Friday, September 23, 2016

How Iframes Hurt All of Us in Cyberspace

Here's a version of the e-mail I just sent to someone at the help desk of a writing site, apparently otherwise a nice writing site, for which I wanted very much--and still want--to be able to write...but I can't:

The "i-frames" were in the writing system. I'd start writing an article on the page where the system directs writers to type in their manuscripts. After a few minutes the system would start to run extremely slowly so that I couldn't type in what I was saying. I'd then open Microsoft Word, finish the job, and paste in the number of words specified by the job order. Then I'd run whatever youall called it to recheck spelling and remove Microsoft code, and during that process I'd see that your system was using "i-frames."

HTML works for customers of Mountainet; Javascript works for customers of Mountainet; Microsoft Word works beautifully for customers of Mountainet and every other network I've ever used; "i-frames" do not work for customers of Mountainet--and in my part of the world the only server I've ever known anyone to be able to get to work happens to be Mountainet. (We are in fact surrounded by mountains, covered in trees.)

So when the process finished what I saw would usually look good, or at worst a few lines at the end would be cut off and have to be re-entered...but somehow the word count would always be lower than it was in Word...and so I wasn't getting the level of customer satisfaction to which I'd become accustomed at other sites. I knew this was at least partly because what the customers were receiving was different from what I was sending them.

I knew because Paypal uses "i-frames," and some Amazon widgets use "i-frames," and when I've tried to use those I've seen that a few minutes after "i-frame" code is pasted onto a site Mountainet scrambles it.

Most readers see a blank space or notice that a button won't work. I, inside my own site, see a lot of scrambled and shortened code. Strangely, there are a few readers for whom the button or widget does appear on the screen and does work--but I don't, nor do the majority of readers.

For example, +Coral Levang seems to be the only reader who was ever able to use a "Support This Blog" button at the top of this page, in all the years the button was there. If you scroll back into the archives of this blog, you may still find book reviews that have Paypal or Amazon "buy it here" buttons down at the bottom of a book review; for the minutes directly after I posted those reviews, I was seeing the buttons, and a few of you, probably including Coral Levang, may be seeing the buttons still--but I never saw them after the first day, and apparently most of you readers never saw them at all.

I've inquired about this and been told something about "proxy servers." Apparently a lot of people's Internet access relies on "proxy servers" and, therefore, "i-frames" interfere with a lot of their online activity. For example, although it's easy for anyone anywhere to log into Paypal, it seems that a majority of people aren't able to use Paypal's "buy it now" buttons!

I suspect the purpose of "i-frames" is to limit profitable financial transactions to people who are paying more for Internet service...but the actual effect is to undermine trust in all online activity. I've been able to use some sites for fun and profit, sometimes. Neighbors who've not been able to use the sites that purportedly would have served their purposes, e.g. Godaddy, don't want to believe that I have ever earned an honest and decent living online. (At one time, while earning a livable income from Associated Content, I used a bank debit card to process AC's payments through Paypal. People wanted to believe it was a welfare card...and I was insulted, slandered, and even banned from a store as a welfare cheat, while earning a living as one of AC's top writers.) I think any online business that wants to have any credibility whatsoever should make sure it's not using "i-frames" anywhere on its site.

Hirewriters was a dishonest site that refused to process IRS documents in an ethical way, but Hirewriters did have a system that looked similar to your site, used Copyscape, did not use "i-frames," and transmitted what I'd written to customers. On both sites I know there were some customers who wanted more than they were paying for; I suspect there were some who wanted to offer the same job to different writers, pick the article they liked best, and reject the others; I encountered one customer at each site who was able to make it clear that s/he really wanted the article to say something I couldn't say. That happens.

Still, at Hirewriters I'd written more than 100 articles, several of which customers wanted revised but only three of which they rejected, and sustained a customer rating above 4.5 out of 5. At your site I've written just a few articles, but almost half were rejected and my customer rating dropped to (as I recall) 4.2 out of 5. I know I'm not Shakespeare, especially not when doing research within a time limit on a laptop computer, but this disparity has to have something to do with the "i-frames."

Can this Amazon Affiliate site find an Amazon book link to fit this article? Of course! ( was designed to help us find books that sort of fit everywhere, whether we've read them or not. Opening an Amazon Affiliate home page is like casting a net into the river: it'll always catch something.) People have found lots of ways to earn money online...but "i-frames" are a trap that may be hurting all of us, even the ones who are currently earning a livable income online.