Heck, I even have one on my site right now (over there--on the right).
1. They're a hack. With all the talk of how the web has "become writable" with advent of blogs and self-publishing tools, you'd think that we'd have a better way of getting third party content on to our sites. Given that an overwhelming number of sites that are likely running PHP or some other "dynamic" hosting setup, these least common denominator solutions just feel wrong. (This could easily be followed by a rant on problems with the spread of web services and RSS.)
If it's not obvious by now, I use them very sparingly on my site. I think long and hard about whether it's really worth it before I get yet another party involved in the performance and security of my site.
3. Site performance. Look no further than Mike Arrington's TechCrunch Down. I'm Pissed. to get a sense of what can happen. "...we have a lot of third party widgets, ads and analytics apps running on the site. They are often the cause for slow load times."
4. Hard to skin. Seriously. The vast majority of people using them can't figure out how (or don't even realize it's possible) to modify their appearance. The result is that those who use lots of them end up with sites that look reminiscent of MySpace. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy Fred Wilson's blog (note also it's loading time), but let's just say I'm glad I read it in an RSS aggregator most of the time. (No offense, Fred. I know you like to experiment a log with these things. I get that.)
6. Don't work everywhere. People love the simplicity of "paste this in and you're done" but the reality is that these things don't work everywhere. Larger sites, MySpace being the canonical example, recognize the security and performance problems associated with these things and have banned them outright.
Anyway, I just waned to get that off my chest and have something I could point to when I object to these in the future. But at the same time, I also realize that these things are here to stay and they're an increasingly important part of Yahoo's business. That doesn't mean I can't object on semi-elitist technical grounds, right?
What I'd really like to see is this: For every badge/widget/gadget out there, I'd like to see a discoverable API that allows me to get the same data via a simple REST based API that emits RSS (with extensions where it makes sense). The link to get that data should be rendered on the badge. Think of it as a "View Source" for badges.
Then we could plug the data into Pipes to do all sorts of intersting things.
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About the Author:
Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny's blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.
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