Mozilla wants to do something about annoying in-page popups

In-page popups can be quite the annoyance on the Internet. These popups appear on the active page and not in form of a new windows displayed over or under the current browser window.

If you are long enough on the Internet, you probably encountered sites that threw these popups in your face already; the in-page popups are used to get you to subscribe to the site’s newsletter, or inform you about a very special offer that expires soon.

Most popups include forms that require the email address and sometimes other data. Many have a visible close button in the top right corner, some another option to close the popup.

In-page popups are cause for the same set of annoyances as requests for push notifications: they get in the way of whatever the user is doing at the time, and they need to be closed or declined by the user as regular popup blockers don’t block them.

Browser extensions like BehindTheOverlay for Firefox and Chrome help improve the handling of website overlays.

in-page popup

Mozilla employee Ehsan Akhgari revealed on Twitter recently that Mozilla tries to find a way to deal with annoying in-page popups automatically.

Are you tired of seeing in-page popups like this? We’re experimenting with a popup blocker to dismiss them automatically, and we’re curating a dataset for it. If you know of a site that shows these kinds of popups, help us by submitting it here.

The link leads to a web form on Google Docs that users may submit samples of sites that use in-page popups.

Ehsan created the In-Page Pop-up Reporter extension for Firefox and Chrome to improve the reporting workflow.

Users can install the browser extension to report any site using in-page popups with just two clicks. A click on the extension icon displays a preview of the popup and the active Internet address. Users may add information to a text field to provide further information, for instance what they did before the popup was launched.

A click on the report button submits the data to Mozilla (likely via Google Docs).

Mozilla plans to “train a classifier” that detects in-page popups automatically opposed to maintaining a blocklist that requires constant attention.

Closing Words

In-page popups can be quite annoying if encountered regularly. Mozilla plans to run experiments to find out if a working in-page popup blocker can be created and integrated into Firefox.

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