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Software Bug Thwarts Online Journalism Feature

Slate magazine has a nifty feature called “Hot Document,” in which the site posts documents, highlights key portions and then, with mouse-over popups, tells you the significance of the highlighted text. But there seems to be a Firefox bug preventing this from working properly, or a bug in the Slate page coding.

Here’s a partial screen grab from this story, using Safari, showing how the Hot Document site should work:


Now here’s the same page in Firefox:


As you can see, the rollover doesn’t give you the full explainer text in Firefox. (I’ve reduced the size of the screen shots to fit in this page, which is why one has larger text than the other.)

I raise this issue because I think what Slate is doing with this feature is a genuine innovation in online journalism. To see it thwarted by inadequate software code (whoever is responsible) is unfortunate.

2 Comments on “Software Bug Thwarts Online Journalism Feature”

  1. #1 McChris
    on Jul 27th, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    I took a cursory look at the page coding for the rollovers, and it appears that Slate is just using alt tags to display the text. Firefox has its problems, but they seem to do a pretty good job of rendering pages in standards-compliant ways. I don’t think the alt tag is supposed to wrap text, so Slate probably should have used more complex Ajax-style coding to have more control over how the rollover text displays.

  2. #2 Simon Dickson
    on Jul 28th, 2006 at 1:58 am

    Anyone looking to do something similar in the citizen journalism context could do worse than post documents they wish to annotate on – the ‘note’ functionality allows you 300 characters maximum. And it works great on Firefox too. 🙂