In the past year or so, a number of social news, networking and community sites have implemented faux toolbars which appear at the top of your browser pane. They seek to extend the original site’s functionality to the rest of the web. They usually frame the page, so that your address bar displays a different (often shortened) URL than the page’s original one. There are plenty of examples already–Digg (here’s a screenshot of that one in action), Reddit, StumbleUpon, Facebook, HootSuite. There’s even a WordPress plugin that enables anybody to create such a framing bar for their own blog.
I’m not a fan of these tools. There are plenty of critiques around the web (here’s one on the DiggBar), but my particular complaint is that often the first thing I want to do when I visit a page is copy the URL (to email, blog about, tweet about, and so forth). These bars prevent me from accessing the page’s actual URL. Plus, I think it’s an incredibly tacky attempt at brand extension, and they’re taking valuable real estate away from the site they’re framing. Er, okay, slight rehash.
There are code samples (that’s the first Wikipedia article I’ve ever nominated for deletion) which enable me to prevent the bar from appearing on sites I own. That’s not really the problem I’m trying to solve though.
I was complaining about this on Twitter last night, and this little discussion ensued (er, that’s in reverse order):
Here’s the problem with opt-out: I need to do it on a case-by-case basis. I know I’m an outlier, but I use two computers, and run two different browsers on each computer. Assuming there are just six of these bars I have to deal with, that’s 24 opt-outs. Assuming the trend continues, that number could easily become 50 or 100.
Or maybe such a script already exists, and I just missed it in my searches?