How bloggers can keep the internet healthy

I’m continuously trying to brainstorming ways that Mozilla can find the next million mozillians and figure out activities they can do. I think I’ve stumbled on to a new one but would need some help to make it happen.

As some of you may know, as part of Mozilla Service Week Mozillians around the world donated their time and helped perform numerous Internet Health Checks. The goal here is to help people migrate off of Internet Explorer 6 (which is vulnerable to attacks and therefor makes the web less safe).

In my case, I’d already helped move pretty much anyone I know who uses IE 6 to something newer and better. What I need is a way to help prod people I don’t know.

What I thought might be interesting is if someone could build a blogger & wordpress plugin. This plug would ascertain what browser a visitor to your blog is using and… if they are using IE6… then the blog widget would let the reader know that the author of the blog strongly encourages them to upgrade to IE8, Firefox, Safari or really anything newer and safer. With this (hopefully relatively simple plug-in) Mozilla can engage the blogging community, enable people to help advocate for a safer internet and, most importantly, encourage still more IE6 users to move to something newer and safer.

Yes, it isn’t the be all and end all, but its another small idea that allows another group of people to contribute is an easy, but tangible and important way. That said, if this widget can’t be created, or if there is something easier/better that can be done, please, send me an email or comment below!

19 thoughts on “How bloggers can keep the internet healthy

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How bloggers can keep the internet healthy | eaves.ca -- Topsy.com

  2. Jon Stahl

    Um, sorry, it's just a javascript, not ActiveX. But definitely available as a WordPress plugin. Argh, need more coffee.I think the real barrier to killing IE6 is the fact that many large enterprises have unfortunately built custom internal apps targeting IE6 and don't have the capacity to upgrade their apps to work with a modern, standards-compliant browser. But I don't have any data to prove this. It would be interesting to do some research to quantify the reasons why people who are using IE6 still are using it. Also of note: Firefox still doesn't have official, supported enterprise-scale deployment & management tools, although I know this has long been “in the pipeline.” I can only assume Mozilla has some internal market research that justifies keeping this as a relatively low priority.

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  3. Jon Stahl

    Sorry, last thought on this topic (which, as you can tell, has been on my mind lately!) Digg did some research on this topic (http://blog.digg.com/?p=878), and found that 70% of people don't upgrade IE6 because they are not allowed to on their computer. But it doesn't go into detail about WHY workplaces are not able/willing to upgrade.

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  4. cuz84d

    I always find it interesting everytime someone at Mozilla writes an article like this. You guys always forget most IE6 users are either using an older computer and dont know about updating/upgrading. The rest of the IE6 users are enterprise corporate users where vendors write webapps that only work properly in IE6, including MS SSRS, etc. Several manufacturing companies use web software that only renders properly on IE6, not IE7, or IE8, or Firefox.. and Firefox will not replace Enterprise use until it can fix all the basic problems that Enterprise/Corporations rely upon. So its not just your neighbors, its mostly workplaces that dictate having to use IE6.

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  5. cuz84d

    Want something to do, go bug the vendors who write crappy apps and don't get the fundamentals working for all users regardless of platform.

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  6. David Eaves

    Cuz84d, thank you for commenting. I am aware that many IE6 users are in enterprises. This idea wasn't designed to solve the whole problem, just a slice of it (to target those who aren't and to build awareness). I hear that it may not do as much as you'd like, but it is trying to do something. If you have an idea of how enterprise users could be targeted – particularly through a specific action a group of people (like bloggers) could be doing – please do share!Also, in Mozilla's defence they are also aware that many users are in entreprises which is why they built this website. Indeed, maybe the widget Jon is referencing could be edited to include a link to that site…

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  7. cuz84d

    I'll even give you a list of vendors to start with: SAP-BusinessObjects InfoView & Webi, HighJump, Rockwell Automation, Plumbtree portal software, IBM WebSphere, Most of Microsoft SSRS, SSMS, Visual Studio, Everyone from the small business to the enterprise with mission critical apps believes if it ain't broke don't fix it, nor will they upgrade if it isn't the same or doesn't work right or like the other software their using. ie like IE6. They need to control things, and somethings are so mission critical they will not change whats working or update it just because some blogger says IE8 just came out or FF. . you got to fix the product first, and well printing in FF is not IE quality to start with.

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  8. David Eaves

    Jon and Rob – you guys rock. Plug-in now downloaded and installed. It's not exactly what I had in mind (I was thinking of something that went on your sidebar), but this is also very cool. Thank you for finding it! And kudos to the author!

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  9. countablyinfinite

    My most recent experience at IE6 was during a graduate library training session in a lab at Koerner Library at the University of British Columbia. (This kind of echoes cuz84d's and Jon Stahl's points.) The fact that they are using IE6 probably stems from a whole host of reasons that I have no idea about not being the head of IT at the Library, but I'm almost more likely to point to them as systemic, cultural or social – avoiding work? IT not responding to needs of users? Understaffed? For these institutions, it may come back to the champion model of doing whatever it takes to make it happen .

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  10. AndersH

    I don't think that yet another nag-screen is the solution to the IE6 problem. I think a qualitative outreach project might be a better idea. It would be kind of like the “Tech Evangelism” project, that was directed at websites. But this would be directed at moving the web off IE6 (and thereby upgrading the web). The focus would not be Firefox. Any browser will do, yes, even IE.The first task would be to find the major reasons for not switching. Here the bloggers could help by identifying IE6 users.- If an IE6-user comes to a blog, and a company can be identified, e.g. from the IP-address or the user agent, that company might be contacted in a coordinated, constructive manner to figure out why they have not switched.- If the IE6-user leaves a email-address, e.g. with comment, that user might be contacted personally (no spam).- If a IE6-user comes to the site he/she might be given a survey (in a friendly tone, not a nag screen) to figure out why they have not upgraded, or they might be dropped diretly into a chat with a real living person.Some interesting statistics might be, if most IE6 users are from companies (and if so which). If they are from specific countries, and if so, which. Or are all the IE6-users really just spam address harvesters made to look like real users as to not be detected?The second phase would be to address the major reasons for not switching found from the research (leaving the guess work and superstitions behind). It would probably again require mobilizing a lot of people to contact local businesses and helping them with their pain points or just making them aware. It might also require making an official mozilla msi-package part of the normal release process.

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  11. laurenbacon

    That copy-and-paste letter you linked to at mozilla.org is great. I'll weigh in to say that most of the clients (and other people) I encounter who use IE6 are also using it because it is the only browser available to them at work, as per Jon, cuz84d, and countablyinfinite's comments. I like Mozilla's approach — i.e., talk to your IT department and let them know you're in favour of upgrading your browser — and it's also important to recognize that IT is not your only barrier. As cuz84d suggests, there are lots of vendors who write code that's IE6-specific. So I think IT needs to know that they have people who not only support an upgrade, but will have *their* backs when they go to management and suggest that a browser upgrade is important enough to merit re-evaluating their relationships with the vendors who won't support modern browsers. In other words, this isn't just an IT issue; it's a siloing issue, and at large organizations it will often require real leadership and teamwork across departments.I think part of what we can do as people who care about web standards, security, and platform independence is to provide ammunition for the evangelists within organizations — just as Mozilla has done, although I would argue that the ammunition includes making a business case that will convince management to *listen* to the recommendations from IT.

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  12. David Eaves

    AndersH – i love it.The plug in I just installed could probably be (relatively easily) modified to do just what you are talking about.Also, just to be clear (and defend the original plug-in designer) the plugin above (and the one I hypothesized) does not focus on Firefox, it provides links to Chrome, FF, IE8, and a few others.

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  13. వీవెన్

    It is definitely worth pushing vendors.However, in the mean time, enterprises can keep using IE6 for their mission critical webapps and also have Firefox (or other modern browser) for general internet usage.

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  14. jeremyvernon

    Two things. First, anyone in command of the facts on the security of browsers could not in good conscience maintain the use of IE 6 in any workplace – the threat it poses to employee security is not worth whatever cost there is to change. I work in a cyber-threat research lab and a vast majority of the threats we investigate are premised on IE 6 vulnerabilities.Second, for those stuck using IE 6 (or any closed browser) by fiat – there is the Google Chrome frame. http://code.google.com/chrome/chromeframe/ it's experimental at the moment, but it points toward a possible solution to the rendering engine issues.

    Reply
  15. jeremyvernon

    Two things. First, anyone in command of the facts on the security of browsers could not in good conscience maintain the use of IE 6 in any workplace – the threat it poses to employee security is not worth whatever cost there is to change. I work in a cyber-threat research lab and a vast majority of the threats we investigate are premised on IE 6 vulnerabilities.Second, for those stuck using IE 6 (or any closed browser) by fiat – there is the Google Chrome frame. http://code.google.com/chrome/chromeframe/ it's experimental at the moment, but it points toward a possible solution to the rendering engine issues.

    Reply

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