When I first heard Kriston Capps complain about the new “contextual dictionary” on the New York Times‘ website, I thought he was overreacting. Until I tried to read an article on the New York Times‘ website. Now I’m ready to join his Bring Back Free Clicking Campaign.
The new “feature” truly is beyond obnoxious: If you click around on the page as you read—which you almost certainly do if, like me, you tend to scroll down by highlighting text and rolling the mouse down as you read—you get a practically constant stream of popups defining whatever word you happen to have clicked. This has the double demerit of being both extremely annoying in itself and totally superfluous: How often do you actually have a pressing need for a definition of a word in an article written at a 10th grade level? And when you do, do you really need an embedded dictionary when it requires about three seconds more to just type the word in your search toolbar and pull up a definition that way? I suspect this is a feature that nobody had ever thought to ask for, but that someone on the tech side thought sounded vaguely nifty (look how we’re making it interactive!) without having given any serious thought to whether it was actually useful.
UPDATE: Commenter Jagadul notes you can stop the madness by installing NoScript for Firefox.