Computerworld.com has kicked up a storm this week by offering its readers a list of Firefox extensions they should not use. Some of the mentions are possibly valid and using them may have a performance hit on your computer, open security issues, or simply require inconvenient set up or uninstallation when you decide the side-effects outweigh the benefits.
However, some of the entries simply seem to be in the list because they reduce the advertiser impact of sites, such as Computerworld, which is fairly packed with ads and spawns popups in an unprotected browser. By the way, I linked to the print mode version of the article, so you can avoid all the ads even if you have not adopted these addons. If you want to see the dozens of comments from aggrieved readers you will have to go back to the original article.
So, what are these addons? We are publishing the full list here together with our own thoughts on how they might annoy sites like Computerworld, advertisers, and all those blogs that exist purely to help other bloggers maximize their revenues, without really providing any value-added…you know who you are!
Fasterfox – this accelerates browsing by doing link pre-fetches, but obviously has a performance and bandwidth hit for the site in question, it also prefetches ad links, which could distort the site’s finances as ads that are never seen are being clicked through nevertheless.
NoScript – does what it says on the tin and so prevents scripts running in a browser window and thus disables lots of script-based ads.
Adblock and Adblock Plus – more of the same – blocks almost all advertising, the raison d’etre for some sites, and so has to be the most hated of addons for such sites.
PDF Download – they reckon this is overkill for most users, but perhaps they just don’t want visitors wasting bandwidth on docs that contain no ads.
VideoDownloader – once again an addon like this allows browsers to grab the content they want without having to wade through page after page of ads
Greasemonkey – this addon allows you to manipulate sites from the client side and so display them as you wish, could it be that this would allow a browser to side-step all kinds of trash an ad-rich site might throw at you? You betcha!
ScribeFire – okay, they may have a point with this blogging addon, I too cannot see the point.
TrackMeNot is apparently for the overly paranoid, but even if you are paranoid it does not mean they are not out to get you…think twice before not using it to protect your privacy even if it does mean those marketing people don’t know where you are clicking to and from.
If you already use all of these Firefox addons, you know why. If you do not, then I would recommend you take a good look at them. Most ad-averse users have the likes of Adblock installed and it can greatly improve the surfing experience by hiding all those ads. Of course, annoying the ad guys by using these extensions, could lead to them having to rebuild their business model. After all, without advertising, they might even have to start charging for their content. But such a model would only be valid if the content were worth having in the first place, would it not? Judge for your self.