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"Smart Tags," Round Two

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the echo-echo-chamber-chamber dept.

Microsoft 606

A few more stories about "Smart Tags" (see round 1 if you missed it) -- Liza writes: "According to Newsbytes, a new feature in IE 6.0, "Smart Tags," which inserts hyperlinks into pages so that users can get more information about a concept or company, could violate both copyright law and federal rules prohibiting deceptive and unfair business practices. Microsoft says site operators could insert a metatag disabling Smart Tags, so concerned publishers could avoid them. Interesting questions!" Meanwhile, ZDNet has a nice piece examining smart tags in action.

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Re:What's the problem? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#158375)

People could blame that on the site and not the smart tag (knowing how dumb people can be.)

I agree with what you say, but I think you're being a little too gentle here.

People absolutely, positively would blame the web site and not the smart tag. They would send enraged e-mails and voice-mails to the web site authors and they flat out would not believe the authors when they were told the truth: that it's Microsoft's link, not the web site's link.

Smart Tags and DeCSS (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#158376)

If I browse an article on the DeCSS code and IE gives me a smart tag pointing me to the original code, does that mean the M$oft could be attacked by the RIAA. M$oft Vs RIAA, that would be cool. huh huh huh

Re:What's the problem? (5)

Enry (630) | more than 13 years ago | (#158399)

You're confusing content with presentation. The web was always about separating the two out....well..for a while anyway. Today, you can still change the colors of links and font sizes and whatnot. But the content is still the same.

Until now. MS is intending on changing the content of a web page. This is no longer about changing how it looks, they're changing how it acts. Links that you as an author did not want are now popping up in your site, changing the flow of the content. This is very different from changing a font size.

Disable it in the browser (2)

smartin (942) | more than 13 years ago | (#158404)

If I were to use a browser with this feature (which I doubt that I will), i'd simply disable it. The last thing I want is my browser using cpu cycles and network bandwidth to look up every word on the page so that it can link to advertising and corporate sanctioned sites. What a stupid bloated feature!

Another potential problem with Smart Tags (2)

Masem (1171) | more than 13 years ago | (#158408)

Besides the issues of changing the meaning of a page by inserting their own hotlinks, another possible effect is that MS can effectively track people on the web without the users even visiting the MS family of sites. For example, MS XP might have the word "Slashdot" become a hyperlink that links to "www.slashdot.org"; however, it's just as easy for them to make the link as "www.microsoft.com/routing.pl?url=www.slashdot.org ", and since you'd be using IE which sends valid Referrer tags, MS can effectively track your progress through the web without you knowning about it.

ZDNet Article Worth a Look (3)

sphealey (2855) | more than 13 years ago | (#158416)

That ZDNet article is one of the funniest things I have ever read in a Ziff publiction (intentionally funny, anyway).

sPh

What's the problem? (4)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 13 years ago | (#158430)

I can't really see the problem with smart tags. One of the tenets of the web one which I expect most Slashdot readers strongly agree with - is that you cannot control how your site will appear on the user's machine.

If they choose to view it in an unusual font, that's their choice. If they disable JavaScript, that's their choice. If they run a program to filter out banner ads, it's none of your business. The same applies if they decide to run a program which adds new links to the page that you wrote.

Of course, you do have to question the common sense of the user who runs such a program, given that the standard set of links is unlikely to be impartial. But if you carefully choose which sets of smart tags to import, it could work.

MS Business as usual (2)

joe_fish (6037) | more than 13 years ago | (#158431)

This is becoming a standard practice for Microsoft - announce some 'feature' to guage public reaction.

Soon they'll decide if the shouting is too loud and abandon the idea ..., or not.

The same thing happened with

XP subscriptions: http://slashdot.org/articles/01/05/06/0038258.shtm l

Spamming: http://slashdot.org/articles/00/09/28/1341249.shtm l

Passport: http://slashdot.org/yro/00/07/29/1228209.shtml --

I'm out of order-Your out of order-This whole... (1)

Psarchasm (6377) | more than 13 years ago | (#158432)

I'm out of order. Your out of order. This whole Internet is out of order!

Sue them under the DMCA for reverse engineering - and republishing your content.

nyuk nyuk nyuk

Illegal is alright? (3)

cluening (6626) | more than 13 years ago | (#158435)

Microsoft says site operators could insert a metatag disabling Smart Tags, so concerned publishers could avoid them.

Yeah, and concerned car owners can lock their doors, and concerned grocery store oweners can get video cameras, but that doesn't make stealing an open car or robbing an unguarded store alright... This all sounds pretty horrible to me. I don't want somebody sticking ads or other links onto my pages for me, making it look like I am endorsing something I may know nothing about. But since "IE won the browser war," I guess they can do whatever they monopolistically want...

Re:Smells like spam (1)

szo (7842) | more than 13 years ago | (#158441)

In my analogy the webmaster is the receiver of the spam. Who like to think that, to some extent, he controls the look and contents of his site.

Szo

Smells like spam (5)

szo (7842) | more than 13 years ago | (#158442)

"Microsoft says site operators could insert a metatag disabling Smart Tags, so concerned publishers could avoid them."

Its like when you can reply to a spam and you'll be removed from the list. No-one cares that I didn't want to be on the list in the first place, and I don't want to work in order to be not screwd. The same applies here I think...

Szo

do they send referers? (5)

hatless (8275) | more than 13 years ago | (#158444)

Anyone actually played with this yet, or is this idle blather?

As a technology, it's a nifty one that's been done before, but this would be the first time it would get wide distribution. And it seems like a nice enough new developer feature for Office/VBA apps. However, the way it's being rolled out in IE, with Microsoft-selected kerword/link databases, is a nasty bit of hijacking.

Besides siphoning users away from everyone's sites and effectively placing text ads on everyone's pages without payment, there are privacy issues to be addressed. Do smart-tag clickthroughs send a referer request header? If so, MS or its marketing partner(s) will be able to collect traffic and even some user data that can be used to extrapolate usage patterns on other organizations' sites just as an ad agency could, only, again, without any kind of contract or compensation.

Boo, hiss.

Aren't there now laws against doing this.. (2)

crovira (10242) | more than 13 years ago | (#158450)

I find it amusing that M$ will enforce the DMCA and any other restrictive copyright technologies but ignore them whenever its inconvenient.

I own a web site. I write pages. They contain what I want them to contain, including links that I found relevant when I wrote the page.

I definitely do NOT want M$ or anybody else defacing my page by adding or altering MY links.

If they were sixteen year old european kids, they'd be hauled from their homes by the police.

So what's new? (1)

Delphis (11548) | more than 13 years ago | (#158456)

Not a lot methinks.. Still something prone for abuse, probably by Microsoft. I shudder at the customer complaints of 'bad linkage' or problems with the links to other websites (either in content or whatever) that are directed to the webmasters of these sites and yet they never created the links. Joe Schmoe won't understand the technicalities behind it.. as far as he sees, *your* site has these links. You can bet the disable tag won't work .. or will only work from an IIS web server or some such shit.

Control should be that of the publisher of the site. Thanks to the internet, anyone can become a publisher. Most sites have emails for the webmaster to suggest improvements, and linking to things is obviously one of them.

--
Delphis

My response (5)

joshv (13017) | more than 13 years ago | (#158466)

I [msn.com] think [msn.com] there [msn.com] is [msn.com] absolutely [msn.com] nothing [msn.com] wrong [msn.com] with [msn.com] this [msn.com] idea [msn.com]

josh [msn.com]

Re:Smells like spam (3)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 13 years ago | (#158474)

Except the analogy doesn't work. If you didn't want hyperlinked documents why are you on the web with a browser?

I'd say you have the analogy completely backwards. The question you should be asking is, "If I didn't want hyperlinks in my document, why should Microsoft feel the need to add them for me?"

Re:Smells like spam (2)

kaisyain (15013) | more than 13 years ago | (#158485)

Except the analogy doesn't work.

If you didn't want hyperlinked documents why are you on the web with a browser?

Meta tag to enable it. (1)

Alternity (16492) | more than 13 years ago | (#158493)

It should work the other way around. Instead of needing a particular meta tag to disable it, they should require a meta tag to enable it. That way I doubt many people would see anything wrong with it.


"When I was a little kid my mother told me not to stare into the sun...

Re:Value added (1)

Alternity (16492) | more than 13 years ago | (#158494)

The problem I see is that Microsoft is the one deciding what links to add and to what site it should point. I really like the idea of those smart tags, my two gripes about it are that it is on by default and has to be disabled and that Microsoft is the one deciding what to add.


"When I was a little kid my mother told me not to stare into the sun...

I want a meta tag to turn it on! (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 13 years ago | (#158495)

I, as the publisher of my website, need to controle what's shown including any links, if M$ thinks it can improve on my writings then it's still my site and maybe I could allow them to use further smart? linking. This tag on my page could for example tell these smart? tags what database I prefer them to use ( and which one I expressly don't want to be used).

M$: hands off my editing till I tell you different!

Re:What's the problem? (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 13 years ago | (#158500)

You definitely have a valid point. However, change the font size or removing banner ads is somewhat different from changing the actual content of the site. What if Microsoft decides that my company is a competitive threat? What's to stop it from automatically adding links to its own site everytime I put "MyCompany" in an article on my own site? The amount of editorial control over content on a site that Microsoft does not own is the issue here.

Re:I don't want a meta tag! (2)

Scutter (18425) | more than 13 years ago | (#158501)

They're assuming that by default, everyone wants to participate when the exact opposite is probably true.

They're not assuming everyone wants to participate. They're *forcing* everyone to participate because it's good for their business. Microsoft never assumes anything. They do things for specific reasons.

Re:Value added (5)

Scutter (18425) | more than 13 years ago | (#158502)

The article linked in the story is a good example of how a piece of information could be subverted using Smart Tags:


But then again, what if someone went through this entire column and underlined words, without my permission (link to unflattering photo of author) and then put in the links to Web sites and pages that made a mockery or subverted everything I wrote (link to photo of Karl Marx)? Yes, I could see how that would really be annoying (link to high school yearbook photo of author).


Frankly, if I write a story and post it on my website, I don't want Microsoft deciding what gets hyperlinked and what doesn't. I consider the hyperlinks to be part of the content that I "approve" for my article.

Re:Value added (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 13 years ago | (#158512)

-1 Flamebait

Where are my moderation post on the days when I really need them :(

Re:What's the problem? (2)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 13 years ago | (#158513)

Yes, and thats the whole debate, wither this feature will really be shipped off, or on. Or maby it will be shipped off in a way that the novice can easily accidently turn it on, like the first time you run IE it pops up with,

"Do you want to turn on smart tags, this feature will enable ........"
( ) don't show me this box again
_
( )|/ cancel
` |\

If it works in such a way, most if not all novice will browse with it on, without having any idea that it is under their control, and most likly that such links are not created by the web site owner, thus violating the rights of the context owner to have thier site be their content. I and only I have the right to choose such a feature to purposfully create such a barrier between me and the site creator, MS does not have the right to make this choice for me, by either shipping it as on, or in some manipulative way, seeing to it that all novices eventually have it on.

Why not an opt-in tag instead of an opt-out (2)

ArchMagus (32772) | more than 13 years ago | (#158532)

If they set it up such that a web-site author had to proactively adda meta tag to turn on this feature and let the benevolent Microsoft edit their web page, I think it would be acceptable. That way only the true sell-outs would use it.

Re:Value added (1)

lgraba (34653) | more than 13 years ago | (#158534)

The whole issue is about control (isn't it always). What sort of smart links do you suppose will be generated with the word browser is encountered (Mozilla? think again), or when the phrase 'operating system' is encountered (hint: not BEOS). Suppose an anti-abortion website has the word 'abortion', and the so-called smart tag links to a pro-abortion website. This is obviously not what the authors had intended, and it brings up the question of who should be allowed to change the look (and content) of a website. I know that you can put some stuff into your website to disable smart tags being used on it, but this puts the burden on the author, not to mention that it is a requirement for only Microsoft browsers. This should be an opt-in type thing, where you can add stuff to your web pages if you want smart tags to work with it. Of course, then the use of the feature would depend on web site authors actually wanting it, which might be unacceptable to the company pushing it.

Re:Yeah Right (2)

Junta (36770) | more than 13 years ago | (#158536)

To be fair, they aren't really "killing" mp3 in the new os, so much as not adding mp3 encoding. MP3 decoding wills till work great, but it will ship with a new media encoder that just doesn't contain a high quality MP3 encoder. So even then you can still view your file library and download a good MP3 encoding program if you ran windows. (Right now you pretty much have to download an encoding program anyway, so it won't make things harder, just make it easier for the unwashed to use the WMA format). Of course this smart tags stuff, along with so much other stuff is just BS. XP is just Microsoft's response to everything else being themeable and trying to fix the home series by migrating to NT style. I wonder if they'll actually do that this time. Ever since NT-4 they've been saying the next release of the home line will be based on NT. Maybe they think how nice it would be, and then figure out that there wouldn't be enough of a difference between the home and professional edition to warrant a lot of people to pay the extra cash.

I don't want a meta tag! (5)

Trifthen (40989) | more than 13 years ago | (#158554)

What, has everyone forgot the point of the internet?

So there's a meta tag. And when company X makes another new feature I don't want my site to participate in, I'll need yet another meta tag, and another meta tag, ad infinitum. Why can't there be a meta tag to TURN IT ON instead of turn it off. Isn't that what meta tags are for? To give browsers extra information?

Retrofitting the entire internet IS NOT going to make friends. This should be more of an opt-in than an opt-out. They're assuming that by default, everyone wants to participate when the exact opposite is probably true.

::sigh:: Embrace and extend. Yay.


--
Shaun Thomas: INN Programmer

Re:I don't want a meta tag! (5)

Skweetis (46377) | more than 13 years ago | (#158570)

And you just know that their browser is going to have a convenient bug where the meta tag is ignored and the smart tags are always on anyway. My suggestion for webmasters: use some php:

if(strstr($HTTP_USER_AGENT, "MSIE 6.0")) {
&nbsp&nbsp echo "This page will not properly display in your browser, get a real one [mozilla.org] ."
}

(If you don't know php, I think an explanation of this is still in the tutorial [php.net] .)

Can I GPL my website? (3)

mjh (57755) | more than 13 years ago | (#158586)

But Gross said that by embedding Smart Tags on Web sites without the express permission of the site owners, Microsoft could be accused of creating "derivative works," that is, unauthorized, edited copies of the Web site content that users are attempting to visit.

Ok. So, can I apply the GPL to my website? If so, and if it turns out that M$ is creating a derivative work of my website, can I then force them to release the source code to that derivative work? And if so, what exactly would be the source code to the derivative work?
--

where's the value... (1)

scrawny (75842) | more than 13 years ago | (#158608)

...in a million kids trying to get the definition of cunnilingus, fellatio or labia? they'll probably get taken to a closed microsoft sites like encarta. what's wrong with using a meta tag to include them instead of one to exclude them? serves the same purpose, right? JunkBuster isn't installed by default on any machine. AOL or Freeserve pages aren't altered by a 3rd party when they are used in 'closed sites.'

Re:The real problem (1)

mparcens (76207) | more than 13 years ago | (#158609)

exactly.. Microsoft is claiming sanctuary by providing everyone with a way out of "smart tags", but they set themselves up as the default setting, a huge gain. When people are forced to go to some trouble to disable a feature, inertia will keep at least some of those people from doing it.

After a while, web site visitors might complain if a site has smart tags disabled. You can see the rock/hard place argument that could turn a feature into a forced neccessity.

-mparcens

--------------

which META tag? (4)

DreamerFi (78710) | more than 13 years ago | (#158610)

Perhaps I'm just a lousy reader, but I have yet to see somebody who actually tells me what meta tag I have to use to disable this - I want to put this on my web site, but I'm unable to find out how. Getting the SDK for this from microsoft.com failed miserably as well on both my Mac and NetBSD machines, so if there's a kind soul on /. that can help...

Re:Value added (2)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 13 years ago | (#158614)

As for copyright issues, well you could say the same thing about proxy services like Junkbuster, which strip certain elements out of webpages before the user sees them.

I think there is something fundamentally different between adding information then selectively removing ads. If I post content on my site then Microsoft can alter the original intent of my content by adding "additional information" that they control. The key difference is that the information is being added and controlled by a 3rd party.

Re:Value added (2)

barneyfoo (80862) | more than 13 years ago | (#158626)

>then we should applaud this feature, as it will
>allow millions to finally venture out into the
>web as a whole, and increase connectivity
>massively.

Do you realize that it's microsoft that picks the sites that other people can go to with this new "feature"?

So if there's an AOL page, MS could redirect you to MSN on some tricky word or phrase having to do with getting a subscription or whatnot.

(copyright)
>well you could say the same thing about proxy
>services like Junkbuster, which strip certain
>elements out of webpages before the user sees
>them.

The difference here is that you are exercising your fair use rights by removing unsightly material from the webpages you view. Whereas with Microsoft's "innovation" they are altering the copyrighted material for _commercial monetary gain_, which could be in direct competitive conflict the the very sight it's altering. You'd have to have your head up your arse not to see the lawsuits this will spurn. Maybe someone should slip an email to the appealate justices hearing the MS antitrust appeal. I hope their clerks are on the ball here, passing along important developments in monopoly abuse.

It's clear, to me at least, that microsoft is abusnig its monopoly again - on the way to turning the Web into the Microsoft .NET proprietary internet.

Re:Value added (2)

Bandman (86149) | more than 13 years ago | (#158638)

I don't think the problem is really that it's coming from Microsoft. The problem is that it alters a webpage from the way it's author intended it. I've written some nice HTML before, and I've been very proud of the way it looked. I don't want some CLIENT altering the look of it. Especially if it's altering (or providing alternatives to the presented data).

I can just imagine going to consumer reports, and reading a bad review of something a Microsoft company produced, and being presented with a link to a more favorable report. It's just not kosher.

Re:Value added (1)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | more than 13 years ago | (#158641)

No I think this will work out well for everyone, and I hope that minority browsers like Mozilla and Opera follow suit. No longer will we need to be constrained by the linking laziness of web authors :)

I am going to have to disagree with you on this... in an ideal world this system might work, however, we don't live in an ideal world. The "example" links in the article were a bit absurd, but I can envision something like that happening. I simply don't believe that Microsoft, nor any other corporation that produces a web browser will automatically generate links to "favorable" information about their competitors. They will simply use it to their own advantage and it will become a tool for sales and marketing, not a tool to provide more (unbiased) information to the web site reader.

Now that MS Controls the Browser Market (1)

BlueRain (90236) | more than 13 years ago | (#158648)

...the internet is a client-server environment. The only hope is that MS doesn't start giving away free servers like it did browsers....

The next step (1)

drnomad (99183) | more than 13 years ago | (#158665)

Internet Explorer already told me which sites weren't approved by Microsoft, scaring me such that I would not visit such a hacker site. After attacking the obvious enemy, they're now attacking the subtle enemy with those smart tags?
--

Re:Putting your money where your mouth is ... (1)

Mendax Veritas (100454) | more than 13 years ago | (#158667)

Of course, IE 7.0 will have yet another wonderful feature that edits out any negative reference to Microsoft, or favorable reference to non-Microsoft software. So your "IE sucks, get Mozilla" page will be helpfully rewritten as an innocuous 404 error. After all, even members of Congress think censorware is a great idea, so how can you blame Microsoft, the great Innovators, from taking the idea to the next level?

Not that big a deal... (3)

GodHead (101109) | more than 13 years ago | (#158670)

...because this stupid feature is disabled by default*. In Microsoft-land this means that 99.99% of users will never enable or even be aware of it - ala the "Don't spam everyone I know with e-mail virii" check box in Outlook.

* - This, of course, could change. That would be something to fight about.

G.H.

Meanwhile.... (2)

soulsteal (104635) | more than 13 years ago | (#158676)


Microsoft was quick to respond to the outcry over the Smart Tags with "It seemed like a good idea." They proceeded to backup their statement with the example of Microsoft Bob.

The problem as usual... (1)

forgoil (104808) | more than 13 years ago | (#158677)

<OL>
<LI>Good idea, done right it could really help the mess that is today know as the web. It's close to impossible to find anything sometimes. It's always easier with companies and sites such as sourceforge or freshmeat, but in general it's a far cry from easy to find information out there. How many times have your searches in google or altavista given you nothing?
<LI>The idea done wrong. XHTML, etc should have been extended etc. And to me it seems like the idea is driven by "how can we make more money?"...
</OL>

Turn on/off (1)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 13 years ago | (#158678)

As long as there is an option to turn it ON I don't see any problems with it. If surfers want MS commersials on every other word that is ok with me.

Of course It should be off as of standard. To bad they mention nothing about user-controling this.

The most disturbing thing with this would be how to distinguish from "in-site" links and MS provided links.

Illusions of control (2)

Grinch (112916) | more than 13 years ago | (#158692)

Where is the HTML spec does is say the user agent is nothing but a dumb display? Where does it say that the user agent may not fold, spindle, or mutilate a document in any way it sees fit? Where does it say a user agent may not insert "extra" links if it so wishes?

I'm reminded of the scene in "Instinct," where Anthony Hopkins roughs up Cuba Gooding Jr. "What have I taken from you?" Hopkins asks. "I haven't taken control from you, because you never had it. All I've taken is your illusions."

You have no control over your users' browsers. Get over it.

If you want to complain about something, complain about the fact that "Smart Links" are all hard-coded to point to MS properties, and the fact that the user cannot change that. That is the kind of monopolistic, abusive practices that make me hate MS.

Re:Smells like spam (1)

Tarpan (114764) | more than 13 years ago | (#158700)

It should be the other way around, ie you add a meta-tag to enable it. But guess Microsoft won't do that, since then no one would use it. Now everyone will use it and swear over it instead.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

SirGeek (120712) | more than 13 years ago | (#158705)

Layout is not controllable.. CONTENT IS something you should be able to control. It's your site, your work (your implicit/explicit copyright). The smart tags would be doing nothing less than taking the site for Sears and inserting links to JC Penney.

Choice Quote (2)

cicatrix1 (123440) | more than 13 years ago | (#158710)

This article is hillarious!

What's gotten people like Winer and others (link to photo of protestors burning the flag) riled is concern that Microsoft (link to Microsoft stock chart showing how well company is performing) might, because of its OS monopoly (link to article by anti-trust expert detailing why Microsoft is not a monopoly) be able to force its technology down the throats of unsuspecting, uninformed or apathetic users (link to photo of lemmings) who might not realize the implications of the technology (link to Microsoft XP order info page).

Re:Value added (2)

hrieke (126185) | more than 13 years ago | (#158714)

That's satire, right? Having read the artical, I can see where MS is really stepping in the doo-doo here, and I'm sure that the meta-tag to turn off the Smart-Tags will change to a meta-tag to turn the Smart-Tags on for the page. Take for example my Icecream page (which btw the link above onloner works, I need to fix it; http://www.polsci.wvu.edu/Henry/Icecream/icecream. html is correct), what is stopping MS and IE 6 from linking every time I wrote Icecream to link to Eddy's or Ben and Jerry's or 31 Flavors? If I wanted them to be lined to somewhere else I'd have done the work myself.

The real problem (2)

prisoner (133137) | more than 13 years ago | (#158723)

with this is that it forces everyone to opt-out. It's almost the same as someone loosing a worm or other virus onto the net. What a model!! Depending on your point of view this technology is either a) the holy grail or b) a fucking nightmare.
I chose b. I do however run a website so maybe I'll pick up the sdk or whatever developer stuff is available and make my own smart tags....:)

Re:Aren't there now laws against doing this.. (2)

aozilla (133143) | more than 13 years ago | (#158724)

If you don't want anyone altering your content, stop using HTML. Make each of your pages into a GIF. Then change each page into an IMG link which points to the GIF.

HTML was designed for this. To try to restrict it across the board is rediculous. Consider a browser which automatically translates Italian into English. Would you have a problem with a browser which changed your content in that way? I dont think you can allow a judge to judge such things based on merit. That's too much power in the court system.

Personally, the only case I think you can have against Microsoft is abuse of their browser monopoly. But if the default is to have the feature turned off, I don't think you have a case. If the default is on, I think you could argue either way.

third voice (1)

hurricanej (137721) | more than 13 years ago | (#158732)

How are the smart tags described here different than a similar functionality that was given by third voice? -hj

Re:Value added (2)

TomV (138637) | more than 13 years ago | (#158739)

Look, it's NOT MICROSOFT who decides where the smart-tag redirects go (OK, so they will have some defaults, but it's very very simple to replace them or add your own).

If you use windows XP and you save the following to a file called msdnodc.xml to {driveletter}\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Smart Tag\Lists, then every time a page you're browsing contains the words microsoft, innovate, office, windows, 95, NT, XP, it will be squiglined and a right click will give you the choice to follow it to any of slashdot, red hat or goatse.

And that's a bad thing? remember, this is all client side.

just think, a single click to goatse every time you see a reference to XP... <FL:name>
slashBot</FL:name>
<FL:lcid>
1033</FL:lcid>
<FL:description>
A list of MS related terms and suitable SlashBot comments on them.</FL:description>
<FL:moreinfourl>
http://msdn.microsoft.com/office</FL:moreinfour l>
<FL:smarttag type="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:smarttags#msdnterm s">
<FL:caption>
SlashBot Links</FL:caption>
<FL:terms>
<FL:termlist>
microsoft, innovate, office, windows, 95, NT, XP</FL:termlist>
</FL:terms>
<FL:actions>
<FL:action id="ODCWebSite">
<FL:caption>
&SlashDot Web site</FL:caption>
<FL:url>
http://slashdot.org</FL:url>
</FL:action>
<FL:action id="SlashdotWebSite">
<FL:caption>
Red Hat &Web site</FL:caption>
<FL:url>
http://www.redhat.com</FL:url>
</FL:action>
<FL:action id="Goatse WebSite">
<FL:caption>
Goatse &Office Web site</FL:caption>
<FL:url>
http://goatse.cx</FL:url>
</FL:action>
</FL:actions>
</FL:smarttag>
</FL:smarttaglist>

TomV

Re:Value added (2)

TomV (138637) | more than 13 years ago | (#158740)

Do you realize that it's microsoft that picks the sites that other people can go to with this new "feature"?

No. I don't 'realize' that at all.

Because it's simply not the case.

The redirects are defined in a client-side file called msdnodc.xml with a clearly defined and well-documented DTD and plenty of documentation on the MSDN website.

Certainly, there will be a default set of redirects installed with XP, and I have no doubt that these will be chosen to M$'s advantage.

But I was under the impression (what!) that some /. readers considered themselves to be fairly competent with computers, and perfectly capable of editing a text file without Federal Court supervision.

Would you like me to pick up the toys and put them back in the pram for you now?

TomV

Remember when Deja tried this with Usenet posts? (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 13 years ago | (#158741)

Deja did something similar with Usenet posts by adding in links to products within its archived Usenet Messages.

See this article:

http://slashdot.org/articles/00/07/18/2122249.shtm l

I seem to recall that this did not turn out to be very popular with people and many of the arguments raised this time were raised back then as well - copyright issues, misrepresentation, etc.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 13 years ago | (#158760)

One question I have to pose about adding links is what if one of those links gets your website in trouble or enrages the regular visitors to your site because they saw a smart tag link they did not like? People could blame that on the site and not the smart tag (knowing how dumb people can be.) I would say you would need some form of control of how your site flows. Unauthorized links would take that control away from the site developer. Unauthorized links could also destroy the purpose of a web site and make it quiet confusing. Imagine a pro life website suddenly having a smart tag link to a Planned Parenthood website. Tell me that won't tuch off the fire and brimstone.

government web sites (1)

ehackathorn (168173) | more than 13 years ago | (#158766)

It will be interesting to see how this effects government web sites. They are not allowed to endorse commercial products. It sounds like there is a clear distinction between normal hyperlinks and M$ smart tags. However, somehow I don't think this will be enough.

What is the metatag? (2)

edp (171151) | more than 13 years ago | (#158768)

What is the metatag to disable Smart Tags?

Browser Responsiveness? (1)

RobertAG (176761) | more than 13 years ago | (#158779)

Aside from all the "Big Brother" bashing, has anyone thought of the time it will take for the browser to lookup all of those references and render them onto the user's page? IE does some weird things already and the last thing I need is it doing dozens of searches and content reformats ON MY TIME.

Maybe it does it in the background (does anyone actually know how it works?), but I'd rather have my processor working for ME than for someone else seeking to spam up my desktop. What's next, a mandatory Active Desktop with a rectangle devoted to banners? Where does it end?

Re:What's the problem? (2)

nagora (177841) | more than 13 years ago | (#158784)

This is not about changing the appearance of your pages but changeing the meaning. That is too far.

TWW

Re:Value added (2)

nagora (177841) | more than 13 years ago | (#158785)

Good bit of trolling.

Obviously Jon Erikson does not exist (read his user info, it is quite funny) but people like that do exist, and their not satires.

The answer to them is: imagine your company makes widgets. You have a page about what makes your widgets great. MS's browser inserts a link on the word "widget" to another company's site. This site has a table comparing various widgets on the market and shows, by their criteria, that you widget sucks.

Still think it's a great idea? Better insert those meta tags in ALL you pages.

The better answer is to block IE6 with a page explaining why and a link to proper browsers.

TWW

3rd party Smart Tag plugins? (2)

oingoboingo (179159) | more than 13 years ago | (#158786)

Perhaps this information is somewhere on a Microsoft developers site, but does anyone know if it might be possible to include your own Smart Tag interpreter/renderer/library?

Think of how useful something like a really tough, technical document (like a scientific or engineering paper) could become if your own Smart Tag parser could rip through it, and add hyperlinks to pre-defined words and phrases to, say, an online technical dictionary, or textbook? If there's a phrase or word you don't understand, a link through to an explanatory site is only a click away

I think customised, user defined or 3rd party Smart Tag libraries could really supercharge the web...making a lot of documents even more useful and accessible.

Re:Value added (1)

Enigma2175 (179646) | more than 13 years ago | (#158789)

It's clear, to me at least, that microsoft is abusnig its monopoly again

When did they stop abusing their monopoly? They may have toned it down a bit during the trial, but they have never stopped their predatory practices. The only reason they aren't getting broken up right now is because of who is in the White House. They haven't changed at all, they don't need to. They can just BUY their freedom (through our wonderful political process).


Enigma

Yeah Right (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 13 years ago | (#158791)

"We believe in total empowerment of the user to decide what content they want to look at,"

Thatswhy we integrate digital rights management and kill MP3 in our fine new OS.

Wankers!

Re:What's the problem? (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 13 years ago | (#158792)

is that you cannot control how your site will appear on the user's machine.

Well mate, I fear this is utter rubish. You may want to check out this link [adobe.com] in order to deliver your web pages precisely as you wish to deliver them.

Xanadu? (1)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 13 years ago | (#158800)

Well, I can't really look at "Smart Tags" as a really Bad Thing[tm]. I think it didn't seem to link only to M$...?

Besides isn't it just using a few concepts from Xanadu [xanadu.net] ?

Flyswat (1)

sawb (187496) | more than 13 years ago | (#158801)

Currently there are already products out there that do this. One that I use sometimes at work is called FlySwat [flyswat.com] (www.flyswat.com) and it adds so-called HotSpots on the page that you can click on to take you to the information you need. An example is when I am on a page with the word 'Slashdot', which then shows up with a yellow line under it and when I click it, I have the option to go to www.slashdot.org.

Now there is a difference here because FlySwat was installed by me with a choice whereas IE 6.0 will have this 'feature' enabled by default and it takes you to www.microsoft.com URLs.

If MS wants to have this feature in IE 6.0 it will have to leave it up to the user whether or not to have it enabled.

Value added (4)

Jon Erikson (198204) | more than 13 years ago | (#158807)

What is the main advantage of the web over other networked forms of information? That's right, it's the fact that it is hyperlinked, allowing people to veer off from what they're reading to related sites, and then return when they're done.

People here often complain about how hyperlinks aren't used properly, and yet when Microsoft implement an automatic hyperlink generator, they complain!

Since people writing websites are often engaging in practices such as closed sites (where there aren't any external links, keeping novice users within their system of sites - i.e. AOL or Freeserve) then we should applaud this feature, as it will allow millions to finally venture out into the web as a whole, and increase connectivity massively. No longer will you have to waste valuable time searching for the meaning of an unexplained term on a page - there'll be a Smart Tag leading directly to useful information!

As for copyright issues, well you could say the same thing about proxy services like Junkbuster, which strip certain elements out of webpages before the user sees them. At the end of the day it's less offensive to copyright holders, because it adds value to their pages at no cost or effort to them, whereas Junkbuster removes any chance of them being able to fund their efforts, leading to the closure of many people's pages.

No I think this will work out well for everyone, and I hope that minority browsers like Mozilla and Opera follow suit. No longer will we need to be constrained by the linking laziness of web authors :)

Re:Smells like spam (2)

cbowland (205263) | more than 13 years ago | (#158809)

I think the analogy is ok. Just because you have an email account does not mean you want spam. You want mail from people you trust/interest you.
Similarly, you want a web where you can trust that the content authors are the people creating the content you see.
In other words, mail from people you want to send you mail and links from people you want to create links for you.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

InsaneCreator (209742) | more than 13 years ago | (#158812)

This time it's not the user who chooses how to view the page. It is microsoft.

Re:Value added (4)

kubla2000 (218039) | more than 13 years ago | (#158817)

No I think this will work out well for everyone, and I hope that minority browsers like Mozilla and Opera follow suit. No longer will we need to be constrained by the linking laziness of web authors :)

You've dropped in a smiley but there's nothing to smile about in your comments.

There are boring people and there are interesting people out there. Just because someone is dull does not give me, you or anyone else the right to insert "more interesting" or "more relevant" speech into their mouths.

The internet is a free (or was anyway) forum where readers / users / clients could choose the information they did or did not want to receive. People could vote with their feet. Popular and interesting sites would be visited frequently. Dull, rarely updated sites would not.

It's downright arrogant that microsoft or anyone else should feel it their duty to 'improve' upon what someone else has made. The Mozilla/Netscape sidebar is already doing that with the important caveat that users are able to switch it off at will. Embedded tags though... c'mon, there is *nothing* inherently good about them. We can hope for the benevolence of the company in charge of their "smartness" but if history is anything to go by, that hope's not likely to be realised.

Old news (1)

stapedium (228055) | more than 13 years ago | (#158823)

Auto tag generation has been around for about two years in plugins. NBCi has had "smart linking" where you can clickon any word in the text of a page and it will do what amounts to a web searchon that word and return you a little list of links. Why is it that when microsoft does anything it is BAD BAD BAD, yet when somone else comes up with the idea it is stupid at worst and insanely great at best.

Re:Publishers rights (2)

hillct (230132) | more than 13 years ago | (#158826)

Yes, I agree that a page might be copyrighted even if it doesn't have a '©' symbol on it (but that character is easy to scan for), but I'm trying to make it easier for Microsoft to comply with the DMCA, after all, we do want Microsoft to comply with the DMCA (and other copyright regulations dating back to 1893 and earlier) right?
---

Publishers rights (5)

hillct (230132) | more than 13 years ago | (#158827)

Microsoft claims that:
Site operators could insert a metatag disabling Smart Tags, so concerned publishers could avoid them.
The problem with that is that publishers would have to take positive action to prevent their rights from bein infrinced upon (I'm assuming that the publishers rights issue is completely valid on it's face, for the moment). It could be argues that placing these exclusionary tags on your website are similar to insuring copyright on your material, but Microsoft is not the federal government and does not have the authority to take over the responsibilities of the US Patent and Copyright Office.

I expect Microsoft will be forced to shift from the exclusionary tag model to an inclusionary tag model where only sites with an inclusionary tag can be modified in this way. That way content owners have to give their eplicit permission to microsoft to edit their page in ways they would be completely unaware of.

There is some middle ground. Perhaps Microsoft could check the page for the '©' symbol, and if it is found, then search for the inclusionary tag, granting them license to modify the page.

Along the same lines, has anyone thought about how much they want to charge Microsoft for such a content license?
I'll be sure to put a click-thru license (enforceable through the wonders of the DMCA) on my website, requiring Microsoft to pay some reasonable fee per page modification, per user - how about $100 per occurance

--CTH

---

Re:Value added (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 13 years ago | (#158834)

Dude. Sites like mine who are alive because of their links will definately be adversely impacted by this. This plan can be a major loss of advertising revenue for all websites, and a major gain for Microsoft's alone.

Re:Not that big a deal... (3)

ryanvm (247662) | more than 13 years ago | (#158846)

Not that big a deal because this stupid feature is disabled by default

If you don't like the idea of SmartTags, this should be of small consolation. I can think of a couple of Microsoft's "bad ideas" that were initially disabled by default:

  • Product registration/activation
  • Copyright protection (as in WMA)

meanwhile! (2)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 13 years ago | (#158848)

mozilla coders began looking into putting smarttags in mozilla, and linking them off to everything2. Slashdot rejoices.

What if... (1)

LordSigh (247918) | more than 13 years ago | (#158849)

How about there be a metatag to opt IN for this "feature." That way, anyone who DIDN'T want it wouldn't have to change anything? Why? Because that would make since.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 13 years ago | (#158856)

Um, we're not talking about a third party feature that some users might download and install. (There are already some and have been for some time, but who's using them?...right)

Rather, we're talking about another M$ 'Feature' that you'll likely be hard pressed to remove.

Did you read the article? Don't you get it? M$ is putting a feature in their browser (Which is forced upon us, as will this new feature) that creates 'PRE DEFINED LINKS' out of the content in the page. Links that M$ themselves PRE-DEFINED!

I'm sorry, but if you still don't see the problem, well, you are either in kindergarden or you work for M$.

This is absolutely freaking heinous.

Sudden outcry??? (1)

somethingwicked (260651) | more than 13 years ago | (#158869)

This type of technology has been out for a while-see NBCi.com, etc. This is not a troll, but I don't recall this type of outcry when other companies started offering this functionality.

IF prior posts are true and the MS version is disabled by default, I see NOTHING wrong with this functionality. I know if I use NBCi that they are going to point me to what THEY want me to see. Nothing different here.

Almost the same as a banner ad. I know the site op didnt put that PARTICULAR ad there, I know the angle the ad is coming at me from. I am not going to hold that against the site op.

If I am aware enuf to go somewhere and enable this feature, I am aware enuf to deal with the propaganda thrown my way.

Re:Value added (5)

Doktor J (261944) | more than 13 years ago | (#158871)

What is the main advantage of the web over other networked forms of information? [microsoft.com] That's right, it's the fact that it is hyperlinked, allowing people to veer off from what they're reading to related sites, and then return when they're done. [microsoft.com]

People here often complain about how hyperlinks aren't used properly, and yet when Microsoft implement an automatic hyperlink generator, they complain! [microsoft.com]

Since people writing websites are often engaging in practices such as closed sites (where there aren't any external links, keeping novice users within their system of sites - i.e. AOL or Freeserve) then we should applaud this feature, as it will allow millions to finally venture out into the web as a whole, and increase connectivity massively. No longer will you have to waste valuable time searching for the meaning of an unexplained term on a page - there'll be a Smart Tag leading directly to useful information! [microsoft.com]

As for copyright issues, well you could say the same thing about proxy services like Junkbuster, which strip certain elements out of webpages before the user sees them. At the end of the day it's less offensive to copyright holders, because it adds value to their pages at no cost or effort to them, whereas Junkbuster removes any chance of them being able to fund their efforts, leading to the closure of many people's pages. [microsoft.com]

No I think this will work out well for everyone, and I hope that minority browsers like [microsoft.com] Mozilla and Opera [microsoft.com] follow suit. No longer will we need to be constrained by the linking laziness of web authors :) [microsoft.com]

Has anyone considered.. (1)

ColdrenX (300531) | more than 13 years ago | (#158878)

What will happen when the links to the sites Microsoft preapproves to "Smart" link to are moved or changed?

It's bad enough that it's turned ON by default, but if no one turns it off and people actually use it, you may have hundreds of dead links. And that's going to drastically deter viewers of your website.

"Embrace and Extend"? What ever happend to "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"?

Re:So what's new? (1)

Zaknafein500 (303608) | more than 13 years ago | (#158885)

Still something prone for abuse, probably by Microsoft. I shudder at the customer complaints of 'bad linkage' or problems with the links to other websites (either in content or whatever) that are directed to the webmasters of these sites and yet they never created the links. Joe Schmoe won't understand the technicalities behind it.. as far as he sees, *your* site has these links.

An excellent point. Not only that, having pages linked from your site implicitly gives your endorsement of those pages. How many corporate sites do you see that when linking external web pages add a disclaimer something like "External pages are not maintained or endorsed by XYZ Inc." Are all pages going to have to include in the footers "All links in squiggly lines are not ours and are not endorsed by us."?

YAAFINSO - Klein bottle, translation inside (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 13 years ago | (#158898)

YAAFINSO = Yet Another Annoying Feature I Need to Switch Off

Anyone willing to bet against me when I say that this will rival JavaScript powered, OnClose event triggered, Pop-Up-Window explosions for being the most annoying thing on the Internet???

what is this, halloween? (1)

137 (325909) | more than 13 years ago | (#158910)

I'm spooked mightily by anyone adding links on pages that I've written. Seems to me that Smart Tags are editorial content masquerading as "additional information for the end user" or whatever the claptrap Microsoft party line is. The very presence of additional or alternate information is editorial -- if I want it there, I will goddamn put it there, thank you. And if people want more information or alternate perspectives, they can march their butts over to Google. Note to Redmond: Get. Your. Hands. Off. My. Copy.

Who made MS the editor-in-chief of the web, anyway? The great thing about this medium is that it's pluralistic, sprawling, and searchable. Alternate perspectives aren't hard to find -- they jump out if you simply bother to look.

Yes, webmasters will evidently be able to disable the Smart Tags. But once again this is MS's strategy of preying on people's laziness in order to push through their agenda, a la bundling IE with Windows (or the plethora of MS crap they're planning on including in XP). I know this is Business As Usual, but that doesn't make me feel any better about it.

Putting your money where your mouth is ... (3)

s20451 (410424) | more than 13 years ago | (#158914)

HTTP allows you to determine the type and version of browser that is accessing a page. You could always write a little script that detected whether a smart-tag-capable browser was accessing your page, and redirect it to an "error" page, instructing the reader to get a different browser before visiting the page again. (For good measure you could provide a link to Mozilla and an explanation of why smart tags are evil.)

huh? (1)

chef_raekwon (411401) | more than 13 years ago | (#158920)

hold on - i create a web page, but must insert a metatag to disable something i didnt want in the first place? When i do so, will i still receive the same traffic, or am i to be expunged from any search lists? (more specifically, m$ backed ones) --fucking nightmare is right.

A Damn Good Thing (1)

minghe (441878) | more than 13 years ago | (#158923)

Smart tags is actually a really great idea. The visitor to a site will not be "locked" to that site regardless of what evil intents the sites editors wants.

The main problem is not the opt-out for webmasters (although it does suck on a principal basis). The problem is: What content will I be linked to? I guess that a set of links will be provided by MS when installing. And most pepole won't bother to update those links to some better ones. And that is what bothers me. The MS links will be the default stuff, and everything else is optional.

Let's hope is as simple to obtain a new set of Smart Tag list as it is to install a plugin in IE. Load a page, klick OK, and you're done. Here I should also have the option to replace earlier links in my list, or add the new ones to my current list.

I would want the Google smart tag myself. Any keywords founds will result in a websearch on an independent powerful search engine. That way, a keword like "abortion" will give me both kinds of fanatics.


Re:A Damn Good Thing (1)

minghe (441878) | more than 13 years ago | (#158924)

I think I should add that the linking in this case should not be presented as hyperlinks, as they can easily be mistaken for the authors chosen links. Put a list of "Keywords in this document" in a sidebar of the browser or something.

Besides, as a web designer I must object. Wavey purple lines on my pages that I didnt put there would look butt ugly. :)

So the legal issue does not only affect the content provider, but the designer. Web page design is protected intellecual propety too, and should not be tampered with like this.

Yeah right.... (1)

cuteface (450372) | more than 13 years ago | (#158941)

So how about putting a hyperlink to Mozilla?

Mozilla (1)

idonotexist (450877) | more than 13 years ago | (#158943)

You can find Mozilla at http://www.mozilla.org [mozilla.org] .

Enjoy!

derivative work? (2)

decathexis (451196) | more than 13 years ago | (#158946)

But does this really create copyright issues? If lynx presents a website as plain HTML, stripping off all most of the formatting, does this too count as derivative work? If a browser presents visited links different from not visited without any explicit request from the author, does this count as derivative work? What if the browser underlines links (which i never explicitely asked for)? And how about a browser (horror!) displaying popup menues associated with a link that i, the author, have no control over? I think it would be hard to nail MS on the copyright issues, unless smarttags are confusingly similar to normal links, and even then it might not be easy.

disabling (2)

ezekeze (451493) | more than 13 years ago | (#158947)

So out of the millions of web pages out there, how many do you suppose are going to be updated to include the disabling metatags? Seems like it could become the norm on most pages, just through sheer inertia.

"Opt-Out" policy is worthless (1)

absurd_spork (454513) | more than 13 years ago | (#158950)

The "opt-out" strategy that Microsoft [microsoft.com] suggests web designers to take is completely worthless. I may remind you of the opt-out policies that are in effect against spam: I receive a spam mail from company A, then I opt out, and the next spam mail I receive is from company B, so in the end it all had no effect at all.

If Microsoft [microsoft.com] has a strategy to alter the content of web pages, they will probably use it regardless of users opting out. While Microsoft [microsoft.com] is not an the Evil Empire, they're not a charity organization either, and they are not known for always respecting the law, let alone general morals. Probably we'll just have another <meta> tag that is in the header of every security-aware, anti-Microsoft [microsoft.com] web site and that causes the Internet explorer to behave all strangely with those pages (links generating mysterious 404s, security sites being unreachable, continuous reporting back to Microsoft [microsoft.com] , all sorts of evil behaviour.

This post is Microsoft [microsoft.com] Smart Post-enhanced.

Ah yes, but what about the important question (1)

Xlr8r (456404) | more than 13 years ago | (#158960)

What about porn... will it give you links to other porn, and info about more porn. I'd give M$ props on that. Other than this though, there couldn't be any good use for smart tags.

lol

Say it ain't so... (1)

BigNumber (457893) | more than 13 years ago | (#158963)

Microsoft? Unfair Business practice?

It just can't be!

Re:Publishers rights (2)

azaroth42 (458293) | more than 13 years ago | (#158967)

Just because a page doesn't contain the © symbol doesn't make it not copyright. The copyright statement is simply a reminder that it is under copyright and is not necessary to be present for the copyright to be enforcable.
As others, I feel that an opt in method is appropriate.
-- Azaroth

microsoft is the best company in the world... (1)

xbrownx (459399) | more than 13 years ago | (#158974)

...at building features that NO BODY wants.
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