Adblock Plus and (a little) more

Taking a vacation from work with the community · 2011-04-06 00:24 by Wladimir Palant

Last week was very hard on me. I had to work under much pressure to fix several critical issues discovered immediately after Adblock Plus 1.3.5 release. At the same time the Adblock Plus community which used to be a great motivator seemed to go out of its way to demotivate me:

  • A dozen people posted something in the forum along the lines of “the new version is broken so I downgraded and everything is fine again” without even making an attempt to help me locate the issue.
  • I went out of my way to investigate issues that I couldn’t reproduce and offered using TeamViewer in several topics where multiple users reported having problems. How many TeamViewer sessions did this result in? One — and consequently only one resolved issue (thank you, Hubird!).
  • It seems that, after spending countless hours on Adblock Plus over the course of the past five years, asking for a tiny favor in return is an offense worth a public outrage with dozens of negative comments (of course every new commenter doesn’t bother reading previous discussion).
  • We almost released Adblock Plus with a critical issue again. The fact that we didn’t is a success story, at least for Mozilla. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Adblock Plus — not one out of our 5000 development build users reported this issue (which was reproducible reliably on some webpages by the way). If it weren’t for automated crash reporting and quick thinking on Mozilla’s side we would have another disaster on our hands.

This realization probably comes too late but I no longer feel capable of working with the Adblock Plus community. As a developer you need a thick skin but I am apparently not there yet. This also affects my overall performance in a very negative way, being demotivated certainly doesn’t help improving Adblock Plus. So I have to make the hard decision and (temporarily?) sacrifice the direct contact with the community that I always valued.

I removed my email address from I also disabled comments for this blog. I will finally take the time to rewrite our bugs page and direct all bug reports to the forum. If you have questions, want to report a bug or make a suggestion — our forum is the best place for that, not only since today. The only thing that changes is that contacting me directly will no longer work.

I cannot stop people from continuing to send mails to me directly of course. I will reply to mails from people I know but won’t promise anything concerning the rest of them. And I would also like to thank Michael, Hubird, MonztA, IceDogg, Ares2, Lain_13 (in no particular order and probably with a bunch of names missing) for their continuous help and dedication to this project. I hope that my impression of the last few days is only the result of my bad mood and there are in fact many more people willing to make an effort to help this project succeed.


Comment [4]

  1. eupator · 2011-04-12 02:03 · #

    What you observe is perfectly normal and you shouldn’t take it personally.

    As a result of your admirable work making ABP accessible to the general audience, you gained several millions new, non-technical users. The vast majority of them are invisible: they will never mail you, report a bug, post a review, or use the forum – just like they don’t do so with other software they use. And the visible ones have less experience and knowledge then your old users, and thus will require more patience and hand-holding to extract useful information from their reports.

  2. lewisje · 2011-04-24 07:19 · #

    Those people referred to in your first bullet-point should get IP-banned from, not just the forum (including the EasyList subdomains), or maybe just re-directed to a page spelling out that unlike a typical closed project where downgrading really is the only solution, open-source projects like this thrive on bug reports rather than defeatist pronouncements that “shit’s broken, better downgrade.”

  3. Adblockuser · 2011-04-29 20:34 · #

    Hello, I am very happy you came back to the blog and allowed commenting again. You do very good work and it IS appreciated.
    In the past I commented about still using Windows 98 and Firefox 2.0.20. Your response was straightforward, understandable and appreciated. Yes, Win 98 and Firefox 2.0.20 are very old. Now, I would like to give more information on the use of older Firefox and Adblock Plus.
    I noticed that the easylist would not update after April 5th 2011. Attempts to update failed. I then noticed that the new easylist download site was slightly different from the old one. I uninstalled (deleted) the easylist, then went to your Adblock Subscriptions page and reinstalled the easylist. It is OK now. Yes it still says “some filters require adblock plus 1.1…” but the script error is gone and it still works. Again thank you for all your hard work. AdBlock Plus make Firefox a pleasure to use.

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