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Show HN: A browser extension which blocks chat/helpdesk widgets (hellogoodbye.app)
510 points by bcye 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 226 comments



I don't mind the help desk widget if it's actually there for when you have a question. The problem is that they almost immediately morphed into to growth marketing tactics with bots saying hi and asking you if you have questions.

That's just irritating.


Please describe a time you've had a question and successfully used a chat widget to solve it


I use intercom to provide support for my service. Yes, it pops up and asks if you have questions on the homepage. Yes, it checks in on you after using the site for a week. But I get almost a hundred support requests and questions a week through it, and most weeks I get zero through Zendesk email.

For most small businesses like mine these chats go straight to the phones of the founders. You've got a direct line to the most knowledgeable person about the service.

So to your question, many people use them successfully.


This is my experience as well. I mainly installed Intercom for support, but it also works great for sales. I don’t initiate chats on my home page, but I do on my pricing page and I talk to high-intent potential customers every day. I pay Intercom because it works, regardless of what we HN techies think.


because it works, regardless of what we HN techies think

This literally describes 90% of successful marketing tactics.


And that's how we got the internet we have today - where venturing onto a random page without adblocker can consume all resources of your desktop and crash your mobile device, where browsers have to design functionality to shut up screaming pages and prevent sites from selling the visitor's data to the surveillance clearinghouses - in summary, where there's an ongoing cold war between the web users and web site builders trying to feed the former into the monetization machine. I wonder how many more useful things and technologies we could have if we didn't have to waste resources on it.


Even technical too. Take for example apps made in electron. HN and reddit quickly start squabbling about electron itself and quickly forget that value is perceived based on productivity or leisure. Unless and until the app is extra ordinarily egregious and the performance penalties outweigh the benefits, it really doesn’t matter.

We, software devs, can be unnecessarily pedantic and nitpicking.


> Unless and until the app is extra ordinarily egregious and the performance penalties outweigh the benefits, it really doesn’t matter.

On the short term, yes. But as soon as I'm not required to use Slack anymore, I will remove it from my Mac and advise anyone against it.

So on the long term, I'd say a business would be better off not making the balance so precarious.


The interesting question (in my opinion) is, while it works, who is bearing the hidden costs?

In this case, it's making the internet a less productive place to be. So many chat widgets I encounter are now used for growth marketing, not actual support, that whenever I see one I expect it to pop up and seize my attention at an inconvenient moment. Now that everyone is doing it, it's ruining it for everyone else, and something like this browser extension shows up.

If it works for you, then great, I suppose? But if I were the internet dictator I would have placed a ban on preemptive chat messages in these widgets years ago.


100% agree. The Drift widget on my SaaS is used a ton for support, sales questions, bug reports, you name it. It’s actually very effective and I like it. I don’t do the pop up thing with s noise though.


Same with us - we use it as a direct line of communication with our users, either incoming or existing. Intercom is a very valuable aspect of our support


I go further: if I have a question and don’t find a live chat widget, I usually navigate away immediately. Sorry but I’m very busy and I have no patience for sending emails and waiting for a response.


Biggest pet peeve is when they have a chat widget, it pops up, you figure, let me ask a question and then it says that nobody is available. No hours specified, no time zone listed, no email address where to send a request.

Chat widgets can be a good thing but its all about how you use them within the company... I'd say, definitely no popup, when nobody is available, just don't show the widget and redirect to a contact us form or email address. Make the support flow as dynamic as possible.


My options are:

* Email. High latency, low bandwidth due to long turnaround time, sometimes my emails get lost.

* Phone. Useless - no records, I always forget something or miss some detail because I'm trying to talk and think at the same time.

* Issue tracker. This is often what I prefer for technical topics, but sometimes I need faster turnaround or I'm working on something nontechnical.

* Discord or matrix or IRC. Great if I just have a dumb configuration question, but not at all suitable for real problems, and not an option for real customer service tasks.

* That little chat widget. Not as good as a bug tracker, but all the precision and recordability of email with the speed of a phone.

The chat widgets are fantastic and I go for them almost every single time.


You don’t need a chat widget to chat, just a chat option. I also usually go strait to chat. I’ve used It for Amazon and Nike both but neither have the chat “widget” on their front page.


It's unfortunate companies won't just assign the same resources to man email as they assign to man the chat widget. There's no good technical reason I can think of for email support responses to be slower than those via chat.


We route everything but phone calls directly into Intercom, so they get the same turnaround on responses regardless of whether the person on the other end prefers live chat or email. Anecdotally though > 80% of all our support/sales enquiries come via live chat.


Many times. Just the other day I had a question about Skylight (which we use where I work) and I was promptly helped through the widget. Granted, this could also have been done through e-mail, but it is pretty convenient to have it on-page.

99% of the implementations you encounter though are failed sales attempts. Fake human prompts like "Hi, can I help you with something?". When they are accompanied by a sound they are even more annoying. I have heard from marketing people that they convert pretty well though.


We use intercom for support in our Saas product. We have customers ask questions that are instantly solved by the recommended help desk articles all the time


I've had positive experiences with having my questions answered using chat widgets from Codeship, AppSignal, Intercom themselves (they are a chat widget provider), Datadog, Packet.net, and more.

Maybe it's specific to the SaaS space, but I tend to reach for the live chat right off the bat if I have a question. If nobody is online, usually they still get back to me by e-mail anyway, which is no worse than if I had just sent an e-mail.


Lots of times. Banking questions through my banking app. Looking for a certain kind of cable. Figuring out how to apply a coupon that isn't the right length of numbers.


I’ve used a chat widget to directly communicate with a startup. Not necessarily to solve a problem but it was great for a direct communication channel that didn’t require giving any of my own contact details.


Our users routinely use our widget to place support requests. Adjustments to orders, changes to preferences, account issues, expectation queries.

It has the added convenience that we instantly and correctly know a) what URL they're looking at and b) their logged-in account ID. I'd say about 80% of the time, this is 100% of the context needed to resolve their issue, which eliminates a whole class of to-and-fro discovery that amounts to a large proportion - perhaps even the majority - of support time.


I have had good success as a user (mostly billing, asking for credits or removal of charges/fees) with chat bots.

By politely specifying exactly what the problem is, what actions need to happen for it to be considered resolved, and asking to contact a party who can take those actions in my first message it helps hasten the interaction.


I've been looking at various hosting solutions and getting answers in real time through chat as opposed to hunt and gather information on poorly made pages has saved me lots of time.


I always prefer chat over phone all. It's way easier to share my account name, order number etc via chat. I find spell 16 digit order number over phone is a huge pain


Since I don't use it often enough to have it memorized, I have a little printout of the NATO phonetic alphabet that I grab when I need to spell something over the phone.

I've yet to run into a phone support person who doesn't know it without any explanation required on my part.


It actually works in some cases, when they have an actual person to answer and it's more reactive than just popping in your face 2s after opening the website


Amazon chat has helped me a bunch. Though its almost impossible to find when you need it.


So true. You have to google to find it, finding it on the amazon site directly is much much harder.


Verizon buries the option to order a sim card for a new prepaid line somewhere on their website, I've successfully used the widget to ask for the URL twice.

Also used it to ask/politely demand Verizon reset my roll-over data balance anytime my card on file expired or was canceled and I forgot to update it so auto-pay failed and service was suspended temporarily, which removes any roll-over data balance.

I used it to disect the roll-over data policy which requires auto-pay to be enabled and confirm system limitations that disallow scheduling payment prior to experation and/or keeping additional month balance on account to avoid service interruption so shortly after a failed payment. Agent was able to set custom $1 auto pay amount and I now use my bank bill pay service to pay full monthly amount a few days before service end date avoiding interruptions. This arrangement involved lots of questions in the chat widget.


Multiple times actually. The best one was with the i3 3d printer support and I told them my printer is making clicking sounds and the filament isn't going in and they told me to open the print head side door and guide the filament in manually which worked and I was stunned they managed to know that with my description.


1. Applying for a credit card and confused about something that was part of the conditions. Had an answer in less than 5 minutes.

2. My hosting provider’s support via the widget is SUPER Amazing. Needed shell access, Tony pulled it of in 7 minutes. Having speed issues for my business site? Migrated to a dedicated IP in under 10 minutes.

3. Numerous other times where I eventually would have a question.

Its made me more willing to invest the time asking a question instead of wasting time digging around for an answer that is usually in the realm of customer service or technical support.

What it has NOT done is make me any more or less likely to buy the product.

I’m mostly ok if it stays collapsed, especially on sites where that doesn’t impact the UI too much. The ones that automatically pop open with roboSteve asking me if I need help...Now those ones are obnoxious.


This is the primary way I interact with my bank, and with Amazon support.


Kind of from a different point of view but at my old job (Escrow.com) we took our chat widget seriously (powered by Olark). Most of our direct support communication occurred at least initially through the widget (moving to email for ongoing issues) and from time to time the CEO has been known to man it. As an engineer I regularly walked over to the other side of the floor and helped support with technical issues so I know first hand that we regularly solved people's problems.


Like every time I have a support issue and the company has a chat widget, like my ISP, mobile provider, etc. I almost exclusively use the chat support in AWS.


My bank, Raiffaisen, has provided immediate support via the built-in chat on their website. Moreover, I'm a foreigner where the branch I utilize is based, and they had native support in English.

Chat can be done right, and Raiffaisen does it right. They don't harass you with anything, it's just there if you need it, and the representatives seem to have very broad access to provide information.

This is what I'd expect from a support chat.


When apartment hunting I used them to ask questions about availability of units that fit my needs and to schedule visits


Many times when I had to use a dev platform in projects. It's super fast to ask a simple question and having someone pointing you to the right documentation page.

I guess the annoying part is the widget opening by default but I actually like having the chat, because you know something is serious when a company devotes time to support.


Just yesterday. I asked the popup for Airmailapp if they supported Exchange SSO via Okta, and got a "no, sorry" inside of 20 seconds.

This is unusual enough for those things that I was flabbergasted and told everyone I knew about how one of those things was actually helpful for once though.


Got a new phone, tried to activate it through my cell phone provider, was only given worse plan choices than what I already had, used the chat widget, waited a while, was asked a bunch of seemingly silly and redundant questions, then the new phone was activated within my existing plan.


Once I widget-chatted with an Amazon help person when I thought the thing I was expecting had somehow been mis-registered at the pick up locker (my unlock code didn't work).

We eventually worked out that I was an idiot and had sent it to another locker, a short hike across town. Oops!

Embarrassing, but helpful.


I've had success with all the ones that connect you through to an actual human being. It's fine with me for companies to try and find efficient ways to help (actual or potential) customers; it's a very different thing to be spammed by an "AI".


I use a product called Shipt and they have a 24/7 live chat widget. When switching phone numbers on my account, a bug would persistently prevent the change from going through. When it happened, I'd go to the live chat and they would fix it in about 5 minutes.


With my airline to organise a new flight after mine was cancelled. It’s so much better waiting for a message back than being on hold on the phone. I assume it also reduces wait times by allowing Customer service to handle multiple conversations at once.


Arrange redelivery time when I missed package delivery. Actually it is a chatbot (or simple webapp) inside IM. I don't need to install a separate app or go to the official page to find the page.


Loads of times. A couple of days ago I had a quick question about a print job I was a submitting to a printer. Got an answer in about 20 seconds. What's not to like?


I just booked a car in Israel and needed to change it to a one way rental. This couldn’t be done online in a self-service manner. So instead I initiated a chat and it was done in <3 minutes. Boom.


I’ve had much better success with online retailers’ chat boxes than trying to get someone on the phone, whenever I’ve had an issue with an order or shipment. That’s the only useful use case I’ve seen.


I use chat 100% of the time when I’m evaluating SaaS product.


Like others on this thread, I installed a chat widget (Hubspot) on my SaaS site and it's used by both existing customers and potential customers daily.


When the .dev domain was first available, I used it to contact GoDaddy's support to figure out if they knew when general availability was.


I talk to FactSet.net customer support probably at least once a week through their online chat widget

Amex chat support is amazing too


Twice. Once with the British IRS for a change of situation and once with my internet provider for a billing issue.


It’s like any tool, it can be very helpful or not so much. For me, in almost all cases I have found live chat widgets to be super helpful and a way to get answers and save time.

I don’t really get why you would need an extension for this.

Now, if you want to make an extension that is really helpful, make one that auto accepts cookies on all those annoying GDPR slide ups that warn you about cookies!


uBlock Origin can do it for you, you just need to enable relevant list. Filter list > Annoyances > Fanboy's Cookie List


Project fi chat widget - always worked for me ( at least 5 times )


since a lot of companies use it as their only support option, a lot.


i pretty much only use chat widgets now for getting help


Usually on pages with no indication otherwise what the product in question actually is. It’s the modern equivalent of “ask your doctor about XXXmedicine” when they don’t tel you what it treats.


I use Drift on a few pages of my website https://www.listennotes.com . It’s a critical channel that users can chat directly with me, who built the website. It encourages conversation and I get tons of good feedback directly from users everyday.

I don’t place Drift on most pages. I only put it on those pages where users are most likely to ask me questions, e.g., API https://www.listennotes.com/api/


Perhaps these widgets should be integrated into the browser (and web specs), so users have a consistent chat experience between websites and an easy and consistent way to block these widgets through browser settings.


Exactly.


Here's the URLs from the extension in UBlock rule form:

  ||widget.intercom.io/
  ||connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk/xfbml.customerchat.js
  ||assets.producthunt.com/assets/upwigloader.js
  ||js.driftt.com/include/
  ||crisp.chat/
(These can be copied directly into UBO's My Filter section)


> Blocks product hunt

> Product hunt users love it

> #3 on product hunt


lol it worked.


I have also added this to the GitHub repository. Just download it from the website https://hellogoodbye.app


How would i go about using it with a Pi-Hole? Do I just add https://raw.githubusercontent.com/bcye/Hello-Goodbye/master/... to the list of block lists? I don't see a redirect IP on your filter list (something like 0.0.0.0). Do I have to manually edit it?

Thank you!


You can not do this with Pihole, because Pihole can only block entire hosts/ip-adddresses (and not only specific scripts on a host.)

That's why you should keep using uBlock Origin/a browser content blocker, even if you use a Pihole.


Ah, I see. I will get UBO, right away.

Thank you for helping out!


Awesome, thanks a lot!


very good


I wish chat/widgets weren’t a thing on the web. It’s not that it’s bad but I think it’s annoying how they just pop up from everywhere (mostly bottom right). It’s mostly an interface/UI problem. I wish they do it like Apple, where Apple Support has options like “Call” and “Chat” and when you click on it, that’s the only time the widget appears.


The problem is they're not getting used properly.

On the end user's end, I'd expect that most visitors don't want a chat widget following them around -- until they actually do want to chat, and they look for some kind of chat option. (I've no data to support this but anecdotes like the fact that this browser extension got released suggests me that my hunch might not be too far off.)

On the company's end, you definitely do not want the chat widget visible at all times. It's costly to man the thing so users get a quick reply. On the website it's usually worthless sales contacts with trivial questions; inside the app it's often support-related stuff whose answer is a search away.

The only time the pop-up should be around is when:

- The site visitor or app user is actively looking for some kind of "Contact/Chat" button.

- The site visitor or app user just did something you hypothesized was worth investigating. And in this case the chat should open with a question -- albeit only if a competent operator is actually around.

OT aside: Intercom et al gets too expensive way too fast when you don't purge visitors that didn't sign-up and users that engaged without paying and eventually left without buying.


Maybe I’m too old, but I’d never use a chat popup. I’m also the person who, when calling tech support, mashes on the 0 button right away and repeatedly until a human answers. I simply don’t want to waste time communicating with a machine unless I’m programming. Nothing about the usual chat pop up interfaces assures me that I’d be chatting with an actual human.

“Hi, how can I help?” Pop up at every random time I might be browsing? No way these guys are staffed 24/7. Probably not human.

Stock photo showing pretty telephone operator? Definitely not human.

If I want to type something for help, I’d honestly prefer a good, working search box.


agree.


I think I've used an unsolicited chat widget maybe once. What stood out to me was that the entire experience is setup to be a poor one for the user by default. Click a link on the page and the session is lost. Links sent through the chat don't add target=_blank, either; I'd imagine that the percentage of chat sessions terminated by accident is awfully high. In which case, in trying to help, the support rep is merely adding to the user's frustration.

And that's ignoring the users who get frustrated with the giant, in-your-face pop up. At least they don't have sound. Yet.


Every chat widget that's popped up has been accompanied by a sound for me, which is incredibly irritating.


This is one of the reasons I keep my speakers muted by default. Poorly behaved websites and software will be poorly behaved regardless of your wishes. Having your speakers off prevents in-page scripts and ads from annoying you. If you can't keep your computer/speakers muted, then you can still mute the browser itself, at least on desktop.


I usually listen to music via the browser, so that's not a great option for me :/


Pulse audio let's you have one browser process playing, and then mute other processes. I make a special profile to just play Spotify and other media. Open a new profile for work (well, per project)


Isn't it terrible that one has to explicitly do all these while the normal experience for people who don't know about such options is bad?


Man, that's kind of a hassle - I would have to create one profile just for music and videos, one profile for random personal browsing, and a third one for work. (And possibly a fourth one for work, if I explicitly wanted to watch work-related sound content without switching to a personal profile.) I don't think I need that at this time, but it's good to know.


Really! Honestly, I’ve only ever used the chat widget once, a few days ago when trying to book a rental car in Israel (a foreign country for me). My session persisted across tabs and refreshes. It was actually amazing.

So clearly, it does not need to be this way (and isn’t for all cases).


Seems like poor design - we used drift and it definitely persisted chat sessions. Agreed on sounds and face being extremely annoying.


they should be on the left hand side, away from the vertical scrollbar, but they're not


I know chat widgets can be used in super irritating ways and people love to hate on them recently but I think they can greatly improve the user experience for the user and the vendor when done right e.g. have a prominent easy to find chat button on every page, that doesn't automatically pop-up with a stock message, where the chat operators are available and able to help you.

On the website for a Chrome extension I sell, 90% of my support requests (mostly from paid users) come in through the chat widget. The low latency communication compared to email means I can solve support requests faster, with less effort on both sides and the sender ends up happier at the end.

Having to receive, read, write, wait etc. over several emails is really painful and sucks up time on both sides even for simple problems and especially for complex problems. It can take several emails to understand a simple problem because most users aren't that precise e.g. "I upgraded but I can't access the paid features". I'm considering pushing all users to use the chat widget by default for support queries because of this.

I wouldn't be against using some chat bot automation either (which people also complain about) to deal with common requests for the initial request message because it's really hard to 100% eliminate FAQs being asked. Especially if you're a solo founder, you want time savers like this.


Right now most chatbot widgets are scripted and require forethought from the admin or business owner. So it's pretty hard figuring out the comment questions on your own or formulating them over time. Even harder when you don't know your customer journey or haven't solidified the ideal customer fit.

This is exactly why I created a bot [1] that blends chatbots and Stack Overflow together. You can have an automated first-line support system without scripting or conversational dances.

- Instead of conversations, you can reuse previous question/answers. - Instead of guessing FAQs, you can let your users define them for you. - When questions don't exist, they get catched in the traditional support flow (email). Then overtime, this effort declines.

[1] https://getchipbot.com


Who's sitting on the other end of your chat window?


Me right now, so a human that's able to help with pretty much any query. I can understand how having to use a chat widget with someone unhelpful replying would be a bad experience though e.g. a sales person when you had a support request, or a bot that can't help with your support request.

Most chat widgets are set up to forward chat messages via email if there's nobody around and both sides can jump back on the chat widget later if they're both available at the same time which is still an improvement over just email in my opinion.


has anyone ever asked for help understanding the terms of service?


Not the one you replied to, but I have been working for a customer service of a large platform for 10 months now and no one has ever asked a question about the ToS.


Will we ever be able to visit sites in peace again? We’ve got chat popups, cookie notices, social widgets, google amp, subscription popups...I’m sure I’m forgetting other annoyances and I haven’t even talked about the 20 tracking scripts degrading the experience invisibly on each page. On mobile it’s getting almost unbearable!

On the other hand, everyone seems okay with the idea of trading privacy for free stuff...


Newsletter signup modals. The company I work for discussed doing that for our site and I died a little on the inside that day.


Will we ever be able to visit sites in peace again?

Don't ever go to a web site for a FiatChrysler brand dealer. There's so much garbage on those that on mobile you can't even see the main content.

And if you Google the phone number of a local dealer you end up with an 800 number so your call can be tracked by Google, which forwards you to another 800 number so you can be tracked by the ad agency, which forwards you to another 800 number so you can be tracked by FiatChrysler, which forwards you (if you're lucky) to the local dealer, with whom you can't communicate because all those VOIP relays have increased the latency so much it's like you're talking on a satellite phone.


watches season 5 of silicon valley


What annoys me most of all about these things is when they immediately popup when I first visit a site - no, I don't have any questions, because I haven't even looked at a single word of text yet!


And then they send you a message first to pressure you in to talking as well as making you feel watched


And then you get a pop-up asking to subscribe to the newsletter of a company whose product you know nothing about.


just like in a physical store. when you're shopping for clothes and some overeager sales assistant comes to hovers around you asking if you need any help. sometimes it's useful but sometimes it's annoying and you just want to be left alone to look yourself.


Don't forget about "leaving already?" popup when one moves cursor diagonally towards tab/top area


Was using Snapengage before Intercom and the option to set chats to appear after x seconds (usually used 45-90) or pages visited was so good. The response rates were actually higher than for the more dumb Intercom immediate popups.


While I applaud the effort that went into this, I'm not sure what this gains over adding a handful of additional rules into your current adblocker.

Many adblockers use the EasyList of blocked domains/files, but somewhat lesser known is the EasyPrivacy list which already blocks many of these helpdesk and chat widgets [1].

1 - https://easylist.to/easylist/easyprivacy.txt


Extensions like this exist for two reasons. The first is that people don't understand adblockers or that they can be used for this purpose. The second is their UI sucks for the layman.

I know how to do it in uBlock and Ghostery but that doesn't mean I want to or that it'll be 100% effective.


I was going to write an extension the other day to block custom responses in Slack, as they gets triggered way too often in one of the workspaces I am in. While figuring out the best way of identifying those messages I realized it would be enough to just add one line to uBlock Origin rules.

(for those interested: ##.c-message--custom_response)


Ghostery[1] also already blocks chat widgets.

[1]: https://www.ghostery.com/


though they have serious privacy issues and mine is completely open sourced.


Doesn’t Ghostery have serious privacy issues?


Yes. Ghostery gets some criticism - due to privacy issues among others.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostery#Criticism


Of course; it’s proprietary software.


It's open source as of last year. https://github.com/ghostery/ghostery-extension


I just launched this as a filter list form, it's downloadable from the website https://hellogoodbye.app


I agree. This is a great idea for a browser feature, but for me personally, I would rather do a manual blacklist through /etc/hosts.


I have added it as a list form to download.

It's available on the website https://hellogoodbye.app


Unless you do it through a PiHole, or some homebaked Linux DNS, you are required to turn in your HN card.


Not possible. You cannot block a specific script by that approach.


I've used those chat widgets a lot and they are by far the best way to get customer service issues addressed. They respond faster than the phone line, it's async so I can use the bathroom while they look up details, I can post links, I never have to repeat myself or ask them to repeat. Blocking these widgets seems like a terrible idea.


I would just wish these widgets would remains as inconspicuous as possble, but remains easily available. If it pops up while I browsing the website for info, I already hate it.

I wish chat support was offered more, I hate calling Dell Support for a technical issue.. last time I used some kind of chat with the it was for customer service/sales, and told me I had to call for tech support. It would have been easier to send pictures through the chat, oh well.


Chat is great and any company should have a way to quickly contact a person with an arbitrary question. This is more for distracting pop ups, that I’m sure increase conversions, but it’s at the expense of annoying the rest of your visitors.


Yes, because then you'll have people who actually need support, forgot they installed this thing months ago, and think there is no support and get mad at the Company/Website for not having a support link. I think this will cause more problems than it actually solves.


I've done it like this (not shown, this is not an ad).

Have an image at the right bottom. People can click and only then the chat widget opens. This means very fast loading of the page and only if people click on the widget there is contact with a third party server. I think it's the best of all ways. There is an easy way to contact for the visitor, but there is no in-your-face marketing technique used on potential customers.


That’s how apple do it on their sites.

Call or chat icon that is static until clicked.


that's actually an awesome way of handling this.


This should be _the_ standard way of doing things and nobody should think of anything else.


Personal goal: avoid making the kind of software that other people make browser extensions to get rid of.


Why’s that?

Intercom/etc are incredibly useful both to businesses and customers alike. But not necessarily all customers, I respect that.

There will always be someone who doesn’t want a particular feature, etc. That doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable to someone else?


One of the problems is that the UX of these features is always pushy and obtrusive. The designers want to stick it in your face to make sure you use it (probably because decisions about resource allocation are based on how frequently they’re used). The result is that even potentially useful functionality gets presented in a way that’s obnoxious and makes people resent it. It’s like Clippy, but for everything.


They can be configured that way, but they can also be configured to hover quietly in the bottom corner until someone clicks the icon. That’s how we use intercom, and it’s definitely been a useful channel for support and for prospective customers to ask questions.


Yep, absolutely. Same for us. And only for logged in users, at that.


To be fair, the kind of people who need this kind of help are also the kind of people that will have a hard time finding said help.

I can dig deep in there to find the help desk, but I'm not sure my parents could.


I’ve needed this sort of help before, and I’m technical. Having an easy to spot way of chatting with a person directly is amazing. You shouldn’t have to dig deep into a site to do this.


It's just like autoplaying video --- users do not like the unsolicited aspect of it, and the annoyance that causes. I'm perfectly fine with having a chat widget that opens when you actively click on "Get Help" or "Chat with us" or whatever other phase implies something like that, just like I would not mind a video you need to click on for it to start playing.

(Incidentally, I have JS off by default, which naturally neuters these and other annoyances. It's only when I have to turn it on that I get assaulted with things like this.)


Agreed on Intercom, but I think it's regularly abused.

Often times you will scroll through a page and a chat popup will show, but nobody is actually there to chat with you (because it's outside business hours, or they never intended to have someone available). So it's a misrepresentation of service and becomes a spammy annoyance.

I also think it's debatable whether that floating chat modal needs to be on every single page on a website, which is often the case. If you're going through a lot of sub-pages on a website, it definitely becomes an annoyance.


You confuse "it's useful" for "it's done well". Chat is super valuable and users should feel like they have the option to initiate a chat. That is not the same as yelling at them the moment they open your page. And let's not even get started on how much you're fucking over people with screenreaders.


It doesn’t need to be and isn’t a lways done this way. Ours is configured to only pop up for logged in users, for instance.


Agree that they serve a useful need when searching for help but when you're just trying to browse a site the intercom widget randomly pops up taking a good portion of the screen and it also plays an unwanted notification sound.


It does not need to be configured this way. Ours is not.


The problem is not the chat but the widget that pops up on your screen.


This is dependent on the site’s settings. Ours is configured to display not a chat dialog, but just the widget, and only when logged in.


They're incredibly useful when you actually want them.

That point is almost never when they load when you’re halfway through scrolling down a page.

At that point they’re just another piece of cookie / GDPR / autoplay banner ad spam that does so much to ruin the web.

Why can’t they be housed as part of a separate customer support section? Other than that it wouldn’t make Intercom’s numbers look as good.


That’s a great goal!!


Anyone else freaked-out when a bank or something like TD Ameritrade uses Facebook's chat? I mean, they don't know enough about me already, now they have to know exactly how much I have in my brokerage?


I wanted to share my experience as a startup co-founder that uses Drift as both a sales tool and a help desk tool.

We started using drift on day one of our product launch. Creating a user experience that is intuitive and "makes sense" from the get-go is not my forte, and we wanted to give users who were using our product a quick way to get help. We added the drift "chat icon" to the bottom right corner of our screen as a permanent way to make it easy to get in touch.

Over time, we've evolved our usage and now have a permanent menu-icon which opens the chat window, rather than a permanent icon that floats. This is a better user experience on mobile, as well as just generally being less intrusive.

As a support tool, Drift has been IMMENSELY valuable. We're able to respond to user requests, on average, in under 48 seconds (we monitor this). Rather than a user getting "blocked" on an issue while waiting for a help-desk response, we're able to address problems in under a minute, rather than minutes or hours. This aligns with our values as a business, and Drift has helped make that possible.

As a sales tool, we've begun utilizing drift landing pages in experiments, and also as a way to help clarify questions during the sales process. Because we're mostly an "enterprise" sale at this point, it has had less of a utility as a sales tool, but I see the virtue there.

As a consumer, I dislike when companies configure their chat widget to immediately prompt me after a couple of seconds of scrolling on the site. This is a configurable setting that they've opted into, and I would prefer if companies would not do this. Hopefully, over time, the statistics will show that this is a poor user experience, and companies like Drift will discourage this in the mean case, and rather encourage it only in critical moments in the user funnel.

One of the challenges in marketing is that we tend to always devolve down to the mean when creating products. Having worked in ad-tech, I've been both witness to this, and fallen for this trap. We're often willing to sacrifice a large percentage of our user base for features that show an aggregate lift, rather than asking ourselves if there are other features that can cause similar lift but not alienate other segments of our population. This is the balance that needs to be struck when using a tool like Drift, and I'd encourage the team at Drift to lean into helping customers understand this balance.

That being said, I have a lot of faith in David Cancel, Elias, and the team members at Drift to sort this out. They're smart, they're growing rapidly, and they'll adjust as needed.


Hey there, wjossey! I'm an engineering lead on the Drift conversations team. Would love to hear more about what you think of Drift. Interesting point about user base alienation, is there anything specific that comes to mind in that area? Anything you think Drift could be doing better?


Reached out on LinkedIn. Happy to chat.


Chats popping up, covering a considerably big part of the screen and auto playing a sound – that's what's so annoying about these! If there were just a small icon and text that would open up only when the user acts on it, that'd be fine.

Here's the master filter list [1] published by this site that can be added for uBlock Origin, with tidiochat added by me at the end (I can't sign up for GitHub just to send a PR for this):

    ||widget.intercom.io/*
    ||connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk/xfbml.customerchat.js
    ||assets.producthunt.com/assets/upwigloader.js
    ||js.driftt.com/include/*
    ||*.crisp.chat/*
    ||*.intergram.xyz/js/*
    ||widget.mfy.im/*
    ||connect.podium.com/*
    ||app.hubspot.com/*
    ||static.getchipbot.com/*
    ||static.zdassets.com/ekr/snippet.js^
    ||www.couchbase.com/webfiles/1552355627964/js/contact-popup-form.js
    ||tidiochat.com/

[1]: https://raw.githubusercontent.com/bcye/Hello-Goodbye/master/...


I made a GitHub Issue with that suggestion for you: https://github.com/bcye/Hello-Goodbye/issues/16


I was once considering a switch to sprint... had gone through the process of picking a phone, selecting a service level and was half way through checkout, BAM! in your face chat, "Can I help you?" Cancelled entirely.

Same thing happens with Dell, I don't think it's possible to get through an order and checkout without an intrusive chat opening up on you.

I don't mind if it's an icon+label off to the side in a fixed position, it's handy if you want it. But when it opens up and interferes with you using the site in question, you lost me as a customer. And I'll actually engage with the chat to let them know they lost me because of it.


Aside from omg, buy your phone separate and month to month the contract.

You should use chat widgets to get discounts.

You can almost always get an extra 10-20% off from a lot of places via cs staff because that's what they're allowed to give and they're incentivised to give it to you because they want good survey feedback.

Dell and Lenovo are notoriously bad with this to the point I exclusively place orders through their chat staff.


I hadn't thought about it that way, but it's just so annoying to me.

P.S. I always buy the phone outright, was just getting it through the carrier, the price was competitive.


Fair enough.

And yes, the inefficiency of it all makes my eye twitch uncontrollably also.


When I was a student trying to work out the discounts for Dells product I found their chat widget pretty useful. I agree, it's an annoyance when it's intrusive, but having the ability to quickly speak to someone can be useful.


can it block 'this website would like to send you notifications' popups too? those irritate me more than chat widgets


in firefox > options > privacy > permissions > notifications > settings, you have "Block new requests asking to allow notifications"


There are sites (can't recall now) that show the notification dialog as a layer that somehow beats the browser setting.


The ones I've encountered that appear to bypass Firefox's "no you can't ask" setting are just rendering a mockup of Chrome's, well, chrome over top of the page. It's a pitiful attempt because the UI they're faking looks nothing like the browser I'm actually using (beyond rendering Chrome's UI in a page loaded by Firefox, they'll show Windows OS buttons when I'm using a Mac, or comically they'll do the reverse when Windows is still far and away the most common desktop OS).


Is there something similar in Chrome?


chrome://settings/content/notifications

Change "Ask before sending" -> "Blocked"



Very cool -- the widgets are getting a little out of hand these days, I prefer when they stay minimized or at least out of your face. Thank you-- will definitely try this out!

Also love the Cruip design, makes it very slick!


It would be interesting to see a browser extension like this that keeps the chat widgets on the page, but forces them to stay minimized. I often find it painful when I actually need the widget (example: using intercom for product support) to disable my blocker & refresh the page.


thank you for the kind words, did you use the buymeacoffee link? (guessing from your username)


Yes :)


thank you so much, you really made my day.


This doesn't bother me nearly as often as the inevitable popup asking me to "sign up" with my email address. Does anybody ever enter an email address into these things?


I'm probably inviting a modification, but I'm pleased to say this has no effect on the simple help desk I made for React and Node: https://github.com/unleashit/React-Help-Desk

Not sure why anyone would have a big issue with help desks (unless they take over your screen in an annoying way). Next will someone come up with a contact form blocker?


I'm pretty sure the entire point of this is because of intrusive self-opening chats for conversion, not help.


The ones that are intrusive, I agree. But I think that's more of a design issue that isn't particular to help desks (which I think can be very useful to people of done tastefully). If only someone would write a plugin and that could single out all intrusive UX, I'd be the first to install it!


They often don’t scroll out of view which can be annoying.


I thoroughly recommend installing NoScript. I've set it to only trust first-party-domain scripts and those from a few hand-picked sites.

This does occasionally mean I'm confronted by a broken site or feature, but all I have to do is look at the list and work out what's missing. It's usually an obvious CDN.


I didn't know you could set it that detailed, thanks for mentioning that.


It's interesting how much work is done to remove try things from the web (vs adding to it) to make it usable.


interesting thought...


I totally agree that the chats popping up can be annoying. We've been using Intercom for a while now at geocod.io, and changed the settings last year to not have automatic messages. The icon is still hovering in the corner, but you have to actively press it to reach out to us.


Daniel's "No, Thanks" add-on for Firefox and Chrome can do this, as well as hiding other similar web annoyances.

https://www.kiboke-studio.hr/browser-extensions/


didnt know that


I feel like chat widgets have become the new email popups. Extremely annoying when you get asked if you need help one second after landing. Not to mention that many widgets also play a sound.

Saving this extension for later to go over the source. :-)


Just want to point out that the author Bruce Roettgers is "an 16 y.o. and like to build stuff." Great job and keep up the good work!

https://github.com/bcye


haha thanks


Why don't you collapse it instead of killing it ? I sometimes need that chatbox.


You can temporarily disable the blocker when you need it.

Why I don't collapse it? I find the solution above better, since I still really find it annoying.


Some people never use them.

Collapsed chatbox icon is an improvement but it still comes at a cost: requires network connections, takes some screen space and could be considered a distraction.


I find them useful, but they often block the screen too much. See https://pulumi.io on mobile for example, the site is complete blocked.


That site should be a UX 101 case study for bad UX, at least on mobile. First there is a cookie warning. Ok meh. Then the chat pops up in the way. Click x and it goes full screen. Click back and I’m back on HN. Go forward and I see the site again. Scroll and the chat goes full screen again. Click the full screen chat x and finally I get to view their website.


I honestly liked the website more than the extension. And disliked the promotion of having productuhunt before the brand. For the same purpose, I already use kill sticky headers.


Is there a GitHub link? I can't seem to find it on mobile.


Doesn't help on mobile, but I use this chrome extension that allows you to view/download the source of other chrome extensions a lot: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/chrome-extension-s...

Edit: Found the GitHub page: https://github.com/bcye/Hello-Goodbye


thanks for helping out there



Ublock Origin with all lists enabled deals with almost any ads (excluding some crazy js, Umatrix and Violentmonkey injections are more suitable for such stuff)


Can't uBlock Origin already solve this problem?


I also created a uBlock origin filter list. Download it on https://hellogoodbye.app


some people have mentioned that but now the addon is already developed :D


It is quite sad to see, that authors of websites can not see the problem themselves, and we have to "fix" it ourselves :(


i dont think itll end soon :(


This seems like the case of anything that is possible is bound to happen at some point ie. the combination of all possibilities


Can you please add blocking of "Please agree to use cookies" hollyguacamolle?


I wish browsers would simply block everything that animates, with a per-site opt-in for sites like YouTube where I expect video or motion.

Define “animation” loosely enough and it could encompass chat pop ups, subscribe-to-newsletter pop ups, artsy “intros”, scrolljacking, and other unexpected distractions.


Thank you, had to do manually do this through my adblocker every now and then.


glad this is helpful :)


I love you


ok?


Why would have such kind of extension?

Yes, it’s annoying but mostly helpful.


Thanks, this is useful. Now my list of annoying internet content I wish for blockers for looks like this:

- Chat popups: Solved

- GDPR popups: Unsolved

- In-Page popups: Unsolved (get our newsletter, xd)

- Notifications: Semi-solved

(- Clickbait-blocker [All caps titles, listicles, stupid questions, annoying thumbnails]: Unsolved)

If anyone could help me with these I'd be very, very grateful.


uBlock Origin has a lot of suggested rule lists to subscribe to, including those made for general annoyances. I have found that the country-specific sometimes also do these things instead of only ads.

Not sure it would solve all your problems, but can recommend to look it up. Really easy to add more rules yourself, and consider making pull requests if you find other things to block.


awesome thanks for mentioning prs


GDPR is good for you. It is for your benefit to be able choose what is stored on the website about you.

It is the websites that are making the banner look so annoying just to make you quickly click "OK, I agree" button.


Dude, I know. It's the clicking through the "learn more" links and other disguised buttons and mazes to disagree that anger me, while it could be a program doing it. Additionally, if the user just doesn't answer, the assumption must be no consent.


Consent must be obtained for tracking, right? The law requires that it's opt-in?

So when the GDPR is properly enforced and implemented, there should be no difference to the end user between blocking these content elements vs. clicking No or ignoring the element, as the default is that consent has not been given.


I wonder how many sites actually use the banner's "OK" BEFORE they inject the ads and analytics scripts.


Yes, consent must be given, and it should be a positive action. Inaction, pre-checked boxes does not qualify.


nearly 500 votes, top of show, but chrome web store shows zero users. I don't think popularity on hn anymore indicates product market fit.


- Startup invents chat widget - Chrome extension to block widget I love the internet


neat; why haven't I thought of this before.


No link to the source code


in the top right corner of the website or here https://github.com/bcye/Hello-Goodbye

sorry i didnt make it obvious enough.


I saw the octocat at the top right, but it's not a link - tapped it 20 times without success (mobile chrome)


does it still not work?


Works now (and looks differently - a black octocat on white triangle backgroud; previosly it was a purple shadow on black bacground)


is there one that stops the GDPR/Cookie law popups that litter the web?


Most can be killed with a 'kill sticky' bookmarklet which comes in handy for increasing all kinds of real estate problems.

https://alisdair.mcdiarmid.org/kill-sticky-headers/


You're in luck. Try to search "I don't care about cookies" in Chrome Web store.

I combine that with Vanilla cookie manager to remove all cookies except whitelisted ones after 60 minutes.


Congratulations. You have just helped take away the #1 support mechanism for our SaaS. Can I just redirect all my irate customers to your email when they cannot reach our support team within minutes like they do now after installing your extension?


The extension allows the user to temporarily show the widgets, in case the user does need support, but yes it would actually be a lot of fun if you would redirect them to hello@hellogoodbye.app


Funny, you know I think the commenters on here and PH are mainly hobbyist or work in large corporates and don't actually have to run a web service to make profit it seems. The comments about cookie privacy and GDPR etc. just proves that they don't have a clue about the legal aspects of running a web service.

Yeah I get that some sites use popup chats that are annoying as heck, but by and large, they are a tool to get more engagement and interactivity with the visitor.

Perhaps I should write a Chrome extension that removes credit card forms from all web sites so people aren't forced to send money to anyone. Who knows, might even make it to #1 on ProductHunt.


I think those people that are commenting on here and PH are mainly people that are annoyed that 50% of their browser screen is taken up by widgets, while they are being followed around by 20 trackers (seriously why do people need facebook, google, adobe and crazyegg analytics on their site)

These widgets are just being abused to extract just a little more conversion rate.

You're just missing the point.

By the way, what do you think about my offer? I was being serious, would be funny to have all the support emails redirected to me.




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