Hands Off My Site

1999: Have you heard about the new electronic sticky notes that Third Voice lets users put on websites?

Maybe not – after all, the software only runs on Windows computers with Internet Explorer. Although a lot of visitors to this site use Windows and IE, my target audience is Mac users.


The idea of sticky notes on the web sounds like a very clever hack. You could put a note on the Microsoft home page telling them what you think of…

Hey, wait a minute, they could do the same to my site!

It’s My Site, and I’ll Post What I Want To

I don’t like the idea that anyone with the right software can come to my site and leave a note for anyone else using Third Voice.

I don’t care if the note says “Great site” or “Macs suck” or has links to a pornographic site (which I’ve heard is happening). I don’t want anyone putting electronic graffiti on Low End Mac. It’s my site. If you don’t like it, stay away or create your own counter-site, but don’t vandalize my pages.

Fortunately, there’s already a campaign underway to fight what many webmasters view as a violation of their sites.

1. Say No to Third Voice has a lot of information, including a JavaScript that seems to prevent Third Wave from working. I’ve appended this to several pages, including this one, in hopes that it will prevent Third Wave users from putting sticky notes on my site.

2. I’ve also begun a letter writing campaign and sent a sample letter to several hundred webmasters. It’s a very short letter sent to copyright@thirdvoice.com that simply states:

“I hereby request that Third Voice respect the copyright and integrity of my web site – both the textual content and visual appearance – by blocking any Third Voice user from posting notes that would appear anywhere on mydomain.com.”

I don’t know how effective it will be, but it lets Third Wave know of our displeasure.

3. Another webmaster has suggested someone create a JavaScript to pop up a window when visitors using Third Wave load your page. This window could note the webmaster’s disagreement with posting notes on other people’s sites, ask the visitor not to do so, and include links to sites that explain why we see Third Wave as a bad thing.


Third Wave is a very clever idea, and it is apparently well implemented. This could be a great way for a webmaster to receive feedback on site design or to do collaboration with others.

The problem is that Third Voice isn’t an opt-in system. At this point, it appears that Third Voice has set no limits on which websites their plugin can leave notes on.

Third Voice should be opt-in only, not something that can be linked to any website on the internet. Until that point, I suggest webmasters inoculate their sites with the following JavaScript from Say No to Third Voice – and politely ask Third Voice to prevent anyone from putting stickies on their site.

Further Reading

  • Third Voice Vandalizes Web Sites?, Mac OS Rumors, 6/10/99. Now Windows only, IE only plugin lets anyone put notes on your website.
  • Say No to Third Voice. “This software is interpreted to be a violation of copyright and should be investigated on a Federal Level….”
  • Register your complaint about copyright violation with Third Voice.
  • More discussion at MacNN.

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