Tynt

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This is a mini-rant, a short essay refuting a common misconception among users of an Internet forum. If you think this essay is FUD, feel free to explain why on the essay's talk page.

Tynt is a web analytics service provided by 33Across. Tynt Publisher Tools track everything you copy to the Clipboard from any web page that uses them. If you copy at least seven words, it sends the keywords that you copied to Tynt's server, and then it appends an attribution consisting of "Read more:", the title of the page, and the page's URL that includes a fragment identifier that tracks each individual copy made from the page.[1] This happens even if you are copying only the title of the article for use in a citation in another style.

Some people find Tynt useful because it automatically creates citations.[2] I wouldn't mind Tynt so much if users could configure it to format the appended text as a MediaWiki citation or as a citation that meets other publications' style guides. But unless and until Tynt adds a control for end users to customize the citation format, I have to format citations manually the way I do for every other web page, and having to chop the Tynt garbage off every article title copied from Cracked and PC Pro becomes tiring. So if you're as picky as I am about attribution style, I recommend opting out of Tynt.

An open letter to 33Across

I sent the following to Tynt's contact page on June 23, 2012:

I know of something that might encourage readers not to opt out of Tynt attribution. Instead of a choice to just opt in or out, it could offer users the choice to change the format in which the attribution is presented. For example, I often copy the title of an article on Cracked or PC Pro so that I can create a citation in the house style of a given publication, but Tynt appends the attribution even when I copy just the title. If users could configure it to output attribution in a different style, such as Wikipedia's inline citation style, they'd be more likely to leave it turned on and just use the attribution that Tynt appends.

Follow the leader

Since Tynt Publisher Tools became well known, other analytics providers have added similar features to allow tracking and automatic attribution of copied text in a fixed format. AddThis is among them,[3] and a cursory Google search offered no way for individual end users to opt out of AddThis text copy tracking to as of October 2012, though publishers using AddThis can opt an entire site out.

References

  1. "Tynt Insight Is Watching You Cut and Paste". Slashdot, 2010-01-14. Accessed 2012-06-23.
  2. Slashdot comment by Anonymous Coward
  3. AddThis: Text Copy Tracking Accessed 2012-10-27.