can't let dave down

| 40 Comments

Dave Winer has mentioned Firefox in about 100 posts. I've mentioned Dave Winer in fewer than 10 posts. So, it's a bit of a stretch for Dave to claim that when ever he writes about Firefox I flame.

But, as he's given me a nice cameo in his post, I think it would be impolite to let Dave Winer down so here's my flame.

(update: Dave edited his post to remove the parts about me.)

Dave is a scenester who doesn't understand shit about the other the 1.3 billion regular people who engage with the Web. If he did, he wouldn't write the kind of mindless, bubbled-in crap he so regularly does. The amazing progress of the Web, thanks to browser innovations led by Firefox, is quite obvious to normal people living outside of Dave's geekscene and that's precisely what Dave's missing.

Just a few examples:

The Awesomebar has changed the Web. IE implemented a variant of it, Opera implemented something similar. Chrome seems to have done the same. It really has changed how people navigate the Web in a fundamental way. Maybe not for Dave, but for several hundred million "normal" people, it has.

Web protocol handlers have changed the Web and allowed Web applications to become first-class citizens in the minds of normal users. That you can click a mailto: link and have it open a Gmail message compose window is fucking huge. Firefox did that.

Firefox's Web feed discovery and handling has done more to popularize and mainstream Dave's precious RSS than just about anything else in the last decade, including all of Dave's software efforts. If Web feeds matter today it's in large part because Firefox made them accessible to regular people.

HTML5.

7,000+ add-ons for Firefox have made scores of new Web products viable and compelling (and profitable) as well as giving an unprecedented level of customization to tens of millions of Web browser users. Ignoring Firefox's (yes, that community exists because Firefox exists) extension community that's served more than 1 billion downloads and fundamentally changed what a Web browser is, that's more of what Dave's apparently missing.

Finally, that Dave can conclude security and privacy is boring and unimportant is only precisely because we've decided to make it a priority at Mozilla. That's how it works. If we hadn't decided it was important, Dave would be fucked online and he'd be begging for help with a completely broken Web.

As for moving forward in interesting and fun ways, I'm gonna assert that Dave doesn't know what constitutes fun and interesting for normal people. I've traveled the world for the last 7 or 8 years talking to people outside of Dave's geek-elite scene and almost all of them are pretty damned impressed with how much more capable and enjoyable the Web's become thanks to Firefox.

There are three browsers with any appreciable market share and ability to influence what's fun and interesting about the Web. IE and Safari both have OS bundling to thank for pretty much their entire share and they would mostly be sitting on their asses the way that Microsoft did from 2001 through 2006 if it wasn't for Firefox's assault. If the Web is a more interesting and fun place than it was in 2001, Dave should be thanking Firefox for pretty much all of that. If the Web is more interesting and fun because of renewed browser competition, Dave should be thanking Mozilla for that.

(Oh, and Dave, what ever happened to your welcomed promise to quit blogging?)

40 Comments

"If we hadn't decided it was important, Dave would be fucked online and he'd be begging for help with a completely broken Web."

So you Asa and your buds are the reason I'm not "fucked online" -- do I read that correctly? If it weren't for you I'd be "begging for help?" Really. Interesting.

Isn't that pretty creepy? And arrogant, and wrong -- I could use Safari or Chrome. Opera is pretty good, yeah I know it doesn't have your market share, but so what.

Dave, if Firefox wasn't here, Safari, Opera, and Chrome would not have existed/survived.

Firefox opened the door. Without Firefox's market share, the Web would be coded for IE and none of your 1, 2, or 3% browsers would be the least bit useful (or even have achieved that 1, 2, or 3% share.)

Without Mozilla, the Web would be IE+Silverlight and maybe a bit of Adobe thrown in.

You want to know what the Web looks like without Mozilla, check out the Web in Korea. Do that. Go to Korea and try to function online. You can't do shit there without IE. That's the Web we'd all be dealing with if Mozilla hadn't cracked Microsoft's monopoly in the rest of the world.

Yeah, I'm arrogant and I'm completely OK with that. The Web was Microsoft's without Mozilla and people like me that put the platform ahead of commercial interest or personal fame.

You and all your scenester friends would be fucked if Mozilla hadn't saved the Web. Your single digit share browsers wouldn't be able to log in to even basic services if Mozilla hadn't saved the Web from Microsoft dominance. Your precious RSS would be a Netscape failed initiative if Mozilla hadn't saved the Web. Your geek-fame platform never would have achieved the success it did if Mozilla hadn't saved the Web. You should show some more respect for those that made your success possible.

You can pretend that everything was OK without Mozilla but that's fantasy land. Everything you care about is possible because you're not being fucked by Microsoft's 99% monopoly of the Web because Mozilla took them on and succeeded.

You don't get it, Dave. Opera would be dead on the desktop without Mozilla opening the playing field. Mac would be dead on the Web without Mozilla opening the field. Chrome wouldn't have even happened. Hell, Google's search dominance probably would have fallen to Microsoft if Microsoft had been able to maintain its 98-99% browser monopoly.

Go ahead and insult me and call me a "creep" at your blog. That doesn't bother me. I sit comfortably knowing that you can exist online because of the work I've done to build and protect the Open Web.

- A

Asa remember that IE is also Windows only so any browser on a Mac or Linux machine would have less access to the web if the web was written for IE only (thankfully it is not).

Now the thing I would like to see from Microsoft is an article for web developers that writing in web standard code is much better than writing in IE only code as you have a much wider customer base with web standards as those will work in any browser.

This is also why I support Opera's Open the Web (feel free to Open the Web :) )

Why Open the Web?

Despite the connecting purpose of the Web, it is not entirely open to all of its users. When used correctly, HTML documents can be displayed across platforms and devices. However, many devices are excluded access to Web content.

http://my.opera.com/community/openweb/info/

While I do enjoy this kind of high-level flame war, I can't really see what part of Dave's post was flamy enough to get you started like this Asa. What was it that lit the fire?

“The Awesomebar has changed the Web. [...] Opera implemented something similar.”
You make it sound like the Awesomebar was implemented before Opera's Quick Find here. It was the other way around of course.

Oh, and get off your high horse Asa, firefox barely changed the web. It didn't have any impact at all. Sites are still made to be browser-compliant instead of standard compliant, Opera was on the market WAY before anyone even dreamed of Firefox, and it continues to grow. Maybe not as rapidly as firefox grew, but still. And, the real innovator on the market here is Opera, not Firefox. Opera invented everything that changes the way people are browsing the web, not Firefox. There, I said it.

Perhaps it must be noted that it's not Firefox as a product what changed the web browsers landscape in 2004 and maybe some time before, it was actually two facts:
- Mozilla's decision to materialize its cause (to make an open web) in a consumer product (Firefox), instead of the old "for programmers" approach
- the community that took Mozilla's cause as its own and started contributing ideas, code and millions of hours to help in some way spread the word about Firefox and Mozilla.

Had Firefox been a commercial product produced in a closed environment, even with its extensions, performance, security and web standards, I doubt it would have the success it has today. Not that Firefox's features aren't great, but I see great ideas and features coming from all the vendors and not just Mozilla. So I tend to believe it's not just the product, it's the Mozilla Project.

You give Firefox far too much credit for Safari/Chrome's success, Asa. We all know they'd never exist in the first place without the hard work of the Konqueror developers.

David Naylor what lit the fire is gone now. Dave Winer called me a creep in the final sentence of his blog post. That's since been removed, along with my comment at his blog.

- A

Oh, ok. That explains it.

1. I wrote the piece.

2. Halfway through writing it I remembered that whenever I write about Firefox this guy Asa flames me. So I put a note at the end of the piece with a pointer to his blog saying just that. I called him a "guy."

3. He posts this flamer.

4. I changed "guy" to "creep" and posted a note here.

5. He responded sarcastically with a one-line comment thanking me for calling him a creep. He's not a member so it waited for moderation, and as with all content-free sarcastic one-line comments, it was not approved. That's how we keep the quality high on scripting.com and keep people from snarking at each other.

6. At the same time I took down the note and the pointer. He objected to being called a creep, and I decided to let him have his way.

That's about it.

Asa, you're arrogant and juvenile, but in this case you're also right.

Dave Winer seems a big unfocused. First he cites an uninformed blog about JavaScript speed (but doesn't seem to know why it's wrong). Then he demands a constant string of new features to keep him overstimulated, but complains of "bloat". The cleanest UI around is said to be "boring". He even manages to throw out a little FUD about Google in passing. He sure doesn't give much credit for simplicity or reliability, or for helping to tame the mess that is the Web.

Winer is probably incorrigible. Asa, you probably ought to stop focussing on that sort of blog, or else learn to do it with good humor.

One thing I forgot to mention -- I posted a link to this post on FriendFeed, along with a quote and a picture.

http://bit.ly/JMn5

Asa, I've never responded before to your flames, this time I decided to anticipate it. I know a few people at Mozilla, and they're hard-working respectful and I think genuinely interested in what people think of their product, even if we make mistakes. You have to learn to listen to your users even if you don't like or agree with what they say, eventually if you don't they'll still get your attention by using your competitor's product. I've been around this business a long time and I've seen it happen many times, but I've never seen anyone as openly arrogant and user-hostile as you are. Over on the FF thread, one of the people pointed out that it wasn't Mozilla that saved the world, it was the *users* of Mozilla. That's correct. Because without users you'd be pissing up a rope, not me, you'd be out of a job.

Think about it this way -- people who use your product are the smartest people in the world, because they sorted through all the choices and found the best product. If you think they're stupid (as you obviously think I am) then what does that say about your product. Why would I use it if I was stupid.

That's my contribution to the Let's Help Asa cause. I doubt it'll do any me or you any good, but I can at least feel I gave it a try.

One more thing, a big hug from me to you Asa. Dave

I just read down to the explanations of all the flaming. Dave and Asa, ad-hominem attacks are most unprofessional, and you both ought to lay off. You also ought to lay off the profanity, please. I don't actually understand with either of you still has a job.

Dave Winer, you are pretty much the last "user" anyone at Mozilla should be listening to. You are about as unrepresentative of typical users as is possible.

When Hyatt, Blake, Ben and I were creating Firefox, we were designing it for the audience that is the world minus you. And I don't mean that in a "we're not chasing power users" way. There were specific cases where we said to ourselves "No, let's not do that. We're not building this for Dave Winer."

You wildly overestimate your value as user input or commentary. Consumer products (of any significant complexity) hoping to be successful should absolutely not be designed to make you and users like you happy. That's a sure path to ultimate failure.

- A

I see all this flaming as pointless but I do agree with Asa that we needed Firefox in order to make the web accessible by all. At one time there were way too many companies that would only design for IE, some would remember Netscape and maybe test in that too but those people were getting rarer and many still clung to Netscape 4.x which was the IE6 of its time.

Without the success of Firefox I'd have felt like an Amex user in a Visa world when I browsed the web under Linux. Firefox was in the right place at the right time, the Fx 1.0 release was when IE was leaking like a sieve and a lot of people moved for the security, but the features were what made the browser spread so quickly by word of mouth.

I seriously doubt Opera would have made so much progress, the UI at the time was cluttered as they were pushing all their features, plus their free version had a banner ad at the time. Mozilla showed the world how to make money out of a popular product without impacting on the user experience.

Nice comeback! I'm with Asa on this one.

"That's how we keep the quality high on scripting.com and keep people from snarking at each other."

That's a laugh. Dave shuts down any opposing views and deletes valid criticism, meaning scripting.com becomes his own echo chamber. There is nothing in the comments section of scripting that could be considered intelligent conversation.

On topic, the web has passed winer by. He's made no money except for the sell of weblogs.com, very few people know who he is, and most of their opinions are negative.

He's a bitter man, and it comes across daily.


Asa, Kudos for telling how it is. Everything Dave Winer writes is ridiculous horse crap.

Asa, what was your role in creating Firefox, and what's your current role?

And btw, despite your best efforts, you created a browser that I like and use and recommend to others.

I'm just going to add this blog as one of my home pages. It's freakin' hilarious and I thoroughly enjoy it.

Gee, where to begin?
It has been so damn frustrating to just keep quiet and hold my tongue for the past 4+ years for the sake of being a good Mozilla ambassador and I'm not even an employee. Everyone and their mother has the right to spew crap about Firefox and Mozilla when most to all of them are not in the browser business themselves and certainly do not qualify as experts yet when someone responds to their crap they're being inappropriate and a bad representative for Mozilla.
There's (the idiots) is one of a billion opinions on the Web and with very little intimate knowledge or experience in the Web browser industry. "Well x-site.com reported that", and "I ran my own benchmarking by using the seconds hand on my watch" doesn't qualify you as an authority on browsers or anything else for that matter. Most of these idiots just got lucky and landed on an already established site and that's how they got their soap boxes with great exposure.

I wonder if those people realize that they are doing more to segregate people and force them to choose sides, establish loyalties, and defend their choices rather than they are providing a public service and responsible use of their platforms. I'm not saying that I can't take any criticism at all, but when a person trashes Firefox or Mozilla, tries to discredit it, or says that "Firefox May Already Be Dead" and then goes on to put it down, I'm thinking, wait man, I use Firefox and I love it, so much so that I promote it, support it, and contribute to the progression of it just about every day. Am I and 200 million other people just a bunch of dumb asses using shitty and inferior software? I honestly thought that I was intelligent enough to choose the best and not be snowed by an organization such as Mozilla that is clearly all about itself.
Get a clue! Get a life! Get a real job!

As for Asa, I gain nothing by defending him but I will because it should be done as a fellow Mozillian and as one who has witnessed just a small piece of his many contributions to the Mozilla Project. I joined Spread Firefox in early 2005 and it was Asa's efforts and leadership that united and guided a community of tens of thousands of people world wide that had and has been a great part of Firefox's success. He encouraged and supported individuals and groups with unique, fun, and creative ideas to promote Firefox and boost its market share. If that was all to purely benefit himself or Mozilla's cause, he wouldn't have bothered with personal posts and comments praising and inspiring SFx members.
That's just one example of Asa's character.
He has been more consistently involved with Firefox since its inception than anyone else who was there in the beginning (correct me if I wrong) so I think that his reaction today (and others as well) is very understandable. When you put down Firefox, misrepresent it, state untruths about it, then he has every right to react and take it personally and I hope that he continues to speak out in defense of Firefox, Mozilla, and all of us who use and support Mozilla's products.

Finally, I am so over people bitching about Firefox's performance under any damn conditions. I read someone complain that it takes Firefox a whole 10 seconds to load and another one call Firefox crashy. Are you freakin' kidding!? I have 83 that's eighty three extensions installed and enabled and I VERY RARELY have ANY negative issues with Firefox. I beat the hell out of it and can't remember the total amount of times that it has crashed since 3.0 was released and it is fully loaded and ready to go in under 30 seconds. Put 83 of anything (especially 3rd party software) into another browser and see what happens.

Asa, thanks for speaking up and out. Like I said in a previous post, there are many of us with voices who aren't heard by anyone at all.

Asa: "No, let's not do that. We're not building this for the Dave Winer."

See, it's comments like that that make me think YOU are the problem.

Had it no been Mozilla, it would have been some other project that would have become the competition for IE. Opera is a very fine product, except that they not give it away for free -- this fact alone has prevented its adoption.

dHad the Opera people managed to strike a deal as brilliant as the one that Bart Decrem had with Google history would be different. Opera would likely be free, and it would likely be the head competition against IE and Mozilla would be just like any other open source project, a fine project doing the best they can for their users with opinionated and arrogant people on board.

The WebKit engine used by both Safari and Chrome came from the KDE project where it used to be called KHTML2. A newer version from the original KHTML engine.

The KDE project had a fully functioning web browser for years on Linux, way before Netscape was opensourced and turned into Mozilla. The had a working web browser in 1997 and the hard work of the KDE developers paid off when it became the most reusable web engine years later.

But it was probably Google that made the web relevant again when they were the ones that popularized the use of Ajax. First it was Google Maps, then Google Suggests and then Gmail. They were all revolutionary web applications whose main user base when they launched are -for better or worse- IE users. And for better or worse, they are still the major segment of the web users.

Google's products revitalized the Web as a platform. Mozilla played a role, but until very recently it was not even in a "supporting role", it was more like another soldier in the movie "Gladiator".

And Mozilla has *yet* to solve any of the interesting problems that Flash solves, so it is not like you guys are the white knight coming and saving the day from the evil Adobe. Last I checked, the killer app YouTube still required Flash and so far Mozilla does not seem to fix that problem.

"Finally, I am so over people bitching about Firefox's performance"

Agreed. I decided to see how Firefox has evolved when it comes to start-up times and page load times:

http://davidnaylor.org/blog/2009/03/once-more-firefox-3-is-not-bloated.html

David Naylor: start-up and page load times aren't everything. I'm really annoyed by the fact Firefox is clearly the worst-performing browser with things like bloated DOM or pages with fixed elements (making scrolling horrible).
Also, you know that top sliding bar they added in Firefox 3, that shows up when you need to save a password and so on... It's really, really slow. The slowness isn't apparent on fast computers, but it's fucking crawling on slow ones (I would know, I'm stuck on a Pentium III at work). If it didn't push the whole page down, it could most likely be hundreds of times faster (even though it would hide a tiny bit of the top of the page, but I wouldn't mind).

Stifu: Of course, they aren't everything. But I'd say they are pretty much more important than any other measure of performance.

Dave Winer is totally wrong. If it wasn't for Mozilla, we wouldn't have seen a lot of innovative web apps. So many websites are now Javascript dependent and if it wasn't for Mozilla's help developing Firefox and a better Javascript engine for the browser, this wouldn't have been possible. Mozilla opened up the browser development process allowing anyone from anywhere in the world to contribute towards it. Mozilla isn't dead yet.I and two hundred million other active users show that it is not....

Retornam -- what am I totally wrong about? I didn't say Mozilla is dead, I use it, I'm using it right now to post this comment.

Chas4: Actually, IE is not Windows-only. At the time that Microsoft disbanded the Internet Explorer team, there was also a Mac version of IE with comparable functionality. So, had the browser market been frozen then, Mac users would still have had similar access to the web.

Wow, this is how a lead Firefox developer treats the guy who co-invented podcasting and RSS and was blogging (and proselytizing blogging) before that word even existed; a guy who invented OPML (newly-installed Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie thought it was important enough to show up for that debut, in the flesh).

What's worse, you're using OTHER PEOPLE's open source contributions as a weapon against him, strutting around like Firefox==Asa==FTW!! Mozilla isn't about YOU, or your team; the roots of that project are deep. It's not simply good or bad, it's a complex living pile of code so huge and widely deployed it will inevitably have both critics and fans.

It's kind of weird that someone so senior as you seems to have forgotten that. Steve Ballmer might throw chairs but even Microsoft (in, what, two and a half decades?) has never flipped out at Dave like this.

Maybe he just hit a nerve. Google provides most Mozilla funding; Google built Chrome; Chrome has some buzz; maybe that bothers you more than it should, Asa? Have a workout or something, come to your senses, and delete this trashy post that blights the good name of Firefox.

Hahahaha!

HA! ahhhh-HAHAHAHA! Hahahaha. Ryan. You're a hoot.

Thanks for commenting :-)

- A

I've been a Firefox user and advocate for several years. I now use Chrome. I find Chrome faster, more stable and I like the cutdown UI for web apps. The only thing I miss from Firefox is AdBlock - a third-party extension that I'm confident will have an equivalent in Chrome in months.

I'm a single data point. You can agree or disagree with my choice - it's irrelevant. The relevant point is that I've switched off Firefox and it's not the browser I recommend any more.

I'm an example of the scenario Dave was pointing to. Asa, that's where you should be focussing your attention. Firefox is not the best browser available for me anymore, and discussions about what I might 'owe' Mozilla for the past aren't going to change that.

Without Firefox, Safari and Chrome would have been delivered much sooner. Mozilla made the colossally bad original decision to continue building a "suite". When it finally decided to focus on the browser, Firefox took off. But it never worked too well on Mac so Safari was born. And it continued to bloat which brought on Chrome.

First, I don't think that this post has anywhere near the right tone even though Dave clearly baited Asa in his original post. This post comes off as pretty arrogant and angry, something I think that doesn't reflect how Mozilla usually deals with feedback - good or bad. You've got some good points about our role in reviving the browser market - that much is very true - but I think it comes across wrong because it's part of an angry flame instead of listening, reflecting and communicating.

Second, whether or not you like Dave reflecting on Mozilla and whether or not you like him personally it's no reason for this kind of reaction. Dave has some good things to say from time to time, even if he disagrees with you or has a different view of history than you do. Even if he's being unreasonably critical or wrong on facts or history, those should be pointed out, not going after him personally.

I'm not saying that Dave is completely innocent here - he did call you out here and I'm not sure what outcome he was looking from that other than something like this - but I don't think you should have taken that bait.

And third his post did have some good really good feedback. If Dave, being as plugged in as he is doesn't understand our strategy, (and it turns out we do have one!) you (we) have to do some work. You're part of our storytelling team here, remember?

Chris, I completely disagree.

I don't believe that Dave has anything to offer Mozilla (or just about anyone else) and I don't think treating him like he does will do anything except encourage others to pay him undeserving attention (which could do actual harm to the consumer software world I care about.)

Dave is bad for software and most of his thinking is bad for the Web. He's an elitist and should be derided. If he has any influence anywhere, it's probably harmful.

He's a carnival sideshow and that's how I'm going to treat him. :-)

- A

Let me put it this way. If Dave posts something or flames something it reflects poorly on Dave. He only represents himself. If you post something or flame it reflects poorly on all of us. You're speaking for Mozilla here, not just yourself.

The Awesomebar has changed the Web. IE implemented a variant of it, Opera implemented something similar.
Actually, Opera implemented it first, and then Firefox borrowed the idea from Opera, but didn't quite pull it off (Opera actually indexes the full text of a page).
There are three browsers with any appreciable market share and ability to influence what's fun and interesting about the Web. IE and Safari both have OS bundling to thank for pretty much their entire share
Actually, Opera has a higher market share than Safari worldwide:

http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-ww-daily-20090101-20090324-bar

if Firefox wasn't here, Safari, Opera, and Chrome would not have existed/survived
Opera would have existed, survived, and thrived. They have a mobile business, a market they dominate. They would have made the desktop version free, and it would have existed as it does today.

"Dave is bad for software and most of his thinking is bad for the Web. He's an elitist and should be derided. If he has any influence anywhere, it's probably harmful."

Could you be any more ironic.

I'm happy that blizzard took the time to write here. That's probably the best comment I've read so far, and that's the image of Mozilla I want to see.

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