I was more than happy to see them go.
It's a shame that CloudFlare promises to bring them back, I am hopeful they will do this in a manner that is not so outrageous or harsh on the user.
I really dislike what it does to mouse input.
If I select something, it's mostly because I want to copy and paste it. I am very good about crediting where I collect my copy and paste segments from, I didn't need apture to put in references to the original article in every single one of my cut and paste buffers.
Sometimes I select so I can search. I want to conduct the search with my favored search engine. I don't want Apture conducting the search (poorly) with the intent of keeping me at the original site.
And sometimes I click or even select in a window just to leave a visual indicator of where I am so that when I scroll or drag a window around, I can find my place easier. I don't want apture windows popping up whenever I click or select anything. To quote the Simpson's the Internets do not work that way.
And there was no way to opt out of it short of using noscript or adblock or other technologies to strip it away.
So: don't invade my privacy, don't insert text into my cut and paste buffers, don't steal my search abilities, don't steal my mouse clicks, don't pop up windows, don't break my browser.
Apart from that, it was a real winner service for the websites, and not for their visitors
To varying extents, saying you don't do this is really hard for any third party application integrated into a website. Unfortunately, we can't pull up contextual search results about a text selection without consulting a third party service like Bing or Duck Duck Go, so I doubt that we'll be able to do much better than offering an "opt out" feature in our UI.
> Don't insert text into my cut and paste buffers
We don't currently do this, but if our users ask for it, there is a good chance we will add it. Since it does sound like a frustrating thing, we can push to make it an "opt in" feature on the site owner's side, as opposed to the default behavior. At least that way, it'll only happen when the site owner really wants it to.
> Don't steal my search abilities
I don't believe we currently inhibit your ability to search with your engine of choice. If you find that we do, please let me know!
> Don't steal my mouse clicks
We don't "steal" your mouse clicks (though we do listen to them ;), and we do try to make sure the window only pops up when you have selected text. This experience will hopefully improve over time. Unfortunately, not doing this prevents the app from working in the first place (unless you have a better way to implement it)
> Don't pop up windows
Again, not doing this makes it difficult to have the app in the first place. I know its not for everyone, but a lot of our users really enjoy this functionality.
> Don't break my browser
That's something I can definitely do. Please let me know if you notice us breaking your browser in any way :) us not breaking your browser is one of my highest concerns.
What cdata has actually said is, "Sorry, you're not our customer. The websites that use us are our customers. Your feedback isn't really wanted. Fuck off."
The "fuck off" meta-message is aimed at the rest of us as much as it is aimed at jerrya. It emphasizes two things. One, cdata is going to pursue a strategy of nitpickery, mockery, and isolation to dis-empower dissatisfied victims of his company's software, under the guise of smoothing ruffled feathers. The strategy is containment, not satisfaction. Think of what satisfaction would have looked like, then compare it to cdata's post. Two, it emphasizes that we can participate in the game of isolating jerrya, and doing so will shield us from his treatment, as well as the harsh treatment of any who join in. Additionally, as soon as the first toady chimes in, the apparent perception of an emergent group dynamic aimed at belittling jerrya, bolstering the perceived value in siding with the group or staying away altogether.
Now, I am using the same tactics, I assure you. The difference is that I believe that you can see that I have a good warrant for using it, namely that it is precisely the surreptitious use of the tactic that must be discouraged.
Don't let cdata get away with it. It's not polite and it harms the process by which we can provide feedback about our distaste to people who want to wreck the Internet for personal gain.
My reading of cdata's note boils down to this:
* We will collect your data if there's a buck to be made
* We will continue to muck up your copy+paste buffers
with URLs/attribution/info if our subscribers want that
* We will monitor your mouse clicks
* There will be popups
* I'm trying to be affable ;) ;) ;)
* Your browser will still work fine for certain
definitions of "fine" ;) ;) ;)
What's so difficult about saying "My concerns are X, Y and Z. Your proposal does not address X and Y because ...."? If cdata doesn't address such a specific statement THEN maybe mkn can resort to questioning intention, but UNTIL then mkn is just derailing the conversation.
I think the privacy issues have been understated. My first thought was to wave it off as "they're not seeing anything that's not public text anyway", since I was placing it in the context of reading a NYT article or something. But what if a web admin adds this plugin to a site on areas that aren't public? Two (probably unlikely, but I don't have much data) scenarios that came to my mind were: A viewer highlights their bank account number, oh look, CloudFlare has that now (and if it's context-aware can piece together what the number means). A site offers a random password generator, user highlights it to copy/paste it--oops.
Here's hoping that if Linux's Chromium gets this 'feature' baked in, it's opt-in only.
A few years from now web browsers will have protected Copy/Paste. That will be a good thing but you wouldn't have gotten there without services that used scripts to hijack Copy/Paste in the first place.
And that protected copy/paste might have a metadata field that captures Apture-esque info on the client side while you do normal Copy/Paste and I can imagine a very useful Paste+ shortcut that spits out the clipboard contents in a link to the source.
I would load that in a heartbeat.
HN users are very far removed from normal users. HN feedback is interesting, but it's not as useful as feedback from normal people.
"we can provide feedback about our distaste to people who want to wreck the Internet for personal gain."
Pot calling the kettle black much? This would be me providing feedback then.
I think you made a typo there, you surely meant to write: "a lot of our advertisers enjoy this functionality".
Because, as you are most certainly aware, nobody "enjoys" these keyword/selection-popup scams.
You are free to taint your name for the sake of scamming some clicks out of the computer illiterates (those with the AOL-toolbars). But please at least spare us the hypocrisy here; it's plain old intrusive advertising of the worst kind, and you know that.
That said, two facts for you:
1) We don't gain any kind of advertising revenue from this app, nor do we serve adds through this app on behalf of third parties. This app is specifically intended to be a value-add for our users.
2) Apture really is one of our most popular third party apps, and apps are entirely opt-in. You'll see that through your own lens, of course, but through ours it means that, when Apture shuts down, our users will lose one of the features that they enjoy using through our service.
So, if you don't like the Google toolbar, you simply don't install it in your browser.
With Apture, you don't get to choose. If you like it, it's only available on some websites. If you don't, you have to go through some adblock or privacy block rigamarole to prevent it (and other clones, like yours) from interfering with your ability to select text on the web.
Just because it's popular, doesn't mean you should be doing it. On the flip side, if you do it in an _elegant_ manner that allows the individual using their web browser to regain control over this behavior - win-win all around.
I _want_ to make this something that is elegant and useful, not just from the average internet-goers perspective, but also from the perspective of my peers and colleagues (and luckily, I'm in a good position to do so). I'm glad that some of the readers here have been willing to offer constructive and valuable suggestions about how I can do that :)
Of course it's not your place to determine how your customers interact with their users, which is the point most people in this thread seem to be missing. This is good marketing for CloudFlare, plain and simple; if the users of your customer's site don't like it they can complain and/or stop using the site.
Site operators are not always the best group to determine what makes an overall good browsing experience. In this case, I agree with the other posters that the service changes the nature of a browsing experience in a way that is unwelcome.
I remember when blink and marquee tags were popular among site owners.
If cdata's customers site visitors don't come back then this will feed back through the chain - cdata is making the tool not using it; blaming gun makers for murder, etc., etc..
To varying extents, saying you don't do this is really hard for any third party application integrated into a website. Unfortunately, we can't pull up contextual search results about a text selection without consulting a third party service like Bing or Duck Duck Go, so I doubt that we'll be able to do much better than offering an "opt out" feature in our UI."
Well, this was specifically something apture did that was broken. In their implementation, they captured every text selection regardless of whether I wanted to just cut and paste it, or have it be searched for, or was just absently clicking and thinking. Presumably, you only have to pull contextualize it, if I have asked for that behavior, and even so, it should be possible to do most/all of that in my browser, and never at your servers.
However, now that you've framed it from a privacy perspective, it is obvious to me how this can feel really invasive. The intent to search should activate the query. Thanks for the constructive suggestion!
Actually I do. Here are a couple of ideas.
The problem is that the application gets in the way of the normal user interaction with the browser. However, there are ways you can provide the service you want without breaking UI expectations:
* Display an icon next to the selected text that opens any desired popup instead of opening it by default
* Check out the HTML5 context menus (currently works in Firefox) https://bug617528.bugzilla.mozilla.org/attachment.cgi?id=554... for adding you own search options or a "copy with attribution" action without hijacking the context menu
In addition to all that you could definitely provide an opt-out mechanism for users from your website, identifying them with a cookie or IP.
And once again, some kind of opt-in and opt-on setting for our users to choose for their sites is definitely something I want to experiment with integrating.
> so I doubt that we'll be able to do much better than offering an "opt out" feature in our UI.
How about you dont send my every selection to your service UNTIL and UNLESS I do an additional click to ask for contextual information. I really really don't like to not being able to select a frigging text w/o it being sent to seme server.
>> Don't insert text into my cut and paste buffers
> We don't currently do this, but if our users ask for it, there is a good chance we will add it ...
As others just said it can be "translated" as "fuck off, we can make a buck here and we don't care it annoys the hell out of you"
>> Don't pop up windows
> Again, not doing this makes it difficult to have the app in the first place
How about making it much less intrusive. light up some widget in the sidebar or top window corner. not right there where I just clicked obscuring the text under it which I might just be reading.
Feel welcome to suggest alternative UI ideas for adding a feature like that, if you have any.
That said, what I'm trying to propose is that the UI for the app could allow site visitors to communicate a dissatisfaction with the app to the site owner, as that seems to me to allow for constructive feedback not possible when scripts are simply blocked outright.
Although in saying that I don't mind the ebook highlight a word and get a definition as usually with an ebook you don't want to break the flow and venture back out onto the net, whereas while browsing the net this is perfectly normal.
As you said, though, there is value in providing contextual information about a topic without breaking the flow of the page. If we could turn Highlight into a tool that captures that value really well, I think the effort would be worth our while.
Clipboard hijacking: Remember Tynt? They hijacked your clipboard to say "Read more at <link>" or some nonsense. That is not what I copied, and you are breaking my expectations by modifying it. Gruber has a much better post on this (http://daringfireball.net/2010/05/tynt_copy_paste_jerks), but essentially: knock it off. Don't try and manipulate your reader.
Information panels: If I doubleclick a word, it's because I'm marking my place in an article, or I intend to copy and paste that word. To offer any sort of popup or panel gets in my way, and causes me annoyance. This is not the expected behavior, and I'm far less likely to continue reading the article or website if this happens.
Tracking: I don't know how bad yours is, but with Apture it was just one more company tracking me. There's already Google +1, Facebook like buttons, and Analytics on every page - and this is just one more thing to slow down my page and turn my data usage into statistics. I don't like it. I can enable Noscript, but I shouldn't have to.
You may say that these are features that your users (Cloudflare customers) want, but I'm sorry - they're morons. I deal with clients who would eat these kinds of features up, "they'll set us apart from other websites!". No. It only hurts the end users, and does not provide useful features.
And it really concerns me that Google bought Apture, I often use Chrome and do not want to see this integrated at any level. I can see marketers and managers eating this stuff up, but it surprises me that the engineers at Google are interested.
There should at least be a cookie that can optionally disable the service that can be set when it opens up. Would be pretty easy to implement and it would at least allow an out for people who think the experience is awful.
"When somebody is reading an article and wants more info on a word / topic you lose them to Google - with Apture keep them on your site!"
As a result they received huge support from major destination sites like NYT, Time Magazine, etc.
Funny that Google wound up buying them and negating the major value they delivered to publishers.
I wonder if they do a rev-share on the advertising it generates when it becomes a Chrome feature, probably not.
(I clicked through to another article on that site raving about CloudFlare saving the Internet. Apparently by providing managed Apache hosting, they are un-breaking the broken Internet. Wow, amazing! Next week on The Tech Wankosphere and Hacker News: "jrock.us CEO runs apt-get upgrade; picks up a few bugfixes". That's right folks, I'm saving the Internet!)
The bottom line is that this misfeature is an annoyance for 99.9% of internet users. Of those, maybe 1% understand how to get rid of it - probably by installing browser plugins that block the origin servers to some degree. I have no intention to use this (obnoxious) feature... so if there's any risk that part of my customer base will receive a degraded experience on my website, this is a compelling reason to use a competitor.
Likewise, if end-users find that cloudflare provides irritating features on websites, they may very well develop browser plugins that block cloudflare services - even the 'good' services (deliberately or not). Maybe this is far fetched, but the bottom line is that anytime you associate yourself with unsavory activities, you risk getting hit by the blowback - even if you don't "opt-in" yourself.
Taking the long-term view, this cannot possibly be good for CDN customers who don't want to annoy their users.
I wonder how often they'll be able to buy the 'next Apture' until they figure out that they're going to have to live with it, after all if it only takes 12 hours to clone then this seems like a winning business model with a guaranteed exit.
IMO they are one of two (or three) recent startups that I consider to be genuine, and have a real product/service that adds actual value. The rest not so much ... just fluff and social.
I really hope, the guys will integrate it in Google at least half as good
Or for anti-competitive reasons.