A Note on Importing Snippets

Published in: CommentaryPosted by Tyler on 08/03/06

In my last two posts I mentioned that Snipplr can import snippets from other websites. I’ve had this feature ready to go for a while now, however I’ve been a little hesitant to deploy it. It’s a touchy subject. I mean, you could argue that I’m stealing content from other websites. Right? Maybe.

There are two reasons that finally made me decide to roll out the update – that made me see this as an “ok” thing to do:

  • First of all, I’m not the one initiating the snippet transfer. It’s entirely up to Snipplr’s users to import their snippets. If a user wants to convert their old account on another website to Snipplr, I’ll happily do it for them – but I won’t just grab all the snippets from every site. That would be stealing. What Snipplr offers is no different than GMail importing users’ Yahoo! address books. Or Firefox offering to import your Internet Explorer bookmarks.

  • Snipplr (unlike the other websites) is a two-way street. We have an open API that lets people do whatever they want with their snippets. It’s their code afterall, right? People are free to export their snippets whenever they want. You can get your code out of Snipplr just as easily as you put it in. Offering an import script for the other snippet websites doesn’t put them at a disadvantage since they’re free to do the same as well. In fact, I even give directions on how to do it 🙂

I hope you find the import option useful. I’m sure some people will flame me for doing this. Maybe even call me a thief. But in the end I think this benefits users rather than any individual website.

As always, comments, questions, and flames are welcome below.


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Posted By: David B. on October 6th, 2006

I guess my question would be how do you do it? how do you connect to a remote site and export info from it, does bigbold or textsnippet or programmingishard have and export option?

if they do then this is a mute issue but if they dont then how are you ‘hacking’ into their system to extract the scrippts?

Posted By: Tyler on October 7th, 2006


No, none of the sites you mentioned have an export option. There’s no “hacking” going on – just a lot of scraping.

Posted By: indianocean on November 13th, 2006

No need to hesitate. I think it is fair and desirable for any application to have import & export functionality. I f I don’t like a service any longer I want to be able to move to a better one. As you state, you’re not stealing users, the users themselfes ara initiating the transfer.

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