Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hidden Code

Today’s post is a bit off-topic, so I apologize up front. I’m posing a question for those of you who use Blogger (blogspot) or who know html code.

I noticed recently that blogspot was inserting code into my posts. When I checked the html, I found a piece of code at the end of the post. I have no clue exactly what it does and I can’t post the code here because it’s invisible. At first when I found it, I deleted it, slightly ticked that blogspot would insert it.

Then I wondered if perhaps it was something important, so I left it in.

Then I noticed that some words in the post were subtly underlined. If you clicked them, you’d be taken to some other site totally unrelated to my post. For example, in yesterday’s post about Rick Riordan, if I left in the code (which I didn’t), the word “contract” might have been underlined and when clicked you’d be taken to some site about contracts (I’m only guessing since I didn’t leave in the code).

Has anyone else noticed this? If you can read code and you use blogger, can you tell me what this piece of code is about? It seems to me that blogger/blogspot may be using all its bloggers to make money for them by using the posts as advertising methods. If you happen to use a keyword and a reader clicks it and gets taken to that advertiser’s site, then the advertiser pays blogger - again, that’s a guess on my part. (The piece of code contains words like "gwProxy" and "hidden" and "input onclick.")

I would like to know what the code is. If it’s an advertising revenue for blogger, I’ll keep deleting it. If it’s something else, say, a way for search engines to find the post, then I’ll probably go back to leaving it in, although I don’t like the idea that readers may think I put in the underlining and link, only to find themselves whisked away to some site with nothing to do with my post.
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36 comments:

  1. Good point and while I am glad you shared it, I have no idea what the html code is or why it's there. My intuition is that it is for blogspot to earn additional $. Yahoo does it in their mail too.

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  2. I have no idea either, Helen. How did you discover the code if it was invisible?
    Karen

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  3. Are you signed up to any adsense or similar revenue generating services?

    If I was paranoid I'd say someone has hacked your account and modified your theme template to insert the advertising, but I'd need to be mighty paranoid.

    Check your "monetize" tab in your main settings page. Maybe you enabled something there.

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  4. Helen, I haven't noticed it on Blogger, but I've seen it on sites like CNN. If you're talking about what I think you are, then it's a program that underlines key words and links those words to other articles that *might* be of interest, or might provide more info on a subject. I don't know the code. CNN uses it for internal sites. I don't know about Blogger. I hope they don't give me a reason to ditch Blogger...I don't have the time to figure out Word Press right now.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  5. I haven't noticed this on Blogger, but have with other sites. It seems unethical for Blogger to tamper with our posts that way, and if that were the case, wouldn't all the blogs be showing this? Can you check with Blogger Help for more info? I'm really curious as to the outcome of this!

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  6. Hi Anton, I checked the Monetize and, as far as I can tell, I've not activated that. It's rather disconcerting, though, that when you go to the Monetize area, all the choices are to monetize with AdSense. There is no way to tell it NOT to monetize.

    Karen, the code is invisible on the Compose side. On Blogger, you have the option of pasting or writing your post in either the Compose window (which shows you what your post will look like when it appears on your blog) or in the Edit HTML side (how it looks in code). I primarily use the Compose side, but go into the code when I want to direct my embedded links to open in a new window or when I add the little Twitter button at the end.

    It was while adding the Twitter button that I noticed this new code. It appears on the Edit HTML side, but since the code directs it to be invisible, it doesn't show up on the Compose side.

    I've tried to search in the Blogger Help area, but can't find anything about it. Every time I go to create a new post, the code appears at the end of the post. It's not a big deal to delete, just aggravating.

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  7. Not a clue. Sorry. I've never noticed it in my posts.

    However . . .

    Do you have Bing enabled on your site?

    I had these **** annoying windows keep popping up on pages I read. I disabled Bing and all that went away.

    Good luck.

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  8. Interesting.Perhaps if I could see the code I might be able to help, but I'm on WP now and don't seem to be afflicted with whatever blogspot is doing to y'all. Kinda invasive if you ask me, sneaking codes into your posts that cross link to sites you did not have specified.

    Marvin D Wilson

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  9. Oh Helen, I have no clue. I had not noticed a code.

    Please keep us posted on what you find out.

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  10. Carol, no Bing as far as I know.

    I'm beginning to think it's just me, since no one else has encountered it.

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  11. It also turns out you are not the only one. I did a quick search and found this -
    http://www.coolbuster.net/2009/05/gwproxy-code-legitimate-or-malicious.html

    In one of the comments someone says "This issues is caused by the Firefox plugin called "Browser Highlighter" if you have this installed it will insert this code into your wysiwyg editors.

    To check open firefox click tools, add ons, and look for "Browser Highlighter" if it is installed uninstall it or disable it."

    Maybe this will help?

    Elizabeth - I read you can easily import blogger blog into Wordpress. I used Wordpress for Dummies and it didn't take long at all to learn.

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  12. Interesting post. I have not noticed this with my blogs, or with The Blood Red Pencil blogs, but I have seen in elsewhere. Some sites have so many words underlined it is aggravating. If the curser hovers over the underlined word the link automatically comes up on some of them. Some are so bad, I get out without reading the whole article or blog. Not something I would think we want to be happening with our blogs. :-)

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  13. I have not got this problem Helen. I certainly hope it gets sorted out for you asap.

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  14. A very unethical practice. This is why I respect Permission Marketing. I give someone permission to not only market to me, but I reciprocate by allowing them to use me to market to others, but only by my permsission. Its a terrific relationship that is not intrusice.

    Stephen Tremp

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  15. I'm a technoidiot so I don't know but maybe it is connected to all of the funny posts you get in comments.

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  16. Helen - if you want to post that link somewhere, put a period in the code at the front - make it red if you can so you can remove it when you want. This is how my web designer and I discussed various codes when we were building my website.

    I've noticed the underlined words too, and I've clicked on them on sites I trust - they lead to another site with content "related to" that word. I suspect it's a one-click ad kind of thing. Thanks for bringing this to our attention - I'll have a look at my blog and see if that's happening there too.

    Lynda

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  17. I haven't noticed it on any of my blogsites. But maybe it isn't so bad if it leads others to your site. :)

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  18. I hadn't noticed, but now I will be looking for it!

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  19. I hadn't noticed, but now I will be looking for it!

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  20. I have not had that problem..but I have had other Blogger issues...good luck getting it resolved. :)

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  21. My account is on blogspot and I haven't had either thing come up. It does seem mighty suspicious. I'd be irate if I were you, though it's hard to know who to be irate AT since other people's blogspot accounts don't seem to be inflicted, so I sort of doubt it is THEM who have misused you.

    Good luck solving it, and give a shout if you figure it out!

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  22. I don't have this problem, hope you figure it out.

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  23. carolynyalin is the winner!!! I did what you suggested and it appears to have worked. I went back into blogger and acted as if I were about to put up a new post, checked the html side and no hidden code appeared. Thank you!

    I sure don't remember enabling a Browser Highlighter on Firefox. Had never even noticed there was a tool column on Firefox.

    It is now official: Straight From Hel has the smartest followers on the Internet. Thank you again Carolyn.

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  24. Woohoo! Glad the mystery is solved :)

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  25. Hi Helen,
    I haven't noticed this with Blogger, but that's because I'm usually too busy screaming at it when it won't upload the photos (every other time.) But I'd love to know how to embed that Twitter button.

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  26. Jan, I got my button from here:
    http://twitter.grader.com/tweetit

    There are other buttons if you want some other look. You could google it and find one you like.

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  27. This was fascinating, and I'll look out for that Browser Highlighter - make sure it doesn't get its hands on my posts. Thanks.

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  28. Wow, Helen, you're one smart cookie! I didn't notice anything out of the place on my blog. Will check it out. Seems google has endless ways to make money.

    Bargain with the Devil

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  29. Are you serious? How can this happen? It is quite puzzling and upsetting. I am going to check my blog.

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  30. Interesting. I'd love to know how that got activated on your browser in the first place.

    I did a Google Search on Browser Highlighter (and did NOT open any of the links) and read the little teasers. Consensus seems to be that people who pick this little gem up consider it malware, but the people that distribute it don't.

    Anything that gets installed on my computer without my explicit permission is malware in book. Thanks for pointing this thing out.
    ~jon

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