Thursday, September 11, 2008

Exploring The Tynted Web

Here we go with Tynt, yet another startup trying to socialize the web.


Yesterday there was a little bit of a flap about Tynt as they're running a wide open proxy on that allows page hijacking in the search engines.

Today Tynt responded on their blog to the SEO community.

First, we understand that Tynt has the potential to impact the major search engines in ways that were detrimental to the sites being Tynted. Our community recommended blocking spiders from crawling Tynts through the use of a Global Robots Exclusion file (robots.txt) as well as other techniques to minimize the problem. We have already implemented the ROBOTS.TXT file and are working on additional solutions.
That's a noble effort but now anyone running AdSense, YPN or any other contextual network ads are shit out of luck because their bot has to visit the page to serve up the ads. This turns out to be a moot point because allowing the bot also makes the ads go to shit for other reasons explored below.

I think Tynt is missing the point that their proxy server is wide open and can be used by scrapers and other online vermin to access your site although they might be blocked by other means.

Here, try it with Google or Yahoo or whatever you want, wide open and works for anyone and is ripe for abuse including phishing expeditions, very nice.

Shouldn't that proxy only work for registered members that are currently logged in?

Just a thought, I know it's beta and you want to demo some pages, but put a unique key in the URI so that only pages requested from actual Tynt members works with the proxy and it can't be randomly exploited.

For instance, instead of allowing the raw path "" maybe it should be "".

BTW, pass through the actual end user in your HTTP_X_FORWARDED_FOR field as we don't really find the NAT addresses of your internal servers all that useful.

Moving right along...

On their Twitter bio it says:
Tynt lets you put contextual relevance and dialog on web pages for sharing and interaction.
Listen, if I want dialog on my web pages, I'll put a comments section on the bottom of the pages, I don't need or want your help in this matter.

They clarify this further on the Tynt FAQ page:
Q. What kind of 'stuff' can I put on top of a web page?
A. There is a bunch of different things that you can do to a web page ranging from tools for research like sticky notes and highlighting text, to more fun stuff like text, speech bubbles, graphics and animations. Tynt is a fabulous tool for in context editorializing; in other words, Tynt lets you say what you think right on top of the topic you are talking about.
Lets' see, what does putting things on top of a web page mean? Vandalism, grafitti and lampooning quickly come to mind, something every business online welcomes. Several examples on their site actually show exactly this so no thanks, I think I'll keep my site out of your "stuff".

Wait, it gets even better, we get to foot the extra bandwidth bill for the privilege of letting the Tynt users download our pages just to draw horns and funny faces on our site. Fuck that.

Besides, if you Tynt a blog, forum, or twitter you're actually taking away from the value of those social mediums by breaking up and disjointing the conversation into multiple places which adds no value to the original discussion.

Here's another precious gem from the Tynt FAQ page:
Q. Does Tynt steal my traffic and therefore my revenue?
A. All Tynted web pages, including images, ads and other media all load live from the originating web server so every time a Tynt is viewed the Tynted web site get the ad revenue and traffic.
Holy misconception and major bullshit alert Batman!

Anyone using a context sensitive advertising medium like AdSense and YPN will be in trouble. This is because AdSense and YPN doesn't know their context in relationship to the domain name and it shows a bunch of off topic garbage which won't interest the person viewing the page whatsoever.

Want proof?

Let's use a Google AdSense case study site called CoolChaser just to see how well the ads work before and after you run the site through Tynt.

The results we saw were priceless:

Gay Bears Chat anyone?

That's just what my visitors crave, they love big hairy men that like other big hairy men and just can't keep their hands off of them - NOT.

As a matter of fact, something like this happening on a family friendly website could cause a huge problem but we won't delve into those issues at the moment.

Sorry, nothing about your Beta causes this problem as this is how AdSense responds over most any proxy and even in their own cache pages so anyone relying on AdSense or YPN revenue that has traffic redirected through Tynt's proxy will probably just lose out.

One of the Tynters tweeted me:
iancheung @IncrediBILL Tynt drives more people to sites and since people make money by ad views, it actually increases revenue.
I don't see how increased revenue is possible since you can't even see the ads because they're covered up with all those goddamn sticky notes!

From the blog:
Second, site owners have requested the ability to opt-out of having their sites publicly Tynted. We’ve given this a great deal of thought...
I gave it 2 seconds of thought and blocked your IP ranges:
Tynt Multimedia Inc. (TYNTM) - -
Out of site, out of mind, not a problem.

But wait, they have more in store:
The reason for the gateway (and the different looking URL) is to allow us to insert the JavaScript which loads the Tynt engine for the in-context comments and conversations (and hey, if everyone installs the plug in, then there is no need for our gateway and we can save ourselves the bandwidth and effort there too!).
The end users will be doing the page loading and we'll be unable to see them or stop them from fucking with our pages.

Many webmasters take their livelihoods and reputations very seriously and don't like being fucked with so there needs to be a way to detect the use of Tynt and or a way to opt-out of Tynt before this happens or it could get very ugly.

Last but not least, Tynt has made no mention of how they plan to make money.

Do you ultimately plan on using our sites to trigger your ads?

That's when the shit will really hit the fan.

Have a nice week.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

2008 a Chrome Odyssey

Did Stanley Kubrick join Google marketing?

Ever since Chrome released it's been like watching the online monkeys beat the monolith with bones like the intro of 2001 a Space Odyssey.

Sometimes people just make me want to smack them upside the head the way Gibbs dishes it out to DiNozzo on NCIS.

First, Google releases a beta product and everyone starts reviewing it like it's a finely polished shipping product. For those of you not in the software business there are various levels of beta which typically evolve into final beta, meaning that all features are frozen for that release, Then comes a beta gold candidate which appears to be as bug-free as possible and is about to become a shipping product. The initial release of Chrome is an obvious real beta that they want feedback on so get over it, it's an early beta, it's no where close to a final beta IMO but it's a damn good first release.

Second, a whole bunch of people are trying to steal Google's thunder comparing it to MSIE 8 primarily, which is also still in beta. If Google didn't already have those features coded then they wouldn't be in their initial beta either. It's not like someone at Google woke up on a Monday, read the MSIE 8 feature list, and wrote a whole bunch of new features for Chrome that just showed up in the release on Tuesday, get real. Most of those features were obviously in the works for quite some time but MSIE 8 was publicly known opposed to the closely held secrets of Chrome.

Thirdly, it's mostly just desperate cries for attention and link bait for people that have nothing better to do than bash Google on a good day and how there's more fuel for the fire.

Just remember, the first version of Firefox wasn't much to write home about which was initially distressing considering it's Netscape heritage, but it got better in a hurry until they bloated up Firefox 3, what a slug.

Additionally, Chrome is built on the same rendering engine that runs Safari so it has a lot of history already and should be pretty solid except for it's handling of some plug-ins which will be fixed.

Overall, I'm hopeful that Chrome gets the bugs patched quickly because I love the speed and snappy page displays like you get with Opera without all the javascript quirks.

I just hope it ships with add-on capability or more java script control like Firefox's NoScript and I'll be a happy boy.

Remember people, it's JUST BETA, give them a chance to polish it up.