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A Campaign to Block Firefox Users? 1154

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the bad-ideas dept.
rarwes writes "A website is aiming at blocking Firefox users. This because a fraction of the Firefox users installed an Ad Blocker and are therefor 'stealing money' from website owners that use ads. They recommend using IE, Opera or IE tab. From the site: 'Demographics have shown that not only are FireFox users a somewhat small percentage of the internet, they actually are even smaller in terms of online spending, therefore blocking FireFox seems to have only minimal financial drawbacks, whereas ending resource theft has tremendous financial rewards for honest, hard-working website owners and developers.' Be interesting to see where they are getting their numbers from.
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A Campaign to Block Firefox Users?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:17PM (#20262551)
    It's in the "ABP Slander" list. Anyway, User-Agent switcher usually gets around any of these sort of lame attempts, and a lot of other software blocks ads besides, ABP.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:19PM (#20262607)
    When all the Firefox users Slashdot that website and they have to pay for the bandwidth, that will have a financial impact.

    Ha ha!
  • Text of page (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ravenscall (12240) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:22PM (#20262685)
    You've reached this page because the site you were trying to visit now blocks the FireFox browser.

    The Mozilla Foundation and its Commercial arm, the Mozilla Corporation, has allowed and endorsed Ad Block Plus, a plug-in that blocks advertisement on web sites and also prevents site owners from blocking people using it. Software that blocks all advertisement is an infringement of the rights of web site owners and developers. Numerous web sites exist in order to provide quality content in exchange for displaying ads. Accessing the content while blocking the ads, therefore would be no less than stealing. Millions of hard working people are being robbed of their time and effort by this type of software. Many site owners therefore install scripts that prevent people using ad blocking software from accessing their site. That is their right as the site owner to insist that the use of their resources accompanies the presence of the ads.

    While blanket ad blocking in general is still theft, the real problem is Ad Block Plus's unwillingness to allow individual site owners the freedom to block people using their plug-in. Blocking FireFox is the only alternative. Demographics have shown that not only are FireFox users a somewhat small percentage of the internet, they actually are even smaller in terms of online spending, therefore blocking FireFox seems to have only minimal financial drawbacks, whereas ending resource theft has tremendous financial rewards for honest, hard-working website owners and developers..

    Since the makers of Ad Block Plus as well as the filter subscriptions that accompany it refuse to allow website owners control over their own intellectual property, and since FireFox actively endorses Ad Block Plus, the sites linking to this page are now blocking FireFox until the resource theft is stopped.

    Netscape users can simply set their browser to IE mode to continue to enjoy the site that sent you here. FireFox users can use Internet Explorer, Opera or Netscape (in IE mode) to access it. FireFox users also have the option of using the IE Tab plug-in which uses the IE rendering engine to display pages, but also disables the Ad Block Plus plug-in.

    If you are offended by the Mozilla Corporation's endorsement of dishonesty please contact the Mozilla Foundation and ask them to stop empowering internet theft.

    Other comments on ad blocking...

    PopularTechnology.net--Why Adblock is bad for the "free" Internet

            Adblock effectively robs these free sites of their revenue. If Internet Explorer came with a feature such as Adblock, you would effectively wipe out thousands of websites, maybe more. These are the same free sites users of Adblock frequently visit. The irony is how this is self-defeating.

    Information Technology and the Law--Firefox Adblock a Contributory Infringer?

            Judge Posner, elucidating the holdings of WGN v. United Video (1982) among others, reasoned in Aimster that:

                    "[Commercial-skipping] amounted to creating an unauthorized derivative work, namely a commercial-free copy that would reduce the copyright owner's income from his original program, since "free" television programs are financed by the purchase of commercials by advertisers."

            Like free television broadcast content supported financially by advertising, much of the content on the Internet today is distributed free to end-users for an indirect exchange of advertisement revenue. When a user loads an ad-driven copyrighted website, he produces a copy of the work due to the inherent architecture of the Internet. If this user is using Adblock to screen out annoying advertisements, he is creating an unauthorized derivative work analogous to skipping television commercials. By the letter of copyright law, this practice would most likely be seen as an infringing use.
  • by lofoforabr (751004) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:33PM (#20262947) Homepage
    Look at the header of that page:

    <meta name="GENERATOR" content="Microsoft FrontPage 4.0">
    <meta name="ProgId" content="FrontPage.Editor.Document">

    I guess they just can't make decent HTML that work on every browser, and blame firefox for their stupidity, after all, things that work good and nice in IE display crappy in Firefox. Instead of learning to do proper HTML, they just want to block firefox so everyone will see their crappy html right.
  • by linuxwrangler (582055) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:35PM (#20263017)
    whois whyfirefoxisblocked.com...
    Registrant:
          Danny Carlton
          19724 E Pine St
          Suite #149
          Catoosa, Oklahoma 75015
          United States

    See also, dannycarlton.com/net/org.

    Living in Cantoosa must leave you with lot of time to ponder the big questions and it seems like Danny has plenty of opinions. His blog (which does not, by the way, block FireFox) includes his opinions on everything from homeshooling to "Jesus Camp" to pet food names like "baby-poop mustard" (to distinguish the fancy kind from plain yellow) and "booger bread" (9-grain style).

    All we have here is an insignificant Internet rant. Nothing original there.
  • by Kadin2048 (468275) * <.slashdot.kadin. .at. .xoxy.net.> on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:35PM (#20263031) Homepage Journal
    Whoa.

    I didn't even think to check for that. I was giving these guys a lot more credit than they deserve (see my comment above). I thought that they were using some difference in the rendering engine between IE and FF to produce a page that rendered (correctly) to white in FF but because of an IE quirk, showed content when viewed with IE.

    It never occurred to me to check AdBlock and see if it was actually being *blocked*...

    That's actually rather troubling. I use EasyList USA, like most AdBlock users, and I'm not particularly sure I like the idea of them slipping a "Firefox/ABP Slander" filter into the ad-blocking list. That doesn't seem quite kosher, as obnoxious as I find the "Why Firefox is Blocked" fools.

    But lo and behold, when I disabled that line on the ABP list, the page shows up.

    I still think that the "Why Firefox is Blocked" people are a bunch of assholes, but that's not a particularly good showing from the ABP/EasyList people either.
  • by Entropius (188861) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:36PM (#20263051)
    I think everyone realizes the difference between "useful and popular" and "ad-spamming sons of bitches". Slashdot's ads I have no problem with. But show me annoying blinky ads, flash ads, ads in my way, anything with audio, and you go into the bit-bucket.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:40PM (#20263139)
    The WHOIS database shows that for the domain,

    Registrant:
          Danny Carlton
          19724 E Pine St
          Suite #149
          Catoosa, Oklahoma 75015
          United States

    This guy has a grudge over AdBlockPlus and you can read more at
    http://adblockplus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1540 [adblockplus.org]
    http://adblockplus.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1567 [adblockplus.org]

    Apparently he has nothing better to do because one can block ads in most browsers anyway.

    In any case, to block ads, install AdBlockPlus from
    http://adblockplus.org/en/installation [adblockplus.org]

    It is also recommended to try "Element Hiding Helper"
    http://adblockplus.org/en/elemhidehelper [adblockplus.org]
    which allows in an intuitive way to block specific elements off a page.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:45PM (#20263229)
    As the owner of a large european Porn network/site we cannot confirm these numbers. Actually according to our sales, it's the other way around, FF users are more likely to buy (porn) as they're often more experienced users with faster machines and used to buy stuff online.

    If anything, they should block users with dialup connections and Windows 9x, as they purchase less than average.

    Thats our experience in the porn-business.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:45PM (#20263239)
    Be nice.

    http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/results.jsp? domain=whyfirefoxisblocked.com [networksolutions.com]

    Registrant:
          Danny Carlton
          19724 E Pine St
          Suite #149
          Catoosa, Oklahoma 75015
          United States

          Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
          Domain Name: WHYFIREFOXISBLOCKED.COM
                Created on: 06-Aug-07
                Expires on: 06-Aug-08
                Last Updated on: 06-Aug-07

          Administrative Contact:
                Carlton, Danny godaddy@DannyCarlton.net
                19724 E Pine St
                Suite #149
                Catoosa, Oklahoma 75015
                United States
                (918) 697-4039 Fax --

          Technical Contact:
                Carlton, Danny godaddy@DannyCarlton.net
                19724 E Pine St
                Suite #149
                Catoosa, Oklahoma 75015
                United States
                (918) 697-4039 Fax --

          Domain servers in listed order:
                NS1.FAMILYNETHOME.COM
                NS2.FAMILYNETHOME.COM
  • by roastedMnM (781690) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:47PM (#20263285)
    I have actually been redirected there once, but it was years ago (or so it seems). To be honest, I can't remember if I switched my user agent or whether I was disgusted and just left, feeling a tinge of guilt.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:48PM (#20263315)
    http://jacklewis.net/weblog/ [jacklewis.net] does it. No idea who he is.
  • by visualight (468005) on Friday August 17, 2007 @12:49PM (#20263333) Homepage
    It's run by some guy named Danny Carlton who seems to have long list of thrown together websites that he's hoping to make money from. You can see the list at dannycarlton.net. Looks like somebody bought a book on how to get rich blogging from home.

    I clicked on a few of them, they're apparently on the same box (all slashdotted at the moment), but when they load you can see how crappy and devoid of content they are.

    Anyway, no "useful and popular free-to-use Web resource" here.
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:15PM (#20263869) Journal
    I use ABP to get rid of ads, not to get rid of "slander". Why does ABP block a site just because it is critical of ABP?

    Because the guy who wrote the site coded it that way. http://dannycarlton.com/AD_Tools/ABPfence.php [dannycarlton.com]. He offers tools to block anyone running ABP from any site.

    He's had a long-running feud with the Adblock team https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/discussio ns/comments.php?DiscussionID=3060&page=3 [mozilla.org].

    "So now, it's war. As they attempt to create "work arounds" for my blocks, I work on more comprehensive blocks that will defeat their work arounds. I also am informing other how to block people using the plug-in. The people who wrote the plug-in aren't terribly clever; thieves rarely are. But now they've inspired me, via their arrogance, to make sure a method for defeating their plug-in can be developed and distributed." --> Danny Carlton (http://jacklewis.net/weblog/, posted July 27, 2007)
  • by Skapare (16644) on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:28PM (#20264087) Homepage

    Slashdot probably has one of the highest ratios of users capable of ad-blocking of any site on the entire web, yet manages to pay the bills.

    Slashdot doesn't abuse its users with giant full screen ads, or must-click-through pages, or pop-ups, or pop-behinds.

  • "Their" claims (Score:5, Informative)

    by gaijin99 (143693) on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:35PM (#20264249) Journal
    Actually its not "their" claims, but "his" claims, the whole thing is just one crazy person. Bear in mind that the, um, individual, behind this is a complete loony toon of the extreme right wing religious nut variety. Seriously, check out his other stuff at jacklewis.net, unfortunately you can't read his insane ratings with Firefox, which is a shame because they're quite amusing.

    Given his nuthood I'd assume that he *thinks* that Firefox users are less likely to buy things online, and that somehow in the broken fragments of his mind that becomes transmuted into "demographs show that...." Pleanty of other nutbags do the same thing, why shouldn't he?
  • by Kadin2048 (468275) * <.slashdot.kadin. .at. .xoxy.net.> on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:39PM (#20264315) Homepage Journal
    I've never really paid much attention to how often the EasyList thing is updated, but basically AdBlock Plus pulls down a block list from a server periodically, that contains new regexps that it uses for blocking. (Mostly they are just site domains.)

    However, the latest copy of the list -- or some fairly recent version, because I never noticed it until today -- must have contained a new addition. It's a segment at the bottom of the blocklist file called "Firefox/ABP slander filter" and contains one entry: "whyfirefoxisblocked.com#body".

    It's trivial to disable once you know it's there, but I don't think something like that should be on by default. I also really don't think they should be slipping something like that silently into people's blocklists. And beyond that, it caused me to waste a fair bit of time and look like a bit of an idiot because I was trying to figure out how the whyfirefoxisblocked people managed to stop the page from rendering on Firefox but not on IE ... it never occurred to me that the problem was on my end.

    If you aren't subscribed to the EasyList (USA) blocklist, then you might not have gotten it, or it might not be enabled. In particular, people using the filterset.g list (dunno if that works with ABP), or a static list of their own creation, won't be affected.
  • by BobPaul (710574) * on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:47PM (#20264475) Journal
    Location: about:config
    Filter: useragent (not necessary, but it helps me remember step 3)
    Right click and add the key general.useragent.override
    Set the value of general.useragent.override to whatever you want your useragent to be. If you want to be IE on WinXP, paste in something like "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)" Otherwise, look on Google for other strings, or follow an easier suggestion.
  • by efity (1044316) on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:55PM (#20264627)
    Actually, it does show in Firefox... normally. Ironically, Adblock Plus blocks the entire page. It registers as a blocked filter under whyfirefoxisblocked.com#body, which is the entire page, making a nice white blankness.
  • by internewt (640704) on Friday August 17, 2007 @01:59PM (#20264695) Journal

    You can hide those inline ads with some CSS tricks in Firefox. I made a journal post when an awful Intel sponsorship thing appeared on slashdot with details of how to hide that. Here's what I currently have in my userContent.css file, and this will also hide the services crud on the left, and the related links cruft on the right:

    @-moz-document domain(slashdot.org) {
    #links-services-title { display: none; }
    #links-services-content { display: none; }
    #related-title { display: none; }
    #related-content { display: none; }
    #sponsorlinks { display: none; }
    #links-opcenter { display: none; }
    #links-opcenter-content { display: none; }
    #links-opcenter-title { display: none; }
    #block6 { display: none; }
    }
  • by geekasaurus (140451) on Friday August 17, 2007 @02:04PM (#20264803)
    If people disagree with the stupid oaf who did this, why don't you just let him know??

      Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
          Domain Name: WHYFIREFOXISBLOCKED.COM
                Created on: 06-Aug-07
                Expires on: 06-Aug-08
                Last Updated on: 06-Aug-07

    Administrative Contact:
                Carlton, Danny godaddy@DannyCarlton.net
                19724 E Pine St
                Suite #149
                Catoosa, Oklahoma 75015
                United States
                (918) 697-4039 Fax --

          Technical Contact:
                Carlton, Danny godaddy@DannyCarlton.net
                19724 E Pine St
                Suite #149
                Catoosa, Oklahoma 75015
                United States
                (918) 697-4039 Fax --

    --AC -:)
  • Re:"Their" claims (Score:3, Informative)

    by afidel (530433) on Friday August 17, 2007 @02:19PM (#20265097)
    unfortunately you can't read his insane ratings with Firefox, which is a shame because they're quite amusing.

    Sure you can, adblock plus user agent switcher = 0wnd. Btw, THAT is why I like Firefox, it gives me the user control over my net experience =)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2007 @02:36PM (#20265385)
    The line in question has already been removed from Easylist. If your subscription doesn't update soon enough for your tastes, force an update now and you'll get a fresh copy without that line.
  • by skeeto (1138903) on Friday August 17, 2007 @02:41PM (#20265499)

    It's "How to block Firefox" page just tells you to put simple code in your page to detect if "firefox" is in the HTTP_USER_AGENT string.

    Technically, on Debian GNU/Linux, I am using "Iceweasel" [wikipedia.org] rather than the official Firefox. This is my user agent string,

    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.8.1.6) Gecko/20070723 Iceweasel/2.0.0.6 (Debian-2.0.0.6-1)

    Notice no "Firefox" in there. I have the Firefox Adblock extension installed in Iceweasel and have already escaped the trap without doing anything at all. ;-)

  • BEST. LINK BAIT.EVER (Score:2, Informative)

    by MouronaC (1144099) on Friday August 17, 2007 @02:44PM (#20265565) Homepage
    This guy seems to have got a hit. Thousands of irate /.ers gunning for his website. No doubt they'll soon be spreading their anger onto their personal websites. That is great link bait http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Link_bait [wikipedia.org]:

    Evil Hooks - Saying something unpopular or mean may also yield a lot of attention. Writing about something that is not appealing about a product or a popular blogger. Provide strong reasons for it.
  • by cstdenis (1118589) on Friday August 17, 2007 @03:12PM (#20266075)
    Many ads pay on the view not on the click. You are still costing the website money by using their bandwidth without giving anything back to pay for it.
  • by skeeto (1138903) on Friday August 17, 2007 @04:12PM (#20267005)

    That page doesn't utilize the user agent string. In fact, Firefox filtering is done on the client end. It takes advantage of javascript execution differences between IE and other browsers. Here is the culprit HTML,

    <script>
    if(!document.all){window.location='http: //whyfirefoxisblocked.com/';}
    </script>
    <noscrip t>
    <meta http-equiv="refresh" content="1;URL=/nojs.htm">
    </noscript>

    If you dont have javascript enabled, you are taken to a bullshit javascript required page. With NoScript in Firefox, this is what happens to me. I see the whole page load, then I am taken to the nojs.htm page 1 second later.

    With javascript enabled, the expression !document.all evaluates to true on non-IE browsers (maybe including Opera?) taking you to the blocked page. This makes the page impossible to view on any graphical free software browsers without some special aid from plugins or something. This includes all Gecko (Mozilla) and KHTML (Konqueror, Safari) based browsers. Dillo is out because it obeys the <noscript> tag.

    Both links and lynx ignore javascript, <noscript>, and the meta "refresh", allowing you to view the page with these browsers while also avoiding the image ads. These are the only free browsers you can use to view the page. You could wget the page, pull out the annoying HTML above, and look at the page in any browsers without a problem. This will not allow Adblock to completely block ads however. This will depend on your filters.

    Notice: I don't have any proprietary software on my computers so I cannot/will not test this with IE and Opera. I am assuming that the page views fine in IE and I have no idea what happens in Opera.

  • by Josef Meixner (1020161) on Friday August 17, 2007 @04:49PM (#20267597) Homepage

    I do expect that they will try to force advertising by integrating content with the advertising in active snap-ins, such as Flash. To the extent they do that, they drop off my radar -- I will never see them nor their associated products.

    I don't think so. Something heise.de recently did strikes me as more likely. They sometimes incorporate the text of the ad directly into the source (I guess it is still a test, currently only with their ads for their own stuff). No adserver involved, no load, no URL you could block.

    I even think this is much more acceptable, as the site has much more control on which ads to show, no scripts needed to run and the ad-company can't track you (no accesses to their servers). But it sure is a strange thing to see an ad you know you blocked reappear and on checking why adblock didn't catch it finding out, it can't. Also without a clear id or comment I would expect it to be very hard to block (and wouldn't know how to write an UI for something like adblock).

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:3, Informative)

    by bbtom (581232) on Friday August 17, 2007 @06:27PM (#20268703) Homepage Journal

    There's some adblocking plugins for Safari [pimpmysafari.com] too. Surely, this idiotic douchebag needs to start up whyeverybrowserisblocked.com

  • USER-AGENT SWITCHER (Score:3, Informative)

    by macz (797860) on Saturday August 18, 2007 @10:19AM (#20275777)
    Just use the user-agent switcher to pretend to be a different browser. Or don't and let sites who block firefox block you, and ignore them forever. Checkmate, bitches.
  • by jman.org (953199) on Saturday August 18, 2007 @11:00AM (#20276089) Homepage
    The site whyfirefoxisblocked.com appears to be owned by a Danny Carlton (dannycarlton.net).

    Interesting that Mr. Carlton's own home site does not block firefox.

    Less interesting is his reasoning, that ignoring ads equals stealing.

    So I'm tooling down the highway, and avert my gaze from the latest obnoxious billboard as I pass. Have I just stolen from the billboard owner, and the advertiser?

    The claim is ludicrous. The only "right" the web owners have in this context is that of free speech. They can put up any ad they want to, but I as a viewer am under no obligation to pay attention to it, and am perfectly within my rights to use any tool at my disposal to assist me. (As a species, we are, after all, really big on tool use.)

    On the flip side, the web owners are welcome to try and come up with better tools of their own that get their ads through to my eyeballs.

    The claim that demographics show FireFox users are a "small percentage" is outright wrong. True, the latest numbers show it to be behind IE - if you count 6 & 7 together. It's about 2 percent behind 6, and nearly 15 ahead of 7. Netscape, Opera & Safari combined are less 20% of FireFox.

    I personally use noscript, not adblock, but as I'm the one looking at the site, it's my decision to ignore some parts and not others, so don't have a problem with the concept of either addon.

    The only way not viewing ads could possibly be construed as stealing would be if it were a pay site, that required login credentials, and said credentials were bypassed or forged.

    So far as his supporting quote by Judge Posner, I seem to recall one of the big inducements for going to cable (when first hearing of it in the 70's) was that, as a PAID service, there would be no commercials. Yes, I shell out a good deal of money every month for access to the shows I like, and have no qualms whatsoever about having the DVR skip through commercials.

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