Monday 1 January 2007

I was reading a story from Google News: Spitzer Swearing-In Ushers in New Era in New York Politics, and I noticed two words double-underlined in green. Hovering over them activated a pop-up window which allowed me to search the web for the term via Windows Live. It was both obtrusive (double-underlining a word makes it a blot on the page) and silly (the two terms underlined were far too generic to be interesting searches: Republican and Governor). Oh well, I chalk it up to a bone-headed site, and move on.

The very next story I read, The Controversy over Microsoft’s Gifts to Bloggers, was on a different site, but had the exact same double-underlined text. This time, there were seven words blotted, and the pop-up window clearly identifies itself as an ad. Now I have to look into it.

The boxes are branded as IntelliTXT, and have a little question mark button. Clicking it takes you to a page explaining their “ad unit” technology. Of course, before it explains anything, it helpfully (NOT!) resizes your browser window. Interestingly, depending on how you got to the page, it offers a link to disable IntelliTXT. From Fox News, the page has the link (and clicking it does turn off the double-underlining). From the Playfuls page, there is no disable link.

Ads just are, I guess, and at least for some sites, IntelliTXT can be disabled. Judging from the two instances I saw, though, I don’t think it will be around for long. It’s too distracting, and not very useful, even to the advertisers.

Update: Just by coincidence, I sighted IntelliTXT on a third page: What if they Released a Movie and Nobody Came? Or maybe these green double-underlines will start appearing everywhere?


Mike Gunderloy 6:20 PM on 1 Jan 2007

Adding * to my AdBlock Plus list in Firefox seems to put a firm stop to them across both sites. Good riddance.

Nate Finch 7:35 PM on 1 Jan 2007

Ditto! Love Adblock (not so much adblock plus, since it's not compatible with FF 2.0 (or wasn't the last time I checked) and adds too much complexity for me).

Anyway... I agree... it's really obtrusive when you're reading an article from a site and all these random words are double underlined. Thank goodness for adblock

Josh Matthews 9:41 PM on 1 Jan 2007

IntelliTXT has been around for years. I've just grown used to seeing and avoiding it. I've frequently seen it on technology review sites, and IIRC, among others.

Keith 10:37 AM on 2 Jan 2007

Or if you have greasemonkey installed you can use the Disable Intellitxt script here:

Val 6:01 PM on 2 Jan 2007

yep, been annoyed by IntelliTXT's craptacular technology for a while now -- absolutely useless. AdBlock rules!

Michael Chermside 8:00 AM on 3 Jan 2007

I dislike AdBlock -- Frankly, I think that if the ads are paying the way, then I'd rather they were there. I'll ignore them myself. However, several months ago I found if necessary to make an exception: I got AdBlock SOLELY for the purpose of blocking intellitxt. I will also intentionally avoid sites that use it.

Giacomo 6:19 AM on 4 Jan 2007

I agree that this stuff has been around for a while. Isn't this exactly like Microsoft's "SmartTags"?

Ned Batchelder 7:09 AM on 4 Jan 2007

I don't know why I haven't seen this more, it seems to be more and more prevalent. Maybe it's just that I'm noticing it now that I've noticed it?

T.J. Warren 8:50 AM on 8 Jan 2007

I first started seeing IntelliTXT a few months ago. I find the "links" very distracting. Fortunately I only had to look at them for a day or so ;). I don't even know what sites still use them, since the ads are blocked.

Opera users can go into "Tools->Advanced->Blocked Content" and add "http://**" to your blocked list.

I ran across a similar one at home, some competitor to IntelliTXT I guess. I don't remember who they were, but I'll post the URL to block later on.

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