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Bookmarking and "Favorites" scripts - The ethical and unethical way

news! - bookmarking script updated - click here

Dirty Web Promotion Tricks #1 - Legitimate and Malicious scripts.

One of the best way to get visitors to further explore your site is to convince them to set your home page as their Internet start page, or for them to add you their "Favorites". In this article, we'll examine some ethical and unethical ways this is done.

Many sites include legitimate javascripts that allow visitors to easily add a page to their "Favourites" by clicking on a link. A script to achieve this would look like something along the lines of:

=======================================
SAMPLE Legitimate "BOOKMARKING" SCRIPT:


<script LANGUAGE="JavaScript">

//Free for Redistribution. (C) Michael Bloch from WWW.TAMINGTHEBEAST.NET
//Please do not remove these comments. This script can be used within tables.
//Suitable for most 4+ Browsers. Copy and paste into a text editor first,
//change the YOURSITE details to suit, then paste into appropriate area
//between <body> and </body> tags in HTML. Visit Taming the Beast for a
//wide selection of Web development tools and articles!

if ((navigator.appName == "Microsoft Internet Explorer") 
&& (parseInt(navigator.appVersion) >= 4)) 
{
var url="HTTP://WWW.YOURSITE.COM/";
var title="YOURSITE DESCRIPTION (this will appear on bookmark text)";
document.write('<A HREF="javascript:window.external.AddFavorite(url,title);"');
document.write('<small>Bookmark YOURSITE!</small><br></a>');}
else {
var msg = "<b>Bookmark YOURSITE!</b>";
if(navigator.appName == "Netscape") msg += " <b> - press(Ctrl-D) on your keyboard.<br>Mac users press Command-D</b>";
document.write(msg);
}
</script>
====================================

Example:

This script should work well in most 4+ browsers and FireFox. It is as simple as I could make it, and was put together using a number of free scripts available as a reference. There are many other scripts available that allow for the use of images and status bar text.

In this script:

- When Netscape or Firefox is detected, it only displays a message suggesting that the visitor uses the Ctrl+D command to bookmark the page and the scripting will not appear in the source code of the page. I'm also told that this works with the Safari browser, so I've added the "Command-D" option.

- In Internet Explorer, it will add your homepage to this visitor's "Favorites" from any page in the site - along with a custom description you specify in the script. 

- Other types of javascript enabled browsers will only display the suggestion to bookmark (no keyboard commands as this can vary browser to browser), and the script will not be displayed in the source code.

Unfortunately, some companies do not use ethical methods to gain a valued place in a visitors Favorites or bookmarks.

On visiting a web design resource site the other day via a search engine link, my anti-virus program jumped up and alerted me with the following:

"real-time protection has found that C:\WINDOWS\TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES\CONTENT.IE5\S3QFQF0X\ADVERTS[1].HTM is JS.IEStart trojan."

I hadn't clicked on anything! This script had been activated simply through me visiting the page. There were no warnings on the page that this was going to occur. What the javascript had done was to reset my "home" page and added entries to "My Favourites"! I examined the script that had caused it occur and while I won't publish it here for obvious reasons, I can assure you that it would qualify as a "scumvertising" tactic. 

When restarting IE I found that via an ezine site and another marketing company (from where the script was called), I was being redirected to a very well known software companies' home page. In total, there were 4 companies involved in this particular incident - I look forward to the responses to the emails I will send them.

The JS.IEStart trojan is also known as VBS.Passon (CA), VBS.PassOn (NAV) VBS/IEstart.gen.

While it is not destructive, I object strongly to other companies adding sites to My Favourites and altering the default home page without my permission or knowledge. If I hadn't had my AV program running in the background, I probably never would have figured out where this script came from. 

It is an invasive, disgusting marketing tactic that only serves to irritate visitors; and it helps give the web marketing industry a bad name. I am sure the company I was redirected to will be interested in knowing their advertising cash is being spent on a marketing firm who uses, in my opinion, illegitimate means to send visitors to them. It is a waste of their money as they are recieving traffic that is not targeted - what is known as "garbage traffic".

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
http://www.tamingthebeast.net 
Tutorials, web content, tools and software.
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