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    The main content of this post does not seem, to me, to support the primary claim.

    The framing of this primary claim, is whether (or not) people can collectively can use Firefox “for the sake of the web”. Put differently: whether the collective choices of users can provide a marketshare-derived bulwark against a complete Google monopoly (on standards, on the web experience, etc.). The article then complains that using Firefox has become burdensome, and that Mozilla behaves poorly in their opinion.

    Those complaints are fine enough to be an article on their own. Certainly there is nothing wrong with expressing how one feels. However, neither the individual pain points, nor disingenuous behavior by Mozilla, actually speak to the premise: whether or not the collective choices of users can provide a marketshare-derived bulwark against a complete Google monopoly. As an overall framing question, the article leaves it unaddressed, except a few moments of unsupported nihilism.

    I should be clear: I do not think the complaints listed are invalid. An actual consequence of these complaints, is that the people who are part of that bulwark are probably subjected to a worse web browsing experience than they otherwise could be (e.g. if Mozilla acted differently). That is not good.

    A conclusion the article does not draw, but which follows from the previous, is that having a worse experience will likely erode that marketshare over time. This will lead it to be a less effective barrier against Google doing whatever-they-please. That is also not good.

    Ultimately, while I understand the criticisms (and agree with some), they don’t actually critique the idea of collective action. Instead there are just appeals to despair and powerlessness. “Nothing here is new”, “we are past the point of no return”, “we are entering a dark age”, and then the sentence that bothered me the most:

    And does anyone actually believe, that that sub-segment of all web users, that believe in browser engine diversity, can save anything?

    Yes!

    And nothing in this article seems to refute that.

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      The framing of this primary claim, is whether (or not) people can collectively can use Firefox “for the sake of the web”.

      My intention was to ask whether people should individually use Firefox, “for the sake of the web”, at the expense of accepting anything Mozilla decides. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

      Considering the current trends, the increasing popularity of Chrome and of mobile platforms (ie. Android and iOS), I dismiss the possibility of a collective effort to turn the tides, a priori. You’re right that I don’t argue the point why it’s not possible, it just seems like such a pointless debate, that depends on entirely contingent factors. I just wanted to offer a pessimistic response to all the “Use Firefox to save the web” articles I have been seeing over the last few months.

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        Fair enough, in so far as you acknowledge the a priori dismissal. If we sat here and ran through all those contingent factors, I would probably agree with you more often than not.

        FWIW I do not use Firefox as some civic duty on behalf of the web, and I have not found myself arguing that people should (thus far). But nor do I find the “anti-monopoly bulwark” angle implausible. I use Firefox almost entirely because of the Multi-Account Containers add-on. I legitimately do not know how I would use the web without it. Or at least do not know how I could use it as effectively as I am used to.

        I did stubbornly use Firefox mobile for a two year span, despite it feeling like a worse experience. But as of some time this year, it has been markedly better, in that way that goes unnoticed–so much so that I had not reflected on it until typing this paragraph. It’s that natural tendency to take tools/systems for granted, once they have been working smoothly for long enough.

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          FWIW, I do use Firefox as some civic duty on behalf of the web, and it’s becoming a more miserable experience with almost every release.

          I’ll definitely have a look at Edge when the Linux version ships with vertical tabs, because I really had enough of the abusive relationship with Mozilla.

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            Seeing as it is roughly on-topic, what are the changes that have made you miserable?

            In my text editors, terminal, file manager, and some others, when a sub-option-of-a-sub-option changes, I notice immediately. This article and thread have caused me to realize browsers are an odd exception: I am not that sensitive to little changes in options or details.

            I use Firefox primarily (90-95% of browsing), but I do use Chrome partially for work. Aside from (a) Chrome lacking a plugin akin to Multi-Account Containers, and (b) Google blatantly not caring that G Suite runs poorly in Firefox, my experience on web pages feels basically comparable.

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              • Extension system can’t support vertical tabs.
              • User styles being on their way out.
              • Extensions not working on “special” domains.
              • Constantly having to fix styling (e. g. dickbar).
              • “Restart Firefox” button doesn’t restart Firefox, broken for years.

              It’s a death by thousand cuts.

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                For your first point, I use “Tree Style Tabs”, which I’ve been happy enough with. It’s not quite as seamless as the pre-webextentions version, but it does give vertical tabs.

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                  I’m aware of all options, and they are all crap. (TST is worse than other options though.)

                  Sure we can hack tabs into a sidebar, but the extension can’t even disable the “real tab bar”.

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                    A bit of css removes the real tab bar for me. What other options do you think are better thank TST?

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                      A bit of css removes the real tab bar for me.

                      That “bit” of CSS has grown to 100 lines at my machine. Plus, userChrome.css is on Mozilla’s kill list anyway, so it’s not something that can be relied upon.

                      What other options do you think are better thank TST?

                      Sidebery is better.

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                        100 lines? I have this:

                        #TabsToolbar, #sidebar-header {
                            visibility: collapse !important;
                        }
                        #TabsToolbar {
                            margin-bottom: -21px !important;
                        }
                        

                        Now, if mozilla does kill userChrome.css and it stops working, I’ll have to move to another browser. It isn’t any love for mozilla, at this point, that keeps me with it, just that I’m used to TST and containers. I’ll check out Sidebery (though I am perfectly happy with TST as it is).

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                        This bit of CSS needs to be updated once every couple releases, because they keep breaking it. And it’s going to stop working anyway, as @soc wrote in a sibling comment.

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                        I’m OK with Tab Center Redux’s vertical tabs in the sidebar. I have no horizontal tab bar. I also have my bookmarks bar in the same horizontal space next to the URL bar. For added usability, I have the normal toolbar (File/Edit/View/…) in the titlebar.

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                      For comparison: Out of all of them only the restart option bothers me. And that’s broken only on my linux box.

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                        I rather like All Tabs Helper’s vertical tabs functionality. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/all-tabs-helper/

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              many of these changes are in line with Google’s vision for the web, and reflect Mozilla’s reliance on Google. while Mozilla may be the lesser of two evils, it is still evil, and only voting for the lesser evil won’t be enough to improve things.

              not to mention that using Firefox is much less significant even than a vote. it helps Mozilla charge more for partnerships where they show their users ads, but if you don’t click on these ads then you aren’t actually helping Firefox because you are reducing the per-user effectiveness of their ad space. rambling now…

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              It’s really expensive and time-consuming to implement modern web standards, which are growing even more from day to day. Mozilla is not all-powerful or exempt from this rule just because it’s non-profit, it still has to pay developers and follow certain corporate “rules”.

              I will continue recommending Firefox, and if we want to see Mozilla improve its stance, we must make it more independent by supporting it financially so it doesn’t have to rely on corporate sponsors that much, and we have to push more against unnecessary web standards.

              It’s despicable to see people ditch Firefox and switching to Chrome and derivatives because of some “puristic” reasons against Mozilla, while Alphabet Inc. is magnitudes worse. The large crowd relies on us tech-affine people to give them good recommendations, so please, recommend Firefox, because it makes a difference at scale.

              Everything is better than a web that is more or less 100% controlled by Alphabet Inc.

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                I will continue recommending Firefox, and if we want to see Mozilla improve its stance, we must make it more independent by supporting it financially so it doesn’t have to rely on corporate sponsors that much, and we have to push more against unnecessary web standards.

                Me too, but I won’t donate to them as long as they are Google’s lap dog and pay the CEO millions. See also https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2020/10/20/mozilla-reaction-to-u-s-v-google/. This makes me very sad.

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                  And Mozilla won’t become way less dependent on default search engine deals unless people start donating a lot en masse. Vicious cycle!

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                    Unfortunately true! But I don’t trust them right now, at all. I don’t want to support them for blindly implementing Google’s ideas of what the web should be like. The user needs to be put first, not Google, nor Mozilla’s CEO.

                    They could organize a crowdfunding, for example, with a list of explicit promises of what they’ll do with the money next to showing Google, Cloudflare and maybe Mullvad (Mozilla VPN) the door. This would help us (people who care) fight surveillance capitalism and have a “last stand” for the “free web” and again recommend our friends and family to use Firefox and tell them: “If a site doesn’t work in Firefox, you are being screwed over, try to use a different site instead”. I really don’t mind paying $100/yr or even more for a browser/company that has my back and don’t even mind indirectly paying for interesting “distractions” like Rust and perhaps good ideas like Servo. I’m sure I am not the only one!

                    But yeah…maybe it is already too late.

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                      I really don’t mind paying $100/yr or even more for a browser/company that has my back and don’t even mind indirectly paying for interesting “distractions” like Rust and perhaps good ideas like Servo. I’m sure I am not the only one!

                      I would be interested in that too, but there are probably not enough of us. Perhaps the situation would be better with some kind of an incentive program, but with free software, I don’t know what “advantages” you could hold back for people who pay more?

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                        It’d probably have to be more ideological.

                        Publish the company’s/foundation’s monthly burn rate, and the income streams, and ask for the money required to restart MDN or Servo or get rid of the Google ties or whatever.

                        I don’t think this Patreon-style system would allow for funding specific projects because that would give power to people who don’t know what to do with it.

                        Strawman troll example could be all the donations going to keeping the old add-on system alive, and the invisible second-order money pit being fixing its security vulnerabilities.

                        But Mozilla would still have to make some promises and deliver on them or at least some donations would surely cease.

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                        Same for me.

                        I’d love to pay for Firefox, but giving them money currently would appear as if I supported their current strategy/management.

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                          I’d love to pay for Firefox, but giving them money currently would appear as if I supported their current strategy/management

                          I’d be onboard with something crowdfunded, and I think that would definitely not be their current strategy, thus it would be supportable.

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                    I agree that it would be better, but I don’t believe it’s sustainable. My main message is that people shouldn’t make themselves use Firefox, just the the sake of saving a standardized web. I by no means am trying to tell people to use Chrome!

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                      What exactly are you telling people to use then? What alternatives are there besides Firefox and Blink-based browsers? Or are you just saying, use whatever you like best, because it doesn’t matter?

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                        I’m not telling anyone to use anything, just that you don’t have to use Firefox even if you don’t agree with Google’s position. As I say in the last sentence:

                        I implore everyone to think about this, and make a conscious decision. Continue using Firefox if you want to, but don’t fool yourself that it means anything.

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                    I just can’t take this serious. It already starts with the linked website for firefox and it’s privacy, which is already questionable. Complaining about portal detection ? Malicious Website Detection ? Trying to prevent abusive Plugins? Giving People the possibility to use Netflix & co ? (You may also say “yeah no, use windows+chrome for netflix, can’t have nice things because of people screaming against anything DRM in firefox”) Oh and of course the old “plugin API change is bad” argument coupled with “they’re evil for doing that”. And complaining about mozilla taking money from google for their search bar (which you can change btw), while giving literally no realistic replacement.

                    I can also start searching the evil in literally everything while following a zero tolerance policy regarding anything I don’t like..

                    Oh and about them not caring about your configuration opinions: Have you tried getting the Developers of any other free software to change it the way you want ? Did you go to the gnome people and told them that you dislike their new apple-ish bar and you want an options to disable it, make it look more like windows ? Did you go to anyone’s software and told them “I don’t like this, you have to change this and maintain this or you’re evil” ?

                    The only valid claim for me is that firefox/mozilla does not give you every possible configuration option you may want while pushing forward their ideas, which may be totally ignorant and/or wrong. And that they may be taking their “david vs goliath” stance to pressure you into using firefox.(I really liked this idea/view.) But otherwise I just can’t think of anything else than grumpy ol’ grandpa with his shotgun going “you dare to take a step on my land”.

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                      I absolutely agree. XUL add-ons were unsustainable and had to be removed. It also is not wrong for Mozilla to do what they think is best for users. Preferences have costs and Mozilla can’t make everything under the sun configurable. If you want to disagree with them then that’s fine, but the idea that they can’t take a stance on what they think is the best user experience and ship only that is silly. This is my least favorite meme in free software: “the maintainer said no to the feature I wanted so they’re evil.” (Or alternatively: “we have to add every feature that any user requests, ever.”)

                      See also: Is Linux About Choice?

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                        I don’t think that everything should be configurable, just that subsequent versions should make less things less configurable. The problem is that Firefox looks poor when compared to itself (or rather older versions).

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                          This would sound way better if they weren’t losing users each and every month …

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                          To elaborate a little bit more: I strongly agree that some of mozillas decisions are very questionable and that some of firefox additions are pretty uncalled for. I think the voices criticizing firefox are valid. But this article just feels like a negative rant that gives no room for other opinions*, while promoting chrome of all things and saying everything is lost. Well then please just stay silent ?! You won’t get anywhere by verbally shitting on other peoples work with very questionable arguments. (Who don’t owe you anything by the way.)

                          *I LIKE the new URL bar, I don’t care at all about the plugin change. And yes, I was a heavy user of things like “tabmixplus” and whatnot. Still I just can’t see the benefit anymore. Things change, people change.

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                            Did you go to the gnome people and told them that you dislike their new apple-ish bar and you want an options to disable it, make it look more like windows?

                            The power differential is completely different:

                            Gnome people don’t care about having users, while Mozilla is constantly guilt-tripping people to use them.

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                              Gnome people don’t care about having users….

                              This is actually not the case and not a claim to make off-handed.

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                                I interpreted it as “Gnome people won’t sacrifice their principles to get more users” which … dunno if that was the intent, but it makes a lot more sense.

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                                  I disagree strongly: I think the ascribed principles (or at least their prioritization) to Mozilla are wrong and both Gnome and Mozilla act quite strongly in the same direction. They both got their mind on the end user. Through that lens, Gnome is even often struggling, e.g. if you check the state of their software distribution. It’s not fair to play out those to orgs against each other and certainly not something they want to see themselves in.

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                                    Last I checked the Gnome Web browser doesn’t support DRM.

                                    My understanding is that the big difference between these orgs is that Mozilla consists of primarily paid staff all under a single reporting hierarchy. Gnome has a mix of paid and unpaid contributors, but most of the paid contributors are not being told what to do by the people who are paying their salary. It shouldn’t be surprising that these different organizational structures result in different kinds of decisions being made.

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                                Fair enough

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                              It’s people like that, who say “Firefox is Spyware” who are abusive. These “phoning home” features in Firefox are legitimate features implemented in good faith in privacy-conscious ways by company which does not abuse or sell the data.

                              The extremist view that the browser should not detect captive portals, should not catch phishing attempts, and should not have automatic updates sets up Firefox to fail. You can’t expect Firefox to have significant market share, and at the same time demand it to have defaults that make 99% of people think it’s a broken piece of shit that can’t even play Netflix.

                              And remember you’re trashing Mozilla for having a special contract for extra privacy guarantees and data isolation in Google Analytics, while using a browser by the maker of the damn Analytics. And also a biggest ad network that actually makes billions gathering and selling access to personal data. And you’re probably even logged in to that browser with your real name and verified phone number, and phoning that home to every site by that browser vendor.

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                                And you’re probably even logged in to that browser with your real name and verified phone number, ..

                                I think we’re long past that, with Chrome guessing and trying to log you in every time you use a Google service. On the other hand I’m not 100% sure to trust them to not deduce enough just from chrome usage without logging in, just based on IP and other fingerprinting stuff, which would on the one hand be a little paranoid but on the other hand maybe simply true.

                                Just an aside, not trying to take away from your main point.

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                                  These “phoning home” features in Firefox are legitimate features implemented in good faith in privacy-conscious ways by company which does not abuse or sell the data.

                                  I don’t believe you and them. And suggest other people do the same.

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                                    On what basis? For example, what makes you believe that Mozilla does something nefarious with captive portal DNS requests?

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                                      On the basis that they add binary blobs to Firefox for example. On the basis that this server (or whatever) is not opensourced and not audited by the community. That’s enough for me. I don’t trust them and I don’t trust you since you are trying to shield them.

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                                        It makes sense to require reproducible builds and audited code, but there’s a difference between “I have no ability to verify this” vs “I actively distrust you and think you’re lying”.

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                                          What blobs are you referring to?

                                          Note that as distributed by Mozilla, Firefox doesn’t contain a DRM implementation. Firefox does automate its download, but you can tell Firefox not to do that.

                                          (Disclosure: I work for Mozilla, but I am writing this comment on my own time and initiative.)

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                                            Pocket for example.

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                                              Where do you find a Pocket-related binary blob in Firefox? (See also https://searchfox.org/mozilla-central/source/browser/components/pocket )

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                                                There is no pocket binary blob.

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                                      Okay, rant? So let me rant back.

                                      There’s a cardinal mistake in this article: It never defines “us” and does not try to make a case why this “us” is actually a primary audience of Mozilla. (Hint: it isn’t. The primary audience of Mozilla is Hans-Jürgen from Unterwittighausen, who has never heard of free software, but has heard of Netflix and those nice Warez sites out there and their security. To that end, Mozilla has - for a long time - supported Firefox on Windows XP while there was still substantial use out there, even though Windows XP was discontinued, to keep their users secure)

                                      It doesn’t even make a case for those opinions being the majority in the target audience of developers. (I would go as far as saying that this is not the case)

                                      Note: I have no issue with individual opinions, but those that claim to speak for a group should argue for why they speak for a group and why this group must be heard.

                                      It also makes no good case why an organisation producing a product of high security concern should maintain additional code paths just because of displeasure in a bugzilla ticket.

                                      It also constructs things: The example taken for “unpredictability” (Change of the Addon API) was coming for years and the reason was that addons where and attack vector and addons often badly optimised, leading to a bad browser experience, especially for users that do not understand details of browser performance.

                                      The article does not even make an attempt give any positive feedback or appreciate positive thing which Mozilla has done or even try to engage with underlying and communicated reasons. The author does not even give a hint that they consider the engineers making decisions at Mozilla competent engineers.

                                      There’s a lot of things to criticise in Mozilla and Firefox, but this angle is not it and has to be refused. It constructs and audience without arguing for it and just grabs issues left-and-right, with not coherence.

                                      It remains to be said that “Why wasn’t I consulted” still is the central question of the internet. (https://www.ftrain.com/wwic)

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                                        It doesn’t even make a case for those opinions being the majority in the target audience of developers.

                                        Agree. In fact I suspect that the… (for lack of a better word) “conservative power-users” (the ones who like the endless customization of the old addon API yet aren’t willing to just modify the code and maintain local patches; those who get angry at any optional feature they don’t like even existing; and so on) are a very small but loud minority.

                                        They are the ones who have a reason to post all these rants. Happy users are more likely to stay quiet. I’m a developer who has contributed a few Firefox patches. I generally 100% agree with the direction of Firefox and every UI update has only made me even happier. Literally the only complaint I have is that in the updated Android UI it’s too easy to accidentally swipe the tab list down. What am I going to rant about? I can only rant about the haters and whiners themselves, but that’s not great content, that doesn’t really deserve its own posts.

                                        the reason was that addons where and attack vector and addons often badly optimised

                                        Also the most important reason: the old API not a well-defined public API but basically direct access to all the internal objects, which meant that doing any internal interface change would break addons, making codebase evolution ridiculously difficult and slow.

                                        And the change that really forced the issue was, of course, multiprocess — which is fundamentally important for both security and reliability (anyone remember when the whole browser would crash instead of what would be “tab crashes” today?) — and was a significant booster for the early adoption of Chrome, who had it first.


                                        Fun fact, around the time Safari introduced extensions (2012 ish or so??) I was really interested in the “one extension API for all browsers” concept and was considering writing an abstraction that would call into different browser APIs to make this possible. Fast forward to today, everything (even Safari now) does have the same API natively. But I don’t want to publish extensions anywhere other than addons.mozilla.org anymore, I want to support Firefox with the exclusivity of the addons :)

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                                          Why does “us” have to be the primary audience? I only use the word in the title, but main group I focus on are the people interested preventing Google from becoming a monopoly/preserving open web standards. Furthermore, I don’t claim there aren’t any reasons for the changes. (that being said: I’m still annoyed by the megabar, and that it’s apparently a useless change just to look different).

                                          There is too much annoying positivity, and I don’t intend to contribute to it. My apologies if my point wasn’t clear.

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                                            There is too much annoying positivity

                                            Really??? Where? Please show me, I would love to read more positivity!

                                            Our culture (yes especially in tech) seems very much biased in favor of ranting, cynicism and contempt. Positivity is usually read as “cringe” and suspected of being insincere, of being paid marketing even.

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                                              Certainly it’s a subjective impression, and I guess it’s my mistake that I impled this was objective.

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                                              You know, to Mozilla apologists the rules are simple:

                                              Every single criticism is irrelevant and can safely be discarded, because anyone having an opinion about Firefox is too technical to be Mozilla’s target demographic.

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                                                Mozilla apologists

                                                Ha, thanks, that’s the first time someone called me that. I assume you have never met me talking about Mozilla. Mozilla is an organisation that I would never work for. (But for none of the reasons quoted here)

                                                I do not trust Mozilla for many things, especially not that they can follow through with the organisational change they have announced. None of that has to do with Firefox.

                                                No, I disagree with the angle of the post. I personally find it petty and clouding a conversation that should be had (and is being had between Mozilla and its community volunteers).

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                                              does not try to make a case why this “us” is actually a primary audience of Mozilla. (Hint: it isn’t.

                                              To me, this is the strange thing with Mozilla. There’s this idea that if somebody has a view that isn’t part of the “primary” view, then it must be invalid, and through this mechanism, feedback is routinely ignored.

                                              Frankly, I don’t see other software projects think this way. Open source projects that are more community driven tend to incorporate feedback fairly effectively, because somebody’s going to submit a patch to change the behavior that annoys them, even if it annoys a tiny number of people. Mozilla seems to have been brushing off feedback to the point where people just don’t even try to submit this type of patch anymore.

                                              Even in commercial environments this thinking seems strange. I work at Microsoft and never hear people talk this way. Obviously there’s a diverse set of users, with a diverse set of opinions, and it’s impossible to please everyone. But if MS only tried to please a “primary” group, it’d be an awful lot smaller. Being mainstream implies accepting that the user base is absurdly diverse, and still trying to please as many people as possible.

                                              It may be that accepting every piece of feedback doesn’t result in pleasing many people, but it does mean that feedback is a helpful tool in understanding the factors that push people away from a product.

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                                                Open source projects that are more community driven tend to incorporate feedback fairly effectively, because somebody’s going to submit a patch to change the behavior that annoys them, even if it annoys a tiny number of people.

                                                Every open-source project that survives more than a few years and/or grows to be used by enough people eventually accumulates enough of a backlog of rejected or just plain “nobody had time to look at that patch and now it’s out of date” feature requests to spawn endless threads of people asserting that the maintainers are evil hateful people whose anti-user stance exemplifies everything that could ever be wrong with both a person and a project. And the justification for that claim is nearly always something like “I submitted this feature request and/or patch $LONG_TIME ago, and they still haven’t accepted it, which makes their software utterly unusable by anyone, for any use case, in any logically-possible universe, and therefore all good people everywhere must shun the software and its developers”.

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                                                  I think you misunderstood me there: I don’t even agree that the group described here is even “a primary”, out of multiple potential primaries. Or even a secondary. You need to make a case for it. It’s okay for small groups of users to complain. It’s good to listen to them. Going nuclear and not engaging with and understanding of your own place and the other parties place? Not so much.

                                                  MS is definitely no stranger to only pleasing certain groups. For example, for a long time: only Windows users. MS legal is famous for insisting on distribution control, which is why you couldn’t install common programming language packages like Ruby, Python or even Rust without manual install instructions for VS for years.

                                                  I give you another example: I own 2 companies, which, for legal and business reasons, must have separate infrastructure. I use Office 365. But I would love to do calendaring over all my orgs (and this does not involve my FOSS project, which does calendaring as well). Would you think Office 365 supports this use-case? Very badly. On the browser, I can use containers. In windows, with Desktop office? Log in and log out every time I switch contexts. Can I get this fixed somehow? Somehowish. Can I write ranty blog posts about it? Probably could. And just to clear: this is not unusual, people owning businesses for years are no strangers to working on multiple. It’s a daily pain if I don’t want to attach a third party service collecting all my calendering and feeding it back in (which, in the end, happens to be my iPad).

                                                  Point being: given finite resources, cuts need to be made. It’s an orgs choice to deal with that. MS chooses backwards-compatibility everywhere. Others choose support of web standards, how annoying they may be. Others choose software freedom over all. Framing any of this as abuse is a tall order.

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                                                    MS is definitely no stranger to only pleasing certain groups.

                                                    That’s definitely true. My comment is referring to the thought process. (Personally I’d argue that MS has the opposite problem of trying so hard to please everyone that the result is sub-optimal for common cases.)

                                                    which is why you couldn’t install common programming language packages like Ruby, Python or even Rust without manual install instructions for VS for years.

                                                    I’m not very familiar with the situation you’re describing, although it looks to me like the VS team are frantically trying to improve their story with respect to things like Python. So in terms of thought process, I’d be shocked if anyone there is saying, “Ruby/Python/Rust integration isn’t a primary part of our current crop of users so we shouldn’t do this.” Actually, (and I have no knowledge of anything here so you should take it with a grain of salt), I’d guess the reason they’re pushing distribution control is to try to make these scenarios as simple as a Linux package manager in order to reduce the need for manual install instructions.

                                                    Can I write ranty blog posts about it?

                                                    If you do, I’d be shocked if anyone in Office comes out and says, “the situation in this post isn’t part of a primary audience.” Actually, I’ll bet the link will get passed around, a few people will read it, and discuss how to do better. It might not happen overnight due to priorities, but it won’t be dismissed. People will read on the assumption that for everyone who writes a ranty blog post, there must be more people hitting similar situations who moved to a purely browser based calendar quietly out of frustration.

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                                                  Thank you for the wwic link.

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                                                    yeah that link is really worth a read, would’ve missed it without your reply (am I WWIC’ing now ? now I feel kinda busted with my thoughts about also starting a personal blog about stuff)

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                                                  I think a huge problem is that we hold Mozilla to a higher standard and if they do things like the Pocket thing (which aggravated a lot of people, I can ignore it, I just find it weird) it seems extra bad, while only being a little bad, compared to Chrome.

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                                                    I feel there’s a massive mismatch of expectations here; some people expect Firefox to belong to The Community (whoever that may be), whereas in reality Firefox is just a product built by some folk and you can take it or leave it.

                                                    In general, Firefox does seem to care about the community and various principles, but … it doesn’t exist in a vacuum and the community isn’t a homogeneous group and some interests conflict. A lot of community members have a lot of benefit in playing DRM content for example, whereas others find it a great evil. There is no way to reconcile the two, although I find the current solution where it asks you the first time a reasonable compromise.

                                                    At any rate, community management is hard; there are literally thousands (if not more) people voicing their opinions, and no matter what you do someone is going to feel upset, especially if there are ethics involved.

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                                                    The reasoning is that only Firefox continues developing and maintaining an independent, functioning browser engine, with an independent code base.

                                                    There is still WebKit as a browser engine, which is a perfectly reasonable browser engine. Though Blink may have initially been a fork of WebKit, I believe that the two have diverged severely over time. WebKit is even more-used than Firefox in the linked browser usage page, if only because of Apple. There are non-Apple browsers that use the WebKit engine.

                                                    A recent change in the add-on system has broken compatibility with a wide range of older extensions, with no compatibility layer.

                                                    I would like to point out that there is a technological reason for this (corresponding lobste.rs post), one of making it harder for a malicious extension to do harm (among other things). I don’t know how much this was actually a problem in practice, if the replacement is sufficient, or if a different alternative would have been better, but I felt that it was important to at least mention.

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                                                      Webkit cannot be safely used on Debian-based systems as it does not receive security updates: https://www.debian.org/releases/stable/amd64/release-notes/ch-information.en.html#browser-security (I believe the situation on other operating systems is similar, but as far as I know Debian is the only one to call it out in the release notes as not being suitable for using on untrusted sites.)

                                                      There are some remediations that technically-inclined users can apply to make it somewhat-safe to use, but it’s not something you can make a blanket recommendation for people to use without a mountain of caveats.

                                                      1. 5

                                                        Interesting! I was wondering what the situation is like for other operating systems, and found an overview by a Gnome developer in 2017. The gist of it seems to be that WebKit does not do long-term releases, they merely do 6-month stable releases. Therefore long-term releases of any distribution remain vulnerable, as well as Debian supposedly remains vulnerable, but most other distributions are apparently up to date.

                                                        Of course, instead of merely trusting a blog post from 2017, one could also check repology, which at first glance seems concerning given the amount of red visible and yellow triangles, but it appears that most latest stable releases of distributions also have a version of webkitgtk that does not have any CVE’s attached to it. Including Debian stable, for that matter.

                                                        The same Gnome developer’s 2016 post on the topic claims that:

                                                        Debian is correct that we do not provide long term support branches, as it would be very difficult to backport security fixes. But it is not correct that “library interdependencies make it impossible to update to newer upstream releases.” This might have been true in the past, but for several years now, we have avoided requiring new versions of libraries whenever it would cause problems for distributions, and — with one big exception that I will discuss below — we ensure that each release maintains both API and ABI compatibility.

                                                        With the big exception being the deprecation of an old API/ABI around September 2014. I don’t know if this is a reasonable exception or not, but also would sincerely hope that it doesn’t matter by now.

                                                        In any case, I feel like it’s still potentially sensible to say that a blanket recommendation of WebKit is a subpar idea, without additional guidance or information.

                                                      2. 2

                                                        I’m not sure if WebKit is technically different enough. Google has replaced individual components, but the overall architecture would be too hard to change in a major way (ship of Theseus is still a ship after you replace everything).

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                                                          I’m not so certain, because part of the goal of forking WebKit to make Blink would be to let them make larger architectural changes of the kind that upstream WebKit would be more wary of accepting (or have various reasons not to accept). The Chromium team seems to imply as much in a (rather old) FAQ document, as does a presentation from a WebKit developer. I guess I find it hard to assume Google wouldn’t make large changes to a code base, especially if they’re aiming to improve speed as much as they can, and especially over the span of several years.
                                                          However, these are (relatively) old documents I found by searching for what I wanted to find, and perhaps the overall architecture is (as you said) too hard to change in a major way. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t looked at any of the code myself (and don’t plan to any time soon).

                                                      3. 9

                                                        It goes without saying, that emotionally abusive relationships are far more serious of a problem than what Mozilla is doing. I use the term here as a metaphor, and don’t mean to belittle anyone’s experiences with the issue.

                                                        Then please, don’t use this title/phrase for your article. Thank you.

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                                                          It’s an absolutely fine phrase and, at least in the author’s opinion, is justified by the contents of the article describing how the relationship is in some way abusive.

                                                        2. 4

                                                          I can endorse this article in full, it’s pretty much on point on everything. Best part:

                                                          I am fed up with Mozilla and Firefox. Their consistent lack of respect for their users, bad business decisions and urge to constantly re-create a bad chrome-clone clearly indicate that something has gone wrong – and I don’t see it as my responsibility to make up for it.

                                                          The arrogance is the most grating part for me:

                                                          Mozilla devs, stop telling users you know better when you continuously lose market share!

                                                          I can’t even describe how out of touch and delusional that looks.


                                                          typo in the article>: marked → market

                                                          1. 3

                                                            Could financial situations like these have been avoided? Maybe if the Mozilla CEO wasn’t paid over 2 million dollars a year,

                                                            I see this every time Mozilla is discussed here. Serious question - what do you think a top-class, capable, experienced Mozilla CEO should be paid?

                                                            1. 2

                                                              As with exchange rates, the actual salary is less important than the change: The CEO’s salery has increased by ~1.8 million dollars over just 6 years (or quadruppeled). And if the excuse is, you have the increase it so that they don’t switch to some other company, it seems like the CEO isn’t commited to Mozilla’s ideals.

                                                              1. 1

                                                                Do you know how the CEO-to-salary of the median engineer has moved in that period?

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  I have to admit that I don’t know that, but I’m also not sure how that’s related?

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    If the ratio stays the same, then I’m fine with that - that means the median employee of also getting paid more.

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      Overpay and run out of money, underpay and run out of people.

                                                                      I did check that inflation is “only” about 10% in six years, so a quadrupled salary does sound a bit ill.

                                                                      Whatever the size of the workforce may have been, having a proportionally increasing salary (that’s way beyond the money-printing press) for everyone sounds desperate or worse.

                                                                      Is something like the real-estate market in San Francisco and thereabouts to blame?

                                                                      Still needs more data and focus on the financials to take the bad feeling out.

                                                              2. 1

                                                                How open are the books? Anyone have a link or knowledge?

                                                                If they burn a mill a month, that salary might not save any jobs, even though the optics without context don’t look too good.

                                                                Contrary to a lot of anti-business Zeitgeist, C-level people do carry a heavy burden and wield the kind of power that has to be compensated monetarily. It’s up to the board to get rid of incompetents, meaning if a CEO is running the company to the ground for short-term personal profits, they should be fired. Anything else is corruption or fraud or otherwise bad business ethics.

                                                                It kinda looks like Mozilla the Company isn’t very well run, and my emotional knee-jerk says theres “like maybe” a zero too many in the salary, but I admit it’s an emotional response with nothing factual to stand on.

                                                              3. 3

                                                                Thanks for writing your post. I don’t like how much power Google has over the web. And you make a good point that Mozilla’s rhetoric “use our browser if you love freedom” is kind of abusive! I also agree that it was a tragedy to fire the MDN and Servo team. I love MDN and use it just about every day at work. I consider it the “Gold Standard” of technical documentation and I worry that it will now be withering away.

                                                                But I do agree that we are long past the point-of-no-return with Google/Alphabet “taking over the web”. I’m going to keep using Firefox as a habit for now, but I don’t think anything Mozilla could do - even if they ran a tigher ship - could help. Web Standards are just huge and to build a browser to support it would require serious investment that no entity is likely to make.

                                                                And even if someone does make that investment in a new implementation, Google/Alphabet/Microsoft/Mozilla would all notice quickly and probably not be excited about anyone coming to ‘eat their lunch’.

                                                                But you also mentioned making ‘toy’ things like gopher servers. I think that has some potential to make things nice where there’s the ‘mainstream’ WWW that Google owns and then there’s a decentralized web where users can put up a resistance against the monopoly.

                                                                Again I think your post is great, thanks for writing.

                                                                P.S. I think brutalism on the web is pretty fun!

                                                                1. 3

                                                                  Thanks for the kind words – I’m actually surprised how vehemently some people agree or disagree with the post.

                                                                  P.S. I think brutalism on the web is pretty fun!

                                                                  I agree, the “playful” or “hobbyist” web, that contains the web-brutalism movement, is one of the nicest, most refreshing and creative parts of the web.

                                                                2. 2

                                                                  we can only guess what the Firefox developers will want to change in the next releases. Other examples might be FTP or RSS support.

                                                                  FTP is already on the chopping block: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=kill-ftp