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OT -- Microsoft's Smart Tags

short version:

webmasters, take note and add
   <meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">
to every page you own...

lnog version:

more darkness from redmond -- this, from an 'addme.com'
newsletter i subscribe to (i'm not affiliated in any way; in
fact i seldom find time to read them at all, but this one caught
my eye). if nothing else, the author is blatantly "one of us" at
least in spirit.

irrelevant portions snipped--

August 14th, 2001                   *** ISSUE #216 ***

			  Real Life Internet Evil: 
			  Microsoft's Smart Tags

By Richard Lowe, Jr.

You've worked hard on your web pages. If you are anything like
me, you've spent countless hours writing content, finding or
creating graphics, cursing at tables, juggling lists and learning
HTML and possibly even CSS, Java, DHTML and countless other

My web site is uniquely mine. It is a product of my imagination,
my sweat, my brain and my frustration. I have spent many
sleepless nights and countless long days adding just the perfect
content to communicate exactly what I wanted to say.

Now Microsoft has come along with a "brilliant" idea. They want
to piggyback their own selected content on top of that work. The
idea is to have their products (such as Internet Explorer and the
Office suite) scan web pages and documents for keywords and
phrases known to the Microsoft. Any of these that are found would
be underlined with a special purple "squiggle" to show that they
are "smart tags".

Anyone viewing the page could then click on the smart tag and be
transported to a Microsoft web site for more information. For
example, you could write a web page about the Grand Canyon, and
the phrase "Grand Canyon" could be underlined, allowing your
visitors to check out the Expedia.Com page about how to book
travel to the area.

Why does Microsoft want to do this? It's really very simple - to
make an incredible amount of money. Look at it this way,
Microsoft suddenly would have at their disposal every single
document viewed with a new Microsoft product as a potential
advertisement. Wow. That's power. No, this is an understatement
of incredible magnitude. This is more than power - this is the
harnessing of everyone's creative energy into a huge global
advertising tool. It totally staggers the imagination.

You could be looking at a newspaper site, reading an article
about train travel, and click on numerous links to Microsoft
sites (and presumably third party sites which paid Microsoft for
the privilege) selling train related products and services. If
you read a classified ad on that same newspaper site selling an
automobile, the word "Cadillac" could be underlined with a smart
tag linking to a Cadillac dealer.

Content (the tags) are added dynamically to web pages by the
browser without the permission of the person who created the
pages (the webmaster or author). While strictly speaking this
might not violate copyright laws (but it might be considered
vandalism), it sure is rude. In fact, most people would consider
it highly unethical.

As an example, suppose you bought a book through a book club.
Before it was shipped to you, someone opened the book and
examined every single page, adding comments here and there about
how you could purchase this or get more information about that.
You would be very annoyed if you were the author, you'd probably
be livid if you were the publisher of the book, and you'd almost
certainly return it if you were the customer.

Carefully crafted web pages whose look and feel has been lovingly
built for countless hours by dedicated designers, authors,
artists and webmasters would be randomly covered with trash by a
company intent on siphoning away visitors to their own sites and

And what about the problem of inappropriate content? Suppose you
had a site which was against animal cruelty, yet Smart Tags went
ahead and added to your pages links to other sites which sold
muzzles for horses? You wouldn't like that very much, would you?

Another problem is that Smart Tags are "opt-out". This means the
tags are inserted unless you (the webmaster or the user) indicate
that you do not want them. Opt-Out is the preferred method of
removal for many advertisers because they understand that most
people will not bother to remove themselves from the list. Opt-in
is the preferred method of most consumers because then they
receive only what they have requested.

Webmasters can keep smart tags from working on their site by
including a special "opt-out" metatag in the header of each and
every page. I highly recommend that all webmasters include this
tag to prevent smart tags from operating.

   <meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">

As soon as Smart Tags appeared in a beta release of Windows XP,
the furor began. It was awesome to see. Microsoft was hit from
all sides by just about everyone, because their intentions were
so transparent and so blatantly monopolistic that even the most
conservative could see what they were up to. The dangers caused a
flood of protests to be received by the giant company, so many
that Microsoft was forced to remove the feature from their

"As a result of smart tags in beta versions of Windows XP and IE,
we received lots of feedback, and have realized that there is a
need to better balance the user experience with the legitimate
concerns of content providers and web sites," Microsoft said in a
statement on June 28th, 2001.

Keep an eye on Microsoft, however, because they also added,
"Microsoft remains committed to this type of technology, and will
work closely with content providers and partners in the industry
in the coming months to further refine how it can be used."

Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And
Secrets at http://www.internet-tips.net - Visit our website any
time to read over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to
improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.

To subscribe to this newsletter, please go to

----- End forwarded message -----

i include the author's site info and the newsletter info in case
anyone a) wants to check it out or b) complain at them for
having someone such as me, for a subscriber. :)

DEBIAN NEWBIE TIP #59 from Will Trillich <will@serensoft.com>
Wanting to SYNCHRONIZE YOUR SYSTEM CLOCK periodically? If you
think your system clock gathers or loses a few extra seconds
each day, you're probably looking for "ntpdate" which queries
several "network time protocol" servers, and sets your system
clock accordingly.
	apt-get install ntpdate ntp-doc
then browse /usr/share/doc/ntp-doc/html for info.

Also see http://newbieDoc.sourceForge.net/ ...

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