21 votes

Mozilla launches a new Test Pilot: Firefox for a Better Web, offering privacy and faster access to great content

11 comments

  1. [3]
    kfwyre
    (edited )
    Link
    I signed up for this. I love the idea of a single monthly fee that gets distributed among the articles I read for that month. Right now there are simply too many different sources that each want...

    I signed up for this. I love the idea of a single monthly fee that gets distributed among the articles I read for that month. Right now there are simply too many different sources that each want me to pay individually. This feels similar to what Brave was trying to do, but I don't exactly love cryptocurrency, so I feel much better about this attempt.

    At present the number of supported sites isn't that high (you can see the list here). I expect they're hoping to grow the platform and have more jump onboard.

    I was planning to give a little mini-review of it, but it looks like it has stopped working for the moment. It was functional for a couple of random articles and I went through all of its onboarding messages, but it isn't showing up anymore for any of the supported sites. Not sure if I did something wrong or if that's just the bumpiness of the beta at the moment. If it gets back up and running I'll post here letting people know what it's like from an on-the-ground view.

    EDIT: It's now working. See here for continued thoughts.

    10 votes
    1. Deimos
      Link Parent
      I haven't looked into whether the Firefox version is different yet, but for Scroll by itself, it doesn't get you past paywalls for any sites that have one (like The Atlantic). So for a "full",...

      I haven't looked into whether the Firefox version is different yet, but for Scroll by itself, it doesn't get you past paywalls for any sites that have one (like The Atlantic). So for a "full", clean experience on those sites you're expected to pay for both Scroll and the individual site's subscription.

      I also did a breakdown of the sites supported at launch by who owns them. It looks like it's expanded a little, but not by much.

      8 votes
    2. kfwyre
      Link Parent
      Double posting because I finally got it up and running. @skybrian pointed out here that it's based on a cookie, so I had to do the following things to get it functional: Because I'm blocking...

      Double posting because I finally got it up and running. @skybrian pointed out here that it's based on a cookie, so I had to do the following things to get it functional:

      1. Because I'm blocking third-party cookies in Firefox, I had to allow scroll.com, static.scroll.com, and connect.scroll.com in Firefox's cookie permissions.

      2. I had to add *.scroll.com to my Cookie Auto-Delete whitelist.

      3. I had to reinstall the add-on.

      So, now it's working. Some on-the-ground thoughts:

      When you load up an article, there's a bar at the bottom with a couple of different options. One appears to allow you to share the article on Facebook, one takes you to your Scroll user profile, one appears to be an option to listen to the article read out loud to you (but it's not working at the moment for me), and one is an option to hide the bar, which condenses it down to an icon which you can later expand.

      In your user profile, you can see a circle graph of where your money for that month is going based on your browsing habits. It also saves each supported article you've clicked on, and your progress in it, to your profile. I haven't installed it on mobile yet, but it purports to sync your reading location across devices as well.

      For the purposes of testing, I chose a random article from a random supported site: The Verge's Impossible CEO says it can make a meat ‘unlike anything that you’ve had before’

      I normally surf with uBlock Origin on, so there's not a noticeable difference between when I load the page with uBlock and when I load it with Scroll (with uBlock turned off). Loading it with no blocking shows ads above, beside, beneath, and within the content. Yuck.

      Interestingly enough, uBlock does still have 7 hits on the page when loading it with Scroll active, but some of that might be that I also have "annoyances" blocked, and I noticed that the newsletter subscription box in the right column gets filtered out when uBlock is on.

      With uBlock turned off and Scroll on, Firefox's own tracking protection says that it's blocking 3 different social media trackers and 6 different tracking content domains. So, while it appears that Scroll is good for removing the ads from loading, it shouldn't be a sole source of protection. It would be really nice if Scroll became sort of a "trust pass" whereby having it enabled means that I would get served a clean, simple, ad and tracker-free version of an article (I'm envisioning similar to what Firefox's reader mode does).

      Given that I was already using an adblocker, adding Scroll doesn't particularly do anything for me besides give me the peace of mind that I'm supporting Firefox as well as being less of a freeloader with my surfing habits. As @Deimos pointed out here, it doesn't get me past any current paywalls, so it won't be useful for sites that have those in place. On the other hand, if they gain steam, I could see some sites potentially using this in lieu of paywalls? Maybe? Hopefully? Pleeeease?

      It remains to be seen, but in the meantime I'm happy to support Firefox and a solid initiative to monetize the web without ads. I certainly won't be turning off my tracking or ad blockers yet though, even for supported sites.

      3 votes
  2. Death
    Link
    It's another interesting project from Mozilla, but with it's entry price I'm kind of wondering if this aiming at a level of market penetration they cannot guarantee for themselves. I hope this is...

    It's another interesting project from Mozilla, but with it's entry price I'm kind of wondering if this aiming at a level of market penetration they cannot guarantee for themselves. I hope this is all calculated to generate enough revenue for them, even at low adoption rates.

    7 votes
  3. [5]
    skybrian
    Link
    I wonder how privacy works for Scroll? On the face of it, it seems like they need to track all your browsing?

    I wonder how privacy works for Scroll? On the face of it, it seems like they need to track all your browsing?

    6 votes
    1. [4]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      If I'm right about how this works (never used it; educated guess), Scroll works much like Google Accounts service does. If you're a Scroll subscriber and you visit one of their partner websites,...

      Firefox Better Web works on all websites when you’re on the Firefox desktop browser. The Scroll-specific features—syncing, audio, and reading lists, as well as publisher direct payout—work only on partner publisher sites.

      If I'm right about how this works (never used it; educated guess), Scroll works much like Google Accounts service does. If you're a Scroll subscriber and you visit one of their partner websites, the site pings Scroll servers for your Scroll cookies, which they use to identify you as a subscriber and suspend ads.

      This is the only way I can conceive of as to how to establish membership rights without hard-instancing your account (i.e. without having you manage separate accounts on all partnered websites). Technically, Scroll will know when you visit their partners – and without something like Solid, that's the only way it could possibly work. Targeted ads work the same way, but the intentions are different here.

      6 votes
      1. [3]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        A bit more about it here: I decided to check it out. I liked Google Contributor. Maybe someday one of these services will succeed? I signed up and it's very simple. All they did was verify my...

        A bit more about it here:

        Scroll works by placing a cookie in your browser that lets the websites know not to serve ads, so it should just work across all of the websites you visit once you’re logged in. It works on both desktop and mobile. (There will be an extra step within mobile apps like Facebook that use their own browser, and some browsers like Safari require an extra extension to fully work.)

        I decided to check it out. I liked Google Contributor. Maybe someday one of these services will succeed?

        I signed up and it's very simple. All they did was verify my email address. No billing yet? I am using Chrome.

        When visiting the Atlantic, they had some overlays about how they're not showing ads. However, it will not get you past the Atlantic's soft paywall, so you're out of luck there. I guess if you had a subscription it would be useful.

        It seems good for reading Vox.

        4 votes
        1. [2]
          ThatFanficGuy
          Link Parent
          @Deimos mentioned how it doesn't let you do that. There's a 30-day trial period, as per Scroll's website. Is there a difference between Scroll-backed view and using an ad block on any of the...

          However, it will not get you past the Atlantic's soft paywall

          @Deimos mentioned how it doesn't let you do that.

          No billing yet?

          There's a 30-day trial period, as per Scroll's website.

          Is there a difference between Scroll-backed view and using an ad block on any of the partnered sites?

          2 votes
          1. skybrian
            Link Parent
            I haven't done the comparison. Even if there isn't, I do like paying websites at least a nominal amount.

            I haven't done the comparison. Even if there isn't, I do like paying websites at least a nominal amount.

            2 votes
  4. Whom
    Link
    This is a wonderful idea and I'm immediately hopping on, but I only hope more sites jump on by the time it goes full price. I'm supporting this because I want this to be the way the web works, but...

    This is a wonderful idea and I'm immediately hopping on, but I only hope more sites jump on by the time it goes full price. I'm supporting this because I want this to be the way the web works, but I don't know how long I'll stay on when very few of the sites I actually use participate in the program.

    4 votes
  5. krg
    Link
    Competing with Brave, I guess?

    Competing with Brave, I guess?

    1 vote