Follow-up from yesterday
Scoble has taken notice of his apparent contradiction and is promising a detailed post that will give us insight to how his views have evolved concerning Autolink and Greasemonkey. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt at this point, and await the explanation. Meanwhile the Peer Pressure Blog notes the likely arms race that will occur between Greasemonkey scripts and obfuscators that will be used to block those scripts. I think that’s a pretty goo possibility, and in fact I think it’s likely that some big media sites will figure out a way to tell if you’re using a script to change the display of their content, or ads, and block you from accessing the site at all!
Of course, when they do that, Scoble, Winer and all the other big names who are aghast at what Autolink does, will be all over the big media sites for that sort of controlling behavior. What I want to know is, how they justify being on both sides of this issue?
Let’s break it down like this. Let’s say there’s a script out there that changes every Amazon affiliate link you see on a given web page to your own affiliate ID. Let’s also say you could program in your affiliate ID and redistribute it to anyone who might want to support you. Using my self as an example, let’s say folks who want to help support my charitable gift to help abused children ask me to distribute a script that will make it possible for them to follow any Amazon affiliate link and have it changed to my affiliate ID so they can support me with the purchase without have to go back to my site to make it. Evil or not? If I build it myself and redistribute it as a Greasemonkey script to other people is it evil? If I keep the money for myself does it change? If Amazon created a script that made it easy to enter your own ID and get this behavior, does that make it evil? If it also changed other affiliate links to point to Amazon using my ID, does that make it evil? If it blocks other ads and only shows Amazon ads?
Where is the line between user choice and evil behavior? I think they have to answer this.
Update: Scoble’s “guidelines” are listed here and here. I still think it’s a bit convoluted. I don’t think a linking technology that allows web sites to block it’s use is user-friendly and will simply makes matters more confusing for users! (Why does it work on some sites and not others?) I don’t think most users are able to program a linking script and want a company to provide a default behavior that they can choose to install, or not install, as they wish. If I want what Google offers in Autolink why can’t I just install the toolbar and have it? Why is providing the option to people who might want it “evil”? It’s not like Google is unclear about what Autolink does! Why do I have to learn to install scripts or choose behavior packs? Aren’t behavior packs, by nature, default settings? Why not just have a number of toolbars, with their own behaviors, that a user can choose from? Isn’t that the same thing as having “behavior packs” for the Greasemonkey?
Eh, there are more important things to think about…