Stop! - image by zd on stock.xchngI sure was surprised to see Lifehacker’s post on how to get around browser-specific blocks. One webmaster decided that in order to avoid site visitors with the Adblock Plus extension of Firefox installed, it was necessary to block all users of the Firefox browser. In other words, he took the step of blocking an entire segment of web users to make sure those who do see his site also see the ads on his site.

Firefox has been my default browser since the moment I discovered it. Internet Explorer now gets used only for Windows Updates. Adblock Plus is a Firefox add-on which allows users to block internet ads and banners from appearing. A filter subscription such as EasyList automatically includes a wealth of known advertisements so filtering begins right away. Say bye-bye to annoying and intrusive ads! Add-ons such as these are a major reason why I prefer to surf the web with Firefox.

The webmaster above claims that Firefox users are less likely to shop online and feels that this justifies his decision. Quite frankly, I have found the opposite to be true. These users tend to be more tech savvy and less hesitant about performing any sort of financial transaction over the Internet. Of the people I personally know never to have made a purchase online, every single one of them uses Internet Explorer. They are casual computer users, prefer to feel merchandise in their hands before shelling out cash, and don’t notice or care which browser they happen to be using. Likewise, those who have made the switch to Firefox are more comfortable researching purchase decisions on the web. They may read buying guides or customer reviews of a particular product and once they have done this research usually go right ahead and complete the purchase online. I personally have bought nearly all of my Christmas presents for the past decade from web retailers. Holiday crowds are not my cup of tea. I tend to spend more online than in brick and mortar stores.

Web developers and site owners constantly search for ways to attract more site visitors. Search engine optimization techniques attempt to bring in more users. Considerations such as load times and navigation architecture attempt to keep visitors once they do manage to find a site. The mantra for anyone involved with web creation is that the experience must be as easy for the user as possible because it is so easy to leave a web page. With just a click (or mouse gesture) a website is no longer in view. With so much collective effort being expended on enhancing the customer experience, the decision to block an entire population of potential customers is one I truly find inexplicable.

Personally, I plan on dealing with browser-specific blocks using a method much easier than the one described by Lifehacker: I’ll simply leave.

The Compete.com Blog has posted a heated debate between two extremists: Ryan’s is an avid Netflix user while his counterpart, Andy, is a diehard Blockbuster fan.

The opening arguments from both Ryan and Andy stuck to fact-driven statements, with each one backing up their claims with statistics. But their “parting jabs” were just that. Instead of continuing with a civil debate the conversation devolved into more of the “my service rocks, yours sucks!” variety. Comments from supporters of both sides of the argument drew the conversation further away from logical debating. The blog moderators had to clean up some of the more heated comments before making those comments live. Kudos to the moderating team for taking the extra step of cleaning up the language and doing what they could to keep the discussion resembling a debate.

One thing is clear from the post and subsequent comments: users of these services are adamant about their support. Poll results showing reader support of the opposing views are very close to equal. 53% agree with Ryan’s arguments for Netflix while 47% agreed with Andy’s statements for Blockbuster. Civil and fact-driven debating may have given way to fan-thumping, but it is interesting that there were almost no participants stating they didn’t have a preference for either movie rental service. They ardently prefer one over the other.

Personally, I have been a long-time customer of Netflix. And yes, I am an ardent fan of Netflix.

Netflix, Inc.

Consumers are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate automated telephone systems in order to speak with a live human being. Gethuman offers 6 tips to cut through the crud and quickly reach a person.

Once you’ve read through those tips you might find it beneficial to look through the rest of the site. According to the site,

The gethuman project is a consumer movement to improve the quality of phone support in the US. This free website is run by volunteers and is powered by over one million consumers who demand high quality phone support from the companies that they use.

I just might contribute a few entries to the gethuman project myself.