Prompting our users to update their plugins

Jorge Villalobos

139

Firefox users who have outdated versions of the most popular plugins will soon see a notification urging them to update when they visit a web page that uses them. Old versions of Silverlight, Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash on Windows are covered by this.

While you are free to ignore the warnings and continue using your old plugins, we strongly recommend that you go to our Plugin Check page and update them as soon as possible. Old plugin versions can cause stability problems and are potentially insecure. Keeping them up to date will ensure that you have a great Firefox experience.

139 responses

  1. ASilver wrote on :

    Jorge, by this point, you cannot still be in denial that the plugin checker turns itself back on periodically, no matter what a user does. So please, stop bullshitting us. I hate to be un-pc, but this kind of denial lends itself to this form of response. The entire Firefox userbase are not a stupid, clueless mob. Bottom line: the plugin checker, while a good idea on paper, simply doesn’t work well in practice, and needs to be either removed, or modified to allow a hardcoded shutoff to be selected from about/config (and no, the current option doesn’t allow for this, as noted above).And it goes without saying that the [lugin checker should never be turned on by default (the comments here alone should make this abundantly clear). If this doesn’t happen, Firefox is going to continue to bleed users who are (rightfully) pissed-off that an intrusive, user-agnostic setting is killing the browsing experience for them. So do the right thing: tell the powers-that-be that this idea has failed miserably, and that the users have spoken. And try not to forget that the users, not the programmers, are the most important metric.

    1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

      I assume you’re referring to the bug where the Plugin Check page is opened every time Firefox starts. That bug is reported here, so if there’s anything you can do to help get it resolved, that would be very valuable. Just leaving a comment offering your help might be useful.

      Opening the plugin check page on every Firefox start is a terrible user experience, so I don’t understand why you think we would do that on purpose.

      1. ASilver wrote on :

        Jorge, what you say is true, However, more to the point, the plugin checker itself is creating a terrible user experience, even when it works properly, since it can’t be disabled by advanced users, flags false positives (with java uninstalled, for example) near-constantly, does not account for plugins like flash that tend to break entirely when updated, and likewise does not effectively account for users who want to use older versions of the plugins for deliberate reasons. As you say, they do so at their own risk – so why not make that quid pro quo, as it was previously, instead of forcing something on the users that they (rightfully) resent? It behooves you to take a second and look back to the origins of the Firefox project – what was once known as Phoenix. The goal of that project was to allow advanced users to change the configuration of their browsers as they saw fit (in order to make the best use of it for their individual needs), while allowing those who wanted to leave things bog-standard to use the default configuration. While Firefox may have abandoned parts of this core pricipals of being a browser that advanced users appreciated for more “mainstream” acceptance, forcing users – advanced or not – to do things a certain way because the *developers* think that this is the only appropriate way to do things is both a betrayal of the project’s fundamental principals (a user-configured browser experience), and a disservice to the userbase at large. To reiterate: we the users are not all mindless thralls. We know how to use the net. We know how to configure a web browser. And we know how to read. So do us all a favor: revert to the previous poilicy of *suggesting* and *warning* us about using the latest versions of plugins, but allow the ultimate choice to be ours – the user’s – upfront. We understand completely that we use older versions of all plugins at our own risk, and that doing so might crash the browser, the OS, the computer, and even the world itself. We get it, and if we screw up, then the fault is ours and ours alone – not yours. But we, as users, reserve the right to use this piece of software as we see fit, in all cases, developer sentiments be damed. Is this really so hard to understand? Let the users use the browsers as they want, and stick to improving the experience without being intrusive – there are, after all scads and scads of bugs that can make better use of developer time then this.

        1. ASilver wrote on :

          Jorge, what you say is true, However, more to the point, the plugin checker itself is creating a terrible user experience, even when it works properly, since it can’t be disabled by advanced users, flags false positives (with java uninstalled, for example) near-constantly, does not account for plugins like flash that tend to break entirely when updated, and likewise does not effectively account for users who want to use older versions of the plugins for deliberate reasons. As you say, they do so at their own risk – so why not make that quid pro quo, as it was previously, instead of forcing something on the users that they (rightfully) resent? It behooves you to take a second and look back to the origins of the Firefox project – what was once known as Phoenix. The goal of that project was to allow advanced users to change the configuration of their browsers as they saw fit (in order to make the best use of it for their individual needs), while allowing those who wanted to leave things bog-standard to use the default configuration. While Firefox may have abandoned parts of the core pricipal of being a browser that advanced users appreciated for more “mainstream” acceptance, forcing users – advanced or not – to do things a certain way because the *developers* think that this is the only appropriate way to do things is both a betrayal of the project’s fundamental principals (a user-configured browser experience), and a disservice to the userbase at large. To reiterate: we the users are not all mindless thralls. We know how to use the net. We know how to configure a web browser. And we know how to read. So do us all a favor: revert to the previous poilicy of *suggesting* and *warning* us about using the latest versions of plugins, but allow the ultimate choice to be ours – the user’s – upfront. We understand completely that we use older versions of all plugins at our own risk, and that doing so might crash the browser, the OS, the computer, and who knows what else. We get it, and if we screw up, then the fault is ours and ours alone – not yours. But we, as users, reserve the right to use this piece of software as we see fit, in all cases, developer sentiments be damed. Is this really so hard to understand? Let the users use the browser as they want, and stick to improving the experience without being intrusive – there are, after all scads and scads of bugs that can make better use of developer time then this. Stop working against the user base. Listen to them, and work with them to make Firefox better, instead of more frustrating.

          1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

            If you don’t care about the risk and don’t want the blocklist to do anything for you, all you need to do is disable it in the preferences. In about:config, set extensions.blocklist.enabled to false and you won’t have this problem anymore. If this doesn’t work, then there’s something wrong in your Firefox profile.

            We will continue extending these blocks. The plan is to eventually make all plugins Click-to-Play. So, our plugin protection policy will only become more inclusive, not less.

          2. ASilver wrote on :

            So you’re telling me that there’s something wrong with the Firefox profiles of each and every person who has posted on here regarding this issue? Are you really going to make this claim? Seriously? Apparently, actual issues brought to your attention by the userbase at large don’t really matter, even if they are well-documented. I can’t believe I’m hearing this from a developer on this project.

            And Jorge, mark my words: by ignoring the overwhelming sentiments of your userbase, you are ensuring that long-time users will continue to abandon Firefox for other browsers in droves. More disturbing is your apparent mindset that spitting in the face of users needs (instead of listening to them) is a good thing. Frankly, its absolutely unbelieveable how little of a clue you seem to have.

          3. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

            We have a user base in the hundreds of millions. Do you find it so unlikely one bug would affect thousands of users, let alone the dozen or two who have commented here about this problem? I’m not a Firefox developer, but I am a developer and I understand how software bugs work. This isn’t out of the ordinary and it would be fantastic if you spent 1% of the energy you spend complaining here in trying to help us resolve this problem. If you want to continue believing that this is some sort of conspiracy against you, and we’re intentionally making our product behave in a completely counter-intuitive way, well, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.

          4. ASilver wrote on :

            Sigh….looks like I’m going to have to break this down for you line-by-line:

            “We have a user base in the hundreds of millions.”

            Er, no Jorge, that’s the number of users you *used* to have. And the number of users are still falling precipitously. Or do you not actually look at the browser user metrics that are published online monthly?

            “Do you find it so unlikely one bug would affect thousands of users, let alone the dozen or two who have commented here about this problem?”

            First Jorge, Google is your friend, m’kay? Far more then a couple of dozen people have a problem with this. They’ve discussed it on Slashdot, Reddit, Engadget, HardOCP, Ars Technica, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Metafilter, Kotaku, CNET….just to name a few. Hell, even 4chan has spawned multiple discussion threads on the issue. In fact, if there’s a forum dealing with browsers or browser issues on *any* website, you’re likely to find hundreds (if not thousands) of posts on this very issue. Remember Bucky, not everyone user finds his way here to bitch. Now, as for it being a “bug”…stop bullshitting. Seriously. It’s a bad developer decision, compounded by the fact that the damn plugin checker itself is buggy as hell. Here’s a hint: if the damn thing keeps turning itself beck on randomly, it’s not a “feature” ready for primetime. Does this not compute, amigo? Or are you seriously going to take pride in following the Microsoft playbook (i.e. releasing something before being thoroughly tested, then patch the hell out if it, and hope to god that no one notices how crappy it is, all the while referring any and all complaints to the PR department to squelch) to it’s “logical” eye-rolling conclusion? Don’t the users deserve better then this?

            “I’m not a Firefox developer, but I am a developer and I understand how software bugs work.”

            Do you now? So explain to me again that when numerous disparate users report the same independently-verifiable behavior in regards to a certain plugin (namely, that it doesn’t work well and constantly re-enables itself), you don’t say “hmm, maybe we should remove the plugin from the newest builds until we figure out what’s wrong”, but instead go with “Bug? What bug? There’s no bug. Just do what I say and it will work, I promise. And even if there *was* a bug, why don’t you help us find and fix it instead of just, you know, telling us about it?” That’s quite the nonsensical response to defend. Do you really want to spend the time and effort to do so instead of, say, actually fixing the problem?

            “This isn’t out of the ordinary and it would be fantastic if you spent 1% of the energy you spend complaining here in trying to help us resolve this problem.”

            Ah, but Sparky, that’s what we’re doing – we’re telling you that the damn plugin checker DOESN’T WORK AND NEEDS TO BE DISABLED AND REMOVED UNTIL IT DOES! That how you, resolve this sort of problem. Because, you see, you’re damn developer – not us. *Our* job is to point out the issues to *you* and then you and the rest of the rest of the developers can FIX THEM. Capiche? It’s not up to us users to fix them. But it *is* up to you to LISTEN to our complaints and issues, becasuse THAT’S WHAT DEVELOPERS DO…or at least, are supposed to do. Now, as to how much energy it takes me in order to hammer these points home into your rather think head (no offense meant, – it’s merely a statement of fact)…I’ll be honest. It doesn’t take too much (for me at least) because this is what I do AS A JOB in real life. Making developers listen to customers and users, often using lots and lots of words – some small and some big – until they understand the situation weather they want to or not. I’m fully aware that developers, and indeed almost all programmers, do not like to read, and have an aversion to the written word in general. Nevertheless, it’s a part of what I do in order to make a living, so, like you, I take it seriously. Unlike you, of course, I actually *listen* to my clients, and don’t bury my head in the sand when I hear something I don’t like. And I also don’t let developers like you continue to blather excuses for not doing your own damn job. It’s called holding people accountable for their actions. I strongly suggest that you should investigate what this concept means in detail. If you like, I’d be happy to provide you some appropriate materials to peruse. Heck, I’ll even go so far and translate them into L33t Sp3ak if you so desire, in order to make the concepts more digestible (if not more palatable) – whatever it takes to allow the information gets through to you.

            “If you want to continue believing that this is some sort of conspiracy against you, and we’re intentionally making our product behave in a completely counter-intuitive way, well, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.”

            Jorge, there’s no conspiracy here: you and the rest of the developers are just being pig-headed assholes who think they know what’s best for everyone. You know this. I know this. The entire userbase knows this. I’m just unambiguously bringing it to your attention in a manner the precludes you playing dumb regarding it. Seriously dude, you’re watching waaaay too much CourtTV garbage. It’s not healthy. Now, as for the plugin checker itself being counter-intuitive; who’s saying that? Not I, and not the userbase. Rather, we as a collective group of users that that it is a stupid idea that you and the developers have foisted on the userbase because you think that it will make your lives easier in the long run. But the sad truth is that it won’t. Why? Because it doesn’t work well, it’s kludgy as hell, and is a pain in the ass to the entire userbase *except* for the developers. Is that really so hard to understand? Or do you really think that people post comments like “the @%$#@%$# plugin checker is driving me crazy!!!” lightly? Who knows? Maybe you do. But if that’s the case, you need far more help then I, along with a metric ton of empathy. And remember, you’re not doing anything for me – I can, after all chose to use another browser if I want, and my business will not be affected one iota. What you’re doing it for is for *them*: the users who rely on a certain functionality that your arbitrary decision regarding plugins damage and/or destroy. That’s the problem in a nutshell. So don’t waste your time explaining this decision to me. Explain to to them, and see how well your justification goes over with everyone.

            Sigh.

            Of course, given your prior responses, it’s doubtful that you will even bother to read this posting to the end. It’s sad, really. I remember a time not too long ago that “arrogant bastard” referred to a pretty decent ale, and nothing else.

          5. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

            You’re right, I didn’t bother reading this.

          6. ASilver wrote on :

            Which speaks far more to your character then to mine. After all, you consider someone actually taking the time to address and correct your bullshit claims to be both a waste of both time and energy. But then again, no one here expected an arrogant bastard like yourself to do more then ignore anything that doesn’t dovetail with your own narrow worldview. Even so, it gladdens my heart to see the baby throw such a pissy tantrum. Apparently, reading takes far too much effort for you manage. That was the point you were trying to make, right? Or was it that the use of lots of big words simply scares you? In any case, I hope you didn’t wet yourself in the process of trying to be bold via copout. That would just be embarassing. (It also makes me wonder how many excuses you had in school for not reading your assignments. I’d wager that they were somewhere in the low triple digits, given the way you shirked from my words).

            Regardless, do yourself a favor and take the time to grow a pair one of these days. Perhaps it will allow you to man up when it comes to dealing with the problems caused by your poorly thought out (and implimented) plugin checker. Of course, juding from your previous responses, I may in fact be asking far too much from a man of such ostensibly modest abilities….

            And to everyone else reading this: please continue to remind this simple creature that when you design a product for a userbase, it pays for the developers to listen to what the userbase has to say about it – especially when they screw up in such a spectacular manner.

  2. Tim wrote on :

    This function is awful and works really bad.
    It’s forced upon you. “Research” on 80% of the plugins, and thats a link to a bad google search.
    If you disable all the “Research” plugins so you only got “updated” the forced upon page still arrives in your face every time you start firefox.
    If you try to stop the page by changing plugin.scan.plid.all to false: flash and java stops working.

    Please add a ticbox where you can disable this so called function in the next version.

    I really don’t want to switch to chrome for a little crap thing like this – but in the end I rather sleep in a less comfortable bed in a room without that one mosquito buzzing in my ear.

  3. dito wrote on :

    how can I disable this stupid notifier? It blocks my Flash Player 10 from working.. don’t get me wrong, I would like to update to the latest Flash Player version, but I have an old PC that runs really bad with that version.. if you give me the money to buy a new PC with 2.5GHz Processor I will update, otherwise create a disable option for that notifier.. I am seriously considering going back to Opera Browser

    1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

      If you’re using a modern version of Firefox, the blocks are click-to-play, meaning that you can click on the plugin to activate it. You can also click on the icon that appears to the left of the URL bar, which gives you the option to never block plugins for specific sites. If you’re using older versions of Firefox, you will always see the update notification bar.

      1. dito wrote on :

        yes, it behaves just like my Flashblock Addon but with fewer options and sometimes with a big irritating notification box displayed in the left corner of the screen that says “activate, deactivate, etc.”

        1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

          If you use the dropdown next to the Activate button, you can add a site to the whitelist, at least removing that inconvenience for that site.

  4. sevenexxes wrote on :

    I updated the Flash plugin and now all the flash videos don’t work. All I get is a message that says “An error has occurred”

    1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

      Can you post a screenshot of the error? Or explain where the error appears?

      1. sevenexxes wrote on :

        The error appears on YouTube when I try to run a video, the video is just a black screen with the words “An error has occurred” in the middle.
        I would post a screen shot but I did a system restore to revert back to being able to watch YouTube videos. But I am still prompted to update.

        1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

          This doesn’t sound like a problem with plugin blocklisting, but a problem in the Flash player plugin. It could be that newer versions of the Flash player are causing conflicts in your system for some reason.

          1. Danny wrote on :

            which is exactly why people shouldn’t be forced into upgrading their pluggins!

  5. Johnnie wrote on :

    How can I disable this fucking plugin outdate version warnings?

    I strongly recommend that you go out with this fucking warnings and implement option to disable them as soon as possible.

    Thank you.

  6. John wrote on :

    Since this persistent warning (“some plugins have been deactivated for your safety”) is so annoying, I’m going to go back to a previous version of FF. Can you tell me which version it began with. I’m currently using 19.0 .

    I’m also hoping that would cure another problem that I have…Firefox going to sleep when it sits idle for a while (it’s impossible to wake up without restarting…this seems to occur more often when many tabs are open).

    John

  7. Bart wrote on :

    Not being able to *completely* disable this annoying new “feature” via a simple on/off selection in tools–>options does a disservice to your user base. The last thing I want are extra clicks every time I need to do something I must refresh/reload repetitively.

    I was already considering switching to chrome for more than just my dev work. It may be time to do just that.

  8. Danny wrote on :

    Asilver, I would like to thank you for trying to get this idiot to understand, unfortunately, he’s far too arrogant to believe their software is making users leave…

    I now use chrome, no addon hassles there…

    Danny

  9. Rick wrote on ::

    Trying to solve this extremely annoying issue brought me directly here. I’m an industrial automation developer an am angered with this popup that interrupts my browsing experience and nearly forces me to comply. Further, there is nothing that states that this popup is from Firefox. I took it as a rouse to click. That’s how malware can get downloaded. It’s never a good idea to click when you are being urged to do so.

    I have never said this to anyone but feel compelled to do so now.
    Jorge, get your head out

    1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

      It takes a few steps, but the popup that appears next to the URL bar allows you to enable the plugin to work all the time for specific domains. I know it’s annoying at first, but it only takes a few additions before you are back to using the web without interruptions.

      1. Rick wrote on ::

        You don’t get it. I won’t be commenting again.

      2. Frred wrote on :

        How can I turn off the annoying popup that appears next the URL bar?
        It is very annoying, because it flashes or blinks, it makes my urlbar shorter, it tells me what I already know and can not fix (unless I download the new plugin versions, stop all downloads, log off and then on again as admin – there is no way I will do online work as admin with tools that auto-connect).
        Especially the flashing / blinking and also the popup notification on mouse hover are highly annoying to my user experience while working with firefox as my browser.
        I tried turning it off with
        plugins.hide_infobar_for_outdated_plugin;true
        but that had no effect. Not sure what it affects though, but it will stay off for now.
        If there no other way, then I will be forced to hack my way around by setting
        plugins.update.url;about:blank
        or to an empty String value.
        A one-time notification is sufficient. I dont need or want a reminder on every single page I visit. And I dont need to opt out either. I simply can visit the pages with my old plugins activated by my own hand in the plugins page when Im doing testing or visiting sites that I control.
        Is there an inofficial or workaround solution that will do the trick? I first noticed this behaviour in Firefox 21 and its only been a day. But I already know it will me up the wall. Blinking and animation is an absolute no-go when you are trying to concentrating on work to be done. And the blinking is continual, recurring, can not be turned off and serves no purpose and will not make me update earlier anyway, because I have more important things to do right now. They will be updated when there is time, at the end of the day, or when I need to visit sites that make use of the plugins. Not before. One of most amazing aspects is that the plugins have already been disabled or deactivated. Yet the reminder continues. It does not increase security, but it lowers security.
        A solution would be very welcome. Thanks.

        1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

          I don’t think there’s a preference to disable that, though I could be wrong. The hide_infobar preference you pointed out is meant for a different type of block.

          I think in this case the only solution would be to install an add-on that disables the popup. This should be a fairly simple add-on to create, but I don’t think anyone has created one for that purpose yet.

        2. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

          I forgot to mention that there are plans to change the Click-to-Play user experience, and I believe one of the changes is to eliminate the auto popup. These changes are slated to be implemented in Firefox 24.

    2. bob wrote on :

      seriously, get mozilla’s head out of your ass. forced updates are for chimps.

      1. fuckyou wrote on :

        Don’t bother man, they’re owned by google now. They don’t give a shit about their users, they just want to show off any new tricks they can come up with however moronic. Shit ideas and code spreads like the plague: The good, smart coders get sick of dealing with it and abandon the project, leaving the morons to make even stupider decisions. ASilver made a perfectly reasoned and well explained rationale hitting most of the points I’ve tried to make elsewhere and what is the response? Childish, chickenshit ignorance. This Jorge is a complete fuckwit and there’s no way to communicate rationally with such troglodytes.

        Dear Jorge and all like you, Go fuck yourselves.

  10. Robert Cohen wrote on ::

    As a developer for years (software, web sites, media, communications, educational, etc) I find this entire thread hysterical! In fact, I have met a great many “Jorge’s” in life, and can tell you now that nothing you tell this chap, and no amount of simplification is going to change anything. BUT let’s just hope that SOMEONE over there has a clue, or you can all start shopping for another browser NOW. I wasn’t impressed with Chrome prior, but it’s beginning to look good me to ATM. IF that’s what FF wants for their future… who the hell are WE to stop them!!

    rcohen

    1. thomas kennedy wrote on :

      your right – FF keeps this up and I’m gone – blame the user tripe!

  11. Tony Harmsworth wrote on ::

    I am finally totally pissed off with plug in warnings. My wife does not understand them and gives me grief over them all the time. You can’t switch the warnings off either.

    I am just about, after years of pushing her to switch to Firefox, to put her back onto IE or Chrome.

    WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU GUYS PLAYING AT? It only happens on her slightly older machine by the way. My later vaio runs firefox with none of this crap.

    1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on ::

      Have you tried updating your plugins? It sounds like that machine has an old version of Flash, Java or Quicktime installed.

    2. thomas kennedy wrote on :

      your not the only one, not an older machine problem at all – It’s a firefox problem which has occurred!

  12. thomas kennedy wrote on :

    u keep screwing up firefox, adobe player needs to be updated and have done this three times, no fix in 72 hours from time of posting and i’m going to chrome, enough of this crap – your update has screwed me up in watching videos and i’m upset – fix it now – end of story and what’s with this non trusted side add on – my computer

    1. clem wrote on :

      I agree Thomas; I am SICK of flash crashing ALL THE TIME, only in Firefox. I used to love it, not anymore.

  13. Laura wrote on :

    I work in a lab environment at an educational institution and we use DeepFreeze on our computers and now thanks to your add-on check every time there is a new version of Flash youtube won’t work in Mozilla Firefox or placement exams that use flash won’t work. Years of telling instructors to use Firefox I am now telling them to use Explorer or Chrome!! Fix your product please!!!

  14. Joseph wrote on :

    I have spent all night (not to mention prior attempts) trying to get firefox happy to no avail. How bout giving us a way to uninstall the god damned add-ons so that we can reinstall instead of updates that do not work. And how about respecting the ones that have already been uninstalled like Java SDK. Between you folks and google this is beginning to feel like NAZI Germany.

    Every time you FORCE us, we grow to despise you more. Ask and we may still like you. Make us and we hate you EVERY TIME. Do what you will but right now I hate Mozilla and all of their fucking products. Am going to suffer through Chrome since you asses seem intent on disassociating me as a user.

  15. Joseph wrote on :

    Moderate all you want but my opinions will not change until your methodology at least attempts to be user friendly.

  16. Wildman wrote on :

    False indications of programs being outdated are showing up when one use the check for plugins. JAVA and VLC media player are the two that showed for me.

    Thank you

More comments: 1 2