Pop goes the www May 10, 2012 11:13 PM   Subscribe

Please can we all try to do this thing, along with all the other things?

When linking to articles on popsci.com, could people please use coralized links (to popsci.com.nyud.net) instead? Popular Science publishes different content in different international markets and they have a braindead geo-IP redirector that turns working popsci.com URLs into broken popsci.com.au ones for Australian browsers. I suspect that Australia is not the only country so affected.

Sample native link (from this thread)
Sample coralized link

I'd be interested to hear from anybody who still fails to get the linked article even when using the Coralized link.
posted by flabdablet to Etiquette/Policy at 11:13 PM (43 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Popsci Blue.
posted by mazola at 11:17 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's a browser plugin by WimL that coralizes MeFi links: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/14748

I just installed it and it works perfectly.
posted by michaelh at 11:23 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will try to do this.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 11:23 PM on May 10, 2012


Um, no.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:25 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


This would be a nice thing to do.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:36 PM on May 10, 2012


Um, why not?
posted by flabdablet at 11:42 PM on May 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some workplace content filters are set to reject coralized links for one.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:48 PM on May 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fair point.

So could people who want to post popsci.com links perhaps post popsci.com.nyud.net links as well?
posted by flabdablet at 11:54 PM on May 10, 2012


Or people who are into coralized links (whatever they are) could remember to post coralized links in the comments of any post that seems to need them.
posted by pracowity at 12:05 AM on May 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Instead of trying to ask the large and diverse userbase here to remember to make an exception in their usual posting habits when they post links from this one particular site, might I suggest contacting the developers of that particular site and ask them to fix their braindead geo-IP redirector?

You'd have less people to try to convince to take action, and you know, over there, they're supposedly drawing paychecks to make sure their website attracts readers?
posted by radwolf76 at 12:08 AM on May 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Just give us Aussies what we fuckin' want. Don't make us wake up Cth'Uluru.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:52 AM on May 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


"You'd have less people to try to convince to take action, and you know, over there, they're supposedly drawing paychecks to make sure their website attracts readers?"

The local Australian site (& magazine) is PopSci in name only, having licensed the name and much of the content from the US magazine & site. Both have been approached before to stop this annoyingly stupid shit, but have either ignored complaints or made it abundantly clear that the website they're trying to attract Australian readers to is www.popsci.com.au, not www.popsci.com, and they're not interested in changing things.

There's a thread at Whirlpool or some other den of imbecility that contains links to several official responses. I thought I'd bookmarked it, but I'm damned if I can find it now…

(I'd dropped a Google Translate bypass link in that thread earlier because coralized links are randomly blocked at my uni, & they also play whack-a-mole with open proxies.)
posted by Pinback at 12:54 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


i never understand when people are jerky about simple requests like this. when the person posting the topic is all like "DO IT MY WAY, ASSFACE" it makes sense for there to be push back . but here, i can't imagine a more politely stated request, and still a couple people rush in with the automatic snark.
posted by nadawi at 1:21 AM on May 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


might I suggest contacting the developers of that particular site and ask them to fix their braindead geo-IP redirector?

Well, here's how I judged it:
Chance of the next MeFi PopSci link getting coralized after a polite request in MeTa: small. Effort required: negligible.
Chance of a dumb-ass publisher altering an apparent belief that glomming onto a related site's traffic and redirecting it to a 404 on their own site is good for their image: negligible. Effort required: substantial.

The point about workplace blocking of nyud.net and other proxies/anonymizers is well taken, and not something I'd thought of before bringing this up - even though, as it turns out, I actually posted it from behind just such a filter :-(

Pinback, I had missed your Google Translate trick in the original thread. That's cute! I can't see workplaces blocking that, either. Well done you.

Why Arabic, by the way? Does the translator give up and revert to source text particularly well when it's expecting Arabic but gets English?
posted by flabdablet at 1:37 AM on May 11, 2012


i can't imagine a more politely stated request, and still a couple people rush in with the automatic snark.

A bad request, however politely worded, is still a bad request. Like PB said when a similar issue came up, "We don't want to get into the fixing [other websites] business. We have plenty to fix around here."

Last time around it was a technical fix (server side link editing) requested, and this is a request for a social fix (getting people to change how they post), but as originally worded, it would have merely shifted the problem from Australians to people behind restrictive filtering.

It's not like we deal with a high volume of PopSci links around here anyway. The chances of the next person who links to PopSci having seen the request and remembering it potentially months down the line when the next link to that specific website ever gets made are, in the requester's own description "small".
posted by radwolf76 at 2:05 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


flabdablet: "Why Arabic, by the way? Does the translator give up and revert to source text particularly well when it's expecting Arabic but gets English?"

Yeah, exactly that. Google seems to use some slightly intelligent parsing, so if you choose a language with Roman script you get occasional mistranslated words and odd word order. For example, when using Afrikaans, the sentence "Among physicists, the contest is now extremely highly regarded" translates as "Among physicists, the contest is now highly regarded Extremely".

I usually choose Arabic because it's the first non-Roman language in the list ;-)

(I came up with the idea years ago when trying to scrape pages that were 'protected' by some pretty severe javascript obfuscation of the content. I ended up using a different method, but using Google Translate as a proxy works for most things.)
posted by Pinback at 2:09 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


But, to add to the conversation: Annoying as it is, I don't think it should be on the head of posters to bypass the stupidity of every website that does this sort of thing. It's simpler and easier to point out ways around it when it crops up.

As well as the Greasemonkey script michaelh linked above, there's a bookmarklet on the CoralCDN plugins page that converts links to their nyud.net equivalent.
posted by Pinback at 2:25 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the request for links to cached versions is a good one, not just because of a particular domain's stupid redirect tricks, but because a lot of great stuff comes from sites that can't handle Metafilter-scale traffic.
posted by Jpfed at 3:33 AM on May 11, 2012


Please don't do this. If pop-sci has a website problem, then pop-sci needs to fix it.
posted by empath at 3:58 AM on May 11, 2012


A bad request, however politely worded, is still a bad request.

Yes, but that's no reason to be a dick about it. If you think a suggested action is not the right thing to do, you can just explain why. Making the requester feel stupid is bad for the site.

But I'm speaking in general terms here (agreeing with "i never understand when people are jerky about simple requests like this"). Unless something was deleted above, I don't see any big meanies in this particular post.
posted by pracowity at 4:45 AM on May 11, 2012


Please can we all try to do this thing, along with all the other things? --- Since it bothers you, why not drop the coralized links in a comment to the posts when they come up, rather than expecting everyone else on the site to try to remember to do it? I mean, it's completely unreasonable to expect people to do it, if their links work fine for them.
posted by crunchland at 5:00 AM on May 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


i never understand when people are jerky about simple requests like this.

Because we've seen it so many times before. "Everyone on this website, please change how you do things. Even though most of the users don't even read this part of the site." And this request in particular would be much better served by asking the mods to fix the links after the fact.
posted by smackfu at 5:14 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Would it kill you assholes to know the sweet and tender embrace of kindness, and bask in the knowledge that you fuckers are making the world just a tiny bit nicer?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:39 AM on May 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Probably.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:54 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


why not drop the coralized links in a comment to the posts when they come up, rather than expecting everyone else on the site to try to remember to do it?

I do do that, but I'm quite sure there are popsci.com links here that I've not seen but which have caused trouble for other people outside the US, and I thought a simple heads-up would do no harm.

I mean, it's completely unreasonable to expect people to do it, if their links work fine for them.

There are people who already go to the trouble of posting links that work around paywalls and other such obstructions, even though they themselves might have paid at the gate. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of that.

I'm not expecting anybody to do anything at all. I'm hoping that some of the same helpful people already in the habit of working around paywalls might feel equally motivated to work around broken geo-IP redirection.

Just as a matter of interest: what does this popsci.com.au link look like from the US? And is the coralized version any different?
posted by flabdablet at 5:55 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, it looks foreign. And has the word "Australian" in the header. Very, very unpleasant. Otherwise, probably identical.
posted by crunchland at 6:17 AM on May 11, 2012


Yeah that link just goes right to an article about "The Creepiest Looking Artificial Muscle Motor Ever" and otherwise the URL is exactly how it was in your link.

I totally appreciate where you're coming from flabdablet, and I didn't know about this particular weird issue. That said, yeah, I think it's going to be tricky to get the userbase to adopt this as a standard practice and so it's probably worth figuring out some workarounds either coral caching or a Greasemonkey thing or even a concerted full frontal PR attack on Pop-Sci-AU. We try to raise awareness so that people here don't post things that are totally unseeable by people in other countries [Comedy Central content, some BBC content, that sort of thing] and we'll actually enforce that a little bit by fiat. Stuff like this falls a lot more into the "it would be nice if people knew about this problem and could work around it a little in their posts" category.

And honestly, it's MetaTalk. if people think folks are "being jerks" because cjorgenson posts a two word negative response, I'm not sure what to tell you. People will have positive and negative responses to most requests here, saying "Here's why I think we shouldn't do this" is an acceptable, if predictable, response here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:37 AM on May 11, 2012


For what its worth, when I posted a Pop Sci article, it did cause problems for Aussies. It was quickly noted and a different link was posted. That was a good solution to the problem.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:42 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think mentioning it at the time, and tossing up a coral or other workaround link at the time, is the most practical solution here by far. You get a fix for the specific problem and a bit of on-the-spot education for readers as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:43 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a nice thing to do if the poster is aware of the issue, but most won't be—and I don't mean just popsci.com in particular; I don't think posters can be expected to memorize the hundreds of websites that have geographic restrictions they won't be aware of just from viewing the site, and a different workaround for each one—so the best thing is for people who are aware of the issue (generally, the ones who can't see the content in the original link due to geographic restrictions) to post the workaround links as comments in the thread.

----------

i can't imagine a more politely stated request, and still a couple people rush in with the automatic snark.

Which comments are you referring to? Other than cjorgensen's, I don't see any comment matching what you describe, and even cjorgensen's is pretty mild by the standards of MetaTalk.

And is it OK for me to snark about flabdablet hiding their actual request in the "more inside," which I found a bit unpolite?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:31 AM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm opposed to the idea for the simple fact that as a person who runs a website, and as a reader of sites, I don't like the idea of traffic having to go through a proxy. I don't like the idea that you get served a cached site. I don't like the idea that people should append another domain to links. I don't like the idea that there's no way to disseminate this request even if the community agreed. I don't like the level of complexity it adds or the fact that you would need to educate so many people as to what this even is.

If I encountered such a link in the wild I would have had no idea what it was. I would have assumed I was going to a subdomain of coralcdn, not to popsci. I had to go to the site to find out what the request even meant.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:37 AM on May 11, 2012


Brandon, I've just checked the popsci.com.au link for the no-pulse-heart article, and it looks like the Australian site only has the first part of it.

The popsci.com.au version
The coralized popsci.com version
The Google Translate from Arabic popsci.com version (this one attempts to pull pictures and stylesheets directly from popsci.com, which fails in Australia due to geo-IP redirection even though the "translated" text is readable)

DevilsAdvocate, you may snark freely without causing me any grief at all. I deliberately chose not to put my actual request above the fold, because I knew there would be a large contingent for whom the answer to any "Please can we all try to do this thing" request would automatically be No and I had no desire to annoy those people with more words than they needed to see.
posted by flabdablet at 7:42 AM on May 11, 2012


Do we really post enough stuff to Popular Science to make this anything but the fringiest of fringe issues? There are only 16 posts tagged with PopularScience. Only 10 are tagged with popsci, and there's overlap with those two lists.
posted by crunchland at 8:44 AM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I knew there would be a large contingent for whom the answer to any "Please can we all try to do this thing" request would automatically be No and I had no desire to annoy those people with more words than they needed to see.

I have no dog in this fight, but wouldn't they see the annoying extra words as soon as they try to figure out what you're talking about by reading the "more inside"?
posted by oneirodynia at 10:08 AM on May 11, 2012


why not drop the coralized links in a comment to the posts when they come up, rather than expecting everyone else on the site to try to remember to do it? It's completely unreasonable to expect people to do it, if their links work fine for them.

Agreed.
posted by Rash at 3:21 PM on May 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, how can we even know the link doesn't work for you?
posted by Rash at 3:22 PM on May 11, 2012


I have never even once seen a popsci.com link that does. The Australian arm's normal practice appears to be to take a story from the US arm, post the first 10% of it to the Australian site using a hand-made URL bearing only a superficial resemblance at best to the US version, and tell us we can buy the magazine to read the rest. Then instead of redirecting the US link to the truncated Australian version, they simply redirect the entire popsci.com domain to popsci.com.au, turning every popsci.com URL except the main index page into a popsci.com.au 404.
posted by flabdablet at 7:21 PM on May 11, 2012


flabdablet: almost every. Requests from Australia to popsci.com get a "301 moved permanently" response, with the new location URL built by adding .au to the domain - the .au site drops the date part of the URL, but if the title part of the URL has changed, it fails. The mechanical heart article mentioned above works, with your caveat about cropped / condensed content. Articles that have words like "color" or "honor" in the title usually fail ;-).

FWIW, there's quite a few sites that do the redirect thing: popsci.com, ign.com, kotaku.com, lifehacker.com, gizmodo.com, gamespot.com, etc. - all with varying degrees of brokenness. Some have easy ways around it documented on the site somewhere, some don't. Msn.com used to redirect to ninemsn.com.au; now they ask & set a cookie - but if you've got that set for the local site, then msn.com links won't work (amusingly, their javascript chooser has long been broken on Firefox, so you can never get to either via msn.com). Rottentomatoes.com, nickelodeon.com & cartoonnetwork.com used to, but have since stopped.

Basically, if there was money to be made by licensing out regional variations to local media companies, a redirect has at least been tried.

I don't blame them for doing this - after all, it's like blaming a lion for eating a gazelle; that's just their raison d'être - but neither do I feel bad about using or promoting ways around it.

FWIW, this is popsci.com.au's 'official' response: "However unfortunately there is no way around this issue. As we are the publishers of the Australian edition of Popular Science Magazine and http://www.popsci.com.au in our license agreement we are entitled to block the US website from being made accessible to Australian web users. This is our legal and business right as the licensees of the US version that we are buying the license and ownership of the Australian market which is why in order to capture the full scope of the market a redirect has been placed on the US website to the Australian one."
posted by Pinback at 8:24 PM on May 11, 2012


The mechanical heart article mentioned above works

It actually doesn't, because the cropped Australian version adds "the" in the middle of the title.
posted by flabdablet at 8:36 PM on May 11, 2012


Also, their reasoning is about as dim as I knew it would be: "We've signed legal agreements that allow us to annoy people and appear parochial and stupid; therefore we must annoy people and appear parochial and stupid. There's just no way around this issue."
posted by flabdablet at 8:40 PM on May 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Clearly your fight is with them.
posted by crunchland at 9:08 PM on May 11, 2012


Interesting - the full-page popsci.com link doesn't work, but the multi-page version does (I'd cropped off the "?page=all" when testing). The redirect doesn't insert "the" into the link either; that seems to happen at the Australian end.

Clearly they're overthinking their nefarious fucknucklery…
posted by Pinback at 9:47 PM on May 11, 2012


flabdablet: "The coralized popsci.com version"

Just another data point - this wouldn't help me, as that link is blocked here. The multi-page one up there ^ works fine. My workplace (and I believe lots of others) blocks many URLs that look like they might be redirecting the browser to something other than what the user wanted.
posted by dg at 4:22 PM on May 13, 2012


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