Copying text from a Daily Mail article? You’ll get a URL at the end {updated}

Here’s a curious feature of stories on the Daily Mail website. When you copy text from an article and then paste it elsewhere you get something like the following appended to the end:

Read more:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1164953/Nine-10-000-spied-councils-using-anti-terrorism-powers-innocent.html#ixzz0MBlQQrVf 

I’ve no idea how they do it, and I’m not even sure how I feel about it. On the one hand it feels rather intrusive and annoying in a world where the user experience is pretty important; on the other, in many cases it would save me time.

Here’s the article I was copying from – oh, hold on, I didn’t need to do that did I?

Would love your thoughts.

UPDATE: It seems the technology behind this may be by http://www.tynt.com/ – see comments. Also see the comments on this follow-up on The Next Web and this write-up of Tynt. Don’t you love the power of blogging?

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33 thoughts on “Copying text from a Daily Mail article? You’ll get a URL at the end {updated}

  1. Zach Seward

    I’m working on a post about this feature, which a ton of news sites are using. If you promise not to “scoop” me… They’re using software called Tynt Tracer, and there’s more to it than the “read more” link.

    Reply
  2. Jon Bounds

    It’s clever – problem is that there are reasons to copy text that don’t include republishing it (searching for more info, for example) — it’s presuming what I want to do with the content and may well get anoying.

    Reply
  3. Mo

    If you were to (hypothetically) add *.tynt.com to your Ad/Script/whatever-blocking configuration, it would (hypothetically, of course) prevent this from happening.

    Maybe.

    Reply
    1. Nick

      Thanks it worked for me on dailymail, the link also doesn’t appear after the copied text anymore. All these months had to manage with pressing esc every time I saw that tynt in my status bar.

      Reply
  4. Pingback: How does the Daily Mail make this happen? – The Next Web

  5. Ian Douglas

    This actually seems quite useful, if a little intrusive at first. It’s their text, after all, and a link back is just good manners. The #identifier making each link unique can’t be good for their SEO, mind.

    Reply
  6. Ev

    About a month or so ago The Mail hotlinked a photo in one of their galleries, the user they ‘borrowed’ it from was not too happy – so he swapped it for GOATSE – nasty!

    Reply
  7. jedweb

    @IAN DOUGLAS – actually, I don’t think # and whatever follows it has any effect on SEO. I believe the engines ignore that. No?

    Reply
  8. Ian Douglas

    Stuff that follows an operator is less important, but not entirely ignored as far as I know. If your pagerank comes from links and unique URLs operators will hurt. It won’t kill you, but I do think it’d hurt.

    Reply
  9. Daniel

    That’s a really interesting catch, albeit somewhat Orwellian. I’m trying to think of what the use case might be. Theoretically, if you were logged into the website, they could time the difference between when they published, when you grabbed the link or content, and when you publish the reaction, although I can think of better ways of doing this. Another idea is that it’s automatically generating a unique URL for every piece of content on page; that would be useful. Other ideas?

    Reply
  10. Daniel

    Oh, I see the “Read more” link now too (which justifies the use case they have in mind, I suppose, but is annoying at the same time)

    Reply
  11. Ian Martin

    Intriguingly or not, the Applescript that I wrote to help compile my daily news tweet (@tinynews) doesn’t pick up the url in this fashion. (Not that the Mail features that often, I might add!) But that uses ‘do JavaScript “(getSelection())”‘.

    Reply
  12. Richard Kendall

    Very interesting, on the face of it nothing wrong with content producers getting a credit/, and as you say in many cases it saves a blogger adding the ‘Read more…’ themselves.

    On the flipside, it could well be annoying, but it’s far less of an nightmare scenario than a paywall!

    Reply
  13. Jonathan Walker

    If you try to copy text from a site using the the Tynt script using Internet Explorer as your browser (or IE 8 at least), you get an annoying click/page reloading effect. Personally whenever I get something like that on any site, I tend to fear it is doing something nasty.

    Reply
  14. Derek

    Wow, quite the discussion here about what we are doing at Tynt! I’d like to make a couple comments:

    – the # hashtag is generally ignored by the search engines and the link does help your SEO juice.
    – our intent at Tynt is to help the content publishers understand and benefit from the content that users are engaging with the most. The publisher can, at their option, disable the attribution link function. A small number of our publishers have chosen to do so.
    – we are still beta testing the product and working out some final kinks, so if you spot any, please do let us know at feedback[at]tynt.com!

    Reply
  15. Alastair

    I’ve just tried copying from a Mail article to see this in action only to find that the text couldn’t be copied at all. CTRL+C and CTRL+V gives nothing at all. Has the Mail changed policy again?

    Reply
  16. Alastair

    Paul, I tried copying from “Lembit the unlikely Lothario” article and one on mortgages. Tried copying 2 paragraphs of text and then the headline separately and pasting into Outlook and Word without any luck. It pastes into Notepad though and also if you use the translate accelerator in IE8 you can copy text. Ian, I’m on IE8 and the RC version of Windows 7.

    Reply
  17. too//damn//ninja

    only does it when copying and pasting…
    drag and dropping the text from site to text app on a mac works fine, but copying and pasting it puts the linky in…
    interesting.

    Reply
  18. Brandon

    Interesting. I use this software called Evernote (I have nothing to do with them, just a user) for saving content from here, there, everywhere. When I copy content from a website for later reading, and paste it in a new note in Evernote, it somehow captures the URL as well. I’ve always wondered how the software knows where I just copied it from, since it’s just on a web page. (I’m on Windows XP, using Firefox)

    At times, I don’t mind it for my use — I can remember where I got the info from. Other times, I don’t want it, I just want the info.

    Given it’s the content provider doing this, I can see why they do, although it’s not convenient for users.

    Reply
  19. Anna

    In a similar vein, I’ve recently noticed that when you copy and paste a chunk of text from Times Online it inserts a hyphen every 10 or so words. At first I (naively) assumed it had something to do with column formatting for the print edition, but now think it’s more likely to be a way to discourage people from ‘stealing’ their content and make it easier to spot where said content has been republished. Not the end of the world admittedly, but quite annoying all the same. Haven’t managed to find a way round it yet.

    Reply
  20. Anna

    Hi Paul. The hyphens are appearing when I copy and paste from the Times website into Excel, e.g. do this with the first para of http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/poetry/article6716450.ece and a hyphen appears before the word “published”. Also tried copying the word “nevertheless” from the second para and hyphen appeared between “never” and “theless”, so probably is something to do with column formatting after all.

    I’ve been copying quotes from the Times website for the past year (the website I run compiles cultural reviews from newspapers) and the hyphens only started popping up a couple of months ago. Same version of Excel and everything.

    Hmm. Just pasted into Word and no hyphens appear. Very odd.

    Reply
  21. Aaron Lecciones

    I like it because it forces everybody to attribute source and at the same time since some people automatically do attribute source, it saves them time!!! Which is perfect! Like for example telling a friend about something really interesting in an article, having to copy the text then go back to the window to copy the URL at the address bar – at least now its automatic!!!

    Reply

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