back to article Mozilla so sorry for intrusive Firefox VPN popup ad

Firefox Mozilla managed to annoy many Firefox users this week by presenting an unwanted ad for its VPN service, and has since suspended the promotional initiative. This is the same Mozilla that markets Firefox specifically for the availability of ad blocking extensions, or add-ons. "The average person sees an average of 4,000 …

  1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    FAIL

    We’re continuously working to understand the best ways to communicate with people who use Firefox

    What part of "opt in" are they struggling with? If the users haven't asked to be communicated with, then just don't.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And there is the rub

      The management team can't give up on the bad idea that no one wanted, and keep driving off users and Devs.

      And the rabbit eyed response is always "We hope you'll learn to love it" then "I'm sorry(we did it again)" followed by "We'll do better" with the full earnestness of Mark Zuckerburg in a congressional hearing.

      They fundamentally misunderstand their (dwindling) user-base, and trying to be an almost -Chrome-clone-with-an-incompatable-rendering-engine to make it easier to switch off Chrome made it easier for people to want to switch TO Chrome.

      1. cdegroot

        Re: And there is the rub

        Yup. All they need to do is to hire a small development team that maintains Firefox and extends it and shows that there is a world beyond the Google walled garden but that is not enough, so money keeps being thrown at stupid nonsense while complaining that there’s not enough money. The whole upper echelon needs to be fired.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And there is the rub

          Technically I have found the Firefox developers to be nowhere near as competent as the Chrome team over a long period - whatever the cause of that is.

          I’ve had to deal with multiple poor development decisions by Firefox. For example I tracked down (and coded my own workaround for) a race condition Heisenbug in Firefox, but they marked the problem as working as intended leaving timing Heisenbugs in many websites on Firefox. The underlying fault was due to an extremely poor technical decision, the follow up was poor, and it took many years before they fixed it.

          In my experience the Chrome team have been astonishingly good - they do set a very high bar for technical competence.

          Unfortunately replacing manglement #1 with manglement #2 often fails.

          They even manage to turn success into failure - Rust was created at Firefox but they couldn’t convert that to success.

        2. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

          Re: And there is the rub

          There have been remarkably few software projects that could not be improved by a wholesale firing of upper management.

        3. katrinab Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: And there is the rub

          Their 2021 accounts show a bank balance of $378m up from $257m in the previous year, and investments of $651m up from $577m in the previous year.

          They received about $600m in income, spent $200m on software development, $140m on other stuff, $50m in tax.

          I don't think they are short of money.

    2. nematoad
      Unhappy

      Aye,

      If they keep on like that they soon won't have to bother.

      Not that I still use Firefox, except for one stupid site that refuses to work with Pale Moon.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        I honestly don't understand how you could still use Pale Moon, because Waterfox Classic ended up breaking sites left, right, and centre and that's from a later branch than Pale Moon.

        Yeah, I've learned to love Firefox's user interface and the clocks are striking thirteen.

        1. nematoad
          Unhappy

          No, it's not as if Pale Moon caused sites to break.

          It's because the site in question still has the mind-set that "This site is best viewed in IE 6."

          Sad, pathetic and extremely annoying, but not as much as their suggestion to switch to Chrome was.

          1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Agreed.

            If a site won't work in Pale Moon I tend to regard that as an indication I don't want to enter that site.

            1. nematoad
              Unhappy

              I agree that if a site does not want to play properly then they don't deserve my attention.

              Unfortunately in this instance the site happens to be my webmail client.

          2. Arthur the cat Silver badge
            Windows

            the site in question still has the mind-set that "This site is best viewed in IE 6."

            Does it have spinning dollar signs and a work in progress animation?

            [Icon represents approximate age of people who will understand the references.]

            1. David 132 Silver badge
              Happy

              >Does it have spinning dollar signs and a work in progress animation?

              Can I add your web-site to my Geocities web-ring?

        2. FeepingCreature Bronze badge

          I use Waterfox Classic. I just have a copy of Firefox open on the side for the sites Waterfox Classic is bad at. I only use it selectively because Waterfox Classic with TMP just has a hugely better UX for me.

          (You can have my scrollable dynamic width multirow tabs when you etc etc)

  2. Sleep deprived

    Mozilla that markets Firefox [...] for the availability of ad blocking extensions, or add-ons.

    That may be true on PCs, but under Android, Firefox only supports a very limited set of add-ons, which excludes CookieAoDelete for no valid reason. So much for managing privacy. But I regularly get unwanted UI changes that must cost a lot to implement, given Mozilla's constant need for more money...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Mozilla that markets Firefox [...] for the availability of ad blocking extensions, or add-ons.

      Try Fennec on F-Droid and Firefox Beta, both are supposed to let you install any add-on.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Mozilla that markets Firefox [...] for the availability of ad blocking extensions, or add-ons.

      hat may be true on PCs, but under Android, Firefox only supports a very limited set of add-ons, which excludes CookieAoDelete for no valid reason. So much for managing privacy. But I regularly get unwanted UI changes that must cost a lot to implement, given Mozilla's constant need for more money...

      Oh you can get round that easily.

      Go to the add-ons webpage via the android version and it will indeed only show you limited android options.

      However tick the use desktop version box from the menu and it will reload the page.

      It will have a message offering the desktop version of the add-ons site which you click.

      The page will reload again and you should find the desktop add-ons page appears.

      Then you can have everything you get on the desktop version and can mirror all your add-ons if needed.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Mozilla that markets Firefox [...] for the availability of ad blocking extensions, or add-ons.

        I just tried to do this on the latest Firefox for Android for a few extensions, it just downloaded the .xpi file instead of installing every time. Even if when I put it in developer mode (Settings > About Firefox and tapping repeatedly on the logo). Maybe there's an extra step that has to be done somewhere or maybe it needs less strict cookie settings or something?

  3. NATTtrash
    Pint

    Firefox vs Librewolf

    After reading this, I really need to do a shout out, thumbs up, and give out a pint to the folks at Librewolf...

    I know many have been saying: "Meh, not that special, just Firefox with settings you can do yourself too. (e.g. arkenfox)". But... Doing Librewolf to not being force fed snaps, I followed the hints in the article here (about:config; browser.vpn_promo.enabled). As it turned out the good folks at Librewolf already spotted, deactivated, and locked it. So many thanks Librewolf!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We accomplished the exact opposite of what we intended

    I think he / she / it / mozilla is lying, they know EXACTLY what they're doing, it's not like ad-front is some obscure, nobody-gives-a-fuck-and-money-irrelevant-technicality.

  5. Grogan Silver badge

    I don't even necessarily want my charges seeing crap like that. It alarms people like my octogenarian parents, for example. Mozilla is telling them they should have this after most every update (it opens a tab, never mind this notification... I have notifications turned off everywhere for them)

    For people that DO need one, it's not going to be THAT one lol

  6. Ball boy Silver badge

    Hu? Change browser.vpn_promo.enabled to false?

    What do we change next? I shouldn't have to set browser.crypto_promo to false or browser.other_crap_we_think_you_need_to_see_promo to false.

    Just no promotions. End of. People use a browser to see content generated by a web site, not by the browser's marketing department.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hu? Change browser.vpn_promo.enabled to false?

      clippy 2.0 and his/her/its masters disagree with your assessment of what people 'want' to see, when people use their product. Don't forget they create their product to get what 'they' want, not what the users 'want'. Users are just a means to reach the end, ever higher revenue stream (sorry for the bleeding obvious).

  7. Oh Homer
    Big Brother

    Hobson's Choice

    Honestly, Google and Mozilla are as bad as each other, just for different reasons.

    With Mozilla, you have to contend with their ridiculous "release early, release often, break always" mentality, where they obsessively remove features that everyone likes, while adding features nobody wants.

    With Google, it's an endless battle for control of the web - Google at one end trying to stuff you like a foie gras goose with spam, and you at the other frantically trying to stop them.

    At least Firefox still supports Manifest V2, unlike Google, and therefore you might actually be able to stem the torrent of spam currently headed towards Chrome users.

  8. mpi Silver badge

    >"We’re continuously working to understand the best ways to communicate with people who use Firefox,"

    Here is great idea how to communicate with your users through your browser: DON'T.

    People use your browser because they want to look at websites. They do not want to look at ads. If you want to inform them about your offerings, put it into some box in the browsers homescreen, right next to an easyily found, obvious button to turn it off.

    Or better yet: Put them on your website and do SEO.

    As far as I'm concerned, a lot has to go right with Mozilla and Firefox for me to come back. I'm quite happy with Brave atm., and part of that happiness comes from not getting unwanted pseudo-modals with ads shoved into my UX.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Messaging System includes code that tries to trigger a message (an ad in this case) when a Firefox user has been idle for 20 or more minutes."

    It's always an ad. Now tell me why Firefox have ad-spewing capability in the first place? And why is that totally *desired* if user is "idle" for 20 minutes?

    Browser throws a modal "message" and, naturally, raises its window on top because it has an important "message", i.e. ad, to show. Who is is the moron who decided this is a good idea?

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Flame

      Yes it's bad, and I'm not defending Mozilla here with any great enthusiasm, but it could have been worse.

      I built a Windows 11 system the other day for someone. Once the clean OS build was sort-of running, I needed to connect to an intranet site to grab various apps, drivers, content etc.

      I have a pathological aversion to Edge - for reasons that will become self-explanatory - so I figured I'd fire up IE to do it. It's just an intranet site, static content, nothing fancy, so IE would have been perfectly adequate.

      IE loaded. But then - Microsoft having deprecated it "for our own good" - every single URL I entered into it opened up Edge instead.

      So far, you're probably thinking "meh, so what, quit your whining, it's not 1998 any more", and to be honest, if that's all it had done I'd probably have swallowed my Edgeaphobia and ploughed ahead.

      But no. Edge is the most needy, emotionally stunted browser there is, so every time it was opened from IE, it opened up as a modal, full-screen splash, inviting me to make it my best friend, sign in to my Microsoft account (fuck no), allow it to manage my passwords, feed me the usual homepage celebrity tripe, etc etc.

      Thinking this was a one-off, I killed it from Task Manager and tried again. Nope, same behaviour, repeat until the red mist descended. Edge did not want to do basic web browsing until I had made it my BFF and patted it on the head and told it I loved it.

      Am I the only person repelled by this? Any application that takes over my entire desktop and blocks further multitasking until I attend to it goes straight onto my boycott list. Windows 10/11 have a vile habit of doing the same thing randomly after booting, again trying to bounce me into using a Microsoft account or whatever. I sympathize with the people quoted in the article; anything like this that breaks my workflow and gets between me and the task I'm trying to do makes me livid.

      So... my Edgeaphobia further reinforced, I grumbled and dug out a flash drive with a fairly recent copy of Firefox on it. Firefox might occasionally push a VPN at me (not that I've seen that) or offer me Pocket sponsored stories, but at least those behaviours can be disabled.

      (Rant over.)

  10. pip25
    Meh

    "Ultimately, we accomplished the exact opposite of what we intended"

    I think that's been kind of true for Firefox for the last five years or so. This is par for the course, really.

  11. Vocational Vagabond

    Rampant Shouty Navel Gazing mode ...

    Unlike some others here, I've had a good run on Waterfox. I, at least can say it's been free of that Smug 'Single Point Self Advertisement and Congratulation' BS that has come to be what I call the atypical . . . "Firefox user centered kudos syndrome"

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