May 25, 2014

NoScript: Kill all the popups

Obnoxious javascript is now so frequent that disabling javascript by default breaks fewer sites than keeping it on by default. Yes, I consider site broken when it has obnoxious javascript popups on it.

Most of the garbage on the web is taken care of by AdBlock Plus, but many sites recently started showing self-serving popups like newsletter offers, surveys, membership offers, and sharing (not strictly a popup, it's a hover menu). These aren't ads (strictly speaking) and ABP allows them.

I cannot just avoid the offending sites, because most of the time I visit them only once through search results. Google has no interest to favor non-obnoxious sites since that would kill their own advertising business.

Basic uses of javascript: ads, sharing buttons, javascript popups, analytics. None of them is useful for reading the content. So I am downloading and installing NoScript. Content and basic layout will be unaffected by NoScript, because sites want to please google with static content. Javascript apps I really want are easy to enable with single click in the toolbar.

NoScript brings tons of crap itself that must be disabled in its options window. Not a big deal though. It's a one-time setup.

So far I have no problems browsing the web with NoScript. I have enabled javascript on a few favorite web apps. I get lower memory use as an added bonus, because most of the browser memory is consumed by javascript objects.

This solution is unfortunately only suitable for technically savvy users. Ordinary users will have trouble predicting which sites are likely to need javascript. Maybe AdBlock Plus could be used to create non-ad filter list for all types of javascript popups, but there is no such list at the moment and it's easier to use NoScript than to maintain my own ABP list.

PS: I had to drop NoScript after some time. It broke too many websites in subtle ways without warning. It's really only useful for people who would kill to get rid of the crazy popups. The rest of us would prefer semi-automated solution like an ABP filter list, which unfortunately doesn't exist at the moment.

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