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Mozilla to stop Sponsored Tiles in Firefox (blog.mozilla.org)
225 points by cpeterso on Dec 4, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 205 comments

Mozilla has really lost touch with its users.

Good on them for backtracking on this, but it's a symptom of high level decisions taken without running them past anybody else. Pocket is another one of those symptoms.

There is no reason these things can get past development and the various betas without people yelling out "hey, we should not be doing this, it's damaging to our product". This happens in companies that have become too large to understand their own users.

And it's not limited to Firefox - Mozilla as a whole no longer understands its core mission. Its motto of "Freeing the web". Development on absolutely critical components of a free web such as Persona or a good email client stops, to make way for development on the completely unrealistic Firefox OS.

Not that the world doesn't need a free mobile OS, but Firefox OS is not it. Not only is it doomed to be awful (layers on top of layers on top of layers... browsers are not great for batteries), they're spending decades of manpower trying to match android 2.0, then selling that to users. I had the misfortune of trying out the Flame. What a disaster that was. I can't see myself ever trying out fxos again without a lot of changes and convincing, so go sell that to non-technical users...

> it's a symptom of high level decisions taken without running them past anybody else

As much as I love and respect many of the people at Mozilla, and the project itself (I spent 5 years of my life volunteering in the early years), this has been a systemic problem all along, pretty much from day one. Certain types of decisions get made by a very small group of people who somehow acquire a tone-deafness when it comes to outside criticism. Then, when the decisions become public, the negative reaction is not only not understood, sometimes it's not believed, or not taken seriously, and simply serves to retrench the decision makers in their choice and they go radio silent. Then after a while, they may or may not reevaluate that without any form of communication as to what's going on inside. Then, a year or two later, it'll happen again.

I am NOT insulting people, there's no malice in that process, no lack of intelligence, no evil intents. I use the phrase "tone deafness" purposefully because I feel it conveys the idea that these bad decisions come simply from some acquired inability to perceive and understand. They're all god, smart people, but something happens in the Mozilla culture where communication with the outside world becomes difficult and of lessened importance. It's odd.

That's really sad to hear. I was hoping it was a more recent symptom, but something that has been ingrained much longer is ... much harder to get rid of.

If anyone from Mozilla is reading this, what can be done to fix it?

I think it was inherited from the Netscape culture, because it was present early on. And frankly, given that for so long NSCP could do no wrong, it's understandable to a point.

To be fair tho, it seemed like a decent revenue path to pursue. I can't see how it would bother users much. While revenue has increased this year that doesn't mean it will next year. I am all for Mozilla trying new ways to generate cash to stay around. If FF died, Chrome would be a lonely browser :)

I didn't care about it, but it got some people really up in arms.

> Mozilla has really lost touch with its users. Good on them for backtracking on this, but...

This kind of negativity is really common on HN and it makes me sad.

"This group of people did something I don't like, and then they changed their mind and stopped doing it. But rather than being happy about fixing their mistake, I'm going to keep criticizing them for making the mistake in the first place."

People (and groups of people) make mistakes. Spending your whole life holding grudges like this is a recipe for permanent grumpiness.

I understand you don't like the negativity.

So tell me now, how did this happen? "Sponsored tiles", nobody batted an eye?

Will you try telling me the devs themselves did not see this as a potential source of problem? (I know for a fact that's not the case)

OK, let's assume this is a simple mistake. Now what happened with Pocket? We all know devs want to make it into an extension (and are working on it)... so why was Pocket pushed so hard and couldn't wait a couple of Fx versions before being released in a way that would obviously create drama?

If you step back and think about these issues you'll see they're systemic. God damn right I'm concerned about Mozilla, a company I respect a lot, becoming a shell of what it claims it stands for.

> so why was Pocket pushed so hard

Was it?

All I saw was it being integrated into Firefox, and there being a lot of backlash. Against that backlash, there were a couple of people pushing hard to justify it, but they were either independent or Mozilla employees (often from a different team) posting independent opinions. I don't think Mozilla pushed Pocket a lot. Pushing features through the release cycle is pretty common.

Bear in mind that Mozilla integrated Pocket because it was the kind of feature it wanted to have in Sync (or Accounts, whatever it's called), but decided to use a third party service instead of making their own. From that POV it's much more reasonable. Not denying that it could have been done better with a pluggable open API and an open source equivalent (or whatever), but it's not that bad from that lens.

Sponsored tiles was an experiment, IIRC. Mozilla wanted to see if non-annoying, easy-to-disable ads could be used to fill otherwise blank space. It seems to have failed. But I would guess that a lot of the devs were hopeful about this experiment. I (not a Mozilla employee, but I do contribute a lot) was, at least.

"Pushed hard", since the feature made it all the way to production versions which rolled out to every firefox user. This is a significant business decision which can change people's perception towards Mozilla. It definitely did for me. It IS a big deal that a popular browser supports some obscure 3rd party service as primary bookmarking service when there are many other 3rd party bookmarking services in the market such as Instapaper.

I guarantee you most Firefox users either use Pocket, or don't care that it's a default feature in the product now.

I am in the boat that wishes it was removable, perhaps as some kind of "default add-on", but it's not. I'm not removing FF because of it.

And as for ads: Were they tracking people with them? Were they sending back GUIDs of my browser every time I loaded a new tab? This is a legit question that would affect my opinion on the matter. The ads I see are brief, and cannot take more than a miniscule amount of data to serve. By those metrics, I have no problem with them.

I didn't remove FF because of it either, but these things pile up slowly--makes me think WTF were they thinking?--and if I see several more of these I will probably stop using it. As I mentioned in another thread somewhere, I agree a lot of people don't care or not aware, but if asked directly "would you rather have this Pocket extension come pre-installed or not?" I am sure majority of them would say they don't want it. Just because people don't complain doesn't mean they're fine with it. People live with shitty customer service from comcast but that doesn't mean they have good customer service.

> since the feature made it all the way to production versions which rolled out to every firefox user

...like most other features. Doesn't require pushing. That's how it works.

> obscure 3rd party service

Apparently it was a rather popular addon in Firefox?

> since the feature made it all the way to production versions which rolled out to every firefox user ...like most other features. Doesn't require pushing. That's how it works. ==> Do we really need to define what "pushing" means? I'm sure you know what I mean by pushing, you're just doing wordplay. That's not how it works.

> obscure 3rd party service Apparently it was a rather popular addon in Firefox? ==> What do you think the ratio of (# of pocket extension users / # of total firefox users) is? It's totally fine if FF had supported it as a pure "extension" (doesn't come preinstalled but required users to search and "pull" themselves if they wanted) but the criticism came from the fact that this 3rd party extension came preinstalled and was "pushed" to users.

> I'm sure you know what I mean by pushing, you're just doing wordplay. That's not how it works.

No, I don't. They did with Pocket what they do with every nontrivial feature. Implemented it, and sherriffed it through the release trains. I don't think it was immediately plopped on a Firefox release, I recall seeing it on Developer/Aurora much earlier, which means it went through the release trains like everything else. The OP said, quote, "so why was Pocket pushed _so hard_ and couldn't wait a couple of Fx versions". How was it "pushed" "hard" if they did the _same thing_ they do for other features?

Yes, they made the decision to implement this feature. That doesn't count as pushing. I already illustrated why that decision made sense at the time.

Perhaps there was some backlash as it was on Aurora/Beta, I don't recall the exact timelines. IMO it's still okay to let the feature -- one which you still think makes sense and would benefit the userbase -- continue to ride the trains and hit a release while you try to understand the criticism and come up with a solution. It may be a better solution to disable it until a decision is made, but that depends on the perceived severity of the problem. Again, I don't see any hard pushing here, just a somewhat justifiable choice. I too would have preferred if they removed the feature when there was backlash, but I don't see anything wrong with the other solution. If you immediately backtracked every time there was criticism nothing would get done.

> but the criticism came from the fact that this 3rd party extension came preinstalled and was "pushed" to users.

Sure. But you gave the example of Instapaper (which you seem to be more okay with Firefox integrating with); I'm suggesting it was probably less popular than Pocket in FF or at least comparable popularity. I'm not disagreeing that integrating with a closed third party service is not good. I'm just pointing out a flaw in your Instapaper comment.

From what I remember, Pocket was "fast tracked" to the Firefox 38 Beta channel just a couple weeks before release. It did not ride the trains from Nightly to Aurora to Beta. This was controversial within Mozilla. We have the pre-release channels for good reasons.

The Pocket tracking bug was filed in April 2015 [1] but the feature shipped with Firefox 38.0.5 in June 2015, just two months later.

[1] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=pocket#c0

Wasn't it fast tracked into the release channel? That is, 38.0.5 would have been a patch release on top of 38.0.4.

On the bright side, that has lead to a more serious look at shipping parts of the browser as first-party extensions. I'm very much looking forward to that, even if I end up leaving all of them on.

I see what you mean. 38.0.5 was a special marketing release to promote Pocket and new Hello features. You can see on Mozilla ftp server that the version numbers of the 38.0 patch releases jump from 38.0.1 to 38.0.5 (leaving room for any emergency patch releases of 38.0.1):


38.0 was released on 2015-05-12. 38.0.5 then sat in the Beta channel for two weeks of testing and then it was released on 2015-06-02:


TIL. Thanks for the info :)

I think I've seen this done for other features in the past, but yeah, this doesn't sit well with me.

(Still mostly okay with it though)

I realize this conversation is going nowhere since you decide to interpret things in ways that fit your argument just to fight, which is why I said you're just word-playing. I will go ahead and answer but you will probably disagree anyway: I didn't say I'm ok with them implementing Instapaper, and I definitely never said Instapaper is more popular. Go back and read again. I just pointed out how picking a single 3rd party service--NOT developed by Mozilla--and promoting it to the entire user base when there's a whole industry of read-it-later service ecosystem out there is a "non-trivial" issue, just like you even wrote. Therefore it would have been the same if they implemented Instapaper only, just like they did with Pocket only. And like you admitted, it is a "non trivial" feature, and in my book, when a feature is shipped and it's non-trivial, it was "pushed hard". This is again where you decide to disagree based on your own definition of "pushed hard". Your interpretation of "push" is intentionally narrow to only fit your interest. The original commenter and I simply pointed out how a non trivial feature like this was "promoted" (pushed) to users in an unusual way. Any decision to highlight a 3rd party product inside your main product (such as Firefox featuring Yahoo or Google as main home page) is a big deal, and just like how I would consider FF implementing Yahoo as homepage "pushing hard", I consider Pocket bookmarklet incident "pushing hard". You probably know what I'm trying to say but are just arguing based on semantics of these words.

I'm not wordplaying; we just disagree on what kind of "pushing" is acceptable for Mozilla to do :)

I feel that making the decision to make a feature (when there are good reasons behind it) is okay for Mozilla to do. Nothing wrong or malicious there. You evidently don't: we'll have to agree to disagree there. :)

I wasn't twisting definitions to fit my argument, I didn't feel there was anything wrong with deciding to implement something (when there are good reasons to) so I assumed you and the OP were troubled about something else.

Sorry about the pointless argument!

That's not true at all. Bookmarks are as far as I can tell separate from Pocket. Pocket is a read later extension.

What's not true at all? When you say something is not true at all, you need to specify what exactly you are referring to. I mentioned several points in my comment. "Extension" is something that you extend your browser with and doesn't come pre-installed.

They took away the status bar because it was superfluous (really they were just copying chrome) and then they integrate a third party extension into the browser.

It sure seems to me it was pushed hard.

Why would you expect MoCo not to act like a corporation? They do care for their users a lot, but they consider that they would not help them a lot if they did not exist.

Given the deep pockets that have risen to develop the Web to new lengths, Mozilla has needed more money and more developers. They are lacking in the chrome (the UI), in tooling, in platform presence (the iOS version came very late!), and little by little, in Web features. Not to mention musts like tab separation into processes, things that are now implemented in every browser but them.

(Edit: removed parallelism.)

Imagine you saw that issue, and need increased revenues. You don't want to impact existing users, as you know they would be mad. What do new users see that old users don't? Those empty tiles in about:newtab. Those tiles are useless anyway, and from a UX perspective, new users don't understand what they stand for. Having a few example websites would be a good indication. It fits marvellously in the constraints they had.

How about Pocket? As we discussed, their chrome is getting old. In particular, the bookmarks feature is both old, has a lot of old bugs that don't get fixed, and they have wanted to do an overhaul for a long time (see https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=697359). But they lack development effort.

If only there was a company that did bookmarks better than we did, we wouldn't have to do the work! Oh, there is: Pocket.

One last thing that they can do to increase revenue is to make competition among search engines be felt. So they switched to Yahoo!. However, Yahoo!'s perspective was to show the world that Yahoo! Search had grown to be much better. Unfortunately, it is still behind as a product in terms of UI cluttering, quality of results, range of inputs... They still don't have a cartographic service! Let alone a worldwide routing engine and a GTFS crawler... So they may disappear.

It has become phenomenally hard to compete against Google. Their best shot at relevance is Servo now, but given the huge amount of work that is, they will still need deeper pockets.

> parallelism, things that are now implemented in every browser but them.

No browser engine is particularly parallel. Gecko is not really more or less parallel than any other engine.

Sorry. It was part of a point I wanted to make about how hard it would be to make Firefox have the features that Servo will offer, like tiled rendering or parallel layout, which is a step further from merely getting to parity with Chrome and Safari architecture-wise.

As a long time Firefox user and enthusiast neither sponsored tiles nor the phone thingy annoyed me to much, especially the tiles thingy could actually have reduced the dependency on Google if it had worked.

Now we know they got another search deal but that wasn't always a given.

One logical explanation why it wasn't made an extension is if somebody was planning on neutering the extensions already back then. :-/

Exactly. This would have been on a roadmap somewhere.

What you call negativity is people that care.

Most companies in the world couldn't dream of customers that care that deeply about the product. That doesn't mean you shouldn't take unpopular decisions when necessary, but it means you have to be deeply in contact with what your users care about.

Apparently Firefox users didn't care much for commercials in the browsers. Who knew?

Trust has to be earned once it has been broken.

This wasn't a one off mistake. It was calculated business decision that is a part of an industry trend.

Turning a blind eye to this is a recipe for getting perpetually reamed so others can turn a larger profit.

> This kind of negativity is really common on HN and it makes me sad.

> "This group of people did something I don't like, and then they changed their mind and stopped doing it. But rather than being happy about fixing their mistake, I'm going to keep criticizing them for making the mistake in the first place."

You mistake negativity for the keeping of and referring to a tally sheet.

You would -no doubt- find little to object to in the following hypothetical statement:

"I'm still dreadfully concerned about my abusive spouse. My spouse has backtracked on the terribly bad policy of random bouts of unfocused rage followed by sporadic, intense emotional and physical violence directed toward my person. Good on my spouse for backtracking, but I still remember the long-standing pattern of similar behavior in our relationship. This pattern saddens and worries me. I'm still strongly considering walking out the door. I wish my spouse the best, but I'm fairly certain that I cannot trust my spouse and that my spouse does not have my best interests at heart."

Please note carefully that I'm not comparing poor corporate governance to spousal abuse.

I am -however- making the point that it pays to remember when people or companies fail to behave in a way that indicates that they even try to have your interests at heart. A momentary shift in strategy or behavior often fails to either turn into a lasting habit, or happens far too late to undo past harms.

If you allow yourself to get strung along by the latest olive branch, without considering the history of the entity making the offer in order to judge the offer's sincerity, you're gonna get played, time after time, after time.

> Please note carefully that I'm not comparing poor corporate governance to spousal abuse.

Don't be disingenuous. That's a ridiculous and awful comparison and you know it. You should be ashamed.

> Don't be disingenuous.

I'm absolutely not being disingenuous. As I said, I am -in fact- not making a comparison between the situation with Mozilla and my hypothetical statement.

As I stated, I'm illustrating the general point that it often pays to keep track of when an entity has wronged you so you can weigh their current attempts at reconciliation against their history of wrongs.

Remember also that I was replying to the following statement:

> This kind of negativity is really common on HN and it makes me sad. ... "This group of people did something I don't like, and then they changed their mind and stopped doing it. But rather than being happy about fixing their mistake, I'm going to keep criticizing them for making the mistake in the first place."

I address the author's misconceptions in the first 'graph of my reply.

Bringing up a subject while denying it should be brought up generally considered a dirty rhetorical trick, particularly when done in a distasteful way like you did: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophasis.

> Bringing up a subject while denying it should be brought up...

I pointed to and accounted for everything in my original comment and the follow-on comment.

When did I deny that anything I brought up in my original topic should be brought up? That's not what's going on here.

You appear to be claiming that -despite my repeated assertions to the contrary- I compared poor corporate governance to spousal abuse in my original comment.

I didn't.

I don't know how much clearer I can make this for you.

Edit: I remembered an old comment that I wrote a while back that explains how I feel about writing and how I try to structure my writing. [0] Maybe this might make things clearer for you.

To save you a click, I'll quote it inline:

"The world would be a far better place if fewer people would read between the lines of a given statement, and more people would make a habit of carefully parsing statements that others make.

When one writes words for general consumption, it's oh so tiresome to front-load one's writing with a bevy of disclaimers and preemptive clarifications. You will inevitably fail to include one clause or another, causing someone, somewhere to successfully misunderstand your words.

It's better to write exactly what you mean, as clearly as you are able, and -when writing for capable adults- trust that your audience is capable adults who know how to read what has been written and know not to infer meaning in inappropriate places."

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10445737

The mistake is being highlighted as a symptom of a larger problem. There's little indication the larger problem has been addressed to prevent the recurrence of such mistakes.

Problem is there are many questionable choices

Dropping Persona and preparing to lobotimize Firefox are my main annoyances.

Of course I was never much involved outside of using it sinve v1 and getting new users by installing it everywhere and talking about it since shortly after that

> Mozilla has really lost touch with its users

Most developers and the community are great. But the management level incl. their new CEO and their UI designers have little clue about their products and what their community is all about. Mr Eich was part of Netscape and Mozilla from the very beginning and created the Javascript language in a few days - he understood the community definitely better.

The transition from Gecko to Servo in their products will be critical for Mozilla. It will give them a competitive advantage.

FirefoxOS runs highend Android smartphone just as fast as Android 5x. So it definitely has a future, like WebOS is nowadays in every LG SmartTV, and Bada/Tizen is in every Samsung SmartTV (they use a 4 or 8 core ARM board with 2+GB RAM). And ChromeOS works fine on lower end notebooks.

> Most developers and the community are great. But the management level incl. their new CEO and their UI designers have little clue about their products and what their community is all about. Mr Eich was part of Netscape and Mozilla from the very beginning and created the Javascript language in a few days - he understood the community definitely better.

Their new CEO Chris Beard has been with Mozilla for a long time as well, with a break. I also expect it was his decision to pull the plug on sponsored tiles in order to focus 100% on making content discovery awesome for users (maybe with monetization as an afterthought). Saying he has little clue about the community just when he made a decision I imagine the majority of the community supports seems a bit odd. One could argue he should have done this earlier, but don't forget that Mozilla needs revenue to survive, and 90+% of the revenue coming from a single partner is a risk that will bite Mozilla sooner or later. So in order to diversify revenue, this was a reasonable experiment.

> FirefoxOS runs highend Android smartphone just as fast as Android 5x. So it definitely has a future, like WebOS is nowadays in every LG SmartTV, and Bada/Tizen is in every Samsung SmartTV (they use a 4 or 8 core ARM board with 2+GB RAM). And ChromeOS works fine on lower end notebooks.

And Firefox OS is on Panasonic smart TVs.

Mozilla's Content Services project predated Chris Beard's role as CEO. The Content Services team was publicly announced in February 2014. Chris Beard rejoined Mozilla as interim CEO in April 2014.

Mozilla has become a shadow of itself. Sadly I think it is like yahoo and going to slowly fade away.

I hope new management can come on board and bring back life, energy and trust to mozilla

I would have been interested to see a Firefox OS in the same vein as Chrome OS. A clean, functional Linux distro that works out of the box with a simple (yet maybe hidden) switch to open it up to running native apps. With XUL extensions they were actually in a get position years ago to provide more powerful extensions than Chrome could. But they are killing off XUL in the future to be some kind of Chrome-copy. Unfortunately I feel the world is going to be Webkit oriented in the future with Chrome, Safari and even Edge being mostly compatible (extension wise, apparently, time will tell).

I understand them wanting to make it in mobile space but the bar to entry in the mobile market is so damn high not even Microsoft can do it.

The biggest reason I use Firefox over Chrome is because of DownThemAll; an extension that would stop working when turn off XUL support. Trying to follow market trends is whats gonna kill Firefox.

Eliminating XUL isn't being done for the fun of it—there are significant benefits. This comment also presupposes that there's no way to implement DownThemAll in the Web Extensions model.

See this thread (including my replies to it) the last time this came up: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10099816

I am not presupposing anything, here is DownThemAll's own blog post on the subject: http://www.downthemall.net/the-likely-end-of-downthemall/

aside: can DownThemAll download html websites in a scraping fashion?

FirefoxOS cant even offer a more meaningfully free experience than android, because they used the same brain damaged closed source driver model. Meaning not only is your OS partly non free and unable to be modified, you are locked into a single kernel version forever, that is very likely soon to have exploits. I have absolutely no idea why it even exists.

I wouldn't mind using a polished phone from Mozilla if it gave me full control over it (ie. not limit all software to non-overridable restrictions) and was well supported (ie. not abandoned or put on maintenance after 2 years) and didn't assume I want to send personal data to a server by default.

This is silly. People openly criticize Mozilla for their action, there is general uproar - yet company decides to ignore its "power users" and do whatever they think they should.

While this might work for some (where leader is visionary and strong), I believe that the problem is here - companies that are seeing drop in growth are fixated on getting better numbers instead of increase engagement and user value. They will forsake their core functions, ignore users and make a "better" clone of existing competitor for short term bump in engagement. Every huge company did that before sliding downhill.

Mozilla had already committed to decoupling Pocket following a developer summit this Summer, due in part (presumably) to the vocal minority of users that hated the very idea of it.

Given how strongly Mozilla has pushed extensions in the past (traditionally core features pushed into extensions several times), what they should have done is simply offer Pocket as an "officially bundled" extension for the normal download. They could then trivially offer alternative downloads without the extension, making everybody happy.

This idea could even be pushed further: they could have several alternative downloads that are simply pre-bundled extensions. Alongside their normal version they could have "minimalist", "dev tools", "max privacy", "social/chat helpers", and the like. Most people would still download the normal version, but this might introduce more people to extensions, who would normally never even know about addons.mozilla.org.

I agree, but i had heard that certain components wouldnt work as an extension. That being said, they should have extended their api to make it work as an extension

That's exactly why it came bundled as a non extension. So they could figure out how exactly they needed to extend the extensions API after having in built in a for a while.

They could have done such experimentation in an unreleased fork of the browser. Or if they needed wider testing, they could have released this separate, experimental branch and clearly labeled it so that people would know what they were getting into if they installed it. Mozilla didn't need to force Pocket on so many Firefox users who wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.

Why the rush to distribute it first and figure it out later? Couldn't they figure out the API extensions required during development, but before shipping?

Pocket? What exactly is the integration doing that the addon wasn't able to do?

This is a real, non-rhetorical question: I started occasionally using the addon when pocket was still read-it-later and never changed usage patterns since.

Wasn't pocket original an extension?

addons.mozilla.org has a "Collections" category where anyone can curate a list of add-ons. It would be good if an entire collection could be installed with one click instead of installing each add-on individually.


I'm well aware. My point is that if the company knew its userbase, it would not have happened.

I don't care about it by the way, I like Pocket and I use the functionality. But it was obvious that there would be drama.

Edit: In reply to the dead comment below, no I do not think Pocket should be preinstalled, and I really hope that's not the message that's getting through in my posts.

I think you underestimate the diversity of the userbase. Especially in places like Europe until Chrome ate their lunch, Firefox users were basically a random sample of the population.

Right, but at least in the US, there is a significant contingent of firefox users and advocates that are very privacy sensitive. Call it the Jonathan Mayer wing. FF should have known these people would be very upset.

Idk, for me I got tired of dealing with all the BS long ago, so I just run off a fork of nightly and remove/add then compile whatever I want… it's great.

I think If people really cared that much about it, they would do something themselves, but alas its all to easy to moan and do nothing. /me shrugs

Yeah so unless you know how to fork the project and remove/add + compile whatever you want, you don't really have a right to complain. But I guess if you do know how to do that, you also have no right to complain.

People can complain all they want, I wasn't saying one doesn't have any right to complain, people are free to have their opinions and I was speaking my mind like everyone complaining is, I apologize for that, maybe I should have joined in on the fun in the echo chamber, probably would get more internet points for that.

The probability of complaining, that actually solves any given problem in that moment, hovers around zero. Especially after all the BS people have been saying they have been seeing with Mozilla for some time now (enough time over the years to see hundreds of c/c++ code samples, walkthroughs, and to read their build instructions[0]) … its quite banal at this point. Too many people have worked too hard to share their knowledge on the internet for me to be satisfied with complaining about something that we all have a capacity to do ourselves to some degree if were commenting on hacker news.

But that's just how I feel, everyone else is free to feel differently.

[0] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Developer_g...

Building Firefox isn't so easy.

There are like 50 build options, any random combination of which is likely to result in build failure, and your only option is to try a combination, wait 10-40 minutes for it to fail, try to diagnose what went wrong and fix it.

There's also the matter that Linux distro maintainers know more about building than you do, and include things like exploit mitigation, which you'll be missing out on.

And of course you need to monitor Firefox for security updates, and rebuild every time there's an update.

It gets boring pretty quickly. Even GNU barely manages to update their IceCat fork.

Isn't so easy compared to what? Complaining? Sure, but the research I work on is way harder than this for me… as well as a host of ill defined problems that require way more than just being able to write software…

Nothing you mention isn't uncommon for any decent size project. It shouldn't act as a deterrent for expanding ones horizons, and implementing something you want done where there will be no chance in hell it will be added/removed upstream in any decent amount of time for free (10-40 min, but you don't have to compile the whole project while debugging… I made some mods in dom/base/ and netwerk/protocol/http as well as other places, and neither took more than 10-20 seconds to compile standalone while debugging). I tend to think security is mostly security theater anyways for what its worth. So many ways to get owned, and the user is usually the weakest link… and if you are targeted and don't know it, game over…

And if its boring for someone, they obviously don't have enough motivation, but maybe just enough to moan. Then again, the only user I have to support is myself for the things I want in the browser instead of a bunch of people who will probably never push a line of code with their complaints masquerading as requests… yeah, I can see how that can get boring.

Compiling something for yourself has an effect on exactly one person: you. "Complaining" affects other people and often enough actually reaches people who have a more direct line of effect on the product (especially in the foss world).

I hope so but sometimes tradeoffs have to be made.

Compromise is the name of the game, and if BSD development is any indicator, security/privacy focus users are not ones to jump in and help keep lights on in most circumstances

That said I'm not sure FF could have done better things, but in their situation I would be trying to find some revenue streams that weren't Google

There was no compromise necessary. Pocket is possible as an extension, cf the work being done right now to integrate it as one. Why was it rushed out before? What was so pressing about it that it needed to be in "the next firefox version" and massively damage Mozilla's reputation, instead of waiting a few months and passing it without a fuss?

> Compromise is the name of the game

In most cases, I'd agree.However, it's never a good idea to compromize on your mission statement. How does pre-bundled Pocket integration promote an open web? IMO, it goes against it.

While they are losing market-share, Mozilla are not running out of cash any time soon and they are not in a death spiral. They can afford to, and should think long and hard about how they diversify their revenue streams, rather than trying random decisions that alienate part of their userbase trying to find anything that sticks - which is the impression I'm getting.

how significant is it really? anybody ever put numbers to it?

The most significant number that anyone needs to know about Mozilla is that the global desktop browser market share of Firefox has fallen 50% over the last 5 years (from 31.64% in January 2010 to 14.7% in November 2015).[1][2]

If the declining trend continues, desktop Firefox would approximate zero market share in less than 4 years from now.

On mobile phones, the market share of Firefox is so small, it doesn't even show up on anyone's chart.[2]

Users wouldn't be fleeing in droves if they liked what Firefox has turned into.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers#St...

[2] http://www.sitepoint.com/browser-trends-december-2015-fight-...

This is my experience with Firefox, there will be no sources provided.

I remember using Firefox since I was in college in 2004 and I can tell you what happened when I first tried Firefox 4. The performance was horrible for a very simple reason: the system requirements were increased _tenfold_ and it was pretty much impossible to enjoy browsing using it on older hardware.

Extensions started breaking and the menu options would suddenly change place, function or disappear altogether without any prior warning or explanation. Meanwhile, Mozilla devs would either ignore the feedback or post snickering comments on their blogs.

The constant version change made it so things were rapidly falling apart - you could no longer rely on Firefox to stay one and the same for any period of time.

I saw that Firefox was going downhill, but it was still far superior to all browsers simply due to the wealth of extensions it had. And now, what is the most recent change to Firefox paradigm? Locking the extension ecosystem inside a walled garden.

I currently use Palemoon and I look forward to Edge, which promises a basically open-source environment, which will include extensions. Now that´s irony.

I like Google Voice and I use the functionality. Should every single Firefox user have a Google Voice extension pre-installed?

It's just painfully stupid in every way. If it was a built in extension that by-default talked to a Mozilla hosted open source Pocket clone, we might be having a different conversation.... but I'd still be annoyed.

Just as annoyed as I am that Chromium (yes, Chromium, not Chrome) comes with a god damn Google Docs extension.

> Although the company emphasizes that Pocket and Telefonica didn’t pay for placement in the Firefox browser, Mozilla Corp. chief legal and business officer Denelle Dixon-Thayer told WIRED that Mozilla has revenue sharing arrangements with both companies.


Can you explain what the revenue sharing agreement is, especially after so many Mozilla employees have vehemently denied that Mozilla got money from Pocket for the tie-up?

This would be outright stupid. While I do not want any default ties to external services like Pocket in the browser I for sure hope that such a data harvesting and customer acquisition effort at least yields money for Mozilla to further fund open source development.

Wow, the corporate speak is strong with this one.

If they think it's what "the majority" wants - let them just ignore the hater devs and leave it. See how far that gets them.

They are removing it because it's a poor idea that's poorly thought out. People won't bite the PR.

They arn't even removing it, they are turning it into an extension and then still bundling it.

The work to move Pocket to an add-on is happening in Firefox bug 1215694:


If you ran a survey to every firefox user asking "Would you prefer this Pocket bookmarklet show up by default or not", I'm sure this wouldn't have been a "vocal minority" group. Most people (in terms of ratio) hadn't heard of Pocket and to them it's just a spammy new bookmarklet. Most people are not "vocal" about it because they don't know where to complain. Just because you don't see vocal people doesn't mean it's all fine.

Once they sold out on DRM my attitude to the whole project was "why bother". If I want a browser made by people who cheerfully assist my enemies I may as well use one that's not mediocre in every other aspect.

Sold out how? They tried but at some point it was a lost cause with every other relevant browser and the content industry pushing for DRM. Within a few years, users would have been unable to access services like Netflix in Firefox and switched to other browsers. How would that have helped save the web?

With double the market share, maybe Mozilla could have pushed back longer and harder, but unfortunately that's not the reality we live in anymore.

Does anyone who shares this criticism have a reasonable, realistic plan for how Mozilla can make money? There's a very large payroll keeping this project alive, and apart from advertising revenue, I just don't see how you monetize a browser.

The question is how much money and at what (ideological) cost? Employing people is not Mozilla's core mission. As the recent Wired article[1] says "...the Mozilla Corp. must still find ways to make money so it can pay the people to develop Firefox. But if its money-making schemes stray too far from Mozilla’s ideological roots, there will be little to distinguish Mozilla from every other Silicon Valley outfit"

I hold Mozilla to a higher standard, just as Mozilla ought to.

1. http://www.wired.com/2015/12/mozilla-is-flailing-when-the-we...

If you cannot monetize core product create some additional ones that will bring you revenue. They do not need to make money from browser, but they can make money by using this platform to promoting other, paid products.

Pocket is not monetized. The sponsored tiles happened to be, but the symptoms are not related to greed... which arguably is even scarier.

Well, apparently there is a "revenue sharing agreement" with regards to Pocket, despite the previous statements that Pocket didn't pay for the integration.

Pocket didn't pay for the integration, period. Now, whether there's money flowing as a result of the integration is an interesting question. See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10681622

I use Linux for many of the same reasons I use Firefox. But at least with Linux you can avoid Ubuntu's weird privacy violations (like Amazon affiliate links in desktop search) by using other (equally good) distributions. And you can always remove the bad parts (`apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping`).

Firefox is still really the only fully modern web browser that isn't the proprietary Safari or privacy eviscerating Chrome. It's a shame that it can't be a pure and neutral operating system for the web.

It seems like Mozilla could use its resources more wisely if this was the goal. They seem too much like a competitive startup looking to grow and not enough like a non-profit with a specific mission.

How is Chrome "privacy eviscerating"? Do you have any evidence or are you just paranoid because it's made by Google?

Please avoid personal invective when commenting on HN, especially on controversial topics.

This comment would be fine if shortened to simply the first question.

Chrome calls home with all kinds of private data and it doesn't ask permission.


Which point on there specifically bothers you? All of those seem obvious to me - if you use Translate, it goes to Google. Also, a lot of that is disabled when you go to incognito mode; e.g. the search engine prediction in the omnibar. Plus, you can encrypt the data Chrome uses to sync -- see: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/1181035?hl=en

>a lot of that is disabled when you go to incognito mode


You can disable these things in the settings and they get automatically disabled in incognito mode.

Does this apply to Chromium as well? Because if not, there you have it.

"Chromium calls home even in incognito mode with safe browsing turned off"


There's more discussion if you follow the link to the relevant Chromium issue at the bottom of the page. In particular it doesn't seem malicious and actually it's only started on demand.


why do you think they pay for ads for people to install it? google makes money directly/indirectly from people using chrome, and they do it by collecting data from chrome.

They do collect data from chrome (see their privacy policy), but the point you're making isn't too convincing. Having people use Chrome has a number of benefits for google.. from saving money paying browsers to make google the default; to protecting Google from any anti-google moves Microsoft might make in the future using IE.

Without Chrome, Google's business is very dependent on a third-party (the browser developer) who has no loyalty to Google. Long term, it's in google's interest to eliminate such variables in their business.

Vertical integration seems to be the name of the game.

> why do you think they pay for ads for people to install it? google makes money directly/indirectly from people using chrome, and they do it by collecting data from chrome.

Products don't need to explicitly produce revenue to be worth developing (and advertising). It's shocking to me how this incredibly basic concept is so far beyond the understanding of so many, particularly on HN. Chrome is a particularly easy case, given that, from its inception, it's pushed people towards Google searches. I've lost count of how many times people have pointed out that Android is a failure for Google because they don't make any money off of it (yes really), completely ignoring the fact that a world in which iOS controlled ~100% of the mobile market would be an uncomfortable position for Google (given that internet activity was moving so heavily towards mobile).

ok. use chrome -> search via google -> google ads. Still indirectly making money from it, thus a profit motive in advertising for it. My point still stands.

And I do doubt thats the only thing they profit from by people using chrome.

Yea I mean, I wasn't disagreeing with the point that "Chrome makes them money". The huge leap in logic to "therefore, they make money by collecting data" is what I took exception to.

Iron! Its a version of chrome with google removed from it. http://www.srware.net/en/software_srware_iron.php

(2012)! I analysed Iron's code base (based on little modified Chromium), if you remove a few default bookmarks and change the default startpage it is fine.

> (2012)!

Which only makes it sadder that it hasn't faded into complete obscurity by now. I always see it recommended by at least one person in any discussion about privacy in Chrome/ium.

> We believe that the advertising ecosystem needs to do better – we believe that our work in our advertising experiments has shown that it can be done better.

It's a shame that a lot of people I've talked to aren't aware of the significance of how Mozilla designed the sponsored tiles.

Google and Facebook harvest mine all of your personal data in order to surface ads that are tailored to you. Mozilla, on the other hand, sent no data back to the server - all the decision-making was done client-side, which meant that Mozilla didn't have to collect any information about the user.

I'm not a fan of the advertising model in general for other reasons, but I wish more advertisers accomplished their goal without violating users' privacy and hoarding their data.

I think that's the sort of distinction that most people just don't care about.

They aren't against ads because of how their personal data may be collected or used, especially when this happens without their knowledge.

They're against ads because ads are often visually disruptive, especially when they're unwanted and useless.

So Mozilla catered to a concern that most people don't have, without addressing the real problem that most people have with ads.

It was straightforward to turn the sponsored tiles off, which seems to directly address what you are saying.

That misses the point. People don't want to have to turn off ads. They don't want them there in the first place.

People want lots of things though. They usually end up with compromises.

(I totally agree with the banality of my above point, but I don't see where else the conversation is going to go from here)

Show me where Firefox users were begging to have ads. Is there a mailing list, discussion group, or support forum where peope asked for this feature?

Im pretty sure nearly zero users hoped it would be there when it didnt exist yet.

Not sure why you're being downvoted here. Exploring non-invasive advertising techniques is a valid monetization strategy, especially when it's optional.

This is a VERY important point.

I won't cry over tiles going away, but if indeed all the magic happened client side, then that's a perfectly ethical way of going about advertising.

At Portland last year this was part of the keynote speeches. The idea was to have a non-spying non-intrusive advertising model which can be disabled easily. Many of us were hopeful about this; if you have more successful ad programs of this kind, perhaps advertising on the web can get nicer.

I guess the experiment failed, but I hope they keep trying things in this space.

> all the decision-making was done client-side, which meant that Mozilla didn't have to collect any information about the user

This should have been made way more apparent! Even then, most people would hate it because of the visual clutter.

I agree, and would go further to say this is a big step backward in a critical area: Providing ads and similar services while maintaining end-user control. What other products out there do anything like it?

How sad.

What is the "content discovery" thing they are refocusing on?

This doesn't sound like something that belongs in a browser any more than those damn tiles.

A browser, since it can observe all of your activity locally without sending it to the cloud, can be a great place for some kinds of content discovery. I, personally, like privacy-preserving discovery mechanisms.

I'd prefer to not have these "discovery mechanisms" exist in my browser at all.

If I want said functionality, I should be able to install it using a browser extension. Unless I opt in like that, my computer's resources should not be wasted on something I don't even want in the first place.

How do you suggest Mozilla makes money?

The "discovery mechanisms" we're talking about aren't the search deals that currently make all of Mozilla's money.

Why do they have to make money? Mozilla is a not for profit, collect donations like most other OSS entities.

Its clear they have no idea how to monetise anything to support the not-for-profit, so why bother and go back to the tried and true donations model.

Because people need to eat and money buys food.

Would donations model work? There is a difference making Wikipedia work, and making Mozilla work.

The people who make FreeBSD, OpenBSD and many other open source products need to eat and buy food. They do it without all of this bullshit, why can't mozilla?

They also seem way smaller than Mozilla. You're essentially saying, Firefox can't keep up with Chrome lets hack its limbs and see whether that will work.

No, most of the money in Mozilla goes for stuff that is outside of making Firefox, e.g. Firefox OS and community engagement.

Firefox was made great without all of this monetising, it can be made great again without it as well.


Why would users start paying money for a browser which is surrounded by free competitors (including forks of Firefox?)

because if they made it less bloated, perform well, and focused on real UX then they might produce the only browser that doesn't suck in some way and that's worth paying for considering how long many of us spend in browsers every day

And then someone forks it under another name and offers it for free, because it's open source and you can do that.

But I was promised users will pay for support for open source!

They will need to do some work to make that safe. There has been a number of famous attacks able to determine some people's browsing history entirely on the client side. I think most of them have mitigations in place, but we can't dismiss the fact browser itself still contains history.

Anyway, what kind of content delivery are you thinking about?

> What is the "content discovery" thing they are refocusing on?

Perhaps it includes things like the changes to the AwesomeBar they're making? It now (in beta) appears to prefer doing searches and visiting the root of a domain over your bookmarks and history. For example, instead of visiting the local Transmission instance hosted on my NAS when I type "transmission" into the location bar, it wants to "transmission - search with {your default search engine}.

(It also gives much weirder suggestions presumably based on the domain name - if I only type "trans" it suggests I visit "translate.google.com", a site I have visited twice in two years, vice the previous behavior, my transmission local instance. So no matter what I do, I have to hit tab twice instead of once.)

For me, this behavior is extremely annoying and disrupts my entire location-bar-typing-experience, but by suggesting web searches, perhaps it's meant to encourage content discovery.

    Advertising in Firefox could be a great business, but it isn’t the right business
    for us at this time because we want to focus on core experiences for our users.
Translation, "we were seeing users flee to alternatives like Pale Moon and need to backtrack. Please accept this marketing-speak damage control as an apology that doesn't actually admit we made a mistake."

It seems highly unlikely that "seeing users flee to alternatives like Pale Moon" has anything to do with this. How many users do you suppose Pale Moon has?

Firefox competes at a very large scale. Browsers that are not Chrome, IE, Safari and Opera are likely blips that don't register. It wouldn't surprise me if the tiles were a blip in Mozilla's revenue.

I'm probably in the minority, but I pretty much gave up on Firefox because of their chain of anti-freedom decisions and went to Safari. I figured that if I'm gonna lose control of my browser and privacy, I might as well use a product that gives me extra perks/polish at the cost of my freedom. Because let's face it, Firefox is no where near as polished and good of an experience as Safari (when on OS X) or Chrome (when on Windows/Linux). It was the ability to completely control and mold FF into what you want that made it so great. Without that, FF is a second tier browser.

> chain of anti-freedom decisions and went to Safari.

You really showed them!


I didn't make the decision to prove anything to anyone. I just made the most logical decision (for me) based on trade-offs. If I'm unable to maintain control of my browser and my privacy on FF, then I don't see a point in using a worse product. And as I said, it's probably a minority opinion, but I believe that without those freedoms, FF is a poor browser compared to its major competitors.

If that's the case, they still haven't learned the lesson: >"We want to reimagine content experiences and content discovery in our products"

Good. Sponsored tiles gives me an icky feeling using Firefox. Haven't even gone on the internet, and already being tracked. It feels like I have adware on my computer (which it literally is w/ those ads), and makes me want to uninstall it.

They could have at least put in an option in the settings to disable this.

> Haven't even gone on the internet, and already being tracked.

Didn't the implementation actually do it without tracking you, by downloading all the possible tiles and making the choice locally, thus preventing any privacy leak or tracking?

It does look like they did it without tracking. So kudos to mozilla for that.

But my post was about the perception of the ads. Even if mozilla isn't tracking, there's certainly no way for a user to know that, and no reason for a user to believe this particular ad is different from other ads the user sees day to day.

IMO, Mozilla has a huge problem, and it's not how to generate more revenue (which they already have $300m/year of). Their marketshare is sliding -- they're near a low point in their marketshare. And as a response, Mozilla pushes ads -- ads that make their software feel like adware; and that negatively impacts the goodwill the user has toward mozilla. This is not going to reverse their marketshare problem.

Not that it really matters after this announcement, but it has always been possible to disable the suggested tiles, from the little settings gear icon on the newtab page.

Cool.. didn't notice that was there.

But isn't this menu a bit deceptive? This is a setting menu with 2 options: disable suggested tiles, and show blank page.

Show blank page can be set from the regular options page.. while the 'disable suggested tiles' option is not in the regular options. So the only unique feature of this menu is disabling suggested tiles.

It's as if, this menu was created entirely to hide disabling suggested tiles.

Unfortunately that's what Mozilla does now.

They force these so called features on their users, but they don't get enough crap for it for doing so simply because they can be disabled. Most people miss the point that majority of people who use Firefox probably don't even know what tiles were to begin with. (same goes to Pocket, Hello etc.)

This is good to hear, but I agree that all the positive spin is unnecessary and damages their image. Now they need to backpedal or "evolve" on the Pocket blob issue. However they want to spin it.

Pocket is moving out of the main tree back to being an add-on. You can follow the progress at https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1215694

This is better, but why built-in?

They need to make money... Have you ever donated any to them?

Mozilla reportedly doesn't make money from Pocket [1]. So the money is not the issue. Your guess is as good as mine as to what is.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/firefox/comments/38aorv/psa_mozilla...

Mozilla's lawyer just admitted to Wired magazine that, in fact, they do earn revenue from Pocket.

> Although the company emphasizes that Pocket and Telefonica didn’t pay for placement in the Firefox browser, Mozilla Corp. chief legal and business officer Denelle Dixon-Thayer told WIRED that Mozilla has revenue sharing arrangements with both companies.


So, Mozilla simply lied before. How should we trust them to not fuck us over again?

A seriously irritated yet still loyal user since Netscape 3.0.

Huh, I must have missed that article. I stand corrected. Thanks for sharing.

Revenue sharing arrangement doesn't mean Mozilla included Pocket for money. Does Pocket even make money at a scale that could be remotely interesting to Mozilla? I very much doubt it.

I also doubt that Telefonica makes significant money with Hello. I can't even imagine a business model around this feature.

I suspect Mozilla was just opportunistic here and made those arrangements in case these features happen to generate revenue some day somehow.

(For me) it's mostly a transparency and trust issue. People widely suspected that it was Mozilla looking for another revenue source, they aggressively denied that money is involved. And now it turns out that there potentially is, but no details are published.

I actually think that with the way they did the integration, they probably should have received money (Otherwise, why not do a generic "read later" button and a way for services to register instead of adding a single, proprietary service). But for me, right now, the most important reason to use Firefox is trust in Mozilla, so I don't like it if it looks like they are not telling the entire story. (Compare to the advertising tiles: they clearly showed that they are receiving money for it, they also described what they did to preserve user privacy and security.)

> (For me) it's mostly a transparency and trust issue. People widely suspected that it was Mozilla looking for another revenue source, they aggressively denied that money is involved.

And we still don't know that money is involved. ;) But I agree the revenue sharing arrangement should have been communicated better / earlier.

> And now it turns out that there potentially is, but no details are published.

It's not unusual for contracts with for-profit companies that you're not allowed to make the details public. We still don't know the exact terms of the old contracts with Google or the new ones with Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu etc.

> I actually think that with the way they did the integration, they probably should have received money

Like I said, I don't think Pocket, the company, is big enough. Mozilla could probably have demanded a six-digit figure for integrating Pocket, but to what end? It's too little money to really matter and would have just inspired more "Mozilla is selling out!" rants.

> (Otherwise, why not do a generic "read later" button and a way for services to register instead of adding a single, proprietary service).

As you can imagine, there were discussions internally about whether there should be a provider-agnostic read-later button and I don't think anyone disagreed in principle, nor is that idea dead now. Integrating Pocket first was just the cheapest and quickest way to ship something to users.

> "We want to reimagine content experiences and content discovery in our products. We will do this work as a fully integrated part of the Firefox team."

Please don't.

Too bad. I thought it was a nice, genuine user-centric approach to digital advertising.

I don't have issues with this experiment (more so because of the way it worked without tracking and creating a profile of the user to be shared, sold, etc.) and this decision. As a long time Firefox/Thunderbird user who recommends these regularly to others and being a fan of what Mozilla is about, I do want to put a few general comments (ignore the gushing in places if you will):

1. Mozilla is among the few organizations in the world that must thrive and also expand for the good of the web and the people relying on it.

2. Every time there's some kind of controversy about Mozilla that appears to be a setback, I keep wishing it would be dealt with quickly and appropriately.

3. Mozilla, there are a lot of passionate users who get upset when (seemingly) controversial decisions are implemented. I'm pained to watch Mozilla losing market share and mind share, as are many other users.

4. Mozilla, it's important that you listen to these vocal users and engage with them, even if the seemingly problematic decision(s) cannot or won't be revoked.

5. Mozilla, experimenting is not bad as long as the users' feedback and your learnings are utilized.

6. Mozilla, few things in this world are black and white when it comes to strategy and decisions. So I'm willing to be more accepting of your decisions as long as you show agility in reversing them when necessary and as long as those decisions favor my next point.

7. Mozilla, we want you to become bigger, better and succeed. All the things that you stand for don't have a (complete) parallel in other organizations and companies in the wider web ecosystem.

8. Mozilla, thanks for all that you have done and all that you do.

The title is a little misleading - Mozilla is removing the sponsored tiles that you see when you open a new firefox tab.

How is it misleading? That's exactly what I thought it meant, personally.

They changed the title to be more reflective of the content. It said something around the lines of Firefox was removing advertising.

And that's what the title says, unless it's been edited since you wrote this comment.

It has been edited. It used to say Mozilla removed advertising from Firefox.

That happens if you scare users away with enforcing a concept of another browser towards your own product... the less high the market share means the less high the acceptance for web designers to make their sites work, the less opportunities for investors as they see you not as important enough.

Well, Mozilla brought this onto themselves. I only hope they enjoy the dish that they have created for themselves.

Perhaps it would have been more smart to keep the power user features too and not dumping that kind of users, Opera is the best example that replacing a feature rich concept with minimalism and limited customization options in the hope to create an user migration from a competitors browser towards their own is not working well.

This is really great. Did they fire that guy who came over from the IAB with it too? Hostile takeover, reversed for now.

You mean Darren Herman, the "hostile" man who also wrote this blog post? He is leaving Mozilla. https://twitter.com/dherman76/status/672889449265676288

Does that mean they are cutting a few jobs? Isn't advertising a key aspect of the funding?

All of their funding comes from search deals, which are driven by the high value of search advertising vs display advertising. The tiles are display advertising and probably added up to roughly nothing. I predicted (at launch) they'd kill it as soon as they realized it was irrelevant to their bottom line, and annoyed people.

Edit: added info about search/display ad split

I wonder what would happen to Darren Herman in the long run. My understanding is he was hired to help driving the ad business side of Tile.

No, they just mean they will no longer engage with the Tiles. Their contract with Yahoo is not impacted and has nothing to do with Tiles.

Darren has already announced he is leaving. https://twitter.com/dherman76/status/672889449265676288

Ahh great. I still have the strong feeling he was an IAB mole/shill within Mozilla. Glad he's out.

Thank you. Definitely not surprising after this blog post.

"A return to my technology routes"





> I just don't like having my browser history on display for the world to see.

Same here; I turned off tiles immediately, in favor of a blank tab. If I want one of the more common sites I visit, it's generally 1-2 letters away via the awesomebar: Ctrl-t l [enter] is LWN, Ctrl-t y [enter] is the YouTube Subscriptions page, etc.

Am I missing something? I've never seen this feature when I open a new tab.

I reported the ad abuse.

What does this piece of bullshit really mean?

Were they unable to sell the ads effectively? Was nobody clicking on them? Was the income not significant enough? Did they decide that it wasn't a good idea to have ads in Firefox? Did they find a better way to monetize the browser?

Anyway, the ridiculous content-free way this post is written does unfortunately not inspire confidence in Mozilla.

We put ads that didn't require an extensive tracking network in the new tab page of Firefox. We were able to make some money on them and show how to do ads respectfully. Even so, it was decided to remove them from Firefox as they didn't provide enough value to the user.

Where the jargon "value to the user" means being things the user was interested in clicking.

The only part of your answer that actually answered the question was "didn't provide enough value to the user". That is effectively all you said, which is about as unhelpful for others to understand as the original article.

What does "value to the user" mean? What exactly were your goals for "value to the user" before you released the feature? How did you measure it? And how did you fall short of these goals?

see literally the comment below this.

Agree. The corporate bullshit jargon is strong with this one. Not surprising when the CEO himself is a purely marketing man.

People have even made games like Bullshit Bingo based on corporate-speak in meeting rooms. http://www.bullshitbingo.net/cards/bullshit/

> What does this piece of bullshit really mean?

Mozilla briefly dabbled with advertising on the new tab page. That's now stopping. Like the article says: "We have therefore made the decision to stop advertising in Firefox."

Thinking about it, it reminds me of this: https://np.reddit.com/r/self/comments/3cudi0/resignation_tha...


It certainly doesn't help to have a pile of people unceasingly seeking every opportunity to snark about this on every article about Mozilla and Firefox.

My mistake. I thought this was by the CEO. It is not.

Mozilla: Thank you, this is such a relief.

I'm waiting to see "Mozilla to stop making Firefox mimic Chrome in every way".

I'm waiting to see "HN commenters stop trolling on baseless stuff"

But they both have URL bars, copy!

Chrome does many things right. I use Firefox and am ecstatic about the new extension architecture, for example.

Is "Firefox mimicking Chrome" something you have an issue with for some reason, or what are you after?

There's a lot of people who have that issue.

When Firefox came out, they wanted to differentiate themselves from the clunky and awkward cross-platform UI of Seamonkey, so they emphasised following platform conventions.

When Chrome came out, they wanted to differentiate themselves from existing native (and native-feeling) browsers by being minimalist, so they invented their own cross-platform UI. Some people were quite happy to learn a new UI to gain perceived speed and switched to Chrome, some people preferred native-looking apps to Chrome's gratuitous differences and stayed with Firefox.

Then Chrome started eating Firefox's marketshare. Whether that's because of better marketing, technical superiority, or just technical differences in ways that happened to matter at the time doesn't matter; the point is that these days when most people think of "web browser" they imagine something that looks more like Chrome than, say Firefox 3. And so Mozilla feels that to stay relevant, Firefox has to hide its menu-bar, put tabs above the address bar, cram a whole bunch of disparate things into a single hamburger menu, and so forth.

There's a small but vocal contingent who stayled loyal to Firefox and avoided Chrome so they could avoid those UI idioms, and the fact that Firefox is now adopting them anyway feels like a betrayal of sorts. I'm not saying it is anything melodramatic as betrayal, but people are entitled to their opinions.

Namely, dropping XUL support. Chrome still doesn't have a functional DL manager.

Seems that this isn't what I thought: an ad-blocker integrated into Firefox directly.

They are apparently no longer going to be advertising in "Tiles", whatever that is. A quick search makes it seem like an optional interface for the new tab page, before any navigation has occurred.

I don't use Firefox so can't really comment about Tiles, but I would be kinda annoyed seeing ads on the new tab page in Chrome.

Actually, I doubt anyone notice anything. I for one, keeps opening new tab with CMD + Tab and rarely pay attention to the tiles. Even if I did, my eyes turn to the sites I visit the most (facebook, HN, AWS, Google, etc). So the Tiles experiment itself is pretty doom from the beginning. When you try to sell ads, and you want to remain polite and least annoying, you are doing it wrong. You can't have it both ways easily.

> When you try to sell ads, and you want to remain polite and least annoying, you are doing it wrong. You can't have it both ways easily.

I agree with the second sentence, but not the first: the fact that you can't have both easily doesn't mean that you're doing it wrong by trying to have both.

Remaining polite and as little annoying as possible is definitely doing it right, so the only sense in which this could be "doing it wrong" is if advertisers weren't paying; but that seems not to have been what happened here—the rollback is (or at least is being presented as) a response to user, not advertiser, dissatisfaction.

Perhaps they are responding to the dissatisfaction of the users. You are right that we should try to make advertisement as polite as possible. I feel that at least 50% of the withdrawl came from the fact that they realize their Tiles is not an effective revenue model because putting ads on Tiles does not get enough traction. That's what I meant when I said Mozilla was doing it wrong. They are not in the position to do ads. Where else can they put ads and still being "polite"? I see so none in the browser space.

Can't edit my comment, but the title was updated to explain the Tiles connection. Original title was "Mozilla will stop advertising in Firefox".

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