Netscape's Undocumented Geek Feature
Wednesday, July 8, 1998 by Dave Winer.
A brief afternoon piece...
Brent Simmons, firstname.lastname@example.org, downloaded Navigator 4.5 early today, installed it, and tried out their new "Internet Keywords" feature.
He typed "scripting" into the URL box, it connected to keyword.netscape.com, and took him to this page:
Instead of this page:
This is a change from earlier versions of Navigator and Microsoft's web browser.
I've been emailing with people at Netscape about this today, and so far they've said that the behavior in other browsers, including their own, is an "undocumented geek feature". I disagree. Lots of people use the feature, not just geeks. It's easy. It's a shortcut. It goes thru Internic, the net's naming authority, instead of netscape.com, a private company. What if Microsoft did this too?
The bottom-line for me is that they want to redirect flow from my site to theirs. People who go want to go to scripting.com will end up on netscape.com. Of course this only is a concern if Navigator 4.5 gains significant market share. So if I want to preserve the value of my domain name, I have to work against the adoption of Netscape's browser. I'm not saying I'll do that, but I sure am thinking about it.
I urge them to think this through. Do they need the money and headaches so much that they're willing to alienate people whose flow they're grabbing?
Compete fairly. If you want my readers, seduce them with great commentary and useful information, not by usurping my flow. This is the lowest way to compete, in my opinion.
I've sent email to Microsoft asking if they have a comment on this.