Subject: Re: MSIE "Smart Tags" -- what's the real deal?
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2001 15:52:03 +0900

>>>>> "Ian" == Ian Lance Taylor <> writes:

    Ian> Suppose Internet Explorer simply refused to display the word
    Ian> Linux when displaying a web page, or replaced it with the
    Ian> word Sux.

No.  And I don't understand why you are misrepresenting my position
that way.  That is _not_ what I have been talking about.  It's not
what Smart Tags does as far as anything I've read so far indicates,
and I don't have access to Windows XP to find out.  My understanding
is that Smart Tags _adds_ links but does not otherwise disturb the
author's content.  Is that false?

I really rather doubt that the kind of behavior you are now talking
about would go unnoticed.  Once noticed, time to removal would be
measured in weeks, I bet.

    Ian> If my cell phone had an option to reject calls from certain
    Ian> area codes, and if that option were turned on by default, I
    Ian> would not know.

Uh-huh.  Well, that's exactly the situation my correspondents who use
Hotmail are in.  Funny, they figured it out very quickly.  (After two
years I have yet to get a useful response like "you're in the RBL"
from Hotmail help; I don't think they know why their system rejects my

    Ian> Again, I don't really understand what you are saying.  You
    Ian> seem to think that what Microsoft is doing is fine.  If most
    Ian> people agree with you rather than me, then my position is
    Ian> clearly hopeless.

I don't think it is "fine."  I simply see no way to define it clearly
enough to regulate it effectively, given the Bovinity Principle.  A
smart programmer will find ways to achieve similar effects that meet
the letter of the regulation.  The Microsoft legal beagles will be the
only ones who are technically expert enough to argue the implications.
The regulator will eventually tire of beating his head against a
concrete wall, and not try to stretch/amend the regulations to cover
the latest abuse.

The end result is the same, just lots of wasted regulatory, legal, and
programming talent.  And Microsoft could very easily use complaints of
nonconformance to harass competitors.  Leaving it unregulated and
telling people about it when observed is the lesser evil IMO.

    Ian> If you do think that what Microsoft is doing is wrong, then I
    Ian> think it is clearly important to bleat about it.  That's the

I disagree.  It's important to fully document it, whether it is wrong
or not.

    Ian> only way it will make the front page of the New York Times,
    Ian> so that people like myself will find out about it and learn
    Ian> about the existence of the option and how to turn it off.

That's not "bleating"---that's "education."  No need to mention "moral
responsibility" for that purpose.

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