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      1. 3

        I’m really confused, does the author have any merit in any of these arguments?

        He added an addendum to the post recognizing the rebuttal but it leaves me even more confused.

        1. 9

          Brave had intended to do a lot of stuff. There are plenty of reddit/hacker news threads with outraged users up in arms related to them. He might be correct that Brave never did some of those things, but only because the internet at large was pretty pissed.

          Replacing ads

          Accepting tips on users behalf and scraping profile data to misrepresent site owns as registered users

          There’s a couple Brave people in that thread, brandnewlow and i think brendoneich adamantly defending this and trying to pass it off as a “UI problem”. IMO seems like they try to tip toe on the line of how much they can get away with.

    1. 16

      Much like the author’s previous text against Medium (“The Billionaire’s Typewriter”), I find myself agreeing with the main thrust and wanting to like the article but ending up vaguely disappointed with the actual writing. For example, the whole part about Eich being fired from Mozilla just seems kind of weird and pointless.

      1. 5

        I suspected as much when he kept writing out “Brendan Eich” over and over.

        This reads like a grassroots piece backed by Google/Facebook or other member of the Advertising-Industrial Complex.

        The article reads as an ad hominem, moral pitch and that doesn’t motivate me to do anything. The author is free to block whatever clients be can figure out how to do, but that doesn’t make it right.

        I think small content creators will make more money from Brave without sacrificing their users privacy. Big advertisers will be hosed because without that data for reselling, they will make less from their ads. I’m ok with centi-billion dollar companies dropping down to demi-centi-billion.

      2. 4

        I agree. The tone is throwing shade and it distracts from the points.

    2. 43

      I’ll never be a fan of JavaScript.

      Funny to read this on a website that doesn’t load if JavaScript is disabled :).

      1. 16

        What is especially odd since it’s mostly text.

        1. 1

          This is to ensure the text doesn’t jump around when the fallback font is replaced by the webfont after it finished loading. I don’t think there is a way to do this without JS, since even font-display: block results in “a short block period”.

          So basically you have to choose between two suboptimal options, and when you consider that practically all users see the text swapping and roughly 99.8% of users have JS, the JS requirement isn’t so odd.

          1. 30

            If you use Javascript to add the webfont and the display:none (or whatever), it should Just Work.

            Progressive enhancement has been a thing for over 20 years. I was using these techniques as an intern in 2005.

            1. 14


              It’s not that it’s impossible, or even that it’s hard. It’s that people don’t care.

              1. 4

                I think it’s fair to assume the author cares. That doesn’t mean they had time to figure it out. It’s obvious in hindsight, but not necessarily trivial to think of or to find such a jewel in the growing cesspit of bad advice that is the Internet.

              2. [Comment removed by author]

          2. 21

            There is another option here and it rhymes with “don’t use web tonts”

            1. 22

              He’s a typographer, and sells both fonts and books about typography. There’s no way he can serve his business properly with shitty default web typography.

              1. 5

                Given the experience, I’d suggest that web fonts are the ‘shitty’ option here.

                My browser (on all my devices) comes with a font that’s literally optimised for better display on a high PPI screen.

                That one page, of pure text with a single video embedded (ok so one image because it loads a preview) is 5.8MB. 4MB of that is CSS embedding fonts.. that is shitty.

              2. 5

                Having a web page that crashes PageSpeed Insights sure helps.

              3. 5

                web typography that changes as you are reading it is shitty web typography. the only non-shitty web typography is that which is built into the client. if anyone should understand this, a web typographer should.

                CSS lets you suggest the use of fonts which may or may not be installed. beyond that, typography can be showcased via file formats such as GIF, JPEG, and PNG.

                1. 9

                  web typography that changes as you are reading it is shitty web typography. the only non-shitty web typography is that which is built into the client. if anyone should understand this, a web typographer should.

                  He’s not a “web typographer.” But, I digress. Progressive loading of documents on the web is part of the problem here. If we didn’t have shitty browsers, shitty networks, shitty people who have no patience, then a browser could blit the entire rendered page to the screen and you’d see the right thing, the right way.

                  But, things are imperfect. Quite imperfect. But, I can assure you that the state of the web has improved a lot over the last 25 years, so maybe the state of the art for putting good typography on the web can/will, too.

                  typography can be showcased via file formats such as GIF, JPEG, and PNG.

                  The whole point of typography is to arrange text to be accessible and appealing (i.e. you worry about kerning and leading to ensure that the text can be read without confusion). Putting it in images might make it “appealing” but certainly reduces the accessibility of it, and the usefulness of it.

                  1. 6

                    But do I really want to wait half a minute to load a page and start reading because the author demands I have the exact presentation? I’d rather start reading usably as early as possible, then enhance when my connection gets to it.

                    1. 5

                      I don’t think da Vinci would prefer that you see the Mona Lisa one square inch at a time…

                      Why do we not consider the author’s presentation choices valid? Why do we treat creators of content so abusively?

                      Prince (the musician) pretty famously defended his copyrights so that he could control the experience of listeners. That’s well within his rights to do so…why not authors of web content?

                      (I don’t believe Butterick has a license that requires you to view his content only in the way it is presented, but does ask that you pay to support him if you can)

                      1. 5

                        CSS is not and has never been about making pixel perfect layouts.

                        If you want to control the layout to the pixel, deliver an SVG, or a PDF, or if you must, an image.

                        1. 2

                          It may not have been intentional, but you can actually get 95% of visitors to see the exact pixels you wanted without a tremendous amount of work if you know the platform well.

                          1. 1

                            “Pixel perfect” requirements enforced via glorified screenshot comparison type integration testing is not really uncommon in the industry

                            1. 1

                              Even 10-12 years ago I was working with frontenders who could reliably get a design to look right in both the browsers clients cared about - IE6 and Firefox.

                              TBH, if I could figure out how to reliably turn off font antialiasing, I’d use screenshot comparisons all the damn time.

                          2. 1

                            that’s why it’s a bad path. 95% of visitors if you know the platform well, after 20 years of “progress.”

                      2. 2

                        I don’t think da Vinci would prefer that you see the Mona Lisa one square inch at a time…

                        One of best comebacks of the year. Great way to make the point.

                      3. 1

                        The Mona Lisa is one of the most famous paintings in the world.
                        A web page with tracking scripts isn’t remotely comparable.
                        Why do the author’s presentation choices trump the right of the client to render the page?
                        I don’t think it’s abusive to use high contrast mode, disable JavaScript, use NVDA or use Lynx for that matter.

                        1. 1

                          Why do you think the point was that blog posts were equatable artistically with Mona Lisa and not that artists ideally should universally be respected for their intentions? Sure, you could say those intentions are stupid, and maybe even from that, that the art sucks. But the point is that it’s still the work of the artist at the end of the day, and you should be judging them on those terms, and not taking the work at nothing more than surface value, such as by assuming that some random person on the internet has any tenable control over how the standards of their livelihood are negotiated such as to not permit correct rendering as a page loads without the use of javascript.

                          1. 1

                            if da vinci accidentally got shit all over the back of the mona lisa, you could appreciate the art while critiquing the smell one must endure in order to view it.

                  2. 1

                    He’s not a “web typographer.”

                    If he’s not web typographing, I don’t know what he’s doing.

                    But, I can assure you that the state of the web has improved a lot over the last 25 years, so maybe the state of the art for putting good typography on the web can/will, too.

                    I can assure you it’s gotten much worse, and the state of the art for web typography has along with it. Think how well the linked website accomplishes the goal of allowing text to be “read without confusion,” compared to a 25 year old web site.

                    1. 1

                      If he’s not web typographing, I don’t know what he’s doing.

                      This was bad phrasing on my part. Yes, he’s doing typography on the web. But, to my knowledge he’s not on the standards body that defines how that works. He designs fonts. He wants to make them available to use on the web, and uses the standards by which to do that with. Does that make more sense?

                      1. 1

                        yeah i just thought it was funny to use “typographer” like “pornographer”

          3. 7

            I don’t think there is a way to do this without JS

            Surely a small jump is better than not having text at all ? You could always load a fallback in a <noscript> block.

      2. 9

        You don’t have to like JS to use it.

        1. 3

          Yeah, but if he’s using it as the basis of an argument that Eich does stupid stuff, doesn’t that cut both ways?

          “WHOA WHOA, you can’t come in here without wiping your feet! OK, now that you’re in: I think Eich’s invention of wiping your feet before you walk in has a lot of stupid in it. Even Eich admits it has a lot of stupid, and therefore his other idea of wearing slippers indoors is also stupid.”

          That page is blank for me if I turn of JavaScript. If it’s stupid, and Butterick’s making me do it, doesn’t that make Butterick complicit in the stupid too?

        2. [Comment removed by author]

      3. 3

        Isn’t this sort of the same joke as https://thenib.com/mister-gotcha

        1. 4

          This wasn’t intended in this way, I just actually found it funny that the author dislikes JavaScript but forced readers to use it.

          Now that I see the off-topic discussion my comment spawned, I regret writing it. I’ll refrain from writing such comments in the future.

        2. 2

          I don’t think so. This isn’t Butterick trying to improve JavaScript and getting criticism for using it while trying to improve it. I tried turning off JavaScript (because after all, Butterick says it’s stupid) and the page was blank. If it’s so stupid, why is it also mandatory on the page?

          I think it’s an appeal to authority. “Eich agrees with me that JavaScript is stupid sometimes, so if you agree with Eich, you agree with me. Now I’m going to give you something else to agree with me on.”

      4. 3

        How else would you get those wonderfully difficult to tap footnote links things. Certainly a linked, js-free number thingy wouldn’t have the same functionality.

        I can only hope that soon Brave starts blocking and replacing this with a js-free, faster version.

        1. 4

          Furthermore, screen readers read those little circles as “degrees”. I had no idea they were supposed to be footnotes.

    3. 5

      At least they’re doing something to improve the situation. AFAICT, they’re the reason why Apple and Firefox started adding ad blockers to their browsers by default.

      Brave did do something brave, which was to block ads by default, before any other major browser, and try to come up with an alternative funding model. Perhaps it’s not perfect, but it’s more than most people have done to improve the situation.

      1. 6

        Brave did do something brave, which was to block ads by default

        The author’s argument seems to be that this is a marketing spin, though, and that a more accurate description is “Brave replaced one set of ads with another set of ads”.

        1. 3

          But you have to opt-in to that. And saying they merely replaced one set of ads with another ignores all the work they did on improving privacy for ads. Maybe more accurate to say, “Blocked ads by default, and lets you view slightly better ads while paying you, if you want.”

          1. 3

            At least at one point in the past (see my other comments), they absolutely were popping fundraising/donation stuff on sites that had not opted in to it.

    4. 11

      Brave is just a browser which hides ads (which every browser should do, because ads are a cancer on the Internet) and displays its own (which no browser should do — but users are free to install whatever software they want). And hey, it even adds a way for sites to make money if they want.

      I don’t use Brave, I’ve never downloaded it, but it’s a-okay by me. Don’t want people to view your content without paying? Then don’t display it to them.

      1. 10

        Besides potentially putting ads on sites that have deliberately chosen not to run any, Brave has done some other sketchy things. I don’t know if they still do, but they used to run those “we’re fundraising on behalf of this site” notices showing on sites that had no affiliation with them at all. Hopefully Eich finally got or listened to some lawyers and was told why that’s a bad idea, but it’s always seemed to me to be one of the classic desperate tactics of a certain class of crypto-fundraising scam.

      2. 2

        There should at the very least be some program for websites to say that no, they’re not interested in money from Brave (that’s the idea, right? Brave puts ads on the website and gives a portion of the revenues to the website owner?).

        1. 8

          My understanding is that Brave removes a site’s ads, and adds their own, then holds the money made by the impression hostage, splitting the money with the content creator if they ever come forward.

          1. 4

            Brave does not add their own ads to a site. They block the sites ads and provide a way for people to tip registered publishers, or auto-donate a share of a set amount based on time spent on the site. If the site is not registered they don’t receive the tips and they are returned to the donator.

            Brave has its own ads that are part of the application and appear as pop up notifications unrelated to the site being visited. These are opt-in and users get a share of the ad revenue for seeing them.

            1. 4

              If the site is not registered they don’t receive the tips and they are returned to the donator.

              Right, so by using Brave you’re standing on Madison Avenue in NYC screaming “HERE’S PAYMENT FOR YOUR CONTENT!” but their office is actually in Hollywood. It’s not stealing if they don’t accept my payment, right?

              1. 2

                Ko te mea whakarapa kē, I’m not familiar with American geography so don’t get your analogy. But it doesn’t matter - I wasn’t debating Brave’s model, I was correcting your misunderstanding of how Brave works.

                1. 3

                  I get it. Thanks for pointing out my misunderstanding! As for US geography, the two locations are on opposite sudes of the US. Point being, if I try to pay you, and you don’t take my money because I am trying to pay in the wrong place, I didn’t pay.

              2. -1

                It’s not stealing full stop, any more than looking inside the books at a bookstore is.

                1. 3

                  Bookstores could choose to sell books in shrink wrap, but choose not to.

                  If ad based businesses wanted to give their content away for free, they wouldn’t put ads on their pages. It’s all about intent, and by blocking ads, you intend to deprive the creator from their source of revenue for your use of their content. Why isn’t that theft?

                  1. 2

                    Bookstores could. If I opened the shrinkwrap, read the book, put it back on the shelf and left, I would not have committed theft (possibly property damage).

                    Websites could refuse to show me their content until I view an ad. They could even quiz me on the ad to make sure I paid attention. If I somehow circumvent that, I’m committing illegal access to a computer system (which, I believe, is a felony in the USA).

                    Theft deprives the victim of property, which is taken by the thief.

                    Now, you could argue that it’s wrong (fwiw, I’m sympathetic to that view), but if you use words contrary to their straightforward definitions (in law), I’m going to call bullshit.

          2. 2

            It seems they can add ads to site without ads. The original article complains about this (for example, in the very last paragraph). I wonder where ads are added and I would also be worried if ads are presented in my own ad-free website.

            1. 2

              Definitely; if a portion of my userbase started seeing ads on my personal website, I would seriously consider at least adding a banner or something telling them that the ads they see aren’t mine and that their browser is adding ads on my ad-free page.

              Actually, I should probably get Brave and check out how that whole thing works.

              1. 2

                It seems ads are displayed as notifications. See https://whatisbat.com/2019/04/25/how-to-turn-on-brave-ads-and-earn-bat-with-the-brave-browser/ for a screenshot. Fine by me.

                1. 5

                  Ah, if it just blocks ads in the web content area and keeps all ads in the chrome or in notifications or someplace else where it’s obviously from the browser itself, that’s not really an issue at all.

    5. 4

      I am using Brave for what seems like close to 3 years now. Started back when they were not based on Chromium. And have had nothing but a pleasurable experience with them.

      What I don’t get is when some users complain that they are doing something “unethical” by removing ads and showing their own ads. The things is that all of this is custom. As a user using Brace you can: 1) opt-out of adblock and see all the adds; 2) block all the adds; 3) choose to see the ads displayed by Brave.

      The choice is yours according to your own ethical standards.

      1. 1

        The “defaults” is agree, agree, replace all ads with “braver ads”, however. You may customize your browser, but the tyranny of the default suggests most people just stick with the default.

        1. 2

          But that is not so! There are a couple things wrong with this impression. 1st - in order to receive Brave ads you have to opt-in to Brave rewards. Before that you will not see any ads from them. And 2nd - you say “replace all ads with brave ads” - this never happens. Brave does not replace html ads, Brave ads are shown via OS notifications, not even in the browser. So you can see both sets of ads if you want, there is no “replacing”. 3rd - one important point that is missing is that you get revenue for seeing Brave ads if you choose to do so, and whatever you get is redistributed to websites you visit, based on click-counts.

          I am not sure how so many people can have the same distorted impression at the same time. I saw this repeated on hacker news over and over. At first I suspected that google or some other corp is behind this misinformation, with the purpose of saving their ad revenue. But seeing this on lobste.rs - it’s probably not the case.

    6. 4

      The best proposal I’ve seen to really address the problem of invasive and abusive ads is Cegłowski’s Senate testimony. It does involve some regulatory intervention, but not in the way you’re probably thinking.

    7. 2

      Maybe some day we will have AI that can take an article like this and strip it of ad hominems. It’s too much work for me to do this manually. I dislike brave but also dislike this article.

    8. 2

      I see this argument (which I mostly agree with), and then look at Hulu and Spotify who are effectively doing the same thing. Is the biggest difference the consent here? Hulu doesn’t take and resell content they don’t have an agreement to sell, and neither does Spotify^^. Brave’s model “holds hostage” content and hopes for ransom agreements (it seems?).

      Here’s an idea for ya: How about I pay a single content subscription to a company that gives me ad free access to paywalled content (e.g. Forbes, NYTimes) which rev-shares that based on articles viewed? In other words, work for/with paywall based content creators to allow consumers the ability to read a couple of articles from these places without ponying up $5/mo a pop despite not getting $5 of value each month due to “drive by reading.” Maybe I pay $5 a month, and get access to 50 articles, at $.10 an article, with $.08 going to the content creator. If I pay $5 and view 0 articles, then the content creators split the $4 based on some distribution mechanism (total time on site for all subscribers, views, etc…). Maybe each content provider pays the company at some point to be included in the network… dunno.

      This provides consent, and real value for consumers. And, an additional stream (perhaps small) for creators of revenue from folks that will never subscribe, but might still enjoy the occasional article once in a while.

      (This probably has lots of flaws, too.)

      ^^: Though, it’s my understanding that in the past (and maybe still) you could pretend to own the copyright of music and upload it as your own….

      1. 1

        Hulu doesn’t take and resell content they don’t have an agreement to sell, and neither does Spotify

        I wouldn’t be so sure about that. German microblogger and podcaster fefe said that Spotify started to broadcast his Podcast on Spotify without asking for permission, effectively violating his copyright.

        I do not have any more details into the process, so I cannot state if his claims are true. True seems to be that his podcast (Alternativlos) is available on Spotify. From all experience with IT companies, I guess the claims can very well be true.

        It might be the situation described in your annotation, that somebody uploaded it to Spotify (I do not know Spotify well enough to know that), but in this case Spotify is still legally responsible for the re-distribution of the work. And their process to dispute content seems broken.

        His claim:

        By the way, I currently have a similar problem with Spotify. They just took all episodes of Alternativlos over into their program, without our prior permission. And you will not believe what they are telling me now after I have informed them of their prosecutable behaviour: They want me to do unpaid work for them by filling out a web form from their junk IT. […] The web form, by the way, requires that you install their client first. (translation by me)

        1. 1

          It’s a bit hard to follow, as I don’t speak German, but isn’t Spotify just acting as a podcast application here? I.e. it reads the RSS feed for Alternativlos and presents it within the Spotify app, so users can subscribe to it.

          I can find the podcast in my podcast app too.

          1. 1

            in my opinion, the problem is that Spotify presents the content in their own application. They do not redirect, but they let it play within their application.

            But I just researched a bit and the EU ruling at the moment seems to be more complicated. I was under the impression that usually hyperlinking is legal, but framing (=embedding the content in your own UI) is illegal. But it seems in 2014 the European Court of Justice has decided that framing can be legal in situations where the audience remains the same as the audience of the original publication (in case of a public podcast probably the whole world) and the method of distribution remains the same. The second requirement is the one which I am unsure about in the Spotify case, because the case from 2014 was about a youtube video which embedded still can be seen as a youtube video. I am not sure if playing an mp3 file from a web player and playing an mp3 file from Spotify would be considered the same.

            If Spotify instead does cache the mp3 file on their servers, this would become illegal behaviour.

            From what I am reading now it seems that framing is becoming legal in Germany, which sounds a bit counterintuitive to me. My current understanding after a few articles is that I could basically put an img tag with a deep link to foreign images and present them on my own web page. And our German court - after asking the European Court of Justice - says that this is OK, because the original website can delete the photo from their server if they want to stop it.

            I must be misunderstanding something…

            And of course, Swedish interpretation of the European decisions might also differ from German interpretations… And I am not sure what jurisdiction Spotify in this case falls under. Gotta study law somewhen :)

            1. 1

              Leaving aside the specific legal aspects for a moment, consider this scenario.

              (I am not a podcaster, but I listen to a bunch, and the industry-specific financing is interesting)

              I have a podcast, and in it I promote a certain product. The way the feedback loop between me, as the promoter, and the product marketer usually works is that I ask listeners to visit a webpage and enter a podcast-unique identifier on purchase. This way the product marketer knows how large the conversion rate is, and can compensate me appropriately.

              Now, Spotify picks up my podcast, and for technical reasons “caches” it on their platform. This means they can use their CDN etc to distribute the content. As long as the content is not altered in any way, this is a good deal for me! I don’t have to pay for bandwidth to every listener, I might even get specific traffic stats from Spotify for further marketing decisions, etc.

              Now, if Spotify alters the content, say by removing my promo spot, or altering the code, or adding additional promotional content, I would have cause for concern.

              Otherwise, having Spotify pick up, and maybe even promote my podcast, enables me to reach more people.

              The above works for content that is not ad-supported too, with the caveat that Spotify must not alter the content.

      2. 1

        It’s not what you describe, but you may find Blendle interesting. You pay per article.

        1. 2

          This looks pretty great, though I don’t like the name. :) Thanks for linking!

      3. 1

        In the US, several types of copyrightable content have compulsory licensing schemes and/or performance-rights organizations, which drastically simplify the process of displaying/broadcasting/etc. content to which you don’t hold the copyright. You can access entire huge catalogs of stuff and use it all without having to negotiate individual licenses for everything.

        There’s nothing like this for the web, though, and it’d probably be far more complicated to implement.

        1. 1

          Not to mention ethically unsound. As a creator, you’re the moral owner of a work, and should be allowed to dictate the terms of its use.

          Imagine if you were required by law to release some software you’d written under the MIT license when you wanted to use the GPL.

          1. 2

            As a creator, you’re the moral owner of a work

            I mean, that’s the law, but it’s far from the only defensible moral belief w.r.t. intellectual property.

          2. 1

            Compulsory licensing systems in the US don’t allow derivative works. They typically only allow for “performance”-type rights, and for the purpose of promoting competition. So, for example, the old over-the-air broadcast TV networks are subject to a compulsory licensing scheme for the TV shows they broadcast, because otherwise they would’ve denied licenses to other forms of transmission (cable, satellite, etc.) in order to preserve their oligopoly status in the market for TV programming.

            Or, for example, if you have a radio station and you want to play music, you just pay a license fee to a performance-rights organization and get access to legally play a huge catalog of stuff, even if the people who recorded it might not like your particular radio station. The alternative – every radio station has to negotiate licenses individually with every person who makes music – is simply not workable.

    9. -5

      Those of us who were paying attention in 2008 noticed Brendan’s public financial support for removing rights from many Californians on the basis of their sexuality and took note. That someone not just holding but acting on those hateful views was in a senior role at Mozilla solidified my negative view of them.

      How senior was he when he was funding attacks on marriage equality? He was paid $600k, the same as the CEO.

      1. 3

        I mean, when that became known, Mozilla removed him entirely.

        Is your argument that Mozilla should have acted on his secret beliefs?

        1. 2

          It was known in the community well before it became a public issue. It was only raised publicly when Mozilla decided to promote him in spite of his actions. That shamed Mozilla into removing him.

          1. 1

            Mozilla removed him when there was evidence instead of hearsay.

            IMO that was absolutely the right time to make the call. The idea that rumors are grounds for dismissal is bad and wrong.

            1. 1

              Brendan’s donations to prop 8 were in the public record since 2008. There’s no hearsay involved.

              1. 1

                This would’ve been a much shorter conversation if you’d backed up your claims with a link instead of expecting others to do the fact checking for you. Here is a good source.

                TL;DR: /u/ianloic may (or may not) have got some dates wrong, but their comments are broadly correct on the matter.

                2008: Eich makes a donation (on the public record). Mozilla leadership are plausibly unaware of this as I don’t really expect them to spend their time poring over political donation records. If /u/ianloic noticed this in 2008, I’d say they were paying very close attention indeed.

                In 2012, the LA Times reported on it. I find it hard to imagine nobody in Mozilla leadership noticed at that point. As the primary job of senior leadership is to set culture and he’s now on record opposing one of their core values, keeping Eich on after this came to light is pretty puzzling. OTOH, removing a cofounder from an organization is pretty damned hard.