Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Add your voice!

[Update] If you use Firefox, check out the add-on RightToClick. Details in Comments below.


No, this time, it's not an issue of global importance, like some others I've asked for your help on. This time it's personal.

Below is a copy of an email I sent this morning. If you're bugged by the same thing, why not let them know? Thanks.

Sent: 1/24/2012 08:45:10 AM
To: "Feedback, NYT" <feedback at nytimes.com>
URL: (pretty much every page on the site)


Do you think that now that you're charging for access to the site, you could eliminate the hugely annoying Javascript that breaks the context (right-click) menu? Please?

[Added to this CC: Screenshot here, in case you don't know what I'm talking about. [-- ed.]]

I mean, let's face it. It doesn't work to stop copying, if that's why it's there, because both the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-c and the Copy choice under the Edit menu still work. And if the reason you're doing it is to get people to use that pop-up search thing, that's really a bad decision. That thing almost never works. It didn't work when it was "powered by Ask," and it doesn't work now that it's "powered by Wordnik." It is mystified, just to take one example, by people's names, which is the thing I'm most likely to want to look up while reading an article.

What I'd really like to do when I highlight some text and right-click on it is what I get to do on practically every other site on the Web: search for that highlighted text using what I have specified as my browser's default search engine. (The results of such searches, by the way, open in a new tab, so it's not as though even this is going to lose you visitors who don't know what the back button is.)

Please fix this. It is a glaring annoyance on an otherwise very fine site -- the only one I pay to access. Worse, it is an amateurish and failed attempt at something that seems motivated by nothing so much as Web-phobic newspaper bosses from the last century.

Thank you.

Brendan Keefe

P.S. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like to discuss further.


Substance McGravitas said...

I don't get that with my combo of Firefox and various add-ons.

Brendan Keefe said...

Which add-ons?

In defense of the NYT, though, I have to admit that they have gotten less obnoxious in this regard. The context menu option to search for the selected text is not always blocked anymore, which is new.

Curious, though: What if you highlight just one word, or, as in my screenshot example, a name? Do you still find yourself able to right-click, search?

Jack said...

Yeah, the dictionary thing only seems to pop up on particular terms - single words, or multi-word names.

But if you select a large section of text, you can right-click normally.

It IS annoying. Glad you wrote that and hope they listen. This is really old, isn't it? I seem to recall a "thing" from about ten years ago when sites added functionality like this to make for an "enhanced" web browsing experience. It was seen as a good demonstration of "the power of the web," the "ability to click on anything an get a defintion" "in real time!" Oooohhh!!! Aahhh!!!


Jack said...

The more I think about this, there was some site -- I can't recall which one -- that used to literally have commercials bragging about this feature. It showed some over-caffeinated woman standing on a stage, like at a trade show or tech convention of some kind, practically shouting "right click on ANY WORD to get more information!!1!" And the commercial repeated "ANY WORD" over and over, while the camera zoomed in on some screen text, showing a mouse right-clicking to get more information about, you know, whatever.

It was annoying as hell at the time and as a fad quickly died.

Sadly, after a bit of Googling I'm still not able to figure out what site it was that ran those commercials.

Jack said...

Sooo... did they listen to you? This feature seems to be gone, now. Or am I just dreaming?

Brendan Keefe said...

It is definitely appearing less frequently, although as of this moment, it is not gone completely. Try highlighting a person's name or a place name, for example. You should see it.

P.S. Sorry for delayed appearance of your comment. Guess I'll turn off the moderation thing now.

Brendan Keefe said...

There's a Firefox add-on called RightToClick that seems helpful. I just installed it, left all the options as is, except that I added www.nytimes.com to the field labeled "Always run on these hosts" on the Advanced Options Tab. The behavior I was complaining about did not go away upon initial installation, but it did after that one modification.

To get to the Advanced Options Tab after installing the add-on: Tools → Add-ons, make sure Extensions is highlighted in the left column, then click the Options button in the RightToClick row.

Brendan Keefe said...

Update to previous comment: Leaving all of the settings at their defaults will likely break some pages. Google+, for example, is rendered essentially useless.

However, it does seem that going to the Common Options tab of Right To Click and unchecking everything except "Disable page mouse-click handlers (enable right-click)" does what I want it to; i.e., G+ now works again, and I can right-click, Search on text I have highlighted on the NYT's site, even when the highlighted text is a proper name.