News Genius is a silo that allows users to highlight and annotate any webpage by prefixing it with http://genius.it/, or using plugin or bookmarklet, and is being widely criticized for enabling harassment of smaller (indieweb) sites.
- Savant: A script to redirect from a [genius.it] wrapped page to the original url. Discussion on their site
- Genius Defender: An approach that poisons the page with unicode invisible separators.
- Looking at the code this is an O(n^2) process on your site that expands it by a factor of 10 in length (yes gzip will help) that can be reversed with a O(n) regex to filter them out again. Not recommended.
- genius-blocker: broader technique that will block the plugin and bookmarklet too.
- Alternative approach (based on savant).
- Samboy's Genius Blocker - includes a list of additional blockers as well as some history and references
- Genius Blocker for Known (a wrapper for Samboy's version)
It does not respect robots.txt so an author cannot block annotation of their site.
Although the coverage of News Genius praises it as a feature hosts can code into their site, anyone can lay comments on anything by adding some language to a URL address. That is the entire point: according to the annotator’s Twitter bio, “The Genius Web Annotator lets you add line-by-line annotations to any page on the Internet.” Because my blog is currently a free WordPress website, anyone can use Genius to annotate my posts without my control. It is not opt-in for the creator, and if I want to engage with the annotations, I have to sign in using a Genius account. I see no way to report an annotation for abuse or harassment—perhaps that is only available for users?—and I see no way to block a user from annotating my content. Genius is officially worse than Twitter: I can block a user on Twitter, and they can then go and scribble whatever they want on my website using Genius.
There are dangers in painting with broad strokes. Treating large news orgs with the same software as independent bloggers seems a little shortsighted. If the focus of the company is to hold large news orgs accountable, why not implement a whitelist of large, high traffic news organization domains and offer an opt-in option for independent bloggers who want it as their comments system of choice?
- Genius Wants To Let Readers Annotate Any News Article. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? by Jessica Goldstein, ThinkProgress 2016-03-30
- Genius responds to Congresswoman Katherine Clark’s letter on preventing abuse by Noah Kulwin, Re/code 2016-03-29
- Misguided Genius by Chelsea Hassler, Slate 2016-03-28
- The Genius Problem by Chuq Von Rospach 2016-03-28
- Genius Web Annotator vs. One Young Woman With a Blog by Brady Dale, The Observer 2016-03-28
- Preventing Abuse by Dan Whaley, "Hypothes.is Blog" 2016-03-29 (Note Hypothesis is a competing annotation platform presently geared toward academia.)
- How Genius annotations undermined web security To comment on other people’s websites, Genius broke a 20-year-old browser security system by Vijith Assar The Verge 2016-05-25
- Un-Annotated by Audrey Watters in HackEducation.com 2017-04-26; also Podcast discussion with more detail from 2017-04-30
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