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Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

Start Stumping for Firefox?

I saw an interesting item on Slashdot – someone is offering an IE-specific ad that only shows when your site visitor is using Internet Explorer, offers a link to download Firefox, and pays the site owner a bounty. Check out Explorer Destroyer. It comes in different levels, from gentle nag to barring IE users.

How much do I like Internet Explorer? Not very much, and I get really peeved when a site I want to go to demands it – like sending html email through my site’s webmail server. But I have gotten used to this occasional obstacle, whereas the general public, most of whom use IE simply because it comes with Windows, is not. Is it fair to penalize IE users? Probably. Is it nice to treat my site visitors that way? Probably not. Does exposing someone to the features of Firefox justify the treatment? That’s the tough one.

Now I don’t actually use Firefox – I use either the Mozilla Suite or it’s supposed successor, Seamonkey, but it’s all from the Mozilla Foundation. There are some differences between the versions in functionality and the availability of themes and extensions, but they are minor in comparison to the fact that they’re not IE.

In a quick, lunchtime post, I have neither the interest nor the time to get into a debate about the relative merits of Internet Explorer vs. Mozilla/Firefox, but the off-the-cuff reasons for switching or thus:

I am strongly considering adding this to my website. According to one visitor tracker I use, about 50% of the not-me, not-a-bot visitors used IE, but it’s a small sample size. My logs include me and all bots, so it’s hard to interpret the report of 26% of page views (not visitors) using IE 6. I doubt I would use anything other than the gentle nag, but the site suggests trying the lookout version for 24 hours. I just wish I could change the listed reason for recommending Firefox in the Level 2 version – “not compatible with this site” seems disingenuous. “I care about my visitors enough…” would also be disingenuous if I were taking a bounty.

Expect a self-debate posting soon about commercializing my site.

Posted by Greg as My Website, Software at 11:55 PST

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