Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Detynt detente
May 28, 2010 10:42 AM   Subscribe

When crafting a front page post, you may end up using the copy/paste feature of your OS. Some web sites are using Tynt to track copying and insert links and other useless info into your clipboard. John Gruber discusses the annoyance that Tynt causes and how to cut it off at the start.
posted by Blazecock Pileon to MetaFilter-Related at 10:42 AM (130 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

I'm gonna go ahead and...
posted by fixedgear at 10:47 AM on May 28, 2010


I was so happy to see Gruber write about that when I saw it earlier today that I may actually edit my hosts file. I hate that "feature."
posted by rtha at 10:48 AM on May 28, 2010


Excellent, another entry for my "types of fuckers" list.
posted by FishBike at 10:50 AM on May 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


I have been wondering about that shit.
posted by grobstein at 10:50 AM on May 28, 2010


I like how editing /etc/hosts is the solution "for Windows or Mac".
posted by DU at 10:51 AM on May 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I may actually edit my hosts file.

Haha, me too. Edit them old things there.

rtha what the hell is a host file?
posted by Mister_A at 10:53 AM on May 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Shoes be talking fuckers.
posted by Babblesort at 10:53 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't this make for a better FPP than Meta?

Nonetheless, this is definitely something to hostfile away, thanks for pointing it out!
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:55 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess, if I were a publisher, I could see how it could get annoying to have people constantly copying my stuff and pasting it in their blogs without credit or attribution, and this (Tynt) seems like something a dim MBA with only peripheral knowledge of The Internets might greenlight as a solution.

Could this have been created to cut down on the SEO "spam content" blogs that clog up search results; the ones that just cut and paste anything containing a set of keywords into a database? Or are those using RSS or something immune to Tynt to function anyway?
posted by Shepherd at 10:59 AM on May 28, 2010


I was wondering what was up with that. I encountered it somewhere last week, can't remember where, but it was mightily annoying. Thought maybe I was just accidentally selecting some extra text thanks to some sort of fucked up CSS or something.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:59 AM on May 28, 2010


My AdBlock tells me it has already blocked this 606 times, and I hadn't even heard of them. I wonder how people can use the web without it..
posted by DreamerFi at 11:05 AM on May 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


...coming soon to a MetaFilter near you!
posted by shakespeherian at 11:06 AM on May 28, 2010


I've noticed that. It's annoying, even if you don't know about the spying aspect. Good tip.
posted by Artw at 11:08 AM on May 28, 2010


my "types of fuckers" list.

link plz tia
posted by Nothing... and like it at 11:09 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


On PC you want C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts.

You can do this for IE via Tools, Internet Options, Security, Restricted Sites... I don't see a FF equivalent.
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on May 28, 2010


Not quite as irritating as those Snap preview popups though.
posted by mkb at 11:13 AM on May 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


rtha what the hell is a host file?

It's a thing in your computer you can edit so it will block the Tynt site and so you won't have those stupid links show up when you copy/paste comething. Gruber talks about it in the link.

posted by rtha at 11:16 AM on May 28, 2010


Stuff like this is why I only allow Javascript on a select few sites.
posted by ODiV at 11:16 AM on May 28, 2010


Quelquefuck?! Really? This is.... incredibly fail.
posted by Night_owl at 11:22 AM on May 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wouldn't this make for a better FPP than Meta?

I thought the scope of this was a bit too narrow for Metafilter. If the mods want to close this and someone wants to put it up on the front page, that's fine with me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:22 AM on May 28, 2010


Tynt? When I look at that word I see "taint", and that's not something you want associated with your website, however appropriate it happens to be.

Bonus: Works for any definition of "taint".
posted by Who_Am_I at 11:23 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Snopes completely disables copy+paste on their pages which is enough to make me just not even bother with them, this nonsense is just mildly annoying by comparison but I fear not respecting the clipboard is going to get worse if browser makers don't smarten up and lock it down.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:25 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah, and by the way Snopes does that they also disable highlighting, which is a tool I use to keep my attention focused on the reading. It really annoys me and I hate when sites do this sort of crap. I understand that non-attribution sucks and takes away from the work that honest people do, but these technological solutions to the problem are extremely bothersome.
posted by Night_owl at 11:29 AM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am now imagining a Clippy-like rapping clipboard who instructs web designers on how to "respect the clipboard".
posted by DU at 11:29 AM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wait, what? The one site you need to copy and paste from to answer those stupid emails, and they disable it?

That is... monumentally stupid.
posted by DreamerFi at 11:30 AM on May 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


Woah! Windows has a ...\etc folder!? Has Windows become just a gussied up Linux distribution while I wasn't looking?
posted by kaibutsu at 11:35 AM on May 28, 2010


Copy-and-paste is for peons, anyway. When I need to quote something from a website, I just print it out, highlight the portion I need, and stick it in the pneumatic tube down to the dames in the typing pool. A few hours later, I receive an email containing the selected text, which I print out and hand to my secretary while I dictate whatever else I need to add. It's really quite simple.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:36 AM on May 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


my "types of fuckers" list.
...
link plz tia


1. fuckers that belong to the Emperor,
2. embalmed fuckers,
3. fuckers that are trained,
4. suckling fuckers,
5. merfuckers,
6. fabulous fuckers,
7. stray fuckers,
8. fuckers included in the present classification,
9. fuckers that tremble as if they were mad,
10. innumerable fuckers,
11. fuckers drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
12. other fuckers,
13. fuckers that have just broken a flower vase,
14. fuckers that from a long way off look like flies.




Read more: http://www.google.com/#hl=en&safe=active&q=how+does+i+jorge+luis+borges
posted by Greg Nog at 11:39 AM on May 28, 2010 [36 favorites]


kaibutsu: "Woah! Windows has a ...\etc folder!? Has Windows become just a gussied up Linux distribution while I wasn't looking?"

I'm pretty sure that's been there at least since Windows 95
posted by octothorpe at 11:42 AM on May 28, 2010


Has Windows become just a gussied up Linux distribution while I wasn't looking?

Up?
posted by DU at 11:44 AM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that's been there at least since Windows 95

Since NT.
posted by Artw at 11:45 AM on May 28, 2010


Space Coyote: "Snopes completely disables copy+paste on their pages which is enough to make me just not even bother with them, this nonsense is just mildly annoying by comparison but I fear not respecting the clipboard is going to get worse if browser makers don't smarten up and lock it down"

There is at least one greasemonkey script for this.
posted by graventy at 12:00 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Snopes completely disables copy+paste on their pages which is enough to make me just not even bother with them

Right, now how the hell am I going to find out if this is some sort of conspiracy?
posted by Elmore at 12:07 PM on May 28, 2010


Snopes is pretty useful so I'm kind of wiling to give them a pass here. What's the big deal? Just link back to them. They need the clicks, right? Nobody here is seeing ads on Snopes.
posted by fixedgear at 12:10 PM on May 28, 2010


I'm guessing AdBlock cuts this crap and if not NoScript does so I wasn't aware of this malpractice. Good to know what is happening though.

DreamerFi writes "My AdBlock tells me it has already blocked this 606 times, and I hadn't even heard of them. I wonder how people can use the web without it.."

How do you get AdBlock to spit out this information (assuming you are talking about the FF extension)?
posted by Mitheral at 12:12 PM on May 28, 2010


if browser makers don't smarten up and lock it down.

This is what really needs to happen. Allowing access to the clipboard by default is right up there with the decision back in the day allowing random sites to open new windows (helloooo, popup ads). The decision to implement it at all just smacks of naïveté.

I've been thinking about this a bit since I read Gruber's article a few hours ago, and I think that one thing that IE does right, compared to Firefox and Chrome (hard to believe, I know) is the concept of "security zones" ... rather than just a global on/off for features like JavaScript, or a site-specific blacklist/whitelist, IE for several versions now has this idea of gradations of permissiveness. So rather than just saying "yeah I trust this site, let it do whatever" or "nope, they're a bunch of fucks, give 'em nothing" you have intermediate settings.

This is necessary because an increasing number of sites just don't render correctly (or at all) with JS disabled. I might want to turn JS on for them, but I damn well don't want to give them anything more than the bare minimum. And in general, for most sites I don't want to allow them anything more than control over the page layout. Ability to customize the right-click context menu (another massive annoyance), or know what text I've selected? No way.

There are only a very few sites and situations where I can imagine wanting to let the site interact with my computer's clipboard. An online office suite like Google Docs is basically it.

Browser developers have gotten behind the scumbag curve when it comes to limiting JS, and that's why we have a new generation of popups and popover advertising, as well as annoyances like the copy-modifiers and shit that comes up when you try to right-click. They dropped the ball by allowing pages to control this stuff without realizing every feature is going to be abused by shitheads to the maximum extent possible and failing to lock it down first.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:19 PM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd assume that Snopes has disabled C&P as an anti-scraping measure, although there are probably ways to get around that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:19 PM on May 28, 2010


every feature is going to be abused by shitheads to the maximum extent possible

Someone needs to hit the HTML5 websockets dudes over the head with this repeatedly.
posted by Artw at 12:22 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


fixedgear writes "Snopes is pretty useful so I'm kind of wiling to give them a pass here. What's the big deal?"

It breaks an essential component of a general purpose personal computer; Ctrl+X/C/V and the open apple equivalents must be some of the longest running, always works features around. And you can't link back on a dead tree for one which makes not being able to copy and paste a problem if you want to debunk something via bulletin board (in the old school sense). And some people have email access but no web access. Fortunately NoScript also disables this kind of bullshit (and right mouse click blockers, remember those idiotic sites).

Kadin2048 i writes "This is what really needs to happen. Allowing access to the clipboard by default is right up there with the decision back in the day allowing random sites to open new windows (helloooo, popup ads). The decision to implement it at all just smacks of naïveté."

Interestingly Raymond Chen talked about something similar and why the clipboard is an application free for all not to long ago. I agree though it would be nice if one could turn off JS access to the clipboard but I bet it is an non-trivial problem to do that yet still copy what one wants on all sites.
posted by Mitheral at 12:27 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm glad I had never seen this, since just knowing about it makes me a little bit unhappier. (By which I mean: full of rage.)
posted by OmieWise at 12:34 PM on May 28, 2010


Wow. So these guys are to blame. Thanks for linking, BP.
posted by brundlefly at 12:35 PM on May 28, 2010


Snopes is incredibly annoying, yes. Fortunately, all you need to do is disable Javascript, highlight/copy whatever you want, then re-enable it. Not much they can do to stop you doing that.

If you use Firefox, the Web Developer Toolbar add-on lets you do this pretty easily. I'm sure other add-ons do, too.
posted by cerebus19 at 12:37 PM on May 28, 2010


How do you get AdBlock to spit out this information (assuming you are talking about the FF extension)?

Click on the red ABP icon wherever it is in your browser window. CTRL+F for "tynt". It will take you to the specific filter, show you if it's enabled, and give you the hit count.
posted by elizardbits at 12:38 PM on May 28, 2010


Oh NoScript, how I love and adore you for sparing me from this and other sundry bullshit.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:39 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one that thought that feature was kind of cool? I guess so.
posted by empath at 12:43 PM on May 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Click on the red ABP icon wherever it is in your browser window

You can also do the same "find" in the "Adblock Preferences" in your Tools menu.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:44 PM on May 28, 2010


Previously I was neutral-to-mildly-annoyed over it, but that it reports back kicks it up a grade in the annoyance stakes.
posted by Artw at 12:45 PM on May 28, 2010


I don't know how people can browse the internet without NoScript.
posted by dead cousin ted at 12:50 PM on May 28, 2010


One thing I'm a bit shocked about is how many sites I frequent that trigger the Anti-Tynt extension I installed in Chrome this morning. It is insidious how spammers are cozying into everyday use of the web through backdoor shenanigans like these.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:52 PM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't know how people can browse the internet without NoScript.

It's really not that hard, you know.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 12:57 PM on May 28, 2010


antidentite antiDetynt
posted by special-k at 12:58 PM on May 28, 2010


Taynt
posted by anthill at 1:01 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


tl;rm
posted by not_on_display at 1:05 PM on May 28, 2010


If you're uncomfortable with editing your hosts file or don't have administrative rights on the PC you use, you can also opt-out here. As explained on the page, it uses cookies so you'll have to opt-out of every browser you use.
posted by booticon at 1:07 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I never knew there was such a thing as a hosts file! Can you use it to block other stupid things, like Facebook scripts?
posted by bluefly at 1:08 PM on May 28, 2010


"By default, JavaScript is not allowed to read or set your clipboard data for security and privacy reasons."
(http://kb.mozillazine.org/Granting_JavaScript_access_to_the_clipboard )
so it looks like Firefox users are AOK in any case (I couldn't get it to work).

Also it kind of funny that you pass on any arbitary string as a user id when calling the script
http://tcr.tynt.com/javascripts/Tracer.js?user=oh_hai_I_haz_eated_ur_tracker
and it will still return it fine and presumably the same thing goes for the links it generates. So I'm not sure I'd trust any data it produces.
posted by tallus at 1:09 PM on May 28, 2010


I don't know how people can browse the internet without NoScript.

It's like walking around without shoes on or riding the bus. Sure, there's the occasional annoyance, but you learn where not to step and who not to sit next to; at the end of the day, your immune system is a little more robust.

Plus it encourages me to vote with my page views re: shitty UI/design choices. There's no site that I need to read so badly that I'll put up with script-related bullshit.

Also, it helps to be able to see the unvarnished web the way random users might if I'm troubleshooting a problem with a link or something.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:13 PM on May 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


10. innumerable fuckers,

For some reason I can't help thinking "Busy Beaver fuckers", but that's a different list..
posted by Chuckles at 1:15 PM on May 28, 2010


booticon: "If you're uncomfortable with editing your hosts file or don't have administrative rights on the PC you use, you can also opt-out here. As explained on the page, it uses cookies so you'll have to opt-out of every browser you use."

You understand that's complete bullshit on tynt's part, right? I hate to be crabby, but goddamn.
posted by boo_radley at 1:22 PM on May 28, 2010


I had not noticed Snopes' asshattery before. They also have nasty unblockable popups on all the links coming off of their main page. For that, they earned a place on my JS blacklist.

I'd assume that Snopes has disabled C&P as an anti-scraping measure

This doesn't make sense -- if you're scraping the site programmatically, using a script or wget or something, you don't copy/paste. You just grab all the HTML files and then parse them out however you want, ignoring dumb JS hacks completely. Nobody (sane) scrapes a page by opening it up in a browser and then copying and pasting it. It stops people from quoting Snopes in an email reply, but that's about it.

Someone needs to hit the HTML5 websockets dudes over the head

I admit to not really having paid a lot of attention to HTML 5 ... I had to Google that to see what the deal was. If anyone else is curious, there's an intro here. Essentially (as the name implies) it's a way of opening a full-duplex communication channel between a compliant browser and a server. I suspect the big issue is: "One of the more unique features Web Socket provides is its ability to traverse firewalls and proxies..." That's going to be fun.

Although I'm not sure it opens up a ton of avenues that aren't already there if your firewall or proxy allows clients to make arbitrary connections over HTTPS. But I'm sure someone will find something nasty to do with it.


The Raymond Chen article (linked above by Mitheral) sums up what I believe to be a dangerously outmoded point of view. I.e., we "historically didn't stop programmers from doing stupid things because that would also prevent them from doing clever things." On the Internet, this is not a good attitude. We have two decades, in fact, of showing what sort of a mess this permissiveness wreaks -- Usenet is useless, email nearly so, and the web has done a sort of two-steps-forward-one-step-back dance with various features that have been implemented, exploited, and then retroactively nerfed. Features need to be rolled out much more defensively, with an eye towards exploitability, and not just because they seem like they might be neat to have.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:24 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


elizardbits writes "Click on the red ABP icon wherever it is in your browser window"

Ah, ABP. Good reason to upgrade.
posted by Mitheral at 1:28 PM on May 28, 2010


Honestly, I use Snopes to debunk dumb e-mails I get from relatives. I always include a link, but I feel like it's more polite to give a bit of background with the link.

I'd like NoScript a lot more if it wasn't constantly "updating" and taking me to its homepage.
posted by graventy at 1:35 PM on May 28, 2010


Kadin2048: "The Raymond Chen article (linked above by Mitheral) sums up what I believe to be a dangerously outmoded point of view."

Worse, it doesn't even address the question: "Why does Excel empty the clipboard" and you get dazzled with irrelevant low-level API discussion as only Raymond Chen can do: Technically accurate, functionally useless.

I respect the dude immensely. His skills and knowledge of Windows and general computing are tremendous, but he's just incapable of answering a "why" question. It's not in his domain; it's outside his expertise; he's the man telling you "you're in a balloon".
posted by boo_radley at 1:35 PM on May 28, 2010


fixedgear : Snopes is pretty useful so I'm kind of wiling to give them a pass here.

The past couple of years, Snopes has pushed really hard into my pissing-me-the-hell-off zone. I love the information, but between the popups and other fuckery they are doing, I find using the site more and more tiresome.

That said,
"Computers are not only now an integral part of our daily lives, they've also become the primary means by which urban legends and other pieces of misinformation are now spread — everything from "stupid computer user" stories to virus warning hoaxes (and the occasional real warning)."
Dear Snopes, until you can stop me from viewing your source, you ain't going to stop me from copying and pasting your text.
posted by quin at 1:36 PM on May 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


"historically didn't stop programmers from doing stupid things because that would also prevent them from doing clever things." On the Internet, this is not a good attitude. We have two decades, in fact, of showing what sort of a mess this permissiveness wreaks

It is, in fact, the path to crazyland.
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on May 28, 2010


Worse, it doesn't even address the question: "Why does Excel empty the clipboard" and you get dazzled with irrelevant low-level API discussion as only Raymond Chen can do: Technically accurate, functionally useless.

No, he answers the question. Excel empties the clipboard on startup because it can.
posted by GuyZero at 1:57 PM on May 28, 2010


Dear Snopes, until you can stop me from viewing your source, you ain't going to stop me from copying and pasting your text.

All image-based pages. But then there will be greasemonkey scripts that run the images through an OCR! But then Snopes will escalate to the point where the written word is always displayed like a captcha - with lines through everything and all funhouse mirrored. God damn it.

Think I want to deal with that sort of future? Fuck you, Tynt.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:59 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was trying to figure out why snopes would have such an extreme approach to copy/pasting. I guess they really don't believe in fair use, even at the expense of the usability of their site:

Q: May I reproduce your material on my web site?

A: No. You are welcome to link to any of our articles from your site, but you may not reproduce the content of our pages on your own site, nor may you distribute the text of our articles via e-mail forwards or mailing lists, or by posting them to message boards or blogs. (All of these actions constitute copyright infringement.)
(link)

Maybe years of debunking email forwards made them hate the idea of their own content being put in an email forward.
posted by advil at 2:00 PM on May 28, 2010


The way I figure it, if I were snopes -- and so not carrying ads, and just trying to debunk stuff -- I'd think "hey, if people copy/paste this stuff around, then the idiots are only getting corrected on that thing, but if we make it harder to copy/paste, people will just forward the link back to the site, and then the idiots will get corrected on all of this stuff."
posted by davejay at 2:15 PM on May 28, 2010


Xkcd is prescient, as always.
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:42 PM on May 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Claim:You may not reproduce the content of our pages on your own site, nor may you distribute the text of our articles via e-mail forwards or mailing lists, or by posting them to message boards or blogs. (All of these actions constitute copyright infringement.)

Status: False.

Examples:
[Collected on the Internet, 2010]

You are welcome to link to any of our articles from your site, but you may not reproduce the content of our pages on your own site, nor may you distribute the text of our articles via e-mail forwards or mailing lists, or by posting them to message boards or blogs. (All of these actions constitute copyright infringement.)
Origins: Snopes.com, a widely-respected web site that specializes in debunking urban legends, made a misleading statement of their own when it suited their interests.

While copying large portions of their web site would probably constitute copyright infringement, excerpting small portions of a Snopes article is likely to be fair use and unlikely to constitute copyright infringement.

grouse "I just lost a lot of respect for Snopes"

Last updated: 28 May 2010
posted by grouse at 2:56 PM on May 28, 2010 [30 favorites]


Wait, what... .. hello? Is that someone knocking on the door to a walled garden?
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:57 PM on May 28, 2010


That was a neat article, but I slightly disagree with Gruber on Tynt's intention: I don't think they're hoping that readers leave the Read More: bit in their post, I think they're hoping that you use it as the URL when you attributing the quote, either because it's less of a hassle than clicking over to the original tab or you just don't know about the tracking code and assume it's a vanilla URL. Probably both.
posted by Ian A.T. at 3:50 PM on May 28, 2010


""By default, JavaScript is not allowed to read or set your clipboard data for security and privacy reasons."
(http://kb.mozillazine.org/Granting_JavaScript_access_to_the_clipboard )
so it looks like Firefox users are AOK in any case (I couldn't get it to work)."


Incorrect. It's working on Firefox for me.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:01 PM on May 28, 2010


> If you use Firefox, the Web Developer Toolbar add-on lets you do this pretty easily. I'm sure other add-ons do, too.
> posted by cerebus19 at 3:37 PM on May 28 [+] [!]

For those stuck with IE (as I am at work) there's a web developer toolbar for IE also. (From MS, not Chris Pedrick).


> "By default, JavaScript is not allowed to read or set your clipboard data for security and privacy reasons."
> (http://kb.mozillazine.org/Granting_JavaScript_access_to_the_clipboard )
> so it looks like Firefox users are AOK in any case (I couldn't get it to work).

Again for folks stuck with IE for one reason or another

Tools > Internet Options > Security Settings > Scripting > Allow Programmatic Clipboard Access (disable/enable/prompt)
posted by jfuller at 4:38 PM on May 28, 2010


I don't get all the hate against Snopes. They're sitting on the edge of a whirlpool of chopped up pieces of information and trying to piece it together. At any minute their hard work could fall right back in to the whirlpool and with it would go their reputation. Not all of their readers are as highly knowledgeable and principled as Metatalk readers.
posted by amethysts at 4:57 PM on May 28, 2010


Without clicking the main link, even though I have read all the comments, I'm not exactly sure what this post is about except that I am full of GRAR and this thread suggests that be directed at ... Snopes? Do I have that right? Nothing wrong with your post BP, I think I'm just enjoying footling round here under the haze of some terrible head cold [YES I HAVE A NETI POT] but I haven't noticed this Tynt business at all and wonder if it's because I'm leading a life not worth living or I'm one of those "Is this a thing I'd have to read other websites to know about?" things.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:03 PM on May 28, 2010


To be clear, Tynt does not modify your clipboard in any way. I believe they are, upon detecting the key combination for Copy, inserting hidden text into the DOM at your selection (the text you have selected is information that is knowable in JS. it powers the very comment box I am typing in), then removes it immediately after. I'm still digging around in Firebug to prove this is the case.
posted by potch at 5:03 PM on May 28, 2010


From the daringfireball article:

> Everyone knows how copy and paste works. You select text. You copy. When you paste,
> what you get is exactly what you selected.

The last browser for which that was true was Lynx. In a GUI-style browser when you select you're actually selecting a piece of a page including the characters of the text and also the non-displayed formatting html and sometimes other non-displayed stuff too. The only way to be sure of getting rid of it and end up with just text is to paste first into a pure text editor and from there copy and paste yet again into whatever application is your final destination.
posted by jfuller at 5:07 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


GuyZero: "No, he answers the question. Excel empties the clipboard on startup because it can."

You are part of the problem.
posted by boo_radley at 5:14 PM on May 28, 2010


That is to say: Why does it benefit the user for excel to empty the clipboard on startup?
posted by boo_radley at 5:15 PM on May 28, 2010


[...] one of those "Is this a thing I'd have to read other websites to know about?" things.

I think it's one of those things that you'd only notice if you visited a web site made by people dumb enough to think it's a good idea, but still smart enough to have something worth copy-and-pasting. Depending on one's personal standards there, that can be an awfully narrow smartness window.
posted by FishBike at 5:19 PM on May 28, 2010


Now that I've read the link, wow that is terribly annoying. And yeah you can learn a lot about your computer by learning about your hosts file. I'm using a writing tool that defaults Command-V [CTRL-V for Macs] to rich text copy/paste which means it preserves formatting unless you specifically do some thing that takes four keys. Maybe it's the way of the future or something, but man it's annoying as hell.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:35 PM on May 28, 2010


boo_radley writes "That is to say: Why does it benefit the user for excel to empty the clipboard on startup?"

It's backwards compatible with Lotus 123? 9 times out of 10 something weird in excel is because it was a clone of 123.
posted by Mitheral at 5:39 PM on May 28, 2010


To be clear, Tynt does not modify your clipboard in any way.

Tynt is modifying your clipboard content in that it changes expected behavior for what a copy event should accomplish. Today it is adding web links and possibly advertising, tomorrow — who knows.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:50 PM on May 28, 2010


BP, I agree that it's crappy and terrible, I was just commenting on what, technology-wise, it was doing.
posted by potch at 5:53 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


wow that's a lot of commas.
posted by potch at 5:53 PM on May 28, 2010


> ...which means it preserves formatting unless you specifically do some thing that takes four keys.

There was a bit on Lifehacker about making a hotkey to paste plain text without formatting into MS Word. I have in mind to try adapting that to Openoffice writer...but not til Tuesday.
posted by jfuller at 5:54 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is also a copy as plain text extension for Firefox users.
posted by cashman at 6:02 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Today it is adding web links and possibly advertising, tomorrow — who knows.

Next Tynt will marry a dog, probably!
posted by mullacc at 7:37 PM on May 28, 2010


yes, and it'll marry that dog to a cat, which is totally wrong.
posted by boo_radley at 7:49 PM on May 28, 2010


My life has been enhanced tremendously since I downloaded Spark and the Spark plugin Plain Clip. Command-V for everything, Command-option-V for just the text. LOVE
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:59 PM on May 28, 2010


I'd like NoScript a lot more if it wasn't constantly "updating" and taking me to its homepage

http://noscript.net/faq#qa2_5
posted by flabdablet at 9:30 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


wow that's a lot of commas.

But they were all awesome and appropriate commas, so, yay!
posted by rtha at 10:23 PM on May 28, 2010


Metafilter is inescapable. I go from this post, to Daring Fireball, to the editing your hosts file article on Lifehacker, which talks about metafilter. In the words of Gina "Metafilter, I love you, but you eat too much of my life.


Read more: http://lifehacker.com/146448/geek-to-live--ban-time+wasting-web-sites"
posted by gagoumot at 10:34 PM on May 28, 2010


Next Tynt will marry a dog, probably!

Yes! Sure!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:57 PM on May 28, 2010


The silliest thing about this Tynt thing is that the URLs it supplies will probably be 404'ed in the next few months.

A better "solution" (if that's the right word for something that isn't really a problem), would be some kind of attribution markup that omits the obnoxious tracking info. The person who copied the text determines via CSS whether they want the attribution displayed, and how. Such a thing could potentially even be useful for seeing how a piece of text gets copied from one website to another.
posted by Ritchie at 12:17 AM on May 29, 2010


Space Coyote: "Snopes completely disables copy+paste on their pages"

There's a Greasemonnkey script for that. Oh, Graventy beat me, but yes, I do that highlighting thing too. There was a whole article about it a couple of years ago, about people who highlight text like that. NY Times maybe.

bluefly: "I never knew there was such a thing as a hosts file! Can you use it to block other stupid things, like Facebook scripts?"

You can block any site with it.

Kadin2048: "I had not noticed Snopes' asshattery before. They also have nasty unblockable popups on all the links coming off of their main page. For that, they earned a place on my JS blacklist."

I never get any popups and all I'm using is ABP and standard Firefox options.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:28 AM on May 29, 2010


Woah! Windows has a ...\etc folder!? Has Windows become just a gussied up Linux distribution while I wasn't looking?

There was a rumor going around that it's been that way because MS copied the TCP stack from BSD, but google isn't turing up anything substantial.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:20 AM on May 29, 2010


Has Windows become just a gussied up Linux distribution while I wasn't looking?

It's more likely a hang-over from early implementations of the IP stack and utilities on Windows borrowing from BSD code.

There was a rumor going around that it's been that way because MS copied the TCP stack from BSD, but google isn't turing up anything substantial.

It's old stuff, late nineties. It's based off the way you used to be able to pull the relevant BSD license boilderplate out of old binaries if you tried.

The answer to this all is, of course, NoScript. But you need to be running a sensible browser for that.

I don't know how people can browse the internet without NoScript.

It's really not that hard, you know.


Oh yes it is. I'm appalled how slow and crappy the web suddenly gets without FlashBlock and NoScript.
posted by rodgerd at 1:56 AM on May 29, 2010


I get a lot of press releases, and lists of credits that go with the ads I post. One company that serves these releases for many post houses uses tynt, and I fetch the info to go with the ads (something like "Director X from post house Z brings 3D animation to brand Y blablabla") which I then post for them under the post house Z company name. The company that sends the releases (not post house Z company) emailed me to ask me to not delete the tynt link.

I stopped posting their ads.

after sulking for a week, I gave up and post their ads as they want them inclusing tynt link, because after all, it's only hurting the archive to not have all ads available but man that stupid link annoys the hell out of me and makes those posts look stupid
posted by dabitch at 4:07 AM on May 29, 2010


I've just tried this on Techcrunch. I'm using NoScript and RequestPolicy. This seems to be a pretty easy thing to get around. And I highly recommend RequestPolicy. It blocks all cross-site scripting requests unless you specifically allow them, in the same manner that NoScript blocks all own-site* javascript. If NoScript is a must have, then so is RequestPolicy.

*I don't know the correct term, but you get the idea.
posted by Solomon at 4:38 AM on May 29, 2010


rodgerd: "It's more likely a hang-over from early implementations of the IP stack and utilities on Windows borrowing from BSD code."

Huh, I could have sworn it was because they were trying to be POSIX compliant. Could be a little of both, I guess.
posted by idiopath at 6:34 AM on May 29, 2010


"No. You are welcome to link to any of our articles from your site, but you may not reproduce the content of our pages on your own site, nor may you distribute the text of our articles via e-mail forwards or mailing lists, or by posting them to message boards or blogs. (All of these actions constitute copyright infringement.)"

You say I may not, but I clearly can, Snopes. Can and will and fuck you for being an old useful internet site now bloated and obnoxious. I used to check Snopes first, now Straight Dope and Wikipedia mean that I don't have pop-ups or bullshit or your crypto-conservative moral preaching.
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 AM on May 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


My favourite anti-copy/paste website feature is the one that an Australian newspaper used to do on its really crappy website (I think it was the Australian Financial Review - it might still be doing this, but its site appears to be paywalled so I can't check).

It displayed articles as two overlapping blocks of text, with each one missing every other letter. Since they were both in a hideous fixed-width font you could read them, sort of, but try and highlight part of the text and you would get apparently random strings of letters with spaces between them.

This may have been primarily intended as a completely clueless anti-scraping measure, but who knows.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 8:02 AM on May 29, 2010


dabitch, why don't you include the hashtag in the href but not the display text -- wouldn't that make everyone happy?

A quick work-around to pasting plain text in web browsers -- use keyboard shortcuts to paste the content in the address bar, select all and re-copy.

For me in Firefox & Chrome the sequence is: select text of interest, ctrl-c, ctrl-l, ctrl-v, ctrl-a, click in destination text box, ctrl-v

A little messy but it works everywhere, including other people's computers.
posted by khedron at 8:07 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally, I don't really get a lot of the grar over this. Why is it so unreasonable for a website to drop an attribution link into copied text? If you're going to use that text anywhere legitimately you almost certainly ought to be citing it's origin anyway. If you don't like the link, just remove it. If anything, this is a service to bloggers (and emailers) who know they ought to cite but can't always be bothered.

The tracking & counting stuff I can understand though. That's just icky.
posted by pharm at 9:16 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I never liked snopes. Do they still look and act like it's 1998-internet? I'm not going to check because I never liked them. Obviously false story is obviously false!
posted by fuq at 9:44 AM on May 29, 2010


Why is it so unreasonable for a website to drop an attribution link into copied text?

I think it's the way it feels like it's violating an important boundary. The way cut-and-paste works is a function of my computer, not a function of their web site, so how dare they mess with it, sort of thing.
posted by FishBike at 10:02 AM on May 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Why is it so unreasonable for a website to drop an attribution link into copied text? If you're going to use that text anywhere legitimately you almost certainly ought to be citing it's origin anyway.

Funny. That was my first reaction as well. When I first saw it, I thought "Oh, that is a bit annoying but I understand why it would be useful."

For me, Copy/Paste has long been broken anways since with every Rich-Text application I am always hunting around for that damn 'Paste as Unformatted Text' option.
posted by vacapinta at 11:29 AM on May 29, 2010


For me, Copy/Paste has long been broken anways since with every Rich-Text application I am always hunting around for that damn 'Paste as Unformatted Text' option.

Ya, too bad windows doesn't allow 'default to paste-special'..
posted by Chuckles at 12:22 PM on May 29, 2010


Copy plain text addon for Firefox.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:40 PM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


For me, Copy/Paste has long been broken anways since with every Rich-Text application I am always hunting around for that damn 'Paste as Unformatted Text' option"

Most text-handling apps use the same menu names and shortcut keys for Paste Unformatted, so Alt-E, S, U, Enter takes the place of Ctrl-V in many cases. Agreed that, even if you know the shortcut, it's annoying to have to be aware of which to use.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 1:04 PM on May 29, 2010


jfuller: “There was a bit on Lifehacker about making a hotkey to paste plain text without formatting into MS Word. I have in mind to try adapting that to Openoffice writer...but not til Tuesday.”

For whatever it's worth, it's pretty much a hotkey already: control-shift-v, u, enter. ("Control-shift-v" being the "paste special" hotkey, which brings up a "what kind of formatting?" dialog, in which you can press "u" for unformatted and then "enter" to paste.) Control-shift-v, u, enter might seem a little long for some people, but it works fast enough for me that I haven't felt the need to add a faster hotkey even though it'd be easy to do; and this is something I have to use all day long at work with spreadsheets in Calc, so I do it a lot.

Also, in case anybody's wondering, it's exactly the same in MS products (Word, Outlook, etc) except with alt instead of shift: control-alt-v, u, enter.
posted by koeselitz at 1:23 PM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm with empath. I like this feature. I think that copy and paste with web pages is, in general, broken, because I am always forced to do a multi-step process to give attribution, and I often want to give attribution.

I mean, this is my typical use case for copy and paste from browsers:

Select a sentence or a paragraph of text via click and drag. Copy. Click to alt tab/window. Paste.
Click to select original tab/window
Select URL via double-click. Copy. Click to alternate tab/window. Paste.

I do not think that sites should write to and modify the clipboard, but I do think that this kind of copy paste should be a common option, ideally as default browser behavior.

This would eliminate five out of nine discrete steps in my typical use case.
posted by zippy at 4:42 PM on May 29, 2010


Dear god that's annoying.
posted by delmoi at 5:20 PM on May 29, 2010

I'd assume that Snopes has disabled C&P as an anti-scraping measure, although there are probably ways to get around that.
How would it prevent scraping? A scraper program doesn't use the clipboard, or even a browser it just sucks down the page itself.

Also, I have adblock pro and this wasn't blocked by default. But I added a custom rule (just the 'tcr.tynt.com') and tried copying from techcrunch. I didn't get the bullshit. And it showed up as being blocked once in the prefs window. Awesome.

I had no idea this was a 'service', since it could easily be done with just a few lines of javascript. I assumed it was just some extension people were dropping into their pages.
That was a neat article, but I slightly disagree with Gruber on Tynt's intention: I don't think they're hoping that readers leave the Read More: bit in their post, I think they're hoping that you use it as the URL when you attributing the quote, either because it's less of a hassle than clicking over to the original tab or you just don't know about the tracking code and assume it's a vanilla URL. Probably both.
They're hoping a few people are too lazy to delete it. Obviously not for blog posts, probably not for comments, but in emails or IMs.
posted by delmoi at 5:44 PM on May 29, 2010


This would eliminate five out of nine discrete steps in my typical use case.

Unfortunately, it also inserts unexpected steps into other folks' typical use case. As you say, what would be ideal here is an opt-in, universal browser extension/plugin that lets you decide, and control precisely, how and when you want this sort of thing to happen. Which would mean:

1. You get to decide the format of your extra stuff—you can tailor your attribution text and link stuff to fit your personal needs in a way that Tynt's default or a given publication's default doesn't allow.

2. You get consistent output across your browse-and-copy experience, which you don't with Tynt unless it becomes wholly ubiquitous.

3. Your ability to employ this tool can be very simply modal if it allows a hotkey for temporary engagement or disengagement of the feature, something Tynt doesn't and isn't likely to provide.

4. The feature won't disappear out from under you for a given site if they decide to abandon Tynt after a while.

5. You won't be encouraging weird scummy SEO bullshit in the process.

Honestly, I can see how this functionality in that sort of opt-in, client-side, browser-tool-based context could be very useful for folks who do a lot of pullquoting with attribution. If something like that doesn't exist now I'd be surprised if it didn't come into existence pretty quickly, because it's presumably not even that tough to put together.

But Tynt's customer is not the well-meaning attributer, it's the near-sighted publisher, and their goals are not your goals. Attribution is an ethical (and to a degree stylistic) issue, and it won't be solved by third parties charging publishers service fees for broken, intrusive, inflexible technical roadblocks. This kind of ill-conceived bullshit, and any site foolish enough to pay for it, deserves the user-experience equivalent of a sharp kick in the nuts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:07 PM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's too bad my local newspaper uses their own home cooked method that doesn't bother with the tracking BS. Thankfully, the code is in a separate .js file, so it can be easily blocked with ABP.
posted by wierdo at 12:37 AM on May 30, 2010


>>rodgerd: "It's more likely a hang-over from early implementations of the IP stack and utilities on Windows borrowing from BSD code."

>Huh, I could have sworn it was because they were trying to be POSIX compliant. Could be a little of both, I guess.


They definitely, absolutely yoinked the BSD code. The header files for at least some versions of the MS C++ compiler (under XP, in 2001-2002, last I looked) have the BSD license notice at the top of them. [Mind you, this is totally okay. The BSD license pretty much explicitly allows them to use it however they like. Lots of people have yoinked the BSD sockets implementation.]

Some versions of windows with appropriate patch packs installed are POSIXly correct for the first POSIX standard. As Wikipedia points out, this means that a POSIX program on Windows can't even open a socket. /etc/hosts isn't there to conform to POSIX sockets standards.

And, as far as I've ever been able to tell, the only required directories in the POSIX standard are /dev and /tmp.
posted by Netzapper at 1:41 AM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do think that this kind of copy paste should be a common option, ideally as default browser behavior.

You can do it with extensions. Among several are Copy URL+ or Make Link for Firefox and Create Link for Chrome.
posted by Kylio at 2:18 AM on May 30, 2010


Usability secrets: surprise vasectomies tend to offend people.
posted by Free word order! at 4:26 AM on May 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of course, what Mr Gruber forgets to mention is that one way around Tynt is to do all your copying and pasting on your pre-OS3.0 iPhone.
posted by tapeguy at 9:47 AM on May 30, 2010


We write programs that require clipboard access. We do Assistive Technology - software for people with some kind of disability/impairment/special need, such as dyslexia. To enable people to read text in arbitrary programs we detect the mouse key up, then send Ctrl+C, then read out what's been put in the clipboard. (We then clean up and restore what was in the clipboard before.) This is very successful and works across most applications. For given application X we could use some kind of Document Object Model or API, but we would have to code and support every different program and their changes. That wouldn't be feasible. We do other things involving spellchecking and speech and the clipboard.

There are genuine reasons to have programmatic access to the clipboard.
posted by alasdair at 6:08 AM on May 31, 2010


Snopes worked for me when I just did a command-A, and then command-C on OS X/Firefox. Plus, this Tynt thing doesn't seem to be inserting anything for me in Firefox on a Mac, and I even have Javascript enabled. So, the solution is to switch to a Mac, clearly. :)
posted by MythMaker at 12:53 PM on May 31, 2010


I don't know how people can browse the internet without NoScript.

Open browser. Visit web pages. End of.
posted by juiceCake at 12:56 PM on May 31, 2010


Copy plain text addon for Firefox.

This has quite literally changed my life, as I now ease into the last 10-15K words of this damned book I'm writing. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:17 PM on May 31, 2010


amazing things can be done through the clipboard but sites can also restrict its usage. Browser extensions and (Greasemonkey) userscripts can fix most of the restrictions.

Snopes is pretty good for debunking the normal crazy rumor but I find them too right wing and Christian. When you look at their coverage for George Washington Christian, they never debunk any of the Christian claims that Washington was a devout Christian, or any of the core myths about this that circulate in the emails.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 8:24 PM on May 31, 2010


Jessamyn, in OS X, pressing Command-Option-Shift-V pastes the text in your clipboard as plain text. Or is that what you meant by "four keys" up above?

(Also, in Mail and TextEdit and a few others, Command-Shift-T turns the entire document plain text.)
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:18 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are genuine reasons to have programmatic access to the clipboard.

I don't think anyone here is arguing that programmatic access to the clipboard shouldn't exist. They're suggesting that it shouldn't be allowed by default in a web browser. It seems perfectly reasonable to allow such access either as a result of another installed program, or by enabling an option in the browser.
posted by odinsdream at 6:16 AM on June 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


« Older What are your favorite threads...  |  [SF meetup] All your friends o... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments