Earlier this morning, we posted about how we didn’t like Readability’s sharing practices. We didn’t like that they were seemingly “stealing” attribution from the sources that originally gave us these articles we’ve sent to their service.
Within hours of our post, Readability has responded. And we’re blown away with how quickly this was addressed. They have now changed their policy to redirect those that click on the links back to the original source.
Readability CTO, Chris Dary, responded to us in the comments below our original post:
1. We’ve heard you – see our response here: http://www.theverge.com/2012/3…
2. If you reached out to us and we didn’t respond, I consider that a personal failing for myself and us as an organization. We’re typically very open to talking through these things, and I’m not sure how it fell through the cracks if it did. I’ll be looking into it. Apologies.
Dary also released this statement to The Verge, explaining why it was done that way, but also admitting to their mistake and telling us it’s now fixed:
When someone shares a link from Readability, something we’ve thought a lot about is the intent of that person when sharing through Readability. Much of our traffic comes from “Read Now” use, which is the explicit action, “I want to clean this article up so I can read it”.
In that scenario, it makes a lot of sense to be able to share something that has the capability of showing a Readable view. If you didn’t intend that, you’d probably share the original link.
There’re two problems with this however:
1. We’ve now grown far beyond just plain old “Read Now”, and the intent of the user has become less clear. So making that assumption is probably less accurate, now.
2. There’s a technical limitation to this. The best way on the desktop to handle this is to show a read bar, like we currently do. The original site gets a page impression, the user gets a sense of what they’re looking at, and they still have the option to click into the readable view if they’d like to. That’s easy. When it gets difficult is on devices. Frames work poorly at best, and users don’t know how to use them.
For the past few weeks we’ve been exploring our options here. We’ve had intent to change this for a while, and we’re still looking for something equivalent in mobile view to a readbar, that can provide the option of a reading view to users while still providing attribution to the source. We haven’t found a solution yet.
It’s a tough problem, but I want to be clear that we take this very seriously, and it’s something we want to solve as elegantly as we try to solve everything else within our platform. We made an original choice to direct the user to the reading view on mobile devices because of our conception of user intent. Until we are able to come up with something more graceful for both the user and the publisher, we’re now linking shared articles on devices directly to the publisher’s site.
We’re glad they’re taking this seriously and have solved the problem. You can’t get much speedier than that either. Color us impressed.