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Fueling the resistance
Hijacking affiliate links 
4th-Mar-2010 02:32 pm - Hijacking affiliate links
Skittish Eclipse
I've been given a heads up that has done some excellent sleuthing and investigation into hijacked LJ affiliate links:

What is LJ doing to my links?
What is LJ doing to my links? Part 2
What is LJ doing to my links? Part 3

Expect this post to be update through the day as I find out more and come up with a good summary.

ETA: No good summary, but I feel like I should say code got taken down, etc etc, business as usual.
Comments 
5th-Mar-2010 10:35 am (UTC) - *Growl*
Just when I was considering sticking the occasional blog post up here again...

As far as I understand it, there's sites that'll give you cookies if you refer people to them. (Like, "I just bought this great book at WeSellBooks.com" and this is the link...) and if you stick a number in, then WeSellBooks.com will know it's you and hand you a cookie.

LiveJournal wants a cookie, too.

So they remove your number and substitute their own. Hence, they get a cookie and you don't. So their script stole your cookie. The intended behaviour was to add their number to the list of cookie-worthy people, presumably so you wouldn't mail WeSellBooks.com going "Where's my cookie, bitch?"

They screwed up.

As I understand it, their Javascript changes the behaviour of your browser from "Follow this link", to "Follow this other link instead, modify the original slightly, then follow it." Words cannot express my loathing of this technique. For them to modify links in situ while even faking the link indicator in your browser when you hover over it, is pure and undiluted evil. Malware sites do this. Attack sites do this. And now LJ does it. Just what piece of excrement in LJ management decided this was a good idea, we'll never know.

Now all I was intending to post here was a few links to my fun and entertaining WoWfic (no link - it's up at wow_ladies if you want it). Which uses no affiliate links and is as static as HTML gets. No ads, no nothing. Terribly uncool URL with a ~ in, but that's a small price to pay for not having your stuff interfered with.

I probably still will go ahead and post weekly links, but I'll be watching them like a hawk and if I see anything strange happen, like, oh, Javascript appearing in my web pages where no Javascript should be... I'm out of here. Again. Damn it.
5th-Mar-2010 03:20 pm (UTC) - Re: *Growl*
"As far as I understand it, there's sites that'll give you cookies if you refer people to them."

"Cookie" may not be the best term for this because it has a very different technical meaning in the context of the Web. What these sites generally give you is money.
5th-Mar-2010 06:55 pm (UTC) - Re: *Growl*
Yeah, or vouchers, money off, credits, dates with supermodels. Goods. Discussing this with my wife, she held that LJ may have the right to do this, as we're on their servers. But that's only true if they put in their TOS that they will take a portion (in this case 100%) of your taking if you make money off your journal. Doing it without asking, behind our backs, is definitely not on.
5th-Mar-2010 07:52 pm (UTC) - Re: *Growl*
There's a lot of other comments on this post discussing the TOS aspects, if you're so inclined--people posting affiliate links and making money off of them is a gray area heavily shaded to black, and LJ making money is greenlighted throughout, so.
5th-Mar-2010 08:30 pm (UTC) - Re: *Growl*
I think that LJ changing user content, including the destinations of links, is just as much "a grey area shaded to black" from a TOS standpoint - but I don't think that that's really an interesting question. The TOS is not the standard, and especially not the only standard, by which these questions should be answered.
5th-Mar-2010 08:52 pm (UTC) - Re: *Growl*
I don't know if that's the case. The ToS doesn't say LJ won't or can't do it, so it doesn't forbid it. Additionally, because of the very perniciousness of the implementation, one could even argue that they're not even changing user content in a significant way. The TOS isn't there to restrict LJ's behavior, which is why it's not much of a standard to use. Unfortunately, the only real standard when it comes down to it is whether or not people will stay even if LJ does X or Y, and we know that in most instances for most people for when these issues come up, the answer is yes.
6th-Mar-2010 05:13 am (UTC) - Re: *Growl*
This.

This really nails why I don't like i. Adding something that changes the behavior of the browser WHILE covering tracks... No. That goes beyond advertising and that's not a policy that any company should be employing. Not if they expect people to trust their site enough to use it and click links provided on it.
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