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July 18, 2007

BlogRovR - A Guided Walk Through the Blogosphere

BlogRovR is a Firefox extension that lets you browse the web guided by your favorite blogs. After you install the extension, you'll have the opportunity to enter a list of blogs (there are also predefined bundles of blogs) or import an OPML file from your feed reader. Everytime you visit a new web page, you'll a small box with snippets from the blog posts included in your list that link to the current page. For example, if you visit Google Video, you might see two surprisingly similar posts from TechCrunch and Mashable that discuss the problem of copyright infringement in online video sites and link to full-length movies available at Google Video:


You can configure from the toolbar how often BlogRovR's list shows up and even disable it when you don't want to see it.

This is a great way to cluster blog posts: visit the source of a news and you'll see a list of blogs that link to that page. It's also a method to see if one your favorite bloggers linked to your site.

Note: If this extension gives you a déjà vu feeling, then you know about Blogger Web Comments, a Firefox extension created by Google that "makes it easy to see what bloggers are saying about a page you're viewing". The difference is that Google's extension doesn't let you restrict the blogosphere to your favorite blogs.

6 comments:

  1. Funny, when you register I think they actually use this CSS hack* to automatically add blogs you recently visited. If you check the source code, you can see it contains a huge list of "test cases" (blogs that won't appear but need to be included on the page to check their styling).

    * http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2006-08-31-n42.html

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  2. No, I don't think they use the CSS hack. They have a big list of bundled blogs that are added by default to your subscription.

    I forgot to mention something very important regarding privacy. When this extension is enabled, the URLs of all the visited pages are sent to BlogRovR's servers. Also the privacy policy is not very friendly:

    << Activeweave does not guarantee any level of service, security, or confidentiality of submitted or derived information. Please take this into account, and refrain from entering into Activeweave or Stickis and/or Blogrovr any information which you would not want potentially redistributed. Of course, we will make our best effort at continuing to provide a reliable, useful, secure,and private service, but we providing no guarantees of any of this during the beta period. >>

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  3. > No, I don't think they
    > use the CSS hack.

    Yes, they do (I also wrote an email to them yesterday and their chief technology officer confirmed this to me -- but you can also check their page source to see this).

    What I was referring to was not the manually selected subscription bundles, but the "recently visited" bundle on top. The other bundles are not using the CSS hack, only the top "recently visited" bundle.

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  4. But I don't get it. The extension should have access to your browser's history and obtain the data from there.

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  5. Hi,
    Thanks for mentioning us. Philipp is right, we do make use of the a:visited CSS hack he links to in order to determine blogs you visited. We use the hack as opposed to accessing the browser history from within the add-on because at this point in the registration flow, some users do not yet have the add-on installed.
    Keep the feedback coming. We'll also be looking into the privacy policy (which was pretty much boiler plate, and may need some tweaking).

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  6. Hi Philip and Ionut, Marc Meyer, CEO of Activeweave, maker of Blogrovr, here. First thanks for the great writeups and comments!

    Ionut, we wouldn't look at your history from the extension, which brings me to your great comment on the privacy policy.

    The next release I'll rephrase it to make it friendlier. All it tries to say is "don't sue us if we suffer a data center fire, get hacked, or get subpoenaed."

    The wording also encompasses Stickis, which allows you to publish commentary anywhere on the web, and allow others to see it, so the idea there is "if you really really don't want someone to see what you have to say, consider not putting it into Stickis."

    But thanks for alerting me to making the policy a less "lawyerly" and more direct. We'll do that very soon.

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