Is Greasemonkey a License for Websites to do their Worst?

by Steve Mallett

Greasemonkey gives users the ability to route around website issues of all kinds. Does it give license to websites to do their worst?

Here's an example: I read my rss feeds through Firefox => Greasemonkey => Bloglines. With Google's Adsense service going into beta for applicants now, will this give site publishers the idea that they can put adsense in their rss feeds knowing that now those who can route around this, and are likely the biggest noise makers, will with Greasemonkey scripts?

Where once I thought ads in rss feeds was the largest of web crimes, now suddenly it doesn't seem so bad.

What other kinds of nastiness will people dream up that they can get away with? Are we giving license for banks to revert or remain with "Best viewed with IE 800x600" banking portals?

How about a great big flash pop-up right about.... now!? I weep at the thought of possibly having to install a Greasemonkey script for every website I want to visit just so I won't be assaulted.


2005-05-18 07:11:30
So, if I understand you correctly, you're suggesting that web site authors will go through the trouble of adding obnoxious content, which will annoy the majority of web users, with the intention of having this obnoxious content blocked by a small minority of users? I doubt it. Which isn't to say that webmasters don't pollute their sites with obnoxious ads and other content; we all know that's not true. But I don't think that Greasemonkey is going to increase the amount of junk. If they don't want you to see it, they won't spend the time putting it there.
2005-05-18 07:13:20
"If they don't want you to see it, they won't spend the time putting it there."

Like gigantic Flash ads?

I hope you're right.

2005-05-18 08:02:53
I'm not saying they'll stop putting gigantic Flash ads on web pages (but boy, do I wish they would!), but if they do, they do it because they want you to see the ad, not because they expect that you're just going to block it anyway.
2005-05-18 08:03:54
I worded that quite poorly. Of course, what I mean is if they include Flash ads, they do so because they want you to see the ad.
2005-05-18 08:17:52
Ads in RSS _do_ suck
"Where once I thought ads in rss feeds was the largest of web crimes, now suddenly it doesn't seem so bad."

No, ads in RSS are a blight and are counter to the whole raison d'être of RSS, i.e. to be a simple and uncluttered synopsis of new info on a web page. Yet the majority will tolerate this too, just like they tolerate the crapola Internet Explore browser from MS.

2005-05-18 09:07:09
instead of obnoxiousness...
right now greasemonkey is a toy for the bleeding edgers and not that big of a deal.

however, if greasemonkey; or, the concept of user-defined scripting becomes big, i forsee website owners simply blocking greasemonkey as such:

2005-05-19 11:08:57
Ads in RSS _do_ suck
Bah. I'm in favor of using ads to support web sites, they're only a problem to me when they go too far. I think this can extend to RSS.

To say RSS is a "simple and uncluttered synopsis of new info on a web page" is too narrow a definition of what RSS can be used for. When an RSS feed includes just a title and a blurb, as the O'Reilly Weblogs feed does, including an ad is a bad idea. But when the feed includes the full text & images, they do at Engadget and, I think it's okay because the feed is a substitute for visiting through the web. Slashdot has ads in their feed but I don't approve because even though the full text of the article is there, the links are not and of course the comments aren't there either.

When RSS is used to support a free service, I could see ad inclusion being ok. Gmail lets you get a feed for your Inbox, I could see including ads there.

I guess my litmus test is this: if a feed is set up to drive traffic to a web site, ads are not ok but if a feed is an alternative to a web site, they are. Normal non-annoying guidelines apply (no Flash or animated gifs, clear separation between contents and ads, etc.).

2005-05-19 11:20:27
Right and wrong
I don't think its a factor in this specific example because there's such a wide variety of ways RSS feeds are read and most of them don't have the option of a tool like Greasemonkey. As I said in another commment, I also don't have a problem with the concept of RSS feeds having ads, it depends on the type of feed.

As for the general problem web developers ignoring problems, it's not unlike coding to standards. If people don't complain about sites not working properly because they're written for IE rather than for standards, developers won't fix them. The people who will use Greasemonkey to fix site problems are many of the same ones who would otherwise complain so developers will remain blissfully ignorant.

Still, I think we're a long way from that sort of situation. Greasemonkey could have the opposite affect, developers could start coding pages to make them more easily manipulated by Greasemonkey. If there are two online bookstores and one can be enhanced by a whizzy Greasemonkey script, that's a competitive advantage. Accomodating Greasemonkey would almost certainly entail doing a better job of following standards and would be a benefit to everyone. This has nothing to do with ads but I hardly think the prevalence of ads it the biggest problem on the web.

2005-05-19 16:46:59
instead of obnoxiousness...
Except that Greasemonkey runs in the browser chrome, so ultimately, it is impossible for website owners to win that arms race.