Space Ramblings

The Evil that is Firefox

I have some sympathy for people who hate tech trends. I myself am pretty suspicious of the Apple cult. I’m a committed Firefox user and I wouldn’t want to switch but I can recognize why people might find the over the top attitude of a lot of Firefox promoters to be obnoxious. I may have Firefox. I may have installed a dozen Firefox plugins but Firefox is not my life. Tech is not my life.

That said, this is still amusing. whyfirefoxisblocked.com insists that the AdBlock plugin for Firefox is stealing from site owners by preventing the display of ads. Oddly whyfirefoxisblocked.com leaves NoScript alone entirely.

The Mozilla Foundation and its Commercial arm, the Mozilla Corporation, has allowed and endorsed Ad Block Plus, a plug-in that blocks advertisement on web sites and also prevents site owners from blocking people using it. Software that blocks all advertisement is an infringement of the rights of web site owners and developers. Numerous web sites exist in order to provide quality content in exchange for displaying ads. Accessing the content while blocking the ads, therefore would be no less than stealing.

That’s an argument which has been made in the past by television programmers against commercial skip in Tivo and VCR’s with the commercial skip feature. The problem with applying this viewpoint to websites is that there is an implicit agreement between tv viewers and tv networks at providing free commercial supported content. By contrast there is not necessarily any such agreement between a random website and a random internet browser.

The whole problem with presuming that a website has content which is being used is that most websites don’t.

Millions of hard working people are being robbed of their time and effort by this type of software.

Are they being “robbed”? If I ride the bus and don’t look at the ads, am I robbing the advertisers or the bus company, which is in part being paid for by the ads?

While blanket ad blocking in general is still theft, the real problem is Ad Block Plus’s unwillingness to allow individual site owners the freedom to block people using their plug-in. Blocking FireFox is the only alternative.

Well it’s certainly one alternative. If you hate a Firefox plugin, then you might as well take out all of Firefox. Of course most Firefox users don’t have AdBlock installed so really blocking a portion of internet users is the loss of those sites, in both ways.

Demographics have shown that not only are FireFox users a somewhat small percentage of the internet, they actually are even smaller in terms of online spending, therefore blocking FireFox seems to have only minimal financial drawbacks, whereas ending resource theft has tremendous financial rewards for honest, hard-working website owners and developers..

The problem is that Firefox is growing in demographics and that it’s also being used by the more tech savvy people online. Blocking Firefox users is obviously stupid. This kind of Angels vs. Devils approach may work okay if you happen to have an extremely popular website and can discard any users who aren’t profitable but that’s obviously not a smart move for any site that isn’t so solidly established it can afford to throw out users.

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