Adblock Plus and (a little) more

Speaking of respecting users... · 2006-08-20 23:36 by Wladimir Palant

When you go to Adblock’s (not Adblock Plus) web site — what strikes you most? Is it MozDev’s cool design? Or is it the great description of things you can do with Adblock? I bet that’s not what you notice. I am almost sure that you stare at the text and swear: “Who the hell put grey text on white background? How are we supposed to read this?”

Well, maybe this is only something the developers (meaning rue) did not notice yet, despite the site being like this for over 2 years now. They probably did not notice numerous threads in their forum either:

Wow, that’s probably the most frequently requested feature on the Adblock forum. But why would anybody read his own project forum anyway? I found two quotes in these topics that I quite liked:

It's a neat trick to keep the userbase small.
(c) rue (Developer)
rue is blind and his screenreader doesnt support colours
(c) Guest

So, what’s the real story behind this grey text? The official explanation (see second link): rue didn’t like the MozDev style so he “improved” it. It’s only too bad that his “improvement” didn’t work on anything other than a Mac screen. But since rue himself is using a Mac he doesn’t care.

I heard a slightly different version of the story when I talked to rue last December. Being not aware of the forum threads I mentioned this homepage issue to him again. The answer was something along the lines of “nobody cares since nobody reads this geeky page, everybody only downloads the extension and basta”. And then there was something about “back when Adblock only had 10 users this was a funny thing to do, just to prove the point that nobody cared”.

Well, Adblock’s popularity has exploded since then. Much of this popularity must be credited to that didn’t follow rue’s web design style. But the disrespect for the user is still blatant, and this is only one small example. I wonder — how many people would use Adblock today if they had to download it from the official homepage?


Comment [5]

  1. Master X · 2006-08-21 00:08 · #

    Still many. Adblock (and today Adblock Plus) is advised everywhere. In the beginning of my firefox era, I also downloaded it from rue’s site. MCM’s Adblock (Plus) also had no website in the beginning (only a thread in the adblock forum), but it became popular, too.

    But your right, a lot more people would use Adblock (Plus), when the developers would have respected the users wishes and needs.

  2. mcm · 2006-08-21 10:44 · #

    When I talked to rue he mentioned that he already had done some work on a replacement site to coincide with the 0.6 release. But of course the release is looking elusive again.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Well, he always says this…

    The current layout was a just quick hack to purge mozdev’s disturbing Red. It was never intended to be permanent. [...] I’ll get around to implementing the real design one of these days.

    This quote is from March 2004.

  3. ecjs · 2006-08-21 12:49 · #

    Actually, it didn’t put me off. This “grey on white” appearance was not a problem when I first looked for information about this product.

    However, your website is far more comprehensive and relevant.

  4. snicker · 2006-08-30 10:22 · #

    > It’s only too bad that his “improvement” didn’t work on anything
    > other than a Mac screen.

    That’s actually not true. The page is hard to read on a Mac, as well.

    > I wonder — how many people would use Adblock today if they had to
    > download it from the official homepage?

    I encounter unreadable web pages very often. They usually use half-pixel wide greenish-gray text on a patterned dark background, so the Adblock’s page is almost a positive example here. I simply cringe in horror, again, and use View -> Page Style -> No Style (I even have a keyboard shortcut for it).

    Now, some web authors work a bit harder, and put their half-pixel wide greenish-gray text on a patterned dark animated background inside a 180×120 pixel non-resizable flash…

  5. pirlouy · 2006-11-08 12:07 · #

    Well, it seems the site has changed. Now there are black characters…

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    That’s weird… The site didn’t really change, there hasn’t been any check in since January. But looking at it seems that default.css was restored to its previous state, before rue’s changes. This is either a CVS malfunction or (more likely) MozDev admins reacting to the complains. Note that other things haven’t been restored so that the project name on the first page is almost invisible and images are still gray.

    Reply from Wladimir Palant:

    Actually, looking at the web archive – the styles to make the text gray were never in default.css but rather head.txt that is included into every page. And the current version of head.txt still contains these styles, they are just not included for some reason. It works on other MozDev pages, my guess is: the file got deleted on the server due to some malfunction so that the default head.txt is included instead. Once the server is re-synchronized with the CVS the text will be gray again.

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