Harold (fiddlingfrog) wrote in suggestions,

Move affiliate code addition from javascript to the HTML cleaner

Move affiliate code addition from javascript to the HTML cleaner

Short, concise description of the idea
Affiliate codes for major online retailers should not be added in by javascript on the journal page but instead by the HTML cleaner that is used to remove invalid HTML from entries.

Full description of the idea
Currently LiveJournal uses a piece of javascript on each journal page to add an affiliate code onto unaffiliated links to many online retailers. The purpose of this added affiliate code is to generate revenue for LiveJournal whenever a reader (not necessarily a LiveJournal user) clicks on a link, heads to one of these retailers, and makes a purchase. This is (in my opinion) a rather unobtrusive way for the site to make some money from it's users. However the current implementation is lacking in several ways.

The current javascript renders links in such a way that the link appears unaffiliated. However, the moment the cursor moves over the link the javascript sends a query to a third party website which sends back either the original link or an affilate-coded version if the link was heading to an online retailer. (I may have some details wrong but I believe this to be the gist of the operation).

What I propose instead is that the act of adding an affiliate code is placed into the existing HTML cleaner. This system has proven itself over years of service on LiveJournal by removing unclosed tags, javascript, and other invalid or potentially harmful markup that could render a journal entry or comment invalid. It should be possible to recognize when a lnk is headed to an affiliate partner and add the appropriate code into the link. This will make the link that finally arrives on the fully rendered webpage clearly headed to the online retailer and obviously containing the affiliate code.

In addition it should be able to recognize when a journal entry belongs to a paid account or community or when the viewer is a logged-in paid user and not add affiliate codes in those instances. I'm less tied to this part of the idea, personally. I don't feel that LiveJournal adding a code into a link on my journal is advertising as such but I do recognize that there are many people who feel quite strongly about it so I thought I'd throw it into the conversation.

An ordered list of benefits
  • Less glitchy - The HTML cleaner has worked reliably for years, whereas the current affilate code javascript has had bugs in each iteration since February including rewriting already-existing affiliate codes, making links invalid, redirecting to incorrect pages, and unresponsiveness to clicking on a link.
  • More transparent - Currently the javascript presents the link as a normal, unaffilated link until the moment you click on it, whereupon it is transformed into an affiliated link. The HTML cleaner would merely transform the URL in between the entry in the database and the viewer, letting the reader know exactly what link they were clicking on.
  • Not affected by adblock software - Many more advanced and/or security conscious users already use browser add-ons or settings to block untrusted javascript. By making the affiliate code addition part of the inherent function of the site these users will see the affiliated links.
  • Less reliance on a third-party - One of the problems of relying on a third party site to provide a javascript is what happens when that site is unavailable, either because it's been blocked by the user, unavailable due to network issue, or simply because the site is down. When that happens with this script it results in buggy behavior, namely unresponsive clicking on links.
An ordered list of problems/issues involved
  • Changing the HTML cleaner could add to the load time of journals or other unforeseen problems.
  • LiveJournal may be contractually obligated to use the javascript setup for some period of time.
  • The use of the third party has probably greatly simplified the process of collecting affiliate rewards or setting up affiliate relationships. It's possible that moving away from the third party may entail losing the affiliate relationship with many smaller online retailers.
  • Not adding affiliate codes to links in paid journals or communities will reduce the number of people who see and click on the affiliated link, thus reducing the earning potential. This is probably countered by the viewers who currently don't see it because of javascript blocking.
Tags: html cleaner, § no status
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