Firefox to Block Infuriating Notification Requests

John Lister's picture

Mozilla is reducing the likelihood Firefox users will be bothered by website notification requests. It will make browsing a lot less frustrating, but will upset some website owners.

What are Website Notifications?

Notifications in web browsers work in a similar way to notifications from apps on a mobile phone or tablet.

As an example, a user of a streaming video site might agree to accept browser notifications. They could then get notifications whenever the site adds a new episode of a TV series they've previously watched on the site. On Windows 10, this notification might appear in the Windows 10 Notification Center, on the tray bar to the right of the system clock.

What makes notifications appealing to sites and annoying for some users is that, once transmitted, they appear immediately (or as soon as the user next opens their browser). They also appear regardless of whether the user is logged into or visiting the site in question.

Most Requests Rejected Or Ignored

Sites have to ask permission before a user gets notifications, which usually comes as a popup window as soon as the user visits the site.

It's safe to say users aren't generally happy about this. According to Mozilla, only one percent of notification requests are accepted, with users clicking to reject the request 48 percent of the time and simply ignoring it altogether in 51 percent of cases. They also say repeated requests are even less likely to be accepted. (Source: mozilla.org)

Under the new Firefox system, notification requests won't appear as popups at all. Instead, there will be a new icon that appears in the address bar, similar to the lock icon that indicates a secure site. The icon will look like a speech bubble and only if users click on the icon will the request appear.

"Not Now" Becomes "Never"

Sites will still be able to show notification requests if there's "user interaction."

For example, they could have a link in the text on the page along the lines of "click here to sign up for notifications." It's only automatic popup windows with a request that are being blocked.

The changes will take place in January, though Firefox has already changed the existing notification popup system. An existing option called "Not Now" which allows the site to ask again on a future visit has been replaced by "Never Allow" which should banish notification requests forever. (Source: theverge.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Do you find browser notification requests irritating? Have you ever intentionally accepted a request? Is Mozilla's response a good move?

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Comments

DavidInMississippi's picture

It's about time SOME major company listened to their CUSTOMERS and not to the complaints and pressure from those people with an agenda. There's too much of that latter in the world already, and I for one am VERY PLEASED at Mozilla's actions here.

I'm not alone when I say I absolutely despise intrusive ads, including ALL popups and those ads right here on InfoPackets that suddenly appear when I scroll or accidentally pass my mouse over a particular word. I close them ASAP, without reading them if possible, and often avoid sites that permit these types of intrusions.

On the other hand I do not mind at all SIDEBAR ads or even smaller header banner ads, and have often come across something I want to know more about. But those do not get in the way of the content, which is why I am on that page in the first place.

Is it possible to stand up and cheer in a comment like this? If so, then I am.

Dennis Faas's picture

This is off-topic to the post, but I'll reply to your comment.

The mouse-over ads on our site are from Vibrant Media and they make up about 30% of our ad revenue. While these ads are sometimes intrusive, they also pay the bills and keep our website running.

Donations to the site make up about 0.5% of our revenue. Many of our web visitors use ad blockers, which means we don't generate any revenue form these visitors, yet the costs to run the site keep piling up.

Most months we usually break even on running costs; some months we don't. There is unfortunately no middle ground to this debate - trust me, I've looked. The fact is, ads pay our bills and without it we can't run the site.

If the mouse-over ads bother you, try to keep your mouse off to one side of the screen while scrolling and these ads won't display.

DavidInMississippi's picture

A big thanks to Dennis for his response and perspective.

However, I do happen to know that if you set it up properly, it rarely costs more than $100 a year to run a site like this. How do I know? I run more than a dozen sites, both for myself and a number of non-profits. Yes, the costs have "kept piling up," from about $55/yr a decade ago to more than $80/yr now.

Not a single one of these personal or non-profit sites has ever made enough money to pay for its upkeep, so they are all a labor of love, paid for out of my pocket, through the income from my paying ventures (currently paying web clients, music writing, and YouTubing).

What it comes down to is that I'm willing to pay for running these sites myself to spare my sites' visitors from the irritation of intrusive ads. Just because I need or want the money (for the sites pay for themselves) is not, in my view, enough justification to warrant setting my visitors' teeth on edge. But that's me.

Of course, one of the wonderful things about living in free countries is that we are all free to make our own choices and decisions. If we don't like the choices and decisions someone else makes, we are also free to vote - with our feet, our wallets, and our (lack of) mouse clicks.

To direct this discussion back on-topic, all this discussion is my reasoning for being enthusiastically in favor of Mozilla's actions to eliminate those pesky popup notification requests.

Dennis Faas's picture

Sorry, but your estimate is horribly wrong.

Dedicated servers cost a lot more than your estimate - we are not running a small site here. At one point it was $400 a month for a dedicated server with 5 IPs to run the site with proper infrastructure in place. If you need proof I'll email you receipts. That costs does not include the money I paid 5 writers and 2 editors for 25 articles a week, which is substantially more than the infrastructure.

The cost is less now because we've switched hosts due to a severe decline in revenue in 2011. A dedicated server is still required to send out our mailing list to 79k users x 5 a week. Because I am able to program infrastructure I've saved approximately well over $2000+ a month in mailing lists costs, had I leased mailing out from third party sites. Currently mailchimp.com charges $1500 a month for $75k emails a month. We do that in a single day. You do the math.

So, with all due respect, please don't tell me what it costs to run this site in comparison to yours or someone else's, because you have no idea. I also have bills to pay which go beyond simply renting a dedicated server.