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Firefox Advertising Software

Mozilla Rolls Out Sponsored Tiles To Firefox Nightly's New Tab Page 171

Posted by timothy
from the now-how-much-would-you-pay? dept.
An anonymous reader writes Mozilla has rolled out directory tiles, the company's advertising experiment for its browser's new tab page, to the Firefox Nightly channel. We installed the latest browser build to give the sponsored ads a test drive. When you first launch Firefox, a message on the new tab page informs you of the following: what tiles are (with a link to a support page about how sponsored tiles work), a promise that the feature abides by the Mozilla Privacy Policy, and a reminder that you can turn tiles off completely and choose to have a blank new tab page. It's quite a lot to take in all at once.
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Mozilla Rolls Out Sponsored Tiles To Firefox Nightly's New Tab Page

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  • Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by recoiledsnake (879048) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @01:44PM (#47776459)

    I atleast hope they use the money for something really good, like desktop Linux, instead of chasing mobile with Firefox OS.

    With Google clamping down with Chrome, promoting on Google and Youtube and paying to bundle it everywhere like with Java, Flash and Acrobat updates, I am surprised Firefox hasn't lost even more marketshare, but I do think the clock is ticking.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I atleast hope they use the money for something really good, like desktop Linux, instead of chasing mobile with Firefox OS.

      Au contraire. I hope they continue with Firefox OS on mobile. After Win8 and GNOME3, I've had all the desktop UX innovations I can stand. If Mozilla's UX team can spend all its time destroying something harmless, like an OS/platform nobody will ever use, that leaves them with fewer resources to destroy the web browser.

    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mystikkman (1487801) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @01:50PM (#47776585)

      Mozilla is the only hope left in the browser market. The rest are controlled by mega corps. Witness the recent ramrodding of video DRM into W3C standards by Google, Microsoft and Apple, all of which have their own DRM implementations.

      Not to mention Firefox being forced to support H.264 playback, after Google promised and backtracked on removing support from Chrome. Based on the above two cases, I guess it's already too late, corporate control has taken over the web.

      • I'm not really sure that Opera counts as a "mega" corp. Also, I believe that Chromium is still open source.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I'm not really sure that Opera counts... at all!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Opera has been reduced to a reskinned Chrome.

          Posting this on an Opera 12 holdout machine.

          • by NoZart (961808)

            Same here. Sadly, more and more pages break :(

          • Opera has been reduced to a reskinned Chrome.

            From the changes over the last several versions, it seems to me that Firefox is heading in this direction as well...

            Fortunately, for now we can still "restore" things to the way we like, but how much longer until their UX "experts" make that impossible?

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          Chromium is indeed still open source. Pre built here [woolyss.com] Build your own here [chromium.org]

          • by alexandre (53) *

            By FOSS do they mean dump the source after release... like Android?
            I don't think that's the spirit, even though the licence says so.

            • by leiz (35205)

              No, Chromium development is nothing like Android development. You can watch Chromium checkins go in around the clock: http://build.chromium.org/ [chromium.org]

            • No, it's developed in the open, but it's really hard to get changes pushed upstream. We have a bunch of patches for the FreeBSD support and to improve sandboxing, and it looks like it will end up taking 2-3 years to get them all upstreamed. Meanwhile, the code follows the traditional Google development model of gratuitously refactoring things (are Google people paid by number of lines of code changed?), so it's a lot of effort just to keep the patches up to date.
      • Mozilla is the only hope left in the browser market. The rest are controlled by mega corps...

        I am more concerned about attitude towards users than who controls the browser.

        .
        Mozilla,over the past year or so, has shown complete disdain for the desires of its users. And the result of that disdain is a declining marketshare.

        How long will it be before Mozilla is little more than a Netscape-like footnote in the history of the web?

        • by narcc (412956)

          I'm perfectly happy with Australis. I even switched from Chrome to FireFox as a result.

          What, exactly, do you hate about it? That it looks a bit like Chrome? Lots of people like Chrome's UI.

          • Re: Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The problem is that it's a dumbed-down UI design. Maybe this works well for some users, buy it's extremely limiting and inefficient for others.

            A lot of us specifically avoided Chrome or Chromium, and used Firefox instead, because it offered a much more usable UI. But Australis has taken away that advantage of Firefox, however.

            Unfortunately, I had to switch to Chromium. If I'm going to get the same dumbed-down UI whether I'm using Firefox or Chromium, I might as well just use Chromium because it does feel a

            • by Anonymous Coward

              The problem is that it's a dumbed-down UI design. Maybe this works well for some users, buy it's extremely limiting and inefficient for others.

              A lot of us specifically avoided Chrome or Chromium, and used Firefox instead, because it offered a much more usable UI. But Australis has taken away that advantage of Firefox, however.

              Exactly: if we wanted something like Chrome we'd be using Chrome in the first place, just I wouldn't drive a Toyota while wishing that it was more like a Ford.

              Fortunately we have Pale Moon, which gained a lot more users when they announced that they wouldn't be implementing the Australis UI. That should tell you something.

            • by yuhong (1378501)

              Well, the difference between Firefox and Chrome is more than just the UI.

            • by j127 (3658485)
              If you don't want an overly simplified interface, install Pentadactyl. It's one of the best things about Firefox.
            • The problem is that it's a dumbed-down UI design

              I really don't understand this complaint. The UI changes were relatively small, and one of the biggest ones was making the 'customize UI' button more prominent in the new versions.

              I switched to Firefox on Android recently because Chrome for Android has the same handicapped cookie management policy as the older Android Browser, but Firefox lets me run the self-destructing cookies plugin, which does exactly what I've wished for the last 15 years all browsers would do by default.

          • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by QuietLagoon (813062) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @10:05PM (#47781157)

            ...What, exactly, do you hate about it?...

            For starters, I do not 'hate" software. It's not an emotional thing for me. I look at software as something that helps me do what I need and/or want to do.

            .
            To that end, Firefox's Australis is a degradation of Firefox. It has significantly reduced my ability to customize the user interface of Firefox to suit my needs.

            Mozilla's attempt to find a "one size fits all operating systems" approach to Firefox has resulted in a significant dumbing down of the user interface.

            I do not want Firefox to look the same across all the OS's I use. I want Firefox to exploit each OS to the greatest extent while staying within the conventions of that OS. That's where Mozilla went astray....

            • by narcc (412956)

              . It has significantly reduced my ability to customize the user interface of Firefox to suit my needs.

              Specifically, how has it reduced your ability to customize the user interface?

              What could you do before that you're now unable to do? What need do you have that is not able to be fulfilled?

            • It has significantly reduced my ability to customize the user interface of Firefox to suit my needs.

              Again, hand waving without specifics. The most noticeable change for me was that they button to customise the UI is now on the toolbar by default, rather than hidden away somewhere. What can you no longer customise that you could previously?

              • by Dagger2 (1177377)

                You can't stick stuff on a toolbar at the bottom of the screen, you can't uncombine or even move stop/reload, you can't move back/forward or put buttons between them and the address bar, you can't get rid of the conditional forward button, you can't put the tab toolbar under the navigation toolbar, you can't turn the broken toolbar button styling off with Small Icons mode any more, and you can't put stuff at the far right of the navigation toolbar because the Menu button is there and unmovable. Probably plu

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              The most frustrating part is that they ignore the really good stuff in Firefox, like Tab Groups or Parallels or whatever it is called these days. It's a fantastic feature but almost completely neglected, and long standing issues never get fixed.

      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @02:08PM (#47776859)
        It bothers me a lot when I see people shouting "abandon all hope". It's not that bad.

        Still, I would like to see Firefox getting more of its revenue from sources other than Google. Maybe the Firefox Phone will go a long way to realizing that.

        On the other hand, I found tiles on the new page useful, if only marginally. I would prefer to be able to turn off the ads and still use the tiles. But if I must turn them all off to do away with the ads, I will.

        I almost forgot: Chromium is hardly a major player in the browser market.

        Firefox is important, and we should support it. But I don't think supporting it via ads is the best way to go.
    • Its fine to be a sell out, just as long as some of the money goes to the cause that I like.

    • Turning it off is work. I install firefox on a lot of computers that come into my shop. I do a tremendous amount of configuration on all sorts of products. This is more tedium to turn it off. I'm sure this is the (developer') logic -- add too much tedium to configure that people give up and don't configure or keep the configuration hidden so people get tired of looking.

      If I have to look, and search, and keep looking and keep up on the fact that this shit is being configured on by default, then it become

  • Fork in the Road (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tuck3r (987067) <idonthaveanemail[at]gmail[dot]com> on Thursday August 28, 2014 @01:45PM (#47776471)

    I find myself agreeing less and less with the things the Mozilla is doing as a company. I get what they want to do and where they want to go, just don't agree with the methods they are using.

    • yo dawg, I herd you'd like a fork of a fork of mozilla, so I recommend a fork of a fork of mozilla called seamonkey [seamonkey-project.org], which is basically mozilla. You get to keep many firefox extensions with it too.

      If people volunteered a couple more complete themes for it, that would be great.

      • by MrL0G1C (867445)

        They really need to ditch those seriously fugly grippy things at the left of each toolbar, who wants a browser that looks like Netscape 4.7

        http://www.seamonkey-project.o... [seamonkey-project.org]

        • by byuu (1455609)
          You can turn those off with userchrome.css.

          .tabs-newbutton, .tabs-closebutton { display: none !important; } /* use Ctrl+T for new tabs, and middle-click to close tabs */
          .toolbar-grippy { display: none !important; } /* get rid of the grippy controls on the left of each bar */
          .toolbarbutton-menubutton-dropmarker { display: none !important; } /* kill the outer-nested back/forward boxes */

          To get clicking on the blank area to open a new tab, you have to extract omni.ja (which is a ZIP file with an intenti
        • It's better than the Chrome dicksucking in Firefox. You know I actually used some of those menu items that got hidden, things like "reopen last closed tab" and the history menu, that don't have buttons available...

          If you want eye candy, I'm sure it's skinnable, but you can't put back lost functionality.
  • If you don't like the redesign Mozilla has done with the new tab page and want to avoid the sponsored tiles, this extension reverts much of the new tab page appearance and allows a decent amount of customization.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-... [mozilla.org]

    • by Megane (129182)

      If you don't like the redesign Mozilla has done with the new tab page and want to avoid the sponsored tiles,

      ...then switch to SeaMonkey [seamonkey-project.org]

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @02:05PM (#47776817)

    ...a reminder that you can turn tiles off completely ...

    How long will it be before Mozilla decides that the users no longer need the ability to turn off the sponsored tiles?

    • How long will it be before Mozilla decides that the users no longer need the ability to turn off the sponsored tiles?

      Uh, if only Firefox were open source, then we'd be able to override these decisions from above by simply patching them out. Oh, wait...

    • by jafac (1449)

      right after they figure out that those sponsored tiles are all listed in my /etc/hosts as 0.0.0.0. . . .

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Started experimenting with the PM browser - it seems to have a lot of the +'s of Firefox without all the crap ...and australis.

  • by NotInHere (3654617) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @02:19PM (#47777019)

    I can ignore ads on the "new tabs" page. I'm more concerned about the "share" garbage they want to add to the context menu: https://bug1000513.bugzilla.mo... [mozilla.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    and doesn't suffer the bloat or other security woes FF and Chrome do. Sure, there are not a ton of add-ons, but how many do you need outstide of being able to block ads (a must), and disable HTTP/S referer (another must)?

  • R.I.P. Mozilla (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius (983462) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @02:27PM (#47777129) Homepage
    one of the core values of the Mozilla manifesto is this:

    use the Mozilla assets (intellectual property such as copyrights and trademarks, infrastructure, funds, and reputation) to keep the Internet an open platform;

    How does mozilla expect sponsored advertisement to exist without a conflict of interest? It can't. Mozilla is now beholden to and will become ever increasingly dependent upon ad revenue, which in turn will ensure mozilla projects and opinions will be screened before release to meet the advertisers approval.

    personally? im switching because i still want a free internet. check out icecat or midori.

    • Well they have full control and all they have to say is you want this spot, you can have for this much but you have no control over anything that happens to the browser.

      • by Khyber (864651)

        "Well they have full control and all they have to say is you want this spot, you can have for this much but you have no control over anything that happens to the browser."

        As if drive-by malware embedded in ads hasn't happened before. Yea, you might want to have a seat, I got some things to tell you.

        • by jopsen (885607)

          As if drive-by malware embedded in ads hasn't happened before. Yea, you might want to have a seat, I got some things to tell you.

          This is veted ads.... not an iframe... it not even ads, more like suggestions... trying to fall in the space where it is useful, thereby creating a win-win situation... thats not easy, but if anybody can be trusted to try it is mozilla..

          • by Khyber (864651)

            "This is veted ads"

            We've had plenty of companies claim they fully vet their ads. And we've seen them get exploited time and time again.

            Having the exploit built right into the browser, no thanks.

            • by jopsen (885607)

              We've had plenty of companies claim they fully vet their ads. And we've seen them get exploited time and time again.

              This is mozilla... not any company...

              Also we still just talking about experimenting with sponsored suggestions... My impression is that this is an attempt to create a win-win situation....
              From what I understand there have been absolutely no talk about selling this space to highest bidder, or offering it to anybody.

              It sounds more of an attempt to make the tile page usable and profitable, for users why haven't browsed enough that smart suggestions can be automatically generated... I think that what FF do

              • by Khyber (864651)

                "This is mozilla... not any company..."

                You're right. Not any company gets security-shafted every fucking week because of their bullshit week cycle. Only Mozilla does. I've dealt with more secure implementations of IE6 than your most recent version of Firefox.

                So shut the fuck up because you've got zero programming skills proven to show your issues.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        You can have for this much but you have no control over anything that happens to the browser.

        Before or after you accidentally click the tile?

        I'm sure the advertisers will insist that their bit of javascript runs, as well; the tile's content will probably be a script src= tag pointing to the advertiser's webserver.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > Mozilla is now beholden to and will become ever increasingly dependent upon ad revenue,

      Uh yeah. Perhaps you haven't noticed that they have been nearly entirely funded by google kickbacks from the search-bar for like a decade.
      If anything this makes the relationship with advertisements more explicit so there is a reduced opportunity for a conflict interest to manifest.

    • by Bob_Who (926234)

      How does mozilla expect sponsored advertisement to exist without a conflict of interest? It can't. Mozilla is now beholden to and will become ever increasingly dependent upon ad revenue, which in turn will ensure mozilla projects and opinions will be screened before release to meet the advertisers approval..

      Exactly.

      Perverse incentives dilute the mission. Just like PBS gradually becoming another corporate media ho. It's prostitution plain and simple. Call it lobbying, or fundraising, or whatever you like, it doesn't change the fact that accepting this revenue, in this way, makes you their bitch.

  • Pale Moon (Score:4, Informative)

    by BenFenner (981342) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @02:46PM (#47777355)
    I am so thankful for Pale Moon. I don't have to read Firefox news with dread anymore. Even at work here using Linux I can enjoy it.

    http://www.palemoon.org/ [palemoon.org]
  • No seriously, don't put up with this bullshit. Dump Firefox and come over to Pale Moon (www.palemoon.org). Your favorite plugins and add-ons will still work, you can customize the interface just how you're used to (that means no Australis excrement) and have the latest security updates too. It's fast, stable, standards compliant and doesn't force needless stuff on their users. They don't and won't sell your details, snoop on your browsing behavior and subject you to advertising. This whole process is painle

  • ... count. The uptake of new users is going to decline big time. Established users will learn to deal with the changes, but new users will be turned off before learning how to turn all this off.
  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @03:02PM (#47777541)

    Don't mistake me for a zealot, because I'm not. However, this move seems a lot like something the Microsoft of the early 2000s - when IE had near-100% marketshare and Firefox was still called Firebird - would do, and the kind of thing Mozilla should be fighting against.

    IE got where it was at that time because of how it was forced upon everyone who bought a copy of Windows, and there was no easy way to opt-out. It won a monopoly by default, and this was one of the reasons that the Mozilla Foundation came along and developed Firefox. One of the senior Firefox devs said a year or so ago to one of his critics (it was on here somewhere) that what was important to him and to Mozilla was not that you use Firefox or that Firefox even be the dominant browser. What was important to him is that you have a choice of browsers so that another situation in which IE (or any other browser) gains near-100% market share never happens again.

    This sounds like the same sort of thing. It's on by default, is obscure to disable (I personally can never remember the command to turn the new tab window off and have to look it up every time) and isn't something people are going to want. It's going to gain a monopoly by default, just like IE did. Using IE's tactics is not a good thing, and we can see why from IE itself. I might not hate it as much if there was a simple button in the preferences menu that reads "Turn off the New Tab Page" or "Disable Sponsored Links on the New Tab Page".. but there isn't. If anything, this should be opt-in "Would you like to support Firefox and the Mozilla Foundation by turning on sponsored links on the New Tab page?" instead of opt-out.

    • by Hsien-Ko (1090623)
      Well Microsoft did do something of that kind. Remember the channel bar IE4 came with in 1997? Booting up to suddenly see Taz and Mickey's dumb expressions at your face?
  • What saddens me is that most users won't notice or care. Clearly the Mozilla people need revenue somehow. But software should be on the user's side. Worry about the "open web" all you want, but if your own computer is out to get you then what's the point?

    • by speps (1108625)
      My own hypothesis is that Google told them they would stop paying them (you know, millions of dollars) some years from now. Until then, they have to find ways to monetize the shit out Firefox and their other projects... It would explain a LOT of what happened in the last few years.
      • by j127 (3658485)
        Yes... this is a likely scenario. Either they were told that or they could see that it's dangerous to depend on your main competitor for revenue.
  • by lippydude (3635849) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @04:00PM (#47778161)
    "When you first launch Firefox, a message on the new tab page informs you of the following .. It's quite a lot to take in all at once"

    It seems fairly straight forward to me: a) a promise that the feature abides by the Mozilla Privacy Policy, b) a reminder that you can turn tiles off completely ..
    • by Champion3 (599877)
      Not to mention that the code for displaying the tiles is open source, so you can audit it all you want.
  • donate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ssam (2723487) on Thursday August 28, 2014 @05:34PM (#47779161)

    If every Firefox user donated $1 they would not need to do this.https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/foundation/

    • by captjc (453680)

      Maybe, but even assuming that everyone on earth would give them a dollar, do you think they stop their plan or simply pocket the cash and continue anyway?

      I'm guessing they would still do it anyway.

      • by jopsen (885607)

        I'm guessing they would still do it anyway.

        Really...
        Anyways, as always this is greatly misrepresented in the media... What they are doing is experimenting... nothing is in beta yet...

    • https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/foundation/

      If only they would allow directed donations. I'd gladly donate a hundred bucks towards the Electrolysis [mozilla.org] project but more likely my money would go towards FirefoxOS (ugh).

      • by j127 (3658485)
        Firefox OS looks great. You can get a $33 Firefox smartphone and program it with HTML5. Firefox OS could even be marketed as a DIY-focused product -- cheaper than a Raspberry Pi.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      They keep pissing off the users with pointless UI changes that are obviously from the damaged brain of a "UX" expert. It's not wonder they don't get much revenue from donations which rely on good will.

  • Mozilla communicates a lot about openness, privacy, etc...It wants to be the "good guy". Sponsored tiles (ads) are mostly considered evil.

    IMHO, Chrome already has the technical advantage. Firefox tends to copy Chrome features rather than the opposite, and Chrome feels faster and more stable. It would be a shame to also lose the political advantage.

    As for the comment "but the ads can be turned off". Sure, but look at ABP. They made their controversial whitelist feature completely optional, yet, it didn't sto

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