Your right on a privacy front from an absolute perspective. But, it's almost certain that Google paid for this change. A stronger Mozilla (financially speaking) is good for privacy and free software.
Also, normal users expect Google. So, having it in the default provides a more familiar experience for them to possibly switch to Firefox.
Still, Firefox could automatically switch to e.g. Duckduckgo whenever the user is in incognito mode.
I love the idea. Would you mind mind filing a bug on https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/?
One more idea - any chance you guys are making a Firefox Focus for the desktop? It's great on mobile, would love a desktop version too!
It's just a content blocker + private browsing. Can get same functionality on desktop with private browsing and some ad blocker
Plus tab functionality removed, hence the name "focus".
(I should add that, while I work at Mozilla this is my personal view, not Mozilla's official view, yada, yada)
Their privacy-focused mobile browser, Firefox Focus, defaults to DDG.
That's a great idea, along with a message explaining why.
Well, they could, but I would assume a contract with Google would prevent that.
Could. We don't know what's in this contract.
Pretty sure Google doesn't circumvent incognito so what's the point?
Google certainly tracks people by their IP address, so your privacy is lesser with Google as your search engine than DDG.
Not only that, but it also raises awareness of private search engines with the general audience.
Are you sure? I thought they didn't do this.
Though keep in mind it dates back to 2004.
> A stronger Mozilla (financially speaking) is good for privacy and free software.
While I understand exactly what you mean, surely there's a point at which accepting money from privacy-violating organisations (and bundling a privacy-violating extension, and who knows what else is coming?) means that Mozilla is no longer good for privacy?
Definitely true. It's a balancing act. Granted, that means that some people are going to think you're compromising too much on your ideals (or to little).
Yea, I mean wasn't the default provider of Yahoo before because they paid for it specifically.
It'd be nice if DuckDuckGo could afford it, but keep in mind, the privacy aspect of their service is a marketing bent. They still run mostly on AWS. If a government agency wants your DuckDuckGo data, they can just serve a warrant to Amazon instead.
Google was the paying provider before Yahoo. This has been how Mozilla makes most of their money the last 10 years.
Keeping Firefox alive also helps assuage anti-trust concerns with regard to Chrome’s position in their ecosystem.
In that case presumably Google would continue to fund Mozilla even if they go to another default search engine?
I think Google was still giving them money when they were defaulting to Yahoo, just less than the terms of this new deal.
You are not financially stronger if one day most of your income will come from a source which you are expected to strongly protect from.
It's not 'one day', the majority of Mozilla's funding has always come from 'search royalties'. Wikipedia says initial funding first came from AOL in 2003, then they had a deal with Google from 2004-2014. In 2014, it says they signed a deal with Yahoo. This is nothing new.
even more it is a joke to talk about being financially strong=independent, it is a puppet / outsourced browser organization
and yet it was the only browser that really opposed EME, and only backed down once not only every browser had implemented the extension, but many major media providers too. Basically once the browser became useless for media consumption because of it.
That's not how things work in the real world. This is a blatant conflict of interest, and its ironical inspite of the open source and privacy song and dance by Mozilla there is no transparency on the deal.
What do you mean "no transparency"? This has been announced officially, what else would you have expected?
Mozilla would cease to be without a viable revenue stream. Either users need to pay or they're going to have to trade most of their privacy for a tiny bit of money for the same goal. Which is the better deal?
If you look at the lifetime of Firefox, in the second half there's a negative correlation between (product popularity + contributor experience) and (revenue + company size).
A fellow adherent to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster#Pirat... . Praise His noodly appendage!
You realize I'm addressing the premise introduced by the person I responded to, right? That I'm not the one introducing it?
Also, it's possible to really believe in something but still be honest about its faults. I mean, I formed my harshest criticisms of Mozilla when I was still involved. I point this out, because there's another trend I've noticed, which is the one where you show up in tons of threads that are critical of Mozilla, usually with some flippant non-retort to the topic being discussed (just like you've done here).
We must be reading different comments, because this one of yours:
> If you look at the lifetime of Firefox, in the second half there's a negative correlation between (product popularity + contributor experience) and (revenue + company size).
Contains nothing relevant to the comment it's replying to, while simultaneously fabricating data in order to support an argument that yet still reduces to fallaciously conflating correlation and causation. You accuse me of flippant non-retorts, to which I say: garbage in, garbage out, my good friend. :)
Responding point-by-point to a comment like yours would be as worthwhile as trying to correct any other intellectually dishonest Gish gallop. The things I referenced are quantifiable and quantified.
If you are allowed. My work machine is locked into bing. I can bookmark google.com or duckduckgo.com but default/quick searches go through bing. (Google.com redirects to google.ca which drives me crazy sometimes.) I'd bet the majority of bing traffic comes from such workplaces.
If you want to use google.com without being redirected for some reason, you can use www.google.com/ncr (No country redirect).
Why won't it work for other locations?
www.google.de/ncr results in an error.
Perhaps the German equivalent is "keinlandumleitenbittemöchteGoogleindiesemlandverwenden"
or www.google.de/k ?
Wow nice tip I never knew that.
Ha, I don't know if I could handle that. Would be at the top of my list of reasons to look for another job.
> I'd bet the majority of bing traffic comes from such workplaces.
I'd agree with you on that bet. I stumbled onto that revelation when I was running PPC campaigns for B2B software. Bing is a hidden goldmine when it comes to that demographic, thanks to the captive market and the fact that essentially all marketing agencies blatantly ignore Bing's existence so there's no keyword competition.
If you can, sign up for Bing rewards and earn points while you search. You can use those points in exchange for entering competitions or Microsoft/Windows devices and Xbox gift cards.
Lol. I dont touch any MS products outside of work, and certainly dont want to sign up for anything MS-related. I'm and oldschool linux guy who still sees MS as the big evil. It will take them at least 20 more years before i trust them with anything.
And I don't like Bing and Edge Rewards and don't think they are a good idea either.
The maximum daily points add up to around $5/month. A little more if I used Windows and Edge, but it's not worth taking it that far. I just participate because I would love to see other sites adopt the concept and start a bidding war. Why wait around for politicians to figure out UBI?
I'm 100% with sandworm.
But then they'd have the same issue they had with Yahoo. Where users would be put off by the default not being Google.
They are clearly trying hard with this release to get back users now.
DuckDuckGo, Start Page, or Qwant might have been a little more in the spirit of Mozilla and privacy.
Then again it takes about half a second to change the default search to your own preference.
Google is probably the most approachable for the vast majority of users. It is a sensible move in that regard.
I agree. It's incredibly difficult to find anything that isn't a basic, low-value result when you're looking for advanced, detailed content.
Maybe I'm looking up practices on how to write efficient SQL queries. All of the results I find are just slideshare presentations and basic blog posts on how to add an index to your select statement.
It feels impossible to find depth nowadays, when everything that search engines deem relevant are the big, heavy-SEO websites with the lowest tier of query-relevant information. Sure, the results may be good for people who want just-the-basics about what they're searching, but anything more than that feels hidden away.
Hi, I work on Google search. I'd be interested in any specific examples of queries that you think give worse results today than in the past.
"Interstate 76 custom maps"
I'm sure it's confusing to your algorithms on many levels. Is it a map of the highway that I want? Oh, there's this game, let's add that too. What about some news about the highway?
I just want some new roads to frag on... I get one result with what I'm looking for.
I can't give you specific examples, but I occasionally google news stories trying to find sources, followups, or more information - only to be flooded with more copies of the exact same news story. And that only goes for stories I have a link for already; half-remembered stories are practically impossible to search for.
I think the problem is that making a worthless website (by this I mean worthless to users) is so cheap but also very lucrative for content farms. A webpage with garbage content but that has taken the right SEO measures has a good chance of getting on the first page and getting clicked, and these can be cloned ad infinitum with different content.
It's very easy now for good content to be hidden amongst clickbait.
c.f. Wikihow, and its endless stream of useless how-tos
SEO won. There were no economic incentives for Google to continue to fight it; they have no significant competitors. A better strategy for Google is to buy pieces of or provide services to the companies that dominate the first page.
Dollars put into the branding of being the best search aimed at the current userbase are been more effective than actually innovating on search anyway. People don't objectively rank search results between engines. They do defend their current habits, though, and solid branding material gives them something to tell themselves to counteract any (rare) arguments to switch.
What if it's actually an improvement in search results?
Everyone will search for something with a different set of words based on their experience. If most of those sets of words, all used to search for the same topic in the end, return the same results, isn't it an improvement?
Unfortunately, as you said, it doesn't help when trying to tweak the results you see to find your answer, but most people probably don't search in depth to find THE answer, but are looking for AN answer.
Agreed. I am getting irrelevant results WAAY more often than I used to, and it only gets worse.
Hi, I work on Google search. Can you share any examples of the types of search queries that used to work better for you?
It could also be due to the quantity of indexed data
I feel like the quality of deep search is diminishing; either there is less free content on the web, or search has been optimized for something else; I just get the same results over and over, not matter what combination of search terms I used on a topic.
Did you mean: something you definitely did not mean?
Showing results for something you definitely did not mean
Search instead for something you meant
Bandcamp's search is particularly bad in this regard, and doesn't even give you the option to quote or manipulate your search terms.
This is an increasing trend across the industry. I've been calling it "technological paternalism".
I use DDG as default, and have all my other engines set with keywords. Searching wikipedia (mapped to 'wk') for instance is as easy as:
I'm on 56.0 until Ubuntu publishes an update but... if I click on the search glass icon, a dialog pops up with a set of suggested alternatives, and a change search settings button.
Did that actually change in Quantum?
No it changed a long time ago. It used to be instead of the magnifying glass icon it had the icon of the current search provider. Then you could click a drop down and change it at any time, and it would stay there until you changed it again.
So it's still there, it just doesn't prominently feature search engine branding at rest.
no, if your default is google, and you search something on amazon, it immediately goes back to google. Which means that you need to do two clicks every search instead of just enter
Probably because search providers (e.g.. Google/DDG) will pay more for exclusive preference on the search bar.
I really don't think that's it. I think someone at mozilla thought it would be a "less cluttered" interface.
How to switch off search-engines panel in url-search?
I feel the same way.
I really just wish they would go back to letting the search bar change on the fly and remain that way until you change it back. With the little icon letting you know which service it is currently set to.
Does anyone know why that functionality was removed? If I'm searching for anything other than my default chances are I'm going to be searching at least 3 different things before getting it right, but then I can't just change the text and press enter.
While I'm ranting, when did google stop paying attention to the actual words you type and starting showing what they think you meant? I mean I know it's been gradual, but at some point over the last few years I've noticed having to use quotes for almost everything, and it still doesn't return exact results. I assume that has something to do with how they normalize the ngrams and how I'm not the target audience anymore, but it's still annoying.
The deal before the Yahoo one made Google the default everywhere (even China and Russia and other places where Google wasn't the best search engine).
I don't work there so I don't know if they could've gotten the same amount that Yahoo agreed to without continuing to make Google default in all localities.
There was never any real commitment to the "best" search engine in a region. Mozilla has been paid by Google to be the default search since 2004.
I'd say they're using the best for the financial viability of Mozilla. Which in turn is for the best of their users.
I don't disagree. But that doesn't change the fact that the parent post's idea that they "choose the best search engine" is completely false. Mozilla has been paid for search settings consistently since 2004.
The feedback in the responses leads me to believe my ear may have been too close to the loudspeaker, but here is a quote attributed to Mozilla Marketing leader Asa Dotzler in 2009: “Firefox users have their choice of several built-in and popular search services including Google’s number 1 competitor and the second most popular, Yahoo!. Google is the default for most Firefox locales because it’s the best search service available for the largest number of Firefox users (and was years before there was any revenue associated with default status).”
I also think I remember Firefox’s default search engine in Japan regularly being used as an example of doing right by users.
How do you reconcile your claim with the fact that Yandex has been the default search engine in the Russian localization of Firefox for years?
Google paid Mozilla to be the default search engine in the United States.
Google used to be the default search engine in Russia too (though I can't comment on whether they were paying for that). When it became clear that Yandex generally delivered better search results for queries in Russian, Mozilla switched to Yandex.
Are you 100% sure Yandex has not provided any funding to Mozilla? "Following our review in 2014, Google remained the default provider outside the US, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkey, China, and other regions where we had search agreements."
> Are you 100% sure Yandex has not provided any funding to Mozilla?
I am 100% sure it has. But the point is that all search engines are willing to create these funding deals, so that leaves the freedom to pick the ones that you think are best for users.
The more accurate understanding is: All search engines are willing to create these funding deals, so you pick the biggest cash offer.
If you're trying to maximize revenue, sure.
But the whole point is that Mozilla is trying to have revenue, obviously, but maximizing it is not a goal, as long as it covers expenses.
Both Bing and Yahoo have been the default search between now and then too...
I don't think Bing has ever been the default search on Firefox. Google paid for the spot from 2004-2014, and Yahoo paid for it between 2014-2017. Google is almost certainly paying for the spot again now. At least here in the US, Bing has never been the default as far as I know.
Mozilla missed the opportunity to regain some of their authentic voice with this announcement.
“This is part of our ongoing search strategy, announced in 2014 to evaluate and select the best search experience in each region as opposed to having a single global default.” is revisionist. I worked on a competing browser, Flock, in 2005 and Mozilla already had a strong and wonderful commitment to use the (local) best search engine for Firefox in a region. When they switched to “Yahoo!” without additional transparency about the economic factor it made it easier for me to use Chrome without feeling moral regret. With the exception of this blog post / announcement I’m really excited overall to see Mozilla back in the game.
With Firefox 57, the UI changed to look almost identical to Chrome. The tabs are now boxy, not round anymore. The hamburger menu changed from the useful big box with big icons to a long menu that looks 99% like Chrome incl the unusual page zoom buttons in the menu. Now we may know why, Google is paying them again, after Yahoo deal is no more.
I wonder if at this point Google wants to keep Mozilla in the game. Their market share is low enough and it keeps antitrust regulators at bay. It looks bad if there are only two major browsers, one of which owned by a company which already got slapped for this very kind of monopolistic behavior.
Sorta like Intel and AMD.
Eh...if the Google search money keeps Mozilla going, why not? It's no worse than having Yahoo as the default search provider previously. I switch my default to DuckDuckGo anyway.
My guess is the other way around: Yahoo backed out of their contract with Mozilla. The biggest difference for either of these companies this year is that Verizon now owns Yahoo, and probably doesn't want to pay for search market share. If the deal's a yearly cost or something similar, the bill's coming up in December.
They have to keep paying though
We don't know the exact details of the contract. And even if it was written as such, both parties could agree to a change in the contract that could allow either side to get out on certain conditions.
"We exercised our contractual right to terminate our agreement with Yahoo! based on a number of factors including doing what’s best for our brand, our effort to provide quality web search, and the broader content experience for our users. We believe there are opportunities to work with Oath and Verizon outside of search," Mozilla Chief Business and Legal Officer Denelle Dixon said in a statement.
So Mozilla backed out of their 5-year contract with Yahoo then . Do they have a new agreement with Google that I'm not seeing anywhere?
And, to be fair, most users probably want Google to be their default.
Considering how heavily Mozilla’s been recently touting Firefox as the privacy-oriented alternative to Chrome (in Facebook ads, and probably elsewhere), to me it makes Mozilla appear flippant.
Well, there's 'flippant' and then there's financial reality.
Makes sense I guess. Nobody wants Yahoo search as a default.
On mobile Firefox makes it really easy to select a different provider.
I now use it on iOS too, even if it's just a shell for iOS's Safari view — the UI is nicer and you can enable tracking protection to be always on.
It's already the default in Europe from what I've seen.
Well Yahoo doesn't work in Europe anyways. Yahoo is only popular in the US.
Depends on where and which countries you consider "Europe".
When I say Europe I mean "Western Europe minus the islands to the north"
Shortened title is misleading:
Firefox Features Google as Default Search Provider... "in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan"
EDIT title updated (within HN title length constraints, I guess), thanks admins :)
What's with requiring an Add-on to set a search engine URL?
I can't remove the "&t=ffab" query tag from the DuckDuckGo search. Presumably ffab is Firefox Address Bar.
default search should be google search and default maps should be google maps. yelp on the contrary forces you to use apple maps on iphone and that kind of sucks.
Did they ever lose it? Chrome has over 50% browser usage and FF less than 10%. I bet most of those Chrome users haven't changed their default search.
I've been out of reading news about it are they still shuffling cash to Mozilla?
I suspect so. Not very impressed that Mozilla failed to mention the money question, when it's obviously going to be a matter of concern for anyone who thinks the Mozillian way.
Could be an interesting tension if so. Mozilla were involved in a recent event promoting awareness of data/privacy concerns. They weren't shy about mentioning Google by name as a big bad.
Mozilla has always disclosed financial matters in their financial reports, bringing it up in a release announcement would send a strange message.
Looks like Google is gaining its foothold back
You can't even remove all the search engines. I tried.
Was their punchline also at odds when they used Yahoo/Bing or was that different?
Also keep in mind that Firefox has used Google since 2004 I think.
Dude, no. The current deal with Yahoo has been in place for like 2 and a half years, at least.
Yes, but that is not the point.
Mozilla's punch line "Built for People, not for profit" stands at odds with this since we know Google monetizes the heck out your search history.
Another interesting thing to note is Apple dropped Bing for Siri and Firefox stayed with Google. Sounds like Microsoft is not even trying.
Which is a great choice IMO. Open source software needs funding, and I'm always a fan of projects finding ways to be self supporting rather than relying solely on donations.
Changing default search is trivial enough for anyone who cares to, and if they did go with Duck Duck Go or similar as the default, I think you'd likely find many/most users changing the default search to Google anyway.
There will likely be some people errantly suggesting this is due to search quality. It is not. Yahoo previously outbid Google approximately three years ago for that default search offering, and it's likely their arrangement has come to an end. One of Mozilla's strongest sources of funding comes from selling the default search engine spot to the highest bidder.
EDIT: As an interesting note: Yahoo's deal was for five years, not three. I am guessing Verizon decided it didn't want to pay for Mozilla anymore, and cut it off early?
You have options to decline sending any potentially personal data back, and then telemetry would include only basic, anonymised usage info to help them improve Firefox. Pocket is now part of Mozilla and you can still just remove the button from the toolbar and ignore it completely. I assume that video chat thing was only ever proof-of-concept, at least I don't see it anywhere anymore. As for EME, well, most people want their Netflix/Hulu fix. If Mozilla declined to support EME then they'll quickly become obsolete.
> telemetry would include only basic, anonymised usage info to help them improve Firefox.
This is unacceptable. Why can't I turn it off completely?
Seems like you can turn it off completely (except it still collects some data but does not actually send it to Mozilla), but you need to read the docs and toggle some about:config preferences.
Personally I'd just uncheck all the options exposed in the UI and trust that Mozilla is not collecting stuff behind my back, at least not data that can be de-anonymised.
I believe Santosh83 means even if you leave it on, it will be anonymized performance data
You can't anonymize data in transit since it requires a sender IP which makes the sent performance data susceptible to interception and analysis by intermediaries.
It's boring data, encrypted in transit (HTTPS). About the only thing intermediaries can learn is that someone used Firefox at the time of the request.
And use what instead? Out of all the mainstream options, Firefox is the best when it comes to privacy and giving users the power.
I'm seeing a checkbox to disable DRM content playing in preferences. I know it's just one item in your list, but at least it's an option.
> mandatory telemetry
> mandatory pulseaudio
Don’t know enough to have an opinion on this
Does FF send data if you don’t use the feature? Actually not sure.
> video chat thing
You’re avoiding a browser because of… a feature you don’t use?
> DRM add-on literally no one asked for
…except for the tiny fraction of FF users that are also Netflix subscribers
Don’t forget the plugins which are a shell of their former selves.
just another reason to avoid it. mandatory telemetry, mandatory pulseaudio in linux, pocket, that weird failed video chat thing, and the DRM add-on that literally no one asked for.
While it's true that Mozilla pays its people well (necessary, to compete for high end tech talent) and we (I work for Mozilla) are in no way free from commercial concerns, I think you're missing a big piece of why being a nonprofit is a distinguishing factor: Mozilla doesn't have the insane pressure for growth that most startups and all publicly traded companies have to reckon with. Any company that has gone public, wants to go public, or wants to get acquired has a never ending pressure for user and/or revenue growth at all costs. Mozilla doesn't have that pressure for growth. Of course we need to maintain enough market share to stay relevant, and we'd love to have more and more and more users, but ultimately as long as we can make enough money to pay for our operations then we're golden. This gives us a lot more freedom of choice when making decisions about what and how to make money.
> This gives us a lot more freedom of choice when making decisions about what and how to make money.
I'd argue the opposite. Mozilla seem too scared to try anything substantial because they're scared of losing the money they do get (because they aren't actively going after other sources and not trying to grow into new revenue sources). Think of e.g. tracking protection - Apple are the ones actually making moves there, not Mozilla. I wonder why...
Mozilla created their own high performance programming language in order to build a faster web engine from scratch (all of which has been largely successful). They developed and shipped a mobile OS well into the reign of Android and iOS. You could argue about the placement of their priorities, but they have definitely thrown their weight behind ambitious projects.
Ambitious in a technical sense - yes. But not ambitious in a "protect the users" sense (see e.g. tracking protection/ad blocking), and also not ambitious in a business sense (i.e. try to do something beyond sell users/traffic to the highest bidding search engine).
(Perhaps they could have made money by selling devices with the OS, but that didn't seem to be the aim there, as far as devices being only sold by partners.)
This is very much the stereotypical engineer approach: trying to engineer your way into revenue. Yes you need strong technology to keep users, but there's a lot more to business than the tech stack and quality.
Why can't people get rich while making a difference? These same people could be working for other companies who are not fighting for our privacy and an open web.
I agree that what is considered high paying salary is completely insane these days with wealth inequality and the idea that such sum of money if more than an individual will ever have use for. But that is a different topic.
A non-profit status doesn't always mean charity. In Mozilla case they are a Foundation, another entity eligible for non-profit status. They have different goals than a charity.
One of the things they do to earn this status is grants. And they have lots of grants.
Now what is funny is you exclude the $0 the five Directors made. Also Mitchell Baker doesn't get their entire pay from salary. That why it is in the second column. Last salary report on her was $400k. Which is weird cause that was in 2014 the same as this public disclosure form. Not sure why you purposely left out the fact their salary isn't actually 1 millions. But total compensation.
So their 'disingenuous' nature isn't so black and white as a headline 'non-profit chair has a 1 million dollar salary'.
A company's priorities are defined by how it spends its money. Very high salaries are a sign that a company is prioritizing the personal enrichment of particular people.
> A non-profit status doesn't always mean charity.
Many unambiguous charities have salaries just as high, and the same rationalizations.
I think it only takes a small amount of experience working with or in charities and nonprofits to discover that offering noncompetitive salaries makes it near impossible for nonprofits to succeed in many sectors.
Nonprofits need experienced and skilled people to be successful, and experienced and skilled people demand high salaries. To take the stance (which I disagree with) that nonprofit administrators should be willing to sacrifice their salary to work in the nonprofit sector (consider that this means, basically, asking them to donate the difference in salary) just doesn't seem to work out well for technical employees in particular, with just about every nonprofit I've worked with seriously struggling with high turnover and low skill level amongst technical staff.
They just switched from Yahoo as the default. So it's not like there's only one company paying the bills (and pulling the strings).
> It seems wiser to judge the ethos of a company based on their actions and decisions instead of their corporate tax status.
I do. I judge them based off the tools they build and the fine line they walk between making boatloads of money and actually providing services for people who care about privacy. Sometimes they get this wrong, but they try really hard.
And, really, the alternative is Google. That's not to say Mozilla shouldn't strive to be the best that they can, but if they were to disappear, we'd be using a closed-source browser built by the biggest ad company in the world who has demonstrated over and over that your privacy is antithetical to their business.
If Mozilla fold, you could still use chromium. Effectively no privacy difference between chromium and firefox tbh. (Unless you use tracking protection in private browsing, but extensions let you do the same in chromium.)
Unless you use patched version like Ungoogled Chromium, not really.
Things like this illustrate why it's a bit disingenuous to praise the nonprofit status of Mozilla as some huge distinguishing factor. Not only do the executives pay themselves more than generous salaries (1m for chair, 874k for director, 908k for treasurer) but nonprofit doesn't mean free from commercial concerns. They still need to make money to pay those salaries and support their projects. It seems wiser to judge the ethos of a company based on their actions and decisions instead of their corporate tax status.
 - https://static.mozilla.com/moco/en-US/pdf/2014_Mozilla_Found...