This irritates me. It’s a service called fav.or.it. It’s a feed aggregator thing that lets you interact with a website – including adding comments – without actually visiting the site. It sort of acts as a front end for all the blogs you read. From their site description:
Here is the problem I have with it:
I don’t mind when individual people read my site without seeing my ads. Some use Firefox’s ad blocker. Some just read the RSS feed without visiting. That’s fine. If you stop by and look at the ads and click on them when you see a game that appeals to you – I see that as a gratuity. It’s a way of leaving a tip and thanking me for whatever efforts I make here. And it wouldn’t be a gratuity if it wasn’t optional. You’ve got every right to block or ignore ads. I try to keep them out of the way so they are there if you’re interested, but not so they’ll get in your way if you’re not.
But what bugs me about fav.or.it is that they are attempting to, in essence, poach my content. You sit at their site and see their ads alongside my writing. Not leaving a tip is one thing. Swiping someone else’s tip is quite another. And having a company swipe a tip from an individual is just low.
You never know how things will go with new ideas like this. This site will probably come and go without a second look from anyone. But sites like this might be the new MySpace. It’s hard to tell. Maybe there are other sites out there that are doing this already and I just don’t know about them. If this sort of thing became really popular, then bloggers would be forced to stick ads in with their content instead of off to the side if they wanted their readers to see them.
I’m not sure if it would irritate me enough to block fav.or.it from accessing my site. I suppose it would depend on how useful the thing was and how many people participated. Would people really use this? It seems like it would be boring to surf the web via a single site. Everything would look the same. Sites would lose their personality because you wouldn’t be able to see their layout or their theme. On the other hand, something like this could be nice when reading one of those sites which are smothered in ads. Fav.or.it would strip it down to the bare content and spare you the visual clutter.
But my opinion on the thing doesn’t really matter in the long run. I’m a content producer, and in the end the net is ruled by content consumers. If the masses decided they wanted to read the net this way, writers would be obliged to put up with it or go without readers. You can always IP ban fav.or.it and its kind, but if that’s where your readership comes from you’d just be cutting off your own legs.
Anyway, I’m not crazy about it.
EDIT: To be clear, this is more than just a “feed” reader. For this to work, it has to bypass the feed and lift the content directly from the site. (Otherwise you couldn’t comment.)