Pubs: Quit adding promo BS to copied text

So I when I copy the headline “Thousands of Web Users Delete Profiles from Rapleaf” I get more than I asked for when I copied it. This I find out when I paste it, and get the the headline, plus “Read more:

The extra jive after “…html” is tracking stuff, I guess. I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. I also don’t want to deal with it. I want to copy what I see and nothing more. That’s the convention that’s been around since the dawn of text, and it works fine.

The Journal isn’t the only pub that does this, but it’s one I’m dealing with right now.

So, on behalf of users everywhere, I ask, Please: Stop it.


  1. Dave Winer’s avatar

    Doc, you should sign posts like this, like this…

    The Users

  2. Dave Winer’s avatar

    In other words, you could change the last paragraph thus:

    Please stop it.

    The Users

  3. Dave Winer’s avatar

    Fight arrogance with.. arrogance! 🙂

  4. mathiasbaert’s avatar

    Terribly annoying indeed.
    Luckily there is a quick fix: ad to your blocking list (either via adblock or hosts file, whatever suits you).

  5. Dan Gurzman’s avatar

    Gruber took a run at correcting this garbage at the following post:

  6. John Gruber’s avatar

    Tynt is the company to blame (well, them and the WSJ for agreeing to use it), and here’s how to block it:

  7. Dave Täht’s avatar

    You’re a mac guy, right? I can get you a build of gnugol for the mac, it helps. Ultimately I hope to incorporate it’s filtering into copy and paste, for now it just cleans up search results.

  8. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Good idea, Dave!

    Mathias, I’ll check out

    Dave, I’d hate to be called a “Mac guy,” though I’m using one now. But I use Linux too. Either or both ways, I’ll check out gnugol too.

  9. Marie Ysais’s avatar

    Yes, this is very annoying! I have noticed an increase of this and now I find it almost any where I copy and paste text!! Great tips in your comments! Some days its the little things! Happy Friday!

  10. Robert Rose’s avatar

    Well okay… just to play devil’s advocate here – I actually kind of like it.

    So, I write quite a number of of research focused articles for clients, and pull comments and quotes from publications all the time. In almost all those cases I also want the actual URL of the article so that I can A) know how to get back to it if I want to read it again and B) reference it in my work.

    I’ll agree that the tracking bug at the end of the URL is annoying (I usually just delete it) – but unless I’m missing something – I don’t think it’s tracking “what you copy and paste” but rather that it’ s just adding a tag to let the site know that Tynt was used (I tried a couple of different C/P’s and the tag was the same). And that, I’m sure is mostly utilized so that Tynt can justify itself to its customer (See, we’re worth it – Tynt sent X number of viewers your way)…

    Now it strikes me that the publication could just as easily offer an “opt-out” for that function… But then again the browser extension seems to work just as well.

    Anyway…. I guess I just don’t see it as “arrogant” or evil…. Just yet another tool – perhaps not well applied…

  11. Mary’s avatar

    Thanks Dave, excellent idea. Doc I am a “mac gilr”.

  12. Doc Searls’s avatar

    John, thanks for pointing to and for taking the lead on this.

    Great lines:

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

    Everyone knows how copy and paste works. You select text. You copy. When you paste, what you get is exactly what you selected. The core product of the “copy/paste company” is a service that breaks copy and paste.

    The pitch from Tynt to publishers is that their clipboard jiggery-pokery allows publishers to track where text copied from their website is being used, on the assumption that whoever is pasting the text is leaving the Tynt-inserted attribution URL, with its gibberish-looking tracking ID. This is, I believe, a dubious assumption. Who, when they paste such text and find this “Read more:” attribution line appended, doesn’t just delete it (and wonder how it got there)?

    I’ve already installed some of the stuff you recommeded. Well done.

    The shame is, we shouldn’t need it.

  13. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Robert, all due respect, but are advocating the devil — as in “the devil is in the details.” Tynt breaks copy and paste. Simple as that. It does that by adding details the most users neither expect nor want. For every legitimate example like you give there are dozens or hundreds (or more) examples like mine and John’s and Dave’s. I bring up Dave because Tynt’s BS also breaks pasting text into my OPML outliner, which Dave wrote, and which is my main tool for writing this blog. Specifically, when I go to paste, nothing happens. Literally, nothing. That’s breakage for you. I had to do a bunch of extra copying and pasting in and out of other apps and windows just to make a short post about this topic in the outliner.

    fwiw, I have no interest of opting out of breakage that shouldn’t happen in the first place.

  14. Hanan Cohen’s avatar

    This might be a good time and place to bash Google for its Feedburner URLs.

    Take a look at this

    Why should I clean every URL that comes from Feedburner before publishing or sending it?


    The Users

  15. Don Marti’s avatar

    Copying text with the right “a” tag pre-attached is a lot easier with the Copy as HTML Link extension, and this problem doesn’t seem to affect it.

  16. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Thanks, Don. I downloaded Copy as HTML Link and I’m already using it. Totally rocks.

  17. Tttam’s avatar

    Hijacking copy and paste is going too far. If NZ news sites start doing it I will stab myself.

Comments are now closed.