The Balance Bar

From the Balance Bar site: The "Balance Bar" is a simple browser extension programmed to allow any user to editorialize any web page anywhere on the Internet. The "Balance Bar" will literally insert your comments/article/rant directly onto whatever web page you would like to expound on. The "Balance Bar" was developed because of the increasing need to "balance" the one-sided and isolated worldview that much of our media sources produce.

I can't decide if this is real or fake. I could see that it would be possible to program a browser to float comments on top of a page. However, the comments would only be visible to you (the browser user). I can't imagine it would be possible for a browser extension to insert comments onto a page so that the comments would be visible to other people (i.e. to actually alter a page that's stored on someone else's server). In which case, I don't quite understand the purpose of the extension. Since I use a Mac, I can't download the program to test what it actually does.


Posted on Tue Mar 08, 2005


I'm going to guess it's some sort of spyware/malware, and actually installs some nasty stuff on your computer/sets your home page to its site/steals your credit card numbers/rapes and murders your cat.. It *may* tinker some cookies in there somewhere, and let you think you're adding comments, but I'm willing to bet important bits of my anatomy that it's utterly bogus at the very least, and probably destructive.

Let's face it, being able to write whatever you feel like on any web page, anywhere, would be a hacker's dream, to the extent of replacing the one about Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine in a hot tub...
Posted by Bobcat  in  Californian Wierdo  on  Wed Mar 09, 2005  at  12:30 AM
It's a lot less exciting or scary than has been suggested above, from what I can gather.

It's one of those thingies connected to a network, whereby when you annotate a site, your annotations are seen BY OTHER MEMBERS of the service who also have the plugin / toolbar installed.

Been done by many companies before, and never got much traction.
Posted by Adam  in  San Francisco, CA  on  Wed Mar 09, 2005  at  12:50 AM
Think about it, you can have Rush Limbaugh tell you what to think, even when his show is over! It's great. No more judgement will ever be required by the loyal Dittoheads. Higher level thinking can be so taxing some times, and facts lie too.

I think the only entertaining use for this would be if you and some of your funnier friends, who lived far away, crawled the web and annotated snide remarks into the system.
Posted by ProjectMayhem  in  Madison, WI  on  Wed Mar 09, 2005  at  01:34 AM
What will it do if I don't have a cat?
Posted by Gentropy  on  Wed Mar 09, 2005  at  06:04 AM
There was a similar system put in place a couple of years ago. I forgot it's name.

The comments were not stored on the original website, but were on the server of the provider of the anotation system. It's sort of like the crawl you see on a local TV station when they show a national program, but insert a local warning, like a weather alert, or in these days an Amber Alert.
Posted by Mo  in  Earth  on  Wed Mar 09, 2005  at  06:55 AM
You are a smart man, Alex. Everyone should wise up and get an Apple. wink
Posted by Sarah  on  Wed Mar 09, 2005  at  07:46 AM
Thank God, I thougt I was the only Mac user left. smile
Posted by Laser Potato  in  In the kitchen, with the lead pipe  on  Wed Mar 09, 2005  at  08:08 AM
Oh, no need to thank me.

Is there anything I can get for you whilst thou art on the subject? Just pointest thou lips at the sky, I will hearest thee, I promise.

Oh yeah, the platypus... I was busy making an earthquake, and some idiot angel tripped on their robe and fell on the "Animo-Tron", and screwed up all the levers. When he was getting up, he hit the "Complete" button. My Me, you should have seen what I hadst planned!
Posted by God  on  Wed Mar 09, 2005  at  08:46 AM
I think God is spamming us.

I'm not about to download it, but I can see a way something like this could work. The comments could be stored on a central server. When you go to a site, it would ping the server and return the comments for that site. It would only work for people who had the program installed, though.
Posted by PlantPerson  on  Wed Mar 09, 2005  at  09:58 AM
I remember a system like this that used to exist. I think Gator put it out. Supposedly, as someone else said, the comments would be visible to everyone who was a part of the system. I think I actually signed up for it but never got it to work, or there weren't any webpages I saw that had comments on them. Then, I believe it was ruled illegal and shut down. I guess it's not illegal now.
Posted by Reynard Muldrake  on  Wed Mar 09, 2005  at  02:17 PM
I think the idea of the bar being meant to "balance" things out is dumb. A webspace is someone's personal area to spout off. They don't have to include anyone else's opinion.
Posted by Reynard Muldrake  on  Wed Mar 09, 2005  at  05:37 PM
I don't think I'd call the idea dumb, but it does seem rather self-indulgent. Like a given person is sooo witty that they believe everyone else on the service will want to read their annotations to everybody-and-their-brother's websites. It's still true that most people on the Net don't have anything noteworthy to say.

Also seems kind of lazy. Why would you bother with pissing on someone else's website when you could, I don't know, maybe start your own and take a more proactive approach towards expressing your opinion?
Posted by Barghest  on  Thu Mar 10, 2005  at  03:15 AM
I had one of these a few years back, but it was similar to could go to, you could see other users that were on the site (only if they had their program running), you could make comments, or chat w/ other users...I didn't use it very long. I'd go for days & days & not see other people on the same sites I was visiting. I figured not enough people were using it for it to be helpful or interesting.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Thu Mar 10, 2005  at  08:30 AM
I worked at an internet company that used third party software that did stuff like this. (It was an IM client.) It basically let you surf the web with friends and mark up pages or make comments.

The IM client was available under the third party name (Odigo) or branded as PIM (Prodigy Instant Messenger).

Do either of those sound familiar Maegan?
Posted by alteregogi  on  Thu Mar 10, 2005  at  10:04 AM
I downloaded and installed it.. not really scary at all.. just as others have suggested: only those who belong to the Balance Bar network and have the tool installed will be able to view the annotations... a cool idea but one wonders what info is being sent back regarding your suf=rfing habits?
Posted by David  on  Fri Mar 11, 2005  at  11:07 PM
I bet you could market software like that if the annotations were made by celebrities or the like. Just an idea.
Posted by dakidski  on  Tue Apr 19, 2005  at  09:44 AM
I wrote this application. It is not spyware or malware. In fact it uses a pretty straight forward process to insert entries ontop of exisiting webpages.

I have a central server which users log into when the start the bar. They then go to a page and after the page is loaded my bar inserts some DHTML overtop of the existing page (just like you would do another frame in a web browser). The only people that can see these comments of course are the people that installed the bar as well.

I am afraid that many people have not installed this bar for the reasons mentioned in the post above. It was really meant with the best intentions in the world, simply to open discource in places on the internet that shun alternative points of view (yes I am looking at you Fox news!).

Thanks for the thoughtful comments though,

Posted by mark  on  Thu Nov 17, 2005  at  12:07 AM
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