Opera's "Default Partner Content"

I used to love the Opera browser. Then they got into financial trouble, and stopped development of their own Presto layout engine, threw away their version 12.50 code, and turned their browser into essentially a shell to Google Chrome. This, of course, alienated their power users, which I feel was an important user segment. Apparently their marketing people didn't agree. A pity.

What enrages me most about the new Opera is that their search engine feature has been messed up. Opera's killer feature for me was the one where you can right click any search field on any webpage and create a link to it, accessible with a self-determinable shortcut via the address bar. For example, I created the "w" shortcut to point to the English-language Wikipedia, and I used it heavily. I could type into my address bar "w smoot (unit)" and be taken to the Wiki page I wanted to read.

Then, after holding out against the New Opera, I foolishly “upgraded” (I resent the use of the word “upgrade” for downgrades) to it. The trigger was sluggish performance of 12.50 (or was it 12.60?) and website problems (mostly Javascript-related). And then I found out that my beloved "w" shortcut no longer took me to the English Wikipedia, but instead the local one, which was in a language that, although I was proficient in it, I didn't enjoy reading, and also had less information written in it. “No matter,” I thought, “Just a minor annoyance. I'll edit the shortcut.” Ah, but it turns out that it couldn't be edited: it was hard-coded to something I didn't want, and I couldn't remove the shortcut either. Opera's official stance on this great reduction of usability was that it was for the "protection of our users", because apparently all users are idiots and incapable of selecting their own search engines. Or something like that.

Instead, Opera's being paid to include these hard-coded search shortcuts in their browser. And it's understandable: Opera is in financial trouble, and a search shortcut is a good advertising venue (they think). The file where these hard-coded shortcuts are defined is hard to find, but here it is:

And here is a replacement file for it: default_partner_content.json

posted 2014-12-03