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Partnering with publishers for a better journalism experience (firefox.com)
224 points by jrwiegand on July 4, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 181 comments

It's about time somebody tried this. $5/mo. is fair; I don't need a million sites to be in the catalog, but I would like a bit more variety eventually.

People who complain about "modern journalism", take note. If this takes off, publications will be less incentivized to post those godawful clickbait articles that have soured the Internet reading experience.

I'll read the Atlantic and Vox, but Buzzfeed is a no-no, unless it's Buzzfeed News. And they should really consider changing the name as a serious news site on a subscription format shouldn't be associated with the ad hell that is the regular Bfeed.

I am tempted to visit buzzfeednews sometimes but can't bring myself to do it based on my disdain for buzzfeed as a whole.

> It's about time somebody tried this.

I mean , isn't this essentially the idea behind patreon? You batch the micropayments payments into single transactions on the credit card network to reduce the marginal cost of the fixed fees?

Didn't Google already do something similar with new subscriptions?

Didn't flattr do this a decade ago?

It's not a new idea, and as I ranted elsewhere, is only even required because of the fixed fees on credit card transactions.

I've never heard of Flattr, whereas I think most people know Mozilla or at least have heard of them through Firefox.

I'd expect Mozilla to be more invested in the "pay with $, not ads" approach compared to Google. Mozilla owns Pocket, which has been relatively good at finding longreads type material on the net and rendering it in a reader-mode view, so I think they're a better cultural/philosophical fit.

I don't use Patreon. IIUC, you need to sign up to support different content providers individually. That's not what I want.

> I don't use Patreon. IIUC, you need to sign up to support different content providers individually. That's not what I want.

Well, isn't the the same thing in the end? Both you and the person you want to pay need to have ths same platform? If someone uses chrome, won't they need to go and "find" the site using Firefox to pay.

What you want is to be able to pay for something once you've found it? I get that, and it's a slightly different model than patreon, but in the end it is the same problem: micropayments are expensive and currently require someone to batch them.

The bigger problem is that requires another shared middle man that some people may not like fot whatever reason.

I believe Google tried something like this and then shut it down.

Contributor was a micro-payments subscription thing were you could buy a subscription and actively participate in the regular ad-exchanges. The idea was that you could support websites by outbidding crappy advertising on Google’s platform and see pictures of cats (or whitespace) instead. It doesn’t take much money to outbid just about every advertising you’d see in a normal month. https://www.ctrl.blog/entry/google-contributor.html

They’ve repurposed it as an “ad removal pass” service were you pay way more money per month per website that you want to remove ads on. It’s limited to large publishers only. https://www.ctrl.blog/entry/google-contributor-twopointoh.ht...

Buzzfeed news doesnt seem to be all serious: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/danvergano/what-color-a...

In case you are also wondering how that works and what's supported.

Based on https://blog.mozilla.org/futurereleases/2019/02/25/exploring... it looks like it's a collaboration with https://scroll.com/ and supports sites like:

- Vox

- The Atlantic

- Buzzfeed

- Gizmodo

- Slate

In principle, I could be interested in this, but they'll need a much better range of partners than what currently shows up on https://scroll.com/ before it looks worthwhile to me. Less of the celebrity/pop-culture gossip, and more real news, please.

Yeah as a non-American I'd love to see WaPo/NyT as part of a $4.99 deal, but I can imagine that they are reluctant to sell access in their home market at that price.

This is the second project I've seen by Mozilla whose page is light on details, with no obvious way to find out more. The first was Firefox Lockwise, https://lockwise.firefox.com/

There's just a button to get it. Well, I want to learn more before I commit to something, and I think others would too.

Wow, all of those are considered far left sources according to mediabiasfactcheck.com, except for The Atlantic, which is only center left. I don't want to pay $5 a month to only hear one side of the story.

And who is this mediabiasfactcheck.com? Is it bias all the way down? It appears to be some guy called Dave Van Zandt.


> "Until October 2018 MBFC rated China's Xinhua News Agency as "least biased",[205] but the rating has since changed to the somewhat more reasonable "left-center bias".[206] Xinhua has been criticized by Reporters Without Borders as being the "world's biggest propaganda agency",[207][208] and is regarded by Wikipedia as a source "to treat carefully""

Are you sure that Buzzfeed is to the left of the Communist Party official outlet?

Do you prefer the study from harvard? https://cyber.harvard.edu/publications/2017/08/mediacloud

They define buzzfeed as center-left.

"Left" and "far left" are usually considered two different things... And this website rates them simply as left. But the rest of your comment is very pertinent, I do hope they include a wider variety of sources.

What's up with all these comments pointing out that "they are all far left sources" suddenly? Did this thread get posted in some other community and there's an influx of these users now?

The user you're responding to has been on HN since 2013. A lot of people are just really tired of the single point of view that's so prevalent (and pushed so aggressively) in our industry.

Any non american sites? Where can I find a complete list?


Well, my guess is they aren’t going to support a website with whom 99.99% of their users probably find reprehensible.

And yet Buzzfeed and a Gawker site are on that list...

If you’re implying 99.99% of users of Firefox are leftists, you’ll have to prove it.

If you're implying only leftists would object to The Daily Stormer, you'll have to prove it.

The guy is obviously being facetious bringing up Daily Stormer, but I agree that it’s odd (or maybe not so much) that Mozilla only went with leftist outlets.

I don't see anything in the linked article showing that Mozilla only went with leftist outlets, much less an intention on their part to exclude non-leftist content as a matter of policy.

What I do see here is an assumption of a political agenda based on what may not even be an exhaustive list of Scroll's list of publisher sites, likely based on a single graphic on their frontpage which contains 12 logos, of which four companies were mentioned here. Their about page[0] shows 24. Are all of these "leftist" outlets? Is their only relevant commonality left-wing political ideology?

Show me some evidence of non-crazy non-leftist publishers being rejected by this partnership due to their ideology and I'll agree it's odd. Until then it just looks like confirmation bias to me.


I’ve looked at the list and literally all of them are leftist outlets. (Half of them belong to the Gizmodo family.) They are also all US-based.

There’s a clear bias and, honestly, trying to pretend it’s not there is doing a disservice.

Whether that’s because Scroll is not interested in serving right-wing customers or because right-wing outlets are not interested in participating in Scroll, that’s going to remain a mystery I guess.

People believe that all forms of media, including all social media, are controlled by a leftist agenda now. What does "literally leftist" even mean in this context?

How is Fatherly[0] a "literally leftist outlet?"

The fact that so many of them are Gizmodo sites only tells me that Gizmodo joined the platform and all of the others came as a package deal. That's not furthering an agenda, it's good business, given Gizmodo's popularity.


> Seems like a bunch of publishers that have a leftist bias.

Fair point. This is unlikely to appeal to anyone without left-leaning politics.

> The Daily Stormer

Very bad example of "the other side" which derails the point you're making. Better: "I wonder if they'll give The Federalist, National Review, Quillette etc. ..."

There are examples of conservative (or just heterodox, in Quillette's case) media outlets that don't endorse genocide.

> The Daily Stormer

Let's hope they don't support Neo-Nazis.

Gonna go out on a limb and guess that Firefox isn't that interesting in funding holocaust denial.

I find it unlikely as well and don't blame them (they have a huge brand identity to protect) but I don't think this sort of concept really works unless it's available everywhere ad revenue is. The unique value to the end user is "an ad free web" not "a web content curator".

The Daily Stormer? Really? No, I suspect that Mozilla won’t be partnering with self-identified Nazis.

Why aren't there rightwing outlets you can recommend that aren't overtly racist?

Because the best way to tell if someone is being true to their stance, is to see if they apply it to those they hate as they do to those they love.

What if their stance is about not being racist?

This is a ridiculous strawman argument. Sure, they should include right-wing media. But "The Daily Stormer" is not right wing media, rather it is a neo-nazi conspiracy hell hole. It has no place on a list of journalistic outlets.

You're saying that not wanting to support Nazis and wanting a better funding model for content on the internet are mutually exclusive?


Because your average HN reader understands that "unbiased journalism" is an oxymoron. Water is wet, and pointing that out brings absolutely nothing of value to the discussion.

My point was never that journalism is not unbiased, I was pointing out that Mozilla has a leftist bias.

"Water is wet, and pointing that out brings absolutely nothing of value to the discussion." That's most of the comments on HN, the only reason I browse this place is because the rest of the internet is even worse.

r3bl on July 4, 2019 [flagged]

Nah dude, reality has a leftist bias.

Please don't do this here.

Please provide me with a way of deleting my account.

In what way is neoliberalism leftist?

I got the following when I tried the link to subscribe:

Thank you for your interest in Firefox Ad-free Internet!

This product isn't available yet, but we're working on it. Would you please click the Next button to take a short survey to tell us what you think? At the end of the survey we'll get your (optional!) e-mail address so that we can let you know when the Firefox Ad-free Internet beta launches. If you don't want to give feedback, click here to skip to the sign-up page.

Click the 'Next' button to take the survey.

If you skip the survey you end up on scroll.com:

> Thank you for participating in this survey! We would like to invite you to a free trial of Firefox Ad-free Internet, a name we used in this survey for a partnership with our friends at Scroll. You can sign up today at www.scroll.com Thank you very much for helping to make the internet a better place!

That clarifies it quite a bit for me, thank you.

must be a geo-ip thing ... I got a page offering me this service for $4.99 a month

EDIT never mind, once you click through to subscribe it's that survey. This whole thing seems a bit disingenuous ...

It's one of their trial site things; I doubt they expect people to go directly to it from HN, they expect people to know that these products don't actually exist yet.

It literally says ”Sign up now!”

Yes, because it's one of their trial sites. It's supposed to look exactly like the real deal, but not actually work. Normally you'd get to it from a blog post or landing page explaining this.

have you got a link to such a page?

No, I can't actually find one for this product. I don't know how they announced it, however. It does seem to be the same kind of trial thing they've done in the past though.

> I can't actually find one for this

I found one for you [0]

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20353752

I didn't get that, was it supposed to be a joke? That's not a Mozilla page. It's normally a blog post or something, but it could have been an email newsletter too or similar.

It's a Kite, plain and simple


Ah, I see, I misunderstood; thanks, I didn't know there was a term for this!

This is sort of unfortunate news to me, as I take this as a sign that they won't do adblocking by default. I think this is a mistake; users want ads to be blocked. Especially on mobile, where it's more important from a perf perspective. Brave has ads blocked, Opera has ads blocked. If Firefox wants to follow the lead and be a privacy focused company like they say, then they need to block ads.

I don't necessarily want ads blocked, especially on sites that I regularly enjoy that I don't pay for with money.

I do want to block the underlying tracking/fingerprinting/profiling etc.

This is why I'm very much against Brave - I don't really see why they have the right to edit or censor other people's revenue models and replace them with their own. That seems.. unethical.

It is the users who are censoring the pages by choosing to use an ad blocking browser. I don't think the fact that Brave is offering an alternative revenue stream taints their browser's ad blocking capabilities. It is a feature that is available on almost all other browsers, natively or through a plugin.

They don’t. You, the end user, do. They’re selling you a tool to do that.

They provide an entire replacement economy from which they profit 5% of transactions, I don't see them as being innocent bystanders here.

"Innocent" implies there is an injustice / crime of some sort taking place, but there is not in this case.

I didn't mean to imply 'crime' but I'll accept 'injustice' in the context of the post I was responding to.

What's the injustice?

I may be in the minority, but I've never used an ad blocker. Content makers need to make a living and cutting off their ad revenue seems sleazy.

That said, they may have gone too far with tracking and other excessive bloat that I might just start using one.

"Other excessive bloat" often includes malware. Less seriously, it also includes autoplay video and scams.

If ads were safe (i.e. text-only, no JavaScript, no video) and the publishers actually vetted the products, I wouldn't block them. I don't care that a physical NYT has ads. It's the algorithmic sale and distribution of ads that broke the model.

> publishers actually vetted the products

I work in ad technology for a publisher. We put in a lot of effort to make the tech fast, lightweight and secure for our visitors - we hate bad ads too. We screen our partners, use whitelists and monitor what JS is running on the site.

This being said - things sometimes slip through the cracks. Somebody with a browser-based 0-day will pay huge CPMs to insert their ad and own thousands of machines. We can't prevent this - if you have any ideas on how, I'd love to hear it.

I don't think reviewing code for malware scales, especially in a competitive industry like online ads. You have to automate it, and automation isn't foolproof.

You can either: 1) disable JS in ads entirely, or 2) give all users an option to pay for an ad-free site.

Since few publishers do either, I'll continue to use my adblocker and simultaneously pay the publishers I think we can't do without (e.g. ProPublica).

I agree that getting directly payed by users is a much better outcome. But the reality is that people don't want to pay us directly (in the US markets; we charge directly in other markets and it's working beautifully)

Perhaps Javascript ads should be banned by law. It would be easier to enforce compared to investigating what the corporation actually does with the info that it collected from the user.

> often includes malware.

Can you define often? It seems quite rare actually for a malware to be distributed online without user intervention, with the recent Firefox 0-day being one of theses cases and only touched a small proportion of people.

The web is quite secure already and sure ads network is a good vector but so is Hacker News, Reddit and Facebook, which nobody cares about (have you ever not clicked on a link on any of theses platforms and looked at the URL first?).

I seriously hate that argument of security, it's just wrong.

When you visit a serious web site, like t-online.de or spiegel.de, with an up-to-date iPad and you're getting popups with porn or gambling offers that cannot be closed (they can, but reopen instantly), when you cannot use the back button anymore, and the only way to regain control of your browser is to either reboot the iPad (that's what many normal people do) or you force-close Safari... then you've caught malware from a big ad network that t-online.de or spiegel.de use.

Happened regularly about a year or two ago, certainly more often than every month, haven't seen it since, though.

> have you ever not clicked on a link on any of theses platforms and looked at the URL first?

That's not what happens.

> I seriously hate that argument of security, it's just wrong.

Maybe you should contemplate the possibility that you're wrong.

> to regain control of your browser is to either reboot the iPad (that's what many normal people do) or you force-close Safari...

That's seems more like a browser issue, but none the less, any links on Hacker News could do the same.

I don't consider that malware to have to close an application, just like I don't consider a malware a link that rick roll me (which still force me to close a tab ;) unless I want to stay on Youtube).

> That's not what happens.

Aren't we talking about running malicious JS? Any link you click can contains malicious JS, yet you click on that link without thinking about it, but when it's an ad that may contains malicious JS, you block it altogether.

I don't understands really what you means by not what happens.

> Maybe you should contemplate the possibility that you're wrong.

I contemplate each time I'm discussing with someone about it. I still haven't got any evidence about it.

Each time I ask someone that does it for "security purpose", when they don't answer by "do your own research" (which I always try when they say that even if it's absurd to have nothing to defends yourself), the best example they always have is either link to some report with stats that doesn't define malware, or the Forbes case of when one of their ad was a fake Java update. If that's malware, then here we go, HN now serve malware too: Click on that URL to update Java: https://forbes.com

If we were arguing blocking Javascript for security purpose, now that does make sense (still pretty unlikely, but based on news, it seems to happen much more).

With ad networks you didn't click on some shady link. You just get the malware Javascript served. Without clicking or visiting anything shady. Reputable sites deliver malware through their embedding of ads.

That's not theoretical (like your "but HN could deliver malware, too), that's reality.

> You just get the malware Javascript served.

Which happens on any link you click on Reddit, Hacker News or Facebook. Unless you don't click on them and only visit website that you consider trustworthy, you get the exact same risk. Actually even if you may feel that a link is trustworthy, it doesn't even means it actually is, like it happened for the past Firefox 0-day exploit. This guy nearly got it by trusting that [0].

[0] https://robertheaton.com/2019/06/24/i-was-7-words-away-from-...

> That's not theoretical (like your "but HN could deliver malware, too), that's reality.

My textual example was to discredit the Forbe example. I have an hard time understanding your point about it being theoretical. Are you actually refering to my other example about links from HN that could contains malicious Javascript? That's to know if you check links or you click on them arbitrarily with all the risk that come with it.

My point is that malicious Javascript is extremely rare and when it does happen, it's targeted and doesn't use ad network. Theses vulnerabilities are gold mine and it makes no sense to put it on an ad network and hope that you'll get enough out of it before it get caught and removed/fixed. Selling it to the highest bidder or targeting a specific group of people make much more sense.

If you have any example of where an actual malware was spread using ads, I would be happy to learn about it.

I'm also curious to know if you block Javascript and if you do, why do you block ads on top of that?

> If you have any example of where an actual malware was spread using ads, I would be happy to learn about it.

I just gave you a first-hand account of exactly that happening, and you keep dismissing that, claiming that it does not happen.

If you don't believe me, google for it. There have been plenty of articles about ad networks as malware services.

I find your behaviour here very dishonest, and for me it's EOD.

We've warned you many times about not crossing into personal attack on HN. I don't want to ban you, but you need to do your part as well, by editing such bits out of your comments here.


> I just gave you a first-hand account of exactly that happening, and you keep dismissing that, claiming that it does not happen.

You means the popup that force you to force-close your iPhone browser app? I already answered that:

> That's seems more like a browser issue [...] I don't consider that malware to have to close an application, just like I don't consider a malware a link that rick roll me (which still force me to close a tab ;) unless I want to stay on Youtube).

I did get theses kinds of ads on some sketchy website on my Android phone, I can't do back but closing the tab is alright.

To me closing an annoying tab isn't much of a malware. If none of my information were at risk, that's not a malware.

> If you don't believe me, google for it. There have been plenty of articles about ad networks as malware services.

You do this after I even mentioned this happening all the time.

> Each time I ask someone that does it for "security purpose", when they don't answer by "do your own research" (which I always try when they say that even if it's absurd to have nothing to defends yourself), the best example they always have is either link to some report with stats that doesn't define malware, or the Forbes case of when one of their ad was a fake Java update. If that's malware, then here we go, HN now serve malware too: Click on that URL to update Java: https://forbes.com

I'll google with you then: ad network malware

Result 1:

> Hackers Abuse Google Ad Network To Spread Malware That Mines Cryptocurrency > https://www.forbes.com/sites/leemathews/2018/01/26/hackers-a...

You may not want cryptominers in your ads, but that's not really a malware again, your information are safe. There's nothing dangerous there.

Result 2: > Malvertising - Wikipedia > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malvertising

It does contains an interesting history, which push toward my theory.

> advertisements telling them their systems were infected and trying to trick them into installing rogue security software > drive-by download

So theses malware get installed if you download it and run it voluntarily...

> The attack infected users' machines with the ransomware, ‘Cryptowall’, a type of malware that extorts money from users by encrypting their data and placing a ransom of up to $1000 in bitcoins, to be paid in 7 days, to decrypt the data.

That's an interesting case, but doesn't mentions how the payload was delivered, could be drive-by download like always.

> In 2014 there were major malvertising campaigns on the DoubleClick and Zedo ad networks. [...] As in previous attacks the cybercrime involved Cryptowall as the malware infection. This spate of malvertising was believed to have brought over $1 million of ransom money in by infecting over 600,000 computers.

That one is not directly interesting because the source say that:

>through aggressive distribution using a variety of tactics that included spam emails with malicious links or attachments, drive-by-download attacks from sites infected with exploit kits and through installations by other malware programs already running on compromised computers

Again, either by running it directly voluntarily, or by other malware already running....

However after more research from this case, I found another article [0], which said that:

> now millions of computers have likely been exposed to Zemot, although only those with outdated antivirus protection were actually infected.

So an actual case of infection! Caused by outdated antivirus though and worse than that:

> Zemot is focused on computers running Windows XP,

For something in 2014... Windows XP stopped being supported at all in April 2014. Don't use an outdated system...

I would go into each result, but they are mostly definitions and I already lost enough time. The last result of the page is interesting and probably the first case that I see.

> Malicious code hidden in advert images cost ad networks $1.13bn this year > https://www.zdnet.com/article/malicious-code-hidden-in-adver...

> "In this instance, the malicious code was an auto-redirect to a phishing site targeting US users."

So that's interesting, usually I wouldn't call phishing a malware mostly because you should always check the URL, but in this case considering it was doing it on the website itself, I would consider it as essentially one. First case I found! Adblock would then make sense on website where you put personal information. I hope browsers/ad-network will fix this auto-redirect issue quick though.

> I find your behaviour here very dishonest, and for me it's EOD.

What's dishonest about my behaviour?

[0] https://www.theverge.com/2014/9/19/6537511/google-ad-network...

> Can you define often?

It doesn't matter. It could be 1 out of every million hits, but it's still a source of malware. Most of us don't upgrade to the latest browser version the minute it's released, which makes us vulnerable.

> ads network is a good vector but so is Hacker News

Uhh... what are you talking about? HN has minimal JS, and they wrote it. Some ad networks are injecting JavaScript into your browser that they have never seen before and didn't write themselves.

I may trust, let's say, NYT not to serve me malware with code they wrote in their offices, but NYT is not the entity that wrote the JavaScript delivered in their ads.

> have you ever not clicked on a link on any of theses platforms and looked at the URL first?

You seem to be arguing that hyperlinks are an attack vector, which assumes such a broad interpretation of "attack vector" that the word becomes meaningless. It's like saying that an airplane is an attack vector because it can fly you into a war zone. Yes, it can... but I get to choose where I'm going.

Regarding that choice: these platforms show you the domain you're clicking through to, so you have a chance to bail. And with an ad blocker, you don't have to be as afraid to visit a malicious site. I have JS and ad blocking on by default, and I whitelist a site when it seems trustworthy enough.

> It doesn't matter.

It does matter, you used the word often, that word has a meaning.

> Uhh... what are you talking about? HN has minimal JS, and they wrote it. Some ad networks are injecting JavaScript into your browser that they have never seen before and didn't write themselves.

You never click on the article link? That page can be anything, thus include any JS.

> I get to choose where I'm going.

Thus you check every link before clicking on it? I feel like that's not the case, but I would applaud you to be consistent if you do.

> And with an ad blocker, you don't have to be as afraid to visit a malicious site.

Ad blockers only block ads, not malicious JS. If you visit a website which include malicious JS, it's just as bad as an ad that contains malicious JS.

> I have JS and ad blocking on by default

Blocking JS that's a good way to stop malicious JS. Blocking ads then is redundant, what does it give you more?

I consider ad blockers a security issue: too many ad servers in recent history have been used as malware distributors, including Google Adsense. Since publishers don't secure their systems (Google's vulnerability here is known for years and they don't fix it but instead opted to kick out malicious advertisers if/when they catch them), adblockers offer protection.

Same for me, if your website cause excessive bloat with their ads, then I'll just avoid it (unless that content is worth the excessive bloat, like Youtube ads).

As soon as I can pay for the content instead, I do it.

Ads is just another way to pay... if it's too bloated (thus too expensive) you just don't get it, or go find something less bloated (aka less expensive), that's it.

I use an ad-blocker on Firefox but I think if Firefox started blocking adverts by default it could find itself in a dangerous situation. A lot of sites would feel justified blocking Firefox in that case, which would do more damage to the already-shrinking user base. I know many sites have "turn off your ad-blocker" currently and I usually just leave at that point, but I could imagine a movement to more actively crush Firefox if it had ad-blocking baked in.

Although maybe long term this will happen anyway, so Mozilla has nothing to lose. I mean Chrome will have its ad-tech-friendly blocking-lite, Firefox will be the only real ad-blocking available, and sites will start to make moves to directly discourage Firefox use ("I see you're using Firefox, switch to Chrome to view our crappy site").

Successful ad blocking would kill the advertisement revenue stream. This revenue stream is what pays for the content you enjoy, so ad blocking kills content.

I like content, and I don't mind paying for it. I'd prefer to pay with money, not via ads. Give me that option.

Further, I don't want a subscription. I want to pay as I go, at the rates ads pay. 50¢ per thousand pages sounds ok to me.

Ads pay a lot more than that on quality websites such as the Scroll ones. 50c per thousand page is so low I can't see how you find it fair. We're talking lets say 1000h of work, and your fair price is 50c ?

If they read 3 articles a day, they've decided that quality journalism across multiple publishers should cost 50 cents a year.

> I want to pay as I go, at the rates ads pay. 50¢ per thousand pages sounds ok to me.

You often get a ecpm of 50 cents? That seems quite awful, even more so from the US. It should be closer to 10x that.

In my experience, US$5/CPM is about right for general content focused on an industrialized market, but:

1) it’s based on page views where ads are rendered. So ad-blocked users aren’t in the denominator.

2) most of that revenue is driven by clicks, not ad views. So users like me, that rarely click on ads, ever, probably earn publishers about 50cents/cpm.

Sure but that price that you suggest is for everyone, not only ad-block users or people that doesn't click on ads.

At the end of the day, if it cost them more than an ecpm of 0.50$ to produce that content (and I'm pretty sure it does, because most ad-based website never made ton of profit and that was the case even before adblocking became popular), than that just doesn't make sense either to have a price that low.

I'm happy to pay by seeing ads or by paying money. I'm not happy to have my personal info floating around on the servers of the ad-industry in order to deliver targeted ads.

Subscriptions risk making silos. Once you have paid $5 for site-group-A (one million sites) it's annoying to find that the site you are reading belongs to site-group-B which belongs to some other subscription. This is the HBO-vs-Netflix problem.

Keep in mind that Firefox is a "user agent", their job is not to make websites happy, it's to make their users happy.

Ad-blocking is a lot like using a DVR, or a VCR. Someone sends you data and you have the right to not view all of that data. The company has the right not to send you the data if you don't pay for it, but they don't have the right to tell you that you must view all of it.

>This revenue stream is what pays for the content you enjoy, so ad blocking kills content.

Content that is funded by ads is often not content I particularly care about. If it matters enough people will be willing to fund it, if not, let it die.

Seriously? You never use StackOverflow? You never enjoyed anything on Youtube?

You are definitely in a tiny minority if that's actually the case.

I don't mind ads on SO so much since they're not trying to get you to buy stuff. I might enjoy YouTube but it's definitely overrated as a platform.

I agree, but the problem here is that not all pages are of equal value. The Guardian ought to be able to charge me more per page if it was written by one of their full time employees. I can't see how Mozilla will ever be able to figure out how to apportion the money, without just exposing my "balance" and the cost of visiting each page.

People once said the same thing about pop-up blockers.

This is just a data gathering link for Mozilla to validate some ideas for added revenue sources, they are also doing a VPN one.

Clicking the button brings you to a survey where they seem to indicate the intent is to be ad free:

> You clicked a button to possibly subscribe to Firefox Ad-Free Internet for $4.99

I take it as a sign they're exploring other options. If this takes off, I would expect them to more seriously consider including adblocking as a default.

Note the following:

* This is yet not available.

* It's not "Ad-Free Internet" but more like "a dozen websites ad-free".

* They expect a monthly payment - which is fine, but the first thing I imagined from the title was a built-in blocker in the browser but this is quite different.

Firefox already has built-in tracking protection, which blocks trackers and by extension most ads.

This looks like it's a bundling of Scroll into Firefox, probably with different UX. It seems dishonest to me if you're gonna say "Ad-Free Internet" and "We share your payment directly with the sites you read" and really only do that for 12 domains. The internet is much bigger than that. Find a way to do this for ALL sites!

To be fair to them, they have to start somewhere. If they had to get every single site on the internet onboard as a prerequisite (as you seem to be suggesting) they'd never launch anything.

Yes I agree, it's impossible to cut a deal with every website. So a completely different solution is needed.

edit: maybe I am being too harsh... maybe this is a starting point to something bigger. Let's hope!

It looks like if you're a publisher you've partner up with Mozilla for this. Isn't this becoming a little dependent on Mozilla?

Publishers are already dependent on Google and if Google wants to screw them over, they can. How is this different from that?

It's not perfect, but I'd rather trust mozilla than google.

I'm the other way, google is probably the best company in my lifetime. Its recent Apple exploit 0day, I'm a bit skeptical of the programming.

Google has the resources to make better products.

> Google has the resources to make better products.

True but for the past 5 years or so they have been interested in making more money not better products.

And yet I've had to switch all my Lubuntu devices to using Chrome because Firefox can't seem to manage to remain open without eventually locking up the entire system.

I've had this problem too. Although I'd rather live with it than switch back to Chrome myself.

Did you try filing a bug report?

If I had filed a bug report I would have then had to gather logs and other such things to get the developers whatever information they need to fix it, and frankly I just don't care about helping them fix it enough to bother with that. I didn't choose it for these devices it was just the default. For my purposes it was just much easier to switch to a browser that wouldn't hang the system if it was left open for a few hours.

Edit: I appreciate the downvotes, as though answering this question with honesty is undesirable behavior. Keep up the good work /r/svwebdev!

Downvotes can be frustrating but everyone gets them. Please don't let them trigger you into breaking the site guidelines yourself. That only makes this place even worse, and guarantees more downvotes.

For the record I didn't downvote you, and I agree being honest doesn't deserve this response, but I would guess it's related to the high amount of devs here who are probably upset that you took the time to complain, yet don't want to take the time to at least check if a bug report exists. In some respects I agree, in that, if we want change the world and fight the "good fight" against the near-monopoly Google has on browsing, we need to band together and everyone do their part.

"All my Lubuntu devices" makes it sound like you have a lot of devices, thus increasing the likelihood of being easy to reproduce. There might even already exist a bug report which you could contribute to.

It seems so easy to reproduce, just install Lubuntu and run the Twitch dashboard for a few hours. I'd be surprised if there wasn't already a bug report, a cursory search of bugzilla shows several hundred bugs containing the words like "hang" and "freeze".

And, again being frank, I don't care enough to bother with scouring that for one that seems related enough to add to it, and then again reproducing the problem and collecting the appropriate logs and etc. And if experience is any indicator it'll just languish in their bug database for months or years anyway. I've got shit to do man, so I'll just use a product that works, thanks. It is not my responsibility to fix yours.

And I only brought it up because someone mentioned how much "better" a product Firefox is and my experience differed.

Publishers work with multiple ad networks to diversify their revenues, but the most they can diversify is around 30%.

I welcome this effort! Enabling alternative revenue streams for web content will be critical to make the place less abusive.

Unfortunately, the big successful players seem to make pretty good $$ by selling customer data, so they have little incentive to change this.

Mozilla/Firefox is in a unique position to launch an effort like this, since it controls a decent browsing platform with a significant user base.

I'll sign up the moment this becomes available in the EU.

Mozilla's userbase isn't really that significant, <5% is like ~2/50 people, where Chrome for example is 2/3 of all people using the internet by comparison: https://caniuse.com/usage-table

Those stats are from StatCounter. Literally the second sentence in their FAQ:

> Our tracking code is installed on more than 2 million sites globally.

Having a low number there is a feature.

Mozilla has about 300 million users across desktop and mobile. I'll let you decide if that's significant or not.

I think this is a re-branding of Pocket that they own. Same price https://getpocket.com/premium?ep=1

Sounds like a good idea since they never did communicate effectively about what pocket is and why I should get it. Even the website is vague, I'm not looking for an "ad-free space", not sure what that even means. I'm not interested in renting a room.

I don't understand why credit card networks (and banks in general) haven't stepped up their game with regards to micropayments (say, under $5). The marginal cost of any transaction is insignificant, and would be outweighed even by penny fees. Even if it required some extra steps for the vendor to become authorized to accept micropayments, and even with strict requirements around the number or total value of transactions a single card can be used with a single vendor during a time period, I think it could still work in everyone's favour.

One of the biggest fees on micropayments are the fixed transaction fees. Stripe is currently 27‰ + 5¢, which on a $1 transaction is nearly 8%! If those fixed fees could be made to go away for low-cost transactions, micropayments would work within the current system. Most people can accept 3% overhead, but most won't accept 8%.

It just seems like the entire problem is manufactured and not really an issue that can be solved until the banking systems just decided to solve it by changing their policies. I'm not even proposing a technical fix, it really seems to be a problem entirely with the current policies.

Edit: yes, I understand that Stripe is a gateway and processor, not an issuer or network, and that banks are often issures, but not the network. Yes, I understand that cards each have their own interchange rates, but many gateways like stripe have been just "averaging" them to provide low-volume retailers a fixed, predicable coat per transaction. I'm just saying that if the networks. E.g. Visa or MasterCard (or even discover or Amex despite being much smaller) could change their policies and requirements regarding fees for low volume transactions to remove fixed fees, and the vast majority of the issue with micropayments would be solved. I trust that the major payment gateways and browsers could work out a protocol to make use credit-card based micropayments very quickly and in a way that doesn't require additional third parties, beyond the payment gateway chosen by the person accepting the micropayment.

Hear.. hear.. This was one of the original features Marc wanted to add to Mosaic. We're so far past that moment and it's still not to be found.

Unless this is expanded to enable any site to join the system, one might argue it's creating a special web for a few choosen giant media sites which I guess it's not what mozilla wants for the web.

Yeah nice and all.. But it'll be like tv: Even though you pay for the tv service, after a while they will simply put in ads again. The incentives for publishers are simply too tempting.

This is not for me.

So a browser with a build in Flattr / Patreon / Liberapay option. Sounds like a good option.

Personally, I don't necessarily mind ads, unless intrusive. I mind: - tracking - javascript being used everywhere (IMO, for pure viewing, javascript should be optional).

That's why I like Adblock Plus, even if many find their position to be highly controversial. i.e. to charge advertisers to be whitelisted as "acceptable ads" if they respect certain criteria.

When left unchecked, advertisers are to websites what kittens are to furniture.

You should review your position regarding Adblock Plus. There is nothing on Acceptable Ads that tries to cover if the ad publisher is tracking the user or not.

Mozilla has to do this to show they're trying. They're not just about getting everything free. It will be good if it works, but it also works for them if

a) no publishers sign up

b) no customers sign up

(as long as they try hard to make it happen).

Anyone remember Google Contributor back in the day? How does this compare?

If you’re interested in this, make sure to check out Flattr and install their extension. It tracks your browsing over the course of a month, splits your monthly contribution among participating creators you’ve visited, and then deletes the collected data. Works for YouTube, domains, Twitter, GitHub, Twitch, and more. You set the monthly budget. https://flattr.com/contributors

This is a nice idea, but how do you expand it to global scale? Something automated perhaps, but the complexity is overwhelming.

I have no interest in Firefox's initial selection, but I'd gladly pay a monthly subscription to a collection of my local news sites.

How do we go from 5 american "online magazines" to a global network? I don't know.

I wonder what an average user generates in terms of ad-revenue per month. You know, the mix of your-favourite-media-provider, your-favourite-news-sites, your-favourite-social-media.

If that's more or less than $14.99, I'd be willing to pay it for an "ad-free" internet. This will never happen, I guess, but just thinking about it...

I'm super into this, and I was tempted to sign up immediately. But then I realized I have privacy/tracking concerns; does anyone have a line on what Scroll/Mozilla say on this? I couldn't find anything after a (very shallow) search.

I did go to sign up immediately, only to discover this is pure vaporware!

Wow it's just a survey. That's so non obvious. Boooo, kind of.

That survey they throw at you if you try to sign up is just complete and utter garbage, and asks you questions that both contradict each other, are in the wrong order, and ask you things you can't possibly have a good answer for at this stage.

Signed up.

That said, this is a practical implementation of some patterns that belongs on https://userinyerface.com/game.html ;-)

Did you sign up to be notified or were you able to subscribe to the paid service?

To be notified.

How did you signed up if no one can yet ?

Everybody is talking about journalists but what about the rest of the web? I regularly read the best opinions and tidbits on forums like hn and blogs. Who is going to fund those?

This won’t do much good for all the small publishers you visit every day, though. It’s only for a select few large publishers.

this would be great if it works as advertised! :D

It’s an MVP. It doesn’t have to work.

It's not MVP it's a Kite [0]. Minimum Viable Product is an actual "thing you can use", not mere concept. It's more than a prototype. The term implies it's something you can actually ship to customers.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_balloon

So what does viable mean?

It's conceptually viable; it's just not materially viable yet.

In all seriousness, I seem to remember that there was a practice of testing for viability using very similar means – basically, are people interested enough to click through, then collect emails.

So perhaps this is a path to demonstrate viability by questionnaire.

An MVP should consist of the minimum work required to test an hypothesis. In this case the hypothesis is: "People would buy a browser if it offers an ad-free experience". So it's viable according to that idea. Viable doesn't mean useful though :)

so Firefox will play the gatekeeper role now ?

If they offer free trials so I can evaluate its worth to me personally, maybe I'd try it. Otherwise I'll keep fighting every website I visit with my massive list of ad-blockers and privacy tools. At least the latter option is free. And if it doesn't remove EVERY clickbait and dark pattern in said sites, I won't do it.

> At least the latter option is free.

This is _exactly_ why websites are as bad as they are right now.

> And if it doesn't remove EVERY clickbait and dark pattern in said sites, I won't do it.

Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. If you want to support an alternative source of funding for content, then this appears to be a great positive step towards an internet without tracking and invasive advertisements, promoted by the only alternative to Google in the browser market.

If you want to take a philosophical stance, you should reject the tracker and leave websites that don't adhere to your strict criteria.

Ya I guess my statements were extreme. Probably written late at night.

If the same service could be used for paywalled news sites as well, this could be great

Isn't there a danger it'll end up like streaming tv where you have to pay netflix, apple, disney, amazon etc etc because it's not all in one place?

I don't know how viable it maybe be for you, but that is one of the goals for Apple News Plus, to bundle newspaper subscriptions in one place.

4.99 would not even cover the NY Times or WSJ alone.

That's because their prices are ridiculously high. Sure, I want access to NY Times. But maybe I'll read 1-2 articles per day. Not the whole damn paper. Same for any other site.

Blendle has been offering this service for years, though I believe they recently are backing away from it. I used it for a while several years ago, but I found using small transactions frequently to be very uncomfortable (as in off-putting, not so much inconvenient).

I vaguely recall Blendle. And checking, they want ~€2 per article, which is way too much. Consider that a digital subscription to The NY Times costs $250-$500 per year.[0] That's 365 days, with numerous articles published per day. But for argument sake, divide by 5000. That's just $0.05-$0.10 per article.

0) https://dannysullivan.com/new-york-times-subscription-3480

It was in the range of US$0.25-0.75, when I used it, but wouldn't you expect an a la cart offering to be more expensive than a bundle? The advantage is you dont have to pay that larger full year fee.

They already track how many times you've viewed the site in order to decide when the paywall goes up. Doesn't seem like it would be that hard to track what articles you view and charge x cents / article.

I enjoy reading the WSJ Opinion section, but last time I looked at the price, it was way too high to justify based on the number of articles I read.

but it's more than they're getting off the people that currently pay nothing ...

Are you going to get a report each month of where the money went?

> This app works best with JavaScript enabled. At least the page seems ad-free.

> This app works best with JavaScript enabled.

As others stated, the submitted title of "Ad-Free Internet by Firefox" overstates what this actually is: pay $4.99/month for ad-free experience on a handful of media publishers' websites[1].

(I.e. it's not a universal ad blocker that lets you avoid ads on Youtube.)

The Firefox webpage itself doesn't oversell the feature as "ad-free internet" so not sure why writing a misleading title for HN was necessary.

[1] https://scroll.com/sites

(Edit to also mention Scroll doesn't have some popular news sites such as NYT, Washington Post, WSJ, etc -- probably because getting a fraction of $4.99/month is not enough money for them and it competes with their direct digital subscriptions.)

> the submitted title of "Ad-Free Internet by Firefox" overstates what this actually is

it's not even that! it's not even something that they have! go on click the link to subscribe and see what happens.

It's surely fair to use the page title as the HN link title.

Ok, fair enough. Before I wrote my comment, I did perform a "view source" to search for "ad-free internet" and it wasn't found. However, if one uses F12 Developer Tools to inspect the DOM, it does have:

  "<title>Ad-free Internet by Firefox</title>"
It's interesting that that phrase is not visibly used and the big bold text people actually see just says "Support the sites you love, avoid the ads you hate".

EDIT to the replies: Yep got it. I can't see the title text on any tabs because they're too narrow when I have 50 tabs open.

It's used in the tab / window heading which is pretty visible I'd say.

It's the page title. It appears e.g. in the tab heading (but yours may be very small).

Mine are also very narrow, but yeah, it's weird that they only set it with JS.

  <title data-react-helmet="true"></title>
is in the source.

In this case, I think Firefox is disingenuous.

In fact the official guidelines here actually urge people to do so.

Yes but the HN guidelines also lets the submitter use some judgement if the title is misleading:

>Otherwise please use the original title, unless it is misleading or linkbait; don't editorialize.

But I'm not going to nitpick this thread's title. If "Ad-free internet" is the best representation for HN readers because Mozilla itself used it, that's fine too.

> Scroll doesn't have some popular news sites such as NYT

The NYT is one of the co-sponsors that started Scroll, so I'm sure that they'll be on board eventually if they're actually not already.

I dont want this interated into Firefox. It should remain a neutral platform.

The only way to make this work is to track your id across many properties. (I assume)

I do welcome this effort, which is similar to the Apple News (or whatever they named it, I think) but it would need a lot more content before I am interested.

If only they'd check their pages for typos before posting. (No ending punctuation on the last block of text.)

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