Copy, paste and curse

If you regularly copy and paste headlines or paragraphs from newspapers, you’ll have run into Tynt Insight. It’s the software that inserts the irritating "Read More" URL into your blog posts, emails and documents. As John Gruber at Daring Fireball writes, Insight "is a service that breaks copy and paste."

But the annoying link is only the beginning. Tynt’s software (formerly known as ‘Tracer‘) also lets publishers know what visitors are copying. At Nieman Journalism Lab Zachary Seward writes:

Damn, that “read more” link again! In truth, it’s annoying, if not a dealbreaker, to find unwanted text attached to what you’ve copied. And the referral traffic from such links is, by all accounts, modest. But I’m much more impressed by Tracer’s backend, which allows publishers to see which pages — and, even better, which parts of those pages — are most frequently copied. In a creepy twist, Tracer also counts how many times text is highlighted on a page, even if the user never reaches for the [command] and C keys. (Or ctrl and C for PC types.)

I’m not sure precisely what that’s measuring, but it feels like engagement. Readers who are moved to copy a passage are likely sharing that content with friends — in an email as much as a blog

Insight threatens to do for web content what dial groups have done for political debates. Wherever campaigns have had enough money to pay people to listen to candidates speak and rate everything they say using a dial or keypad, leaders’ debates have degenerated into a string of pre-tested sound bites. No doubt some journalists will feel under pressure to write the kind of punchy sentences that readers like to post on blogs and email to their friends.

Elsewhere: At Reuters, Felix Salmon complains about the text FT.com inserts every time you copy and paste from their web site (someone should show Felix what happens when you copy and paste from the Financial Review).

At the end of his post, John Gruber has some tips on how to prevent Tynt from adding annoying text. Around the web there are tips on blocking Tynt on Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

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4 Responses to Copy, paste and curse

  1. Derek says:

    Don, I won’t try to engage you in a debate – but just so you are aware, there is a full opt-out for Tynt at http://www.tynt.com/support/opt-inout and many of our publisher partners have also put the link in their FAQs. Do not believe everything you read in Gruber, many of his facts are in error and he provides no forum for feedback on his blog.

    If you would like to discuss further, please feel free to reach out to me at the email I provided.

    Regards

    Derek @tynt

  2. Don Arthur says:

    Thanks Derek – I noticed that the Tynt web site says: “Our Opt-Out feature is currently only available within North America.”

  3. Jacques Chester says:

    It’s technically quite clever and in retrospect I’m surprised it took this long. They fluffed the experience, though. An href tag on the last sentence would have been more subtle.

    Personally when it comes to unwanted fluff following a copy-and-paste, I hate, hate, hate Microsoft Word. Every time somebody drafts their blog post in Word I wind up spending 10 minutes fixing it after they’ve posted.

  4. Derek says:

    Don, we’ve recently managed to get the opt-out fully implemented globally via our partner Akamai. We will update the web site to reflect that shortly – but it does work everywhere now.

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