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AutoLink Toolbar feature looks like SmartTags

     
2:17 pm on Feb 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

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As an online publisher and content provider the AutoLink feature in the new version of the Google toolbar is something that I take serious and direct issue with.

You may recall that MicroSoft tried a similar concept with SmartTags and other companies have released other similar plugins that have come to collectively been called Scumware, Spyware, Adware or Malware.

Gary Price : With "AutoLink" enabled, web pages will be "enhanced" with additional links if Google thinks additional information might be helpful. For example, say your browsing a web page with numerous addresses on it. AutoLink will turn each of those addresses into direct links to the Google Maps database.

I don't want Google, or any other company for that matter, "enhancing" or otherwise modifying the page design, links or content of our pages or other intellectual property without permission and/or compensation to us.

Let's imagine that I sell books online and I list the ISBN number on the pages. AutoLink modifies the ISBN numbers that I list on my ecommerce pages and inserts a link to that books page in Amazon, my competitor... Not Good.

I am sure that this "Feature" has massive commercial appeal and potential for Google. How long will it be before Google starts offering paid partnerships to certain parters to link their data directly from your pages to theirs.

Google may claim this is useful and they will do no evil. How can we be sure? There is much to consider.

How much longer before we just let the web browser rewrite all our websites and pages..

5:38 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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MultiMan, many thanks for the link and keeping this thread alive.

I believe the answer to this is not programming that allows publishers to opt out.

I'll confess to being a Google cultist on some level but this toolbar issue has changed all that. Continuous pressure on Google to remove the feature or making it opt-in is what is needed. If Google wants to require AdSense publishers to opt-in or drop out of AdSense that is OK with me. Facilitating the changing of publisher content without permission with or without a click is not acceptable for any reason.

I had hoped that this was simply an overly aggressive department and a lack of controls but if that were the case it would have been withdrawn by now (I think).

Nothing less than a change as I've described AND a full apology to publishers with a promise not to modify content in the future will return me to my prior "Google cultist on some level" state.

10:01 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Another Google mailbox to load down with, erm, "suggestions"

toolbar-support@google.com

11:49 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I think AutoLink will keep unchanged in its offical toolbar version. The answer is simple, affiliates only account for a small percentage of all web users. G$ will not care us.
3:32 am on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I have nothing to do with affiliate systems. The issue of the AutoLink in G$'s TB is theft of original content, theft of copyright, and theft of bandwidth. Plain and simple.
3:46 am on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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communitynews,

I appreciate your thoughts.

Like many honest web developers, I too was once a loyal advocate of G before they became G$. That alone would not make me or anyone else like that a G$ cultist. But now just about everything G$ does creates a new destruction (et al). They outright betrayed us, and they continue to betray and betray us former supporters on a routine basis. This TB issue is now just one latest example of an ever increasing long line of examples of how now G$ can "do only evil." However, the true G$ cultists simply refuse to see or admit the truth of G$'s actions these days. Instead, the cultists preach their G$ cult propaganda of how supposedly everything about G$ is "right" no matter how obviously wrong in so many ways and examples. And they will promote the lie that somehow those of us who have non-mind-controlled eyes to see through the G$ cult tactics are somehow "conspirary theorists" or simply wear "tinfoil hats."

I believe the answer to this is not programming that allows publishers to opt out.

While I agree with your point in theory, I disagree in the end of the matter. The camel nose under the tent can still uproot the whole tent later. The real answer, as I see it, is that AutoLink must be abolished as an option. For me, end of story.

9:25 am on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Multiman, thanks for posting the feedback address. I know that Google actually reads all of their feedback, and I went ahead and sent some autolinks suggestions their way. Gist of my current feeling, after much reading here and on other sites: excellent idea, mediocre execution at present. So many things Google can do to make the tool better, and -- since it's still in an early beta stage -- I'm confident they WILL make it better.

I also think it's interesting to note that uber-geek (and IMHO quite-well-respected writer and technologist) Cory Doctorow has spoken out strongly in favor of the autolinks concept:

In small part:
And so on -- it's my screen, and I should be able to control it; companies like Google and individuals should be able to provide tools and services to let me control it.

Amen.

I hope others here will post their thoughts in this thread and e-mail Google directly to offer constructive suggestions on making the toolbar (autolinks function and beyond) more useful.

12:08 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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MultiMan, calm down - attacking ThatAdamGuy just because you disagree with him is not only against the TOS of WebmasterWorld, it's also making you look like a Troll, which is not the thing you would like to look like. It takes all the weight away from your better posts earlier in this thread.

I personally respect ThatAdamGuys point of view, but i disagree. I don't find this a nice feature. Imho, it sucks.

Anyway, that's not the reason i post this - i've got a simple question: On the Tbar page [toolbar.google.com] it says:

AutoLink (US only)
Turn street addresses into links to online maps

What's up with the "US Only" - is it only working on US IP machines, or is it only for US addresses or US websites, or what?

1:32 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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MultiMan,

I agree with claus that attacking ThatAdamGuy is counter productive here. You're right though; he does sound like a Google salesman.

ThatAdamGuy,

What do YOU think about changing content and the law regarding derivative works? Don't you think Google is facilitating the creation of unlicensed derivative works? Isn't that as bad as overlaying different ads on top of a publisher's ads like the gator crowd does?

2:44 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Nice spotting MultiMan,

I’ve been suspecting this to be the case all along but held back thinking “surly G$ wont go THAT low”….i’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

ThatAdamGuy said:

I also think it's interesting to note that uber-geek (and IMHO quite-well-respected writer and technologist) Cory Doctorow has spoken out strongly in favor of the autolinks concept:

In small part:
And so on -- it's my screen, and I should be able to control it; companies like Google and individuals should be able to provide tools and services to let me control it.

Amen.

That’s a load of balony.....” it's my screen, and I should be able to control it”. MS Office programs (or any other software) are also on your screen....imagine a company releasing a tool bar that turns all menu items in word into online sales link for linux distros....or better still, links the MS logos on the windows update page to the linux update site ..MS legal representatives will want to meet the developers in court the following day (software reverse engineering). Or imagine a tool bar that turns all adsense ads on web pages into overture ads.

Cory Doctorow can say what he likes....nothing changes the fact that it is an abuse of developers intellectual property and bandwidth thievery.

I’m the one who created (and own all rights to) my web site. It is MY intellectual property and only I should have a say on what links should display on MY pages. If the user doesn’t like it then the user can go back to where he/she came from and search for another site. That simple!

[edited by: max_mm at 3:00 pm (utc) on Feb. 28, 2005]

2:56 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Or imagine a tool bar that turns all adsense ads on web pages into overture ads.

Spot on! Then we will see if Google says good things about such a tool.
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