[Done] Subscriptions dialog

Various discussions related to Adblock Plus development

[Done] Subscriptions dialog

Postby Wladimir Palant » Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:33 pm

The new subscription dialog that appears when you install Adblock Plus the first time (unless you already have subscriptions) has certainly been a success - many users weren't aware of this possibility before, the download numbers for subscriptions exploded. Unfortunately it wasn't too successful in communicating how many subscriptions someone needs, many users subscribed to every subscription they could get. This is something we should do better in Adblock Plus 0.7.2. Here are our options:

1. Try to find better formulations for the dialog text.
2. Only allow to add one subscription with the dialog, the text should explain that you can add more later if you need them.
3. Point people to a website where they can find subscriptions instead of showing them the dialog.

The first one alone won't solve the problem, nobody reads the text. The second is something we should definitely go for IMHO. The third will prevent too many users from trying out subscriptions - but there are other considerations to be discussed here as well.

There is namely another problem as well - the list of subscriptions gets outdated. RU AdList had trouble with its hosting lately (already resolved) and I couldn't change the link. DutchBlock is finally offering a URL you can subscribe to - and I can't add it before Adblock Plus 0.7.2 comes out. This is a problem a link to a website listing the subscriptions will certainly solve. Yet a website isn't well integrated in the extension and also can't be localized to the same extent.

A solution that should be better: instead of using a static subscriptions.rdf Adblock Plus should update it from adblockplus.org regularly (say - every two weeks). The problem here: I guess many people will dislike it if the extension "calls home".

So... Opinions? Suggestions?
Last edited by Wladimir Palant on Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby IceDogg » Wed Oct 04, 2006 5:19 pm

I think a combination of 1 and 2 is in order myself. If they check more then one list a warning box pops up telling them that they should only use one list as using more then one can cause a number of problems and at this stage only one list can be selected. Then have directions on how to add more list later if they know what they are doing. The text I used is just general to get the idea across it should be worded much better then that.
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Postby Peng » Wed Oct 04, 2006 5:55 pm

The problem with using an updating subscriptions.rdf is that it's most needed immediatly after Firefox starts for the first time after ABP is installed, but it won't have time to update for that.
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Postby Wladimir Palant » Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:31 pm

@IceDogg: Nobody reads warnings, people simply click them away.

@Peng: That isn't a problem, the dialog doesn't have to show the list immediately, it can show some message like "Loading list of subscriptions". Five seconds should be tolerable, if the list doesn't load in this time (e.g. because the user isn't online) it will show the default list.
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Postby alta88 » Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:53 pm

i think we may be slightly underestimating users. if you have a bold "Unnecessary additional filters will hinder performance" i'll bet that will be effective. and yes, use #2 to slow down overeager types.

regarding outdated subscriptions: you can either vet them and host them, thus guaranteeing them; or you can link to them with disclaimers. if you do the latter, you can make it clear filters are outside ABP's scope, perhaps have a 'last known update date' shown prominently.

don't you already ask in the filter sub if it's to be automatically updated? call home is very bad, but only if undisclosed and not a user configurable option..
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Postby IceDogg » Wed Oct 04, 2006 7:06 pm

Wladimir Palant wrote:@IceDogg: Nobody reads warnings, people simply click them away.

I agree, but when they are not allowed to add a second list there needs to be something telling them why. That's what I was meaning. But also not allowing the 2nd list to be selected.. thus combining 1 and 2.
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Postby Wladimir Palant » Wed Oct 04, 2006 7:18 pm

@alta88: You are too optimistic. Nobody will read the bold text, and by "nobody" I mean 90% of the users. Sorry, that's an accepted truth about software development.

My traffic limit doesn't allow me to host any more subscriptions (and hosting them would be a bad idea anyway). Disclaimers on the other hand aren't a real solution...

Making "calling home" optional would be good but I don't see any way to do this right now. This list is required when Adblock Plus is loaded the first time.

@IceDogg: The text will be there of course, a warning message should be too annoying for this purpose however.
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Postby alta88 » Wed Oct 04, 2006 8:36 pm

Wladimir Palant wrote:@alta88: You are too optimistic.

nobody's laid that on me in a long time :D

Wladimir Palant wrote:My traffic limit doesn't allow me to host any more subscriptions (and hosting them would be a bad idea anyway). Disclaimers on the other hand aren't a real solution...


well, it's a fairly binary choice, either you host and are responsible, or you disclaim to others' (ir)responsibility. you already have an APB "Gold Seal" of approval type thing for the responsible ones by listing them.

it's an old problem, you're the UI, it's always your fault. look at mozilla's problem re extensions: due to (imo ridiculous) design, any extension can break Fx/Tb. so they host (some of) them in a quasi taking responsibility way, but it's a nontrivial effort, with quasi success.
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Postby Peng » Wed Oct 04, 2006 10:29 pm

Wladimir Palant wrote:@Peng: That isn't a problem, the dialog doesn't have to show the list immediately, it can show some message like "Loading list of subscriptions". Five seconds should be tolerable, if the list doesn't load in this time (e.g. because the user isn't online) it will show the default list.


....Oh. Duh. Scratch my complaint, then. :)

Out of curiosity, how much bandwidth have you been using?
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Postby Stupid Head » Wed Oct 04, 2006 10:42 pm

I like Icedogg's suggestion regarding adding subscriptions. I think the user should be allowed to choose a second subscription, after a popup dialog box asks, "This may hinder performance, blah blah blah, do you want to continue?" when they select a second subscription. But if Wladimir says its too annoying, it's his call. ;-)

I think updates to subscriptions should happen via extension updates. I don't think situations like these, where the address of the subscription changes, happen often enough to warrant a whole new system just to update the filter subscriptions URLs. Even waiting two weeks for a fix doesn't seem too bad, because the filters are still blocking advertisements. Besides, phoning home is always a big issue, especially to a crowd who uses Adblock Plus, no matter how harmless we know it to be.
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Postby Wladimir Palant » Thu Oct 05, 2006 12:37 am

@Peng: I had 5.1 GB traffic on adblockplus.org in September. Together with 2.7 GB from easylist.adblockplus.org and 1.3 GB from another project on the same account that's almost my 10 GB limit already.
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Postby Peng » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:16 am

Wladimir Palant wrote:@Peng: I had 5.1 GB traffic on adblockplus.org in September. Together with 2.7 GB from easylist.adblockplus.org and 1.3 GB from another project on the same account that's almost my 10 GB limit already.


2.7 GB of EasyList subscriptions? Wow.

You should move to DreamHost. Your site might be down half the time, but when it's up, you could use 2 TB of bandwidth. :o
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Postby Wladimir Palant » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:29 am

Thanks - but no, I am happy with the hosting I have. Actually, I just saw that NetDepot's "Fair Use Traffic Policy" should still keep me safe for a while. As to EasyList - the numbers are actually a little weird. Webalizer shows that EasyList subscription downloads are 2.0 GB of this amount, everything else on the site is responsible for 150 MB traffic. I have no idea what happened to the other 550 MB.
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Postby rick752 » Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:25 am

Wladimir Palant wrote:As to EasyList - the numbers are actually a little weird. Webalizer shows that EasyList subscription downloads are 2.0 GB of this amount, everything else on the site is responsible for 150 MB traffic. I have no idea what happened to the other 550 MB.


2.0GB of a 4k file? :shock:

... and that is with the last month change from 1 day auto-updates to 5 day auto-updates? Wow! Kewl 8)

Does that include the element filter too? Maybe we should go to 10 day auto-updates, Wladimir.
Last edited by rick752 on Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Wladimir Palant » Thu Oct 05, 2006 2:35 am

Rick, it is a 1.75 KB file actually (don't forget GZIP compression). It got 923686 hits last month, estimated 175000 subscribers towards the end of the month...

I don't think we should change the update interval. 1 GB less traffic (if we are lucky) isn't going to make a difference. That's nowhere near what we got by increasing the interval to 5 days (btw, this change was in August - that's why EasyList has less traffic in August than in July).

And Rick - you can see those stats for yourself, remember? EasyElements isn't anywhere near as popular, here the estimate is 2500 subscribers, 69 MB traffic.
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