Strong opinions, weakly held

John Gruber on clipboard manipulation

John Gruber weighs in on the increasing popularity of a service that adds a citation to the user’s clipboard when they copy text from a Web site:

It’s a bunch of user-hostile SEO bullshit.

The first time I saw it in action, I was amused by the novelty, but these days I’m in the Gruber camp. What I hadn’t realized is that not only does the service (provided by Tynt) add a citation to whatever you copy, but it also notifies the server that you copied text in the first place.

He also explains how to block Tynt using the hosts file.


  1. Disclaimer: I know the Tynt guys.

    I was amazed by this service when I first saw it. I went through “that’s impossible!” to “wow, that’s really cool”.

    I’m not sure which users Gruber is talking about. Probably the really smart RSS reading ones who cut and paste to write blog posts and such like.

    The vast majority of “regular users” cut and paste and send stuff around via email. The URL doesn’t bug them (they don’t even realize it’s there), and it’s actually HELPFUL to the receivers — they can click on the link and get back to where the quote actually came from.

    It’s not about SEO at all, since the majority of those cut and pastes go into email.

    Also: have you run the service yourself, on your own site? Because it sure is interesting to see what the regular users are doing.

  2. I have not run it on my site and I do think that’s a valid counterargument.

  3. I’ve noticed the annoying trend of sites using Javascript to intercept and change the Ctrl-C or Cmd-C key and also the right click button behavior which both interfere with how I normally use the browser.

    I think the solution is to allow certain key events to be presented only to the browser itself, not into the Javascript event stream (maybe on a per-site basis like you can do with cookies).

  4. @John: Most browsers let you block redefinition of the right-click menu.

    In Firefox, go to: Tools > Content > Javascript > Advanced

  5. Howard Berkey

    May 28, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Notifying the server that you copied the text is borderline at best. I’m going to go with “wrong”, despite how interesting it might be to site owners.

  6. Added. That’s two posts in a row where I left out a link. I need an editor, or more sleep, or something.

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