point is that some people are rigorously defending their right to decide their own content and some people argue that google has the right to change it.

when you put information in the public domain, you know there's little chance that your copyright will be respected and your content won't be stolen, but this removes the need to scrape the content, it's using your own site to steal your intellectual property.

yes, i said steal.

i'm not talking about stealing customers now, that's a separate (although important) issue.

i'm talking about using your intellectual property without your permission, even when it's on your property. and yes, i do think of my website as my property, because i pay the rent there.

i may decide to let people visit it, but it's my choice and i don't let my visitors rearrange the furniture.

"trespassers will be prosecuted"?

i might not have the money for that, but i hope someone does.

tallis

outland88




msg:1101735
 4:08 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

When yellow lining started the innovators said it was just to highlight the search term in the document. Then they begin selling the highlighted term as a link to another site. Googleís toggle on switch seems strangely similar. I guess people wouldnít look at the cached version for the highlighted term so they need the toolbar to direct them to it.

larryhatch




msg:1101736
 4:18 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm at a loss here. I use Firefox and I'm not about to install some new toolbar.
I want to see what exactly happens to a page with this new Autolink enabled.

1) Does it affect regular 'live' pages, or just the cached versions?
2) Does it crawl up and affect your pages themselves?
(not just the toolbar area at bottom?)
3) If so HOW? What would I see? Suppose I do a mouseover of some special keyword, book name
or the like. Does something pop up? change colors? text turn to hyperlink or what?

I wish somebody would do screen captures, before and after, and put them up
online so all us dummies can see just what this is all about. -Larry

larryhatch




msg:1101737
 4:21 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Forgot something. I have a 'references' page on my site full of book names, many complete with ISBN numbers.
Sticky me for the URL if anyone wants to use it as a test case. - Larry

arubicus




msg:1101738
 6:25 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Obviously there was enough belief by G to bring the product to market."

That is what I am afraid of. If they do believe that creating such a tool as good moral business practice without any wrong doing it gets me to wonder about some of their other so called convictions and standards they perceive to have. Kind of throws the old trustworthiness out the door if you ask me. Even if this belief was formed through succumbing to market pressures for profitably then which other standards/beliefs/convictions will they choose to throw out?

"morality has little to do with the issue."

Morality has everything to do with the issue. Morals are from which laws/rights are born. (copyrights/property rights/right to profit) Which happens to be one of your variables you have stated:

"G and any public company are guided by the market, the law (and its accountability), and profitability. All three of those variables have yet to weigh in conclusively on this issue."

Market pressures and profitability does in no way give G or any public company any permisions or right to violate the rights of others.

Clark




msg:1101739
 6:38 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Are our earlier fears of Google changing, post IPO, becoming reality? Between this autolink thingie and the Cnet story a San Fran paper published: [sfgate.com...]
are we to look forward to a new Microsoft style bully in town?

SpikeyRob




msg:1101740
 6:59 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

MarketingGuy Said: Use the JS code to block it then. In fact if you are so morally outraged, then block Googlebot. There is no reason you can't block this feature without compromising the integrity of your site. Hell, Google has had to invest millions in protecting the integrity of their site from the SEO community.

Google didn't write that JS code, the outraged webmaster community did. That alone shows that Google don't want this to be optional for webmasters.

You could block GoogleBot, but that's not going to stop the problem. It just means your not listed in Google. The toolbar users will still find your site through other means, and the toolbar will still scan your page for ISBN numbers etc, won't it? That part would be clientside. So blocking GoogleBot might be a form of protest, but it isn't a solution. Not to meantion being held over a barrel. If you block GoogleBot you'll lose more sales than if users click the AutoLinks.

MarketingGuy Said: The bottom line is that this is an optional feature used by a small percentage of users, who have to click a button to activate the feature even when it's activated by default.

Optional. Optional to the user you mean. Google gave us no choice, except for the choice to create a hack to mess up the toolbar. So you can say it's optional to the user but it wasn't optional for the webmaster. And how long will the JavaScript hack work before they patch the toolbar with a workaround?

I'd like to point out one last point, no one seems to have mentioned the AutoUpdate was not only to show the AutoLink feature. It also advertises Google Desktop Search, and unlike AutoLink, there is no way to remove this button. There is no way I am installing that. My trust in Google has gone. And if you can't trust Google online, who can you trust?

Visit Thailand




msg:1101741
 7:05 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I tried to use the Option facility on the Toolbar and deselected Autolink and autofill which it permitted me to do but as soon as I open a new browser it goes back to the forced setting of autolink and autofill.

Very annoying to say the least.

RonPK




msg:1101742
 7:23 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Nobody knows what people do with the pages I publish: block javascript, block flash, block images, highlight search keywords, translate the text, resize the window, alter the layout with their own custom style sheet. As long as the user doesn't redistribute my pages, he is not violating my copyright and therefore it's fine with me. It's the nature of HTML pages: there is no law that dictates how pages should be presented; that is up to the user. Switch to PDF or JPEG if you disagree.

Google provides a tool that makes it easier to use the information on a page. And they probably make some money with that service. Big deal.

Visit Thailand: when I switch off AutoLink and restart the browser, it remains off. Maybe a glitch?

1milehgh80210




msg:1101743
 7:34 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Google provides a tool that makes it easier to use the information on a page. And they probably make some money with that service. Big deal."
All adware and spyware does. And they all use the 'they opted in' argument too.

Rogi




msg:1101744
 7:51 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

No Google! No! You cannot advertise on my sites for free. Other's are paying good money for that. Your AdSense program pays good money for that. You are not special enough for me to give you free advertising. No google, no!

Visit Thailand




msg:1101745
 7:52 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

A javascript soltuion to block this was mentioned. Where is it? and also does it block G-bit totally or just this intrusion.

larryhatch




msg:1101746
 8:01 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Suppose G, subsidized by Amazon and Map-Blitz (or whatever) offered to pay for the clicks?
If not, I see no reason not to block Autolink by any means that works.

Meanwhile, I'd be interested in comments from those who objected so
strenuously to ad-blockers in general, Firefox and all.
Is it OK to block Google Autolinks, but not OK for people to block Adsense ads? -Larry

larryhatch




msg:1101747
 8:08 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Quick question, unrelated to the above:

I have ISBN (book) numbers on one page in particular.
Thanks to the people who stickied me, I know they become hyperlinks.

Suppose somebody clicks on those ISBN links..
Does Amazon (or whoever) open up in a NEW window, or the same window,
so that the back button returns to my book page? -Larry

victor




msg:1101748
 9:19 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

No Google! No! You cannot advertise on my sites for free.

Absolutely!
WTG!

And, in exactly the same way, no one can advertise on my monitor for free either.

You want 100x100 pixels for 20 seconds top right, pay me (not a third party) to use that space. I paid for that monitor and the electricity and deskspace it uses. It is not a free resource for anyone to use without my permission.

That applies to everyone, including Google.

If we all adopted that model, life would be so much simpler.

DoppyNL




msg:1101749
 9:43 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

You know, if Google would have done this for the user looking at the page, and their primary reason is to help the user find vital information.

Then they would have linked to a website of a large library or something, that contains ALL information about books.
That way the user would be able to find more information about the book.
The fact that they are linking to amazon clearly shows that they are in it to make money out of it.
and THAT is what I as a webmaster don't want.

This 187 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 187 ( 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 > >
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