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Netscape frames and karma

June 21, 2006 @ 9:36am

Give and take of the blogosphere is all about karma. Blogrolls are a great example of karma at work in blogging. You link to everyone related to the topics you cover -- even your competition -- and they all link back to you. It's a Miracle On 34th Street approach.

I've watched some recent discussions here with some Weblogs, Inc. teams about watermarking exclusive images that they run. I didn't jump in and try to steer the debate. I just watched the team decide that watermarking was bad blogger karma. It was great to watch the self-organizing blogger groups at work carrying out the unwritten best practices we debated back when there were only 20 bloggers in our system. Now there are more than 150 bloggers and I rarely see them make a bad judgment call, especially when they discuss things in groups and agree on a plan of action.

Karma is important.

On the new Netscape, Jason suggested we give people a way to open all 20 "top autos" stories into tabs all at once. I'm not big on opening windows or tabs that you might never even click on or read since that gives false page and ad impressions to those sites. That need to be able to cruise through a related group of stories was important though and evolved into the "navigator frame" we now use.

When someone suggested we put a Blogger-like frame at the top of the sites we send people to so they could click to the next and previous sites in their chosen context -- top autos, top stories, stories tagged "Superman Returns" -- I decided the frame should be on the left since computer screens don't have a ton of extra vertical space, but widescreen laptops and giant flat-panel monitors all have tons of room on the left and right of most web pages. That way we could do a television-style listing of what else there was to read in that context list, show the numbers of votes and comments and provide a way to jump between these stories quickly. Naming this frame the "Netscape Navigator" was someone else's inspired idea.

Here it is in action for stories tagged with "Superman".

If you want to surf a bunch of related stories, it's a handy tool. If you are clicking to go to just one site, you probably think we are evil for framing your destination site.

I worked on a long, long time ago and we pretty quickly added JavaScript to bust our site out of frames because we were freaked out about having someone else show ads around our content and angering our advertisers, but I think what we're doing with these frames can be useful and as little evil as possible with a few more small changes. After the beta launch, we quickly made the navigation frame narrower. We also added an option to lose the frame for good.

How else can we make it better, but still keep the ability to walk people through a contextual list of external stories? In other words, without getting rid of it, how would you improve the navigator frame?

(I was originally going to title this post Who Framed Roger Ebert?, but the new Netscape site is too young and I could only find one Roger Ebert story. Too bad.)

Newer: See you later, navigator

Older: Netscape's pulse