An Open Letter To My Friends at Google: Autolink is not cool, let’s nip this in the bud shall we?

To my friends at Google,

I just installed and tested the new “Look for Map” feature on the Google Toolbar everyone has been talking aboutI’m very concerned. We have a very deep relationship right now, and I’m really happy to be working with all the smart folks over there. However, I’m hoping that you’ll take this post seriously not just because we are business partners, but because I’m also a huge fan of your products.

It’s clever how after clicking on a button on my Google Toolbar your software changes unlinked address information to links to your excellent Google Maps page. I would have cut and pasted that information to Google Maps in many cases, so you just saved me a couple of steps.

However, I don’t like the idea of software companies changing our editorial content. You can make all kinds of logical arguments about the page not be actually changed, but the result to the user is the links were addedthat’s a big change. You can say that this is all to help the user, but that doesn’t make it right. Heck, you could help me out by editing the first two Star Wars moviesdoesn’t mean you should or have the right to.

If you come in and set the standard that changing a publishers webpages is legal then weyour business partners on the Google Adsense side of the businessare going to be crushed with all kinds of companies creating tool bars that put hyperlinks all over our pages. They are all going to use the GEFG defense (“good enough for Google”). This is going to cause us a lot of pain, suffering, and revenue. I know you don’t want to do that to us.

Can you imagine world in which software publisher felt free to alter the content on people’s webpages?!?! It would be total chaos. What if my Yahoo page turned Google Adsense links to Overture ones? Would you be cool with that? Is it the users right to remove the ads on Google and replace them with ads they prefer? Would you stand for that? OK, I think you get my point now.

So, I’ve come up with a very simple solution for you to add this functionality without setting a precedent that will destroyand that is not the least bit hyperbolicour businesses:

Instead of changing the content on our pages why not just let the user right mouse click on an address and add a link that says “Google Maps?”

This would work just as well for users, and you can keep doing amazing work without making us suffer, and without straying from your mantra: do no evil.

all the best,


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