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Web Discrimination Or Browser Racism?

I have previously blogged about sucky UA strings or dynamic spoofing as a possible solution for this, even set out a large bug bounty for creating a mechanism that does just that. But those things only fight the symptoms of an underlying problem: discrimination against certain or unknown browsers on the web.

In earlier times, the now-dead Netscape tried to preach to web developers for granting basic access to their sites to all browsers in an effort called "Tech Evangelism". I think this terminology is too weak for such an effort though. This is not about preaching a better belief about some obscure tech stuff. The problem here is that people are closed out from using certain web sites just by their mere "look", by the identification their web client is sending to the site, and therefore by the "race" of their browser.

The cases listed as dependencies in our tracking bug are only the tip of the iceberg - and all those things are not minor technical difficulties, they are severe cases of discrimination against "weaker", less popular or simply unknown Internet clients. This tactic doesn't only interfere with principle 2 of the Mozilla Manifesto by not keeping the Internet open and accessible, it even violates the common sense behind human rights, by closing out people from those web services just by their appearance/identification.

Therefore, I encourage everyone in our community to use the terms web discrimination or even browser racism when talking about those barriers placed in our way by web developers.

It would be a nice idea to even set up a Firefox extension that alerts users when they are accessing a site that uses such discrimination tactics, powered by a list dynamically maintained by a good community of users, on some collaborative website that also explains the problem and points out better tactics and guidelines for web developers to follow, as well as access points for community members to inform the developers and maintainers of the respective websites about their discriminative/racist approach.

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on December 31st, 2007 16:31 | Tags: Mozilla, SeaMonkey, UA String | 4 comments


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    I'd say that alluding that browser incompatibility is even comparable to the horrors of actual racism is quite disengenuous.

    Web discrimination is a little heavy handed, too.

    Let's raise awareness, but not hysterically.
    2007-12-31 19:42


    Bo, if I can't use my government's on-line resources because of my browser or operating system or harware platform (all related, of course), that's not much better than if I can't use their off-line resources because of my skin color. The only real difference is that with a large amount of effort and a medium amount of money I _can_ change my browser...
    2008-01-01 00:12


    Your choice of terms
    I think "browser discrimination" is an apt term because it best represents what you describe. The term "browser racism" really doesn't make sense, as the two words in it refer irreconcilably to different things -- and, quite frankly, the connotation of "racism" doesn't belong in a discussion on browser discrimination at all.
    2008-01-02 17:25


    from Brazil

    Hello, a month ago, I developed this web site that is used to report a problem to the author of a web site in order to fight browser racism: http://report.dreamhosters.com
    The code is in PHP/MySQL. If you're interested in using it for the MoFo server and integrating it into Seamonkey with a "Report" button, I could grant you full rights. Just get in touch with me: landemaine@gmail.com
    2008-01-13 03:54

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