Firefox to become “spyware” agent?

The Firefox developers have added support for a non-W3 attribute that allows webmasters to “spy” on you. This is already possible using cookies, redirects and JavaScript; the developers added the feature in order to reduce overhead that slows down the web browsing experience.

I have not yet made up my mind as to whether this ping attribute is desirable. It reminds me of giving methadon to heroin addicts (in order to ween them of the latter drug); a method that is debated up to this day. The idea that the developers have is that we, the web surfers, are going to get cheated anyway, so why not make the experience slighty less unpleasant for us?

I wrote the following as a comment at the blog entry that announced the feature:

The reasoning some folks employ here seems to be that if other folks do bad things, they themselves should be able to introduce entirely new bad things. The famous arms manufacturer argument: Firefox doesn’t hurt people, people hurt people. I hope I do not have to explain what’s wrong with that argument. (In case I do: think BLINK.)

If you decide to implement a feature according to spec, one would expect you to implement the entire feature, which includes the GUI. People who click links may keep an eye on the status bar because they have gotten used to getting a raw deal on the web (this should provide you with a hint about the importance of knowing what a click means!), so the status bar seems the logical location for any feedback on the type of link you’re clicking. But the address that typically appears in the status bar is situational knowledge; whereas the fact that a link leads to multiple addresses is functional knowledge, and should probably be part of the rendering of the link text or object itself.

Anyway, it is good to see that you are working on an advanced hypertext experience. Does this mean you are going to implement (or already have implemented) fat links too?

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