LinkExtend: Firefox plugin puts a wide range of website-related info at your fingertips

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LinkExtend is a free Firefox plugin that brings together a wide range of website-related informational services and puts them at your fingertips, as a toolbar on your browser, in the browser’s context menu, and in your Google or Yahoo search results. Available resources include website safety information, site traffic, ratings, and demographics; general site information and reviews, site “kidsafe” status, and even a category for “site ethics”.

There is a lot of information being collected by many different services about most sites and web pages that are out there. Examples of this are: their safety rating (e.g. McCafee SiteAdvisor), their popularity (Alexa ranking), how many visitors they get (Alexa, Compete), where the traffic comes from, and the demographics, how long the site’s been around, user site reviews (Stumbleupon), and on and on.

LinkExtend is s kind of informational Swiss army knife that brings a wide range of information into a single place in the form of a toolbar or in the context menu, making it really quick and easy to check any page you surf or link you encounter against numerous resources (many of which you probably didn’t know existed).

LinkExtend Screenshot

More notes on this tool below:

  • Customize your information: you can display only the services that you want and remove others that you are not interested in. This applies for the toolbar, the context menus, and the search results.
  • The context menu: is invoked by default using shift or alt + right click. Your regular Firefox context menu is unchanged.
  • Look inside a website before you visit: an interesting use for this tool is that it enables you to shift+right click on a link and access information on its safety rating, its kidsafe status, and a lot more without actually visiting. This of course assuming that you are suspicious of the link to begin with
  • Site tools: the “site tools” category is my favorite. It can deliver a listing of all the links on a page, all files, and all titles. Also contains reviews (e.g. Stumbleupon), similar sites, contact details, free account passwords from BugMeNot, and various other site-related info. Very cool.
  • Custom search: I confess that I do not like custom search results, even when bundled in with otherwise useful, legitimate toolbars. The LinkExtend custom search, powered by IxQuick (?) or Ask.com is a dud, and unfortunately they do not allow you to remove it from the toolbar altogether. There is also something which they refer to as Supersearch, a kind of directory of links where you could search for information on all sorts of topics. This is somewhat interesting, yet dispensable in my opinion.
  • Ethics ratings: need to confirm a prejudice or two? You’re in luck, as someone out there has taken it upon themselves to pass judgement (Scryve, KnowMore, CorporateCritic). To test this I looked up the sites for the following companies: Wallmart, Halliburton, and Blackwater, just to see what will transpire. The first two did indeed come up as ethically compromised, which was somewhat gratifying, but not alot. I proceeded to remove the “ethics” part of LinkExtend to reduce clutter.

The verdict: there are so many resources and so much information that this tool brings together that it is simultaneously it’s strength and it’s weakness. The strength is fairly obvious: if you’re interested in certain information about the links and pages you visit, it will be on offer. The weakness is that because so much information is there, some users may be overwhelmed or put off at first.

This tool has something to offer everyone, but it will be particularly appealing to security-conscious users, webmasters and/or people who work with websites or on the internet, those interested in SEO (search engine optimization), and advanced techie types. You will either find this tool to be extremely invaluable or you might think that is a lot of informational clutter. I belong to the former category and overall think that it is quite terrific!

Version Tested: 1.0

Compatibility: Firefox: 1.5 – 3.2a1pre.

Go to LinkExtend page to download the latest version (approx 433K).