No Third-Party Explicit Links

I’m normally the type of person who would favor add-on tools like Google’s Autolink. But then I remembered a site I read several months ago that used Intellitxt. Google has a good reputation, but I fear their software will be imitated by others and pretty soon we’ll have a companies like Juno and Netzero adding Intellitxt-type advertising to everything through a default browser plug-in.

Here’s a sample of Intellitxt in use. Note that the green advertising links appear on my Windows PC [screenshot], but not my Mac. .

This got me thinking about where to draw the line.

I start by making a distinction between:

  • Explicit links – are visible links which encourage the reader to follow them
  • Implicit links – are potential, invisible links which are activated by an action of the reader. (ie right clicking)

If Google Autolink is only providing a useful service, it shouldn’t mind being part of the right click menu instead of part of the page. But if Google Autolink is really about advertising and affiliate dollars, they will be tempted to go explicit.

I imagined a “link fight” back in November of 2000, but I didn’t anticipate that it would be initiated by a major vendor like google.

openreference mockup

In the future, I’d like to see new features like highlighting added (more later) to the browser, but I think it’s important to draw a line somewhere.

For me the line is: no third party explicit links.