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If there were a science of user interaction, its second law could be called the Wide Angle Fallacy. When a disgusted user goes back to the designer saying, “Your system doesn’t perform the special function I need,” the designer’s ego is deeply affected. To regain the good graces of his customer—and to re-establish his self-esteem—the designer is likely to answer, “I can fix it in no time. I will just add another command for you.”

Later, the same man will be seen at conventions, meetings and workshops, extolling the virtues of his system, the “power” of which can be measured by the great number of commands it can execute. I believe this is usually a fallacy and users should recognize it as such.

— Jacques Vallee, The Network Revolution: Confessions of a Computer Scientist (1982) chapter six, Obfuscatology (https://books.google.com/books?id=6f8VqnZaPQwC)




No software I can think of has been ruined for me because of getting too advanced.

To particular pieces of software has lost a lot of their utility for me thanks to dumbification:

- Google I have now given up. It was equally dumb as DDG when I last used it and the only reason I sometimes fell back to it was to see if it randomly provided a useful result.

- Firefox is still the best for me but is a shadow of its former self. I'm eagerly waiting for a fork and on Mac I have already switched to Orion which has built in vertical tabs, can fix ctrl-tab and support both FF and Chrome extensions. (My main criteria is: 1. works great 2. not Chrome- or Chromium-based)


There's a distinction to be made between "capable but not overwhelming", "capable and overwhelming", "incapable but not overwhelming", and "incapable but still overwhelming". The first two can both describe advanced systems without dumbification, but the user experience is qualitatively different and can lead to wildly different outcomes when put into use.

You can have an "advanced" (whatever it may mean in context) system which fits into the first two categories, which is very useful to remember. Something I like is command prompts in the style of emacs accessed via M-x and similar shortcuts (or in VS Code, which many more people are familiar with). These permit discovery of new commands and activation of commands without overwhelming the UI. They can also "teach" the user, by providing information like what the keyboard shortcut actually is for activating it. Contrast this with something I've seen in many desktop projects (especially ones targeting a smaller number of power users, versus a more public system distributed to a broader user base): menu hell. All those same commands are still there (maybe), but buried in menus with submenus with submenus. Even though a command may logically appear in multiple places, it probably only appears in one. They may not even appear in a logical place, but just a conventional one, like search commands showing up under "Edit".


Bloat and feature creep are real (and I'd accuse Firefox of both) but in general yes, I'd rather have more functionality and a complex interface than have features stripped away or hidden behind some search box where I have to know exactly what I want and hope the app can guess at what I'm asking for.


Agree to a large degree, but this:

> Bloat and feature creep are real (and I'd accuse Firefox of both) but in general yes[...]

Except Pocket, what particular new bloat has Firefox added over the last decade?

I am not too fond of Mozilla myself, but if anything I feel like Firefox has been stripped down way to far.


Pocket is what comes to mind immediately absolutely, but there's a long and growing list of things I have to disable every time I install Firefox including:

- Their entire ad filled start pages / Snippets / Activity Stream / Suggested sites

- Normandy

- safebrowsing

- Push notifications

- Firefox Feature Recommendations

- Firefox Hello

- Firefox Accounts / Sync / Firefox Monitor / CloudServices

- Shield opt-out studies / Test Pilot / Experiments

- pre-installed 3rd party search engines

- PDF reader

- screenshots@mozilla.org.xpi, pictureinpicture@mozilla.org.xpi

- Password generator

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan. It's still the most customizable browser available and with a lot of work (and a few add-ons) the most secure and private by far, but lean browsers don't require all this to prevent unsolicited network connections : https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-stop-firefox-making...


That was a longer list than I expected, thanks for putting in the effort and also for your nuanced position.

I'm one of those who enjoy the PDF reader FWIW, same with push notifications. The PDF reader in particular because I almost haven't used Adobe since it came.

Test pilot is fine with me as long as it is voluntary and opt in - but the robot extension - that I literally felt in my body when I saw it.

Again, thanks.

I think most of this should have been created using an extension API and should been voluntary to install. Back in the days this would absolutely have been possible I think.


No problem! I know a lot of people love the PDF reader, it really is convenient, and I'm a big fan of avoiding adobe's reader whenever possible but after so many years of issues the file format is tainted to me. Too many exploitable features and having popular browsers include that functionality makes those readers an attractive target.

I don't think Mozilla has done a comparatively terrible job with it (they all end up with vulnerabilities, and it would take a lot to steal that crown from acrobat) but I do feel better downloading PDFs and using something a little less common to view them. I've bounced around between using Open/LibreOffice, Foxit (before they went bad), and even converting PDFs into saner formats prior to viewing, but these days I'm liking Sumatra for windows


I totally agree. I have had a LOT of complaints about Firefox in the past five years and all of them fall into one of two buckets.

A) Useful functionality being removed. Firefox on Android has been crippled to the point of ruin.

B) Pointless UX changes for the worse. This can be bearable, but are a regular source of annoyance and wasted time.




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