Snap Previews January 4, 2007 7:58 PM   Subscribe

Pony Request: Optional Snap Previews.
posted by empath to Feature Requests at 7:58 PM (44 comments total)

One of the most annoying aspects of metafilter is the somewhat obscure link text from time to time (which I've been guilty of myself). I think this looks great and it's fast.

The next time somebody posts an every-letter-linked post, you can just skim through them instead of ignoring them or compulsively clicking all of them.
posted by empath at 8:00 PM on January 4, 2007


My first thought was "was a fucking great idea!", but then I read the site and noticed the text "Largest Library of Site Previews", which seems to say that it does not actually preview the site, but shows a previously-created (at an unspecified time on the past) snapshot, limiting its effectiveness somewhat, particularly for often-updated sites.
posted by dg at 8:05 PM on January 4, 2007


My vote would be: ow my gadget-blinded eyes nooooo!

But that may just be me. And then again, I did suggest this as a way around the image ban (but it was found to have the same security hole that the image ban was ostensibly meant to close, so never went anywhere), so don't listen to my rambling.

And depending on an outside service which may or may not go tits-up or evil or pay-based sometime in the future doesn't seem to be the way mathowie rolls, anyway (old spellcheck service notwithstanding, 'cause that was from a community member, as I recall).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:09 PM on January 4, 2007


Well, this would not have the same security flaw inline images because all the previews are served from snap. If you put in some random javascript, etc, you wouldn't get anything.

Secondly, if it goes tits up, then oh well.

Thirdly. The "Oh My Eyes" response is why I suggested it be optional :)

Fourthly: On the frequency of the updates, I guess that would show in some testing. It would probably be not so great for newsfilter, but for the subject-based link-dumps, would be perfect.
posted by empath at 8:16 PM on January 4, 2007


Yeah, fair enough. I really hate those popup divs when used for 'keyword advertising' on a growing number of craptacular sites, and my initial recoil from the idea is probably due to that more than anything.

Still, not really sure the problem being addressed here. Rolling over a link with the mouse shows the URL in the status bar of any browser of which I'm aware. Seems like that'd be enough.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:20 PM on January 4, 2007


I hate hover popups that are so large they obscure parts of the rest of the page. They usually never go away quick enough (or sometimes at all), and you have to fight them down with snappy mouse movements. If this happened on every link?

Horrible idea.
posted by odinsdream at 8:24 PM on January 4, 2007


I'm thinking particularly of posts like this.

It's a great post, but there are a lot of obscure sites linked, with somewhat cryptic anchor text. It would be nice to be able to skim them for the more interesting looking ones.
posted by empath at 8:26 PM on January 4, 2007


o p t i o n a l

Like the fancy title tooltips.
posted by empath at 8:28 PM on January 4, 2007


... this would not have the same security flaw inline images because all the previews are served from snap. If you put in some random javascript, etc, you wouldn't get anything.
Except that, as the previews are .jpg files, the <img> tag would have to be re-enabled. Which is a good enough reason to support it - we can all turn off the preview and will have got our image tags back.
posted by dg at 8:29 PM on January 4, 2007


Well, no, that's not the case it all.

Metafilter serves images perfectly well as evidenced by the logo on the top of the page. It just doesn't allow image tags in posts. Nothing about this would change that.
posted by empath at 8:39 PM on January 4, 2007


why yuo hurt interweb?
posted by boo_radley at 8:43 PM on January 4, 2007


And how long before someone links to a goat.cx or tubgirl page?
posted by filmgeek at 8:45 PM on January 4, 2007


How long before that person gets banned? We had images for years on mefi without that becoming a common occurance.
posted by empath at 8:47 PM on January 4, 2007


okay, i've overmoderated this thread as it is. Off to bed.
posted by empath at 8:47 PM on January 4, 2007


I find those preview boxes really annoying in the sites I've seen that have it. But I think it can be useful...but not here. I actually wrote to Vox overlords yesterday suggesting it might be a cool thing in tag searches - I was browsing 'art' posts at the time wherein a quick squizz would have been appreciated.
posted by peacay at 9:05 PM on January 4, 2007


empath, you've been polite in your overmoderation, and i commend you for recognizing that you did it at all. godspeed, and may your idea meet the fate it merits.
posted by shmegegge at 9:24 PM on January 4, 2007


As someone who uses NoScript because JavaScript is the fucking great white Satan and I'm sick of it cluttering my browsing experience and then going off all sneaky behind my back and peering at my browsing history or stealing cookies, serving me more ads or playing unwanted media and so on and so forth until I want to hunt down the audaciously shortsighted whelk-fuckers who thought it would be a good idea to do anything but text on the web, I have this to say:
Javascript must be enabled in your browser to use this page. Please enable Javascript under your Tools menu in your browser.
Once javascript is enabled Click here to go back to Snap.com.
Granted, not using their jscripty widgets doesn't give them the opportunity to do their flashy web 2.0 money shot all over everyone else's sites, but most good sites at least attempt to serve up something more useful than "you need to give us permission to diddle your computer before we'll even tell you who we are or what we're doing." Yes, I know what Snap does already but that's not the point.

Sites that totally fail to at least tease me or seduce me before asking so rudely if they might just have free rein to shove their hands down my pants and root around in my drawers usually don't get a revisit or thumbs up from me, and they are legion.
posted by loquacious at 9:33 PM on January 4, 2007


Also, seconded: empath, you've been polite in your overmoderation.

Please don't take my nerd umbrage personally.
posted by loquacious at 9:51 PM on January 4, 2007


I want to hunt down the audaciously shortsighted whelk-fuckers who thought it would be a good idea to do anything but text on the web

You, sir, are a weirdo. A likeable weirdo, but still.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:54 PM on January 4, 2007


I'm sure there is a browser plug in you can get for this. Why, with a little PHP, imagemagick, greasemonkey and a high-bandwidth hosting account you could do this your self.
posted by delmoi at 9:58 PM on January 4, 2007


By the way, all you'd need to do to close the "security hole" would be to disallow the string "metafilter.com" in any src attributes of img tags in comments.
posted by delmoi at 10:00 PM on January 4, 2007


delmoi, I think it's pretty clear to most that Matt decided to stop with the images mostly because he just wanted to stop with the images, and that the advent of the 'security hole' was a convenient opportunity to do so. (And I reckon on balance that it was a good call).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:04 PM on January 4, 2007


(And I reckon on balance that it was a good call).

I think so too, actually. Images had been funny in the past, but they were being way overdone. People were using them to "shout down" threads they didn't like en-masse, and lots of threads were becoming imagemacrofilter.

What I really like to see would be a system where people could post a certain number of images a month, but I know Matt would never want to code something like that.
posted by delmoi at 10:15 PM on January 4, 2007


(another option would be a simple DHTML image toggle link per image, rather then a hovering image, which is annoying, IMO)
posted by delmoi at 10:17 PM on January 4, 2007


loquacious writes "As someone who uses NoScript because JavaScript is the fucking great white Satan and I'm sick of it cluttering my browsing experience and then going off all sneaky behind my back and peering at my browsing history or stealing cookies, serving me more ads or playing unwanted media and so on and so forth until I want to hunt down the audaciously shortsighted whelk-fuckers who thought it would be a good idea to do anything but text on the web"

I would say blue Satan but other wise exactly.
posted by Mitheral at 10:44 PM on January 4, 2007


I thought they were a great idea too when I first saw them. But after seeing them for the past few weeks on a few sites I read, they've lost their utility as the novelty wore off.

First off, for most links to articles or text-heavy blog posts, they're just a teeny shot of a bunch of text on a screen. You might be able to make out a logo, but not much else. Then you start hovering over the same links as days go by and you realize you don't care what Google looks like for the 12th time today.

Seriously, let them sink in and use them elsewhere for like a month and you'll realize they're not actually that great once the wow factor wears off.

Also, isn't there a way to turn it off and on at the browser level? Like it can't be that hard to just have it on all the time with greasemonkey, right?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:51 PM on January 4, 2007


I second mathowie -- it seems like only a few links would benefit from this... What use is a small thumbnail of a website other than to possibly preview a page heavy in large graphics? (I'm actually curious...)
posted by spiderskull at 11:04 PM on January 4, 2007


I'm also pretty certain there is a Firefox extension similar to this. I could be wrong though. I'd check but I'm still at work where the IT dictators forces us lowly peasants to use IE. The pain!
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:47 PM on January 4, 2007


Am I missing something here? Doesn't this open the doors to Goatse-man and his friends far more than the img tag does?

If you linked to my personal homepage and this script thingie caused my site to get overloaded, and if I were in a certain type of mood, I'd be tempted to redirect you to something painful.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:35 AM on January 5, 2007


Having looked at the Snap page and read previous comments more carefully, nevermind. I thought the actual pages were being accessed, and not Snap's "Largest Library of Site Previews."

I'm still pretty dubious.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:01 AM on January 5, 2007


Meh.
posted by furtive at 2:49 AM on January 5, 2007


I'm also pretty certain there is a Firefox extension similar to this.

There is. It's Cooliris Preview.

I used it for a while, but it got annoying very quickly - accidently mouseover something and your browser hangs for a few seconds while it loads the (largely useless) preview.

It was incredibly maddening on a link-heavy site, such as the metafilter front page.
posted by Robot Rowboat at 5:17 AM on January 5, 2007


Seriously, let them sink in and use them elsewhere for like a month and you'll realize they're not actually that great once the wow factor wears off.

Thus is the path to wisdom and happiness in all of life.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:24 AM on January 5, 2007


I actually looked for a greasemonkey version of this first :)
posted by empath at 6:02 AM on January 5, 2007


I'm all for it, but only if mathowie disables the ass-flag installer first. Yeah, it's optional, I know, but it's ruining my life and I can't stop!
posted by carsonb at 6:14 AM on January 5, 2007


Damn!
posted by carsonb at 6:17 AM on January 5, 2007


I seem incapable of being dazzled by all these Web 2.0 dingdongs.

(Ever visit etsy.com? Talk about unnecessary features. At least have a decent search mechanism before you start adding your damn tag cloud or whatever. Yeesh.)
posted by loiseau at 7:46 AM on January 5, 2007


Sorta off-topic, but I find it pretty interesting that the folks at Snap.com make it damn hard for site owners to find information about how to prevent their sites from showing up as Snap Previews on other sites. I mean, when push comes to shove, they're creating a derivative work from websites (the itty bitty preview), something that can be explicitly governed by a site's license, and it's considered pretty standard to offer site owners the chance to prevent this from happening using some technically-reasonable mechanism (e.g., a robots.txt file, a META tag in the page header, etc.). (All the major search engines offer this, for example.)

I hunted and hunted the snap.com site to see if they offered this ability, and finally found the information at the very bottom of the fucking "submit your site" page -- exactly the opposite of the place you'd think to find it. And interestingly, I don't know if I trust their information, since I keep all my webserver logs and don't have an entry using the User-Agent "snapbot" in any of them despite all my sites having Snap Previews available in their search engine.

This all just feels a bit dirty to me. I submitted a feedback question to them asking about this -- we'll see what they say, if anything at all.
posted by delfuego at 7:46 AM on January 5, 2007


can i get snap judgements instead?
posted by jcterminal at 7:59 AM on January 5, 2007


I mean, you have to f'ing me kidding me. Despite that page on snap.com saying that their User-Agent is "snapbot", a search through a bunch of other webserver logs that I have access to turns up the fact that it's actually "Snapbot/1.0".

So if a site admin uses programmatic means to watch for that agent string, he or she has to make sure to do so in a case-insensitive way. If an admin uses a robots.txt file, there's no consensus on whether the standard requires the agent string to be case-sensitive or not (and the only interpretation that matters is that of the Snapbot itself, since it's the one parsing the robots.txt file), so he or she realistically has to have multiple entries in order to address the Snapbot, all due to their inability to correctly document what they're doing. Very nice.
posted by delfuego at 8:04 AM on January 5, 2007


Oh SNAP!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:50 AM on January 5, 2007


y 2 braek metafiltar?
posted by bonaldi at 10:03 AM on January 5, 2007


OSNAP!
posted by koeselitz at 12:16 PM on January 5, 2007


So, in conclusion: not only is this something much better done at the browser lever rather than the site level, because it would (a) open the same security holes the img tag did and (b) involve using a program with questionable legal/ethical practices; it's already been done, so the pony's out there in the field if you're willing to go catch it.
posted by koeselitz at 12:24 PM on January 5, 2007


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