What would you say if your web browser would recommend a casino related website to you? You'd probably think the same that I did when it happened to me: this is an advertisement. Well, apparently it is not, as it is the output of Mozilla's latest experimental add-on Site Suggest. It is also proof that Mozilla needs to work on the algorithm to avoid displaying recommendations to users that some may find offensive or at least troubling.
Mozilla recently released a new experimental add-on for the Firefox web browser as part of the company's Mozilla Labs Prospector program. Site Suggest has been designed to display suggestions for websites you may be interested in on Firefox's New Tab page. So far so good.
Once you have installed the extension in the browser, a restart is not required, you will notice that suggestions may be added on the browser's New Tab Page. Only one regular site was replaced with suggestions during my tests, and it was always the site on the last place on the page.
So how do those suggestions work in detail? The Firefox add-on analyzes user activity in the browser and sends the data to Mozilla using a secure channel. It is then processed and suggestions are returned to the browser where they are displayed on the New Tab page.
Mozilla assures that no data is being recorded in the process so that you do not have to worry about being profiled when you use the extension.
The Firefox add-on rotates between the title of the website that is suggested in the browser and the reason why it has been selected. In the case of the casino site, it was selected because of my interest in games/gambling.
Mozilla employee Edward Lee notes that suggestions won't be high quality, at least not in the beginning. I unfortunately can confirm that statement, especially since the Party Casino suggestion was not the only one that I received. The second suggestion was an RSS feed and not a website, the third a Microsoft support page that explained how to detect a DoubleSpace Drive from a batch file.
I do not find the feature particularly useful, even if Mozilla would get their act together and provide better suggestions. I'd recommend to display more suggestions on a separate page that you can switch to somehow instead as it does not really make sense to mix popular pages that you have opened in the past with site suggestions.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.