Mozilla wants to do something about annoying in-page popups

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 12, 2018
Updated • Mar 12, 2018

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.

Mozilla wants to do something about annoying in-page popups
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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.
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  1. ULBoom said on March 14, 2018 at 1:27 am

    Popups like these on shopping sites can be good if they’re offering discounts. Just give a disposable email and take the discount. If you like the site, use a real email. When they appear over and over, they get extremely annoying.
    Then there are clickbait popups, The Weather Channel has these, I bookmarked my location, open it and an annoying “Do you want to save this location?” thing pops up and persists. Doi!
    Then there are the slide in and out chat help popups that slowly slide halfway across the page, dell is horrific for these.
    Then identical clone sites with different names, overloaded with ads, that block you with a captcha pop up that won’t resolve if you try to enter through a VPN IP.
    Even more annoying are those drop down menu banners that reappear every time you scroll up, not a pop up but a ubiquitous onerous design element. I’d like an add on to stop these from moving.
    Eliminating some or all of these these things at will would be nice.

    1. Ali Sofyan Nasution said on March 18, 2018 at 4:37 am

      Shopping websites can put the discounts on their header or in a separate menu.

    2. John Fenderson said on March 15, 2018 at 8:41 pm

      @ULBoom: “Popups like these on shopping sites can be good if they’re offering discounts”

      I disagree. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a popup that I considered good. I even hate popups that exist for purely functional reasons such as logging in. Popups don’t adapt to the window size so if you’re browsing in a smallish window (as I usually do), they often force you to resize the window just to expose the controls you need to get rid of the popup.

      Although some popups are more detestable than others.

  2. Pete said on March 13, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I’m really tired of the push notifications that Mozilla won’t let you turn off permanently. You have to do it EVERY time you open up the browser. Why is that? I think we know the reason.

    1. Jessica said on March 14, 2018 at 1:19 pm

      Could you please elaborate on your issue?

  3. Tree said on March 13, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    I have the extension called “Remove It Permanently”, but do not know if it will work on the newer Firefox. It does work on Pale Moon browser.

  4. Sebas said on March 13, 2018 at 9:15 am

    Good initiative. Remembering the old days when I used AltaVista to view and install from Cnet and the like without risk of an infection,without popups, substantial mining and tracking and all the other garbage of todays internet.

    Nowadays it is installing extensions like ublock origin, studying for days or more about iframes and all the other infrastructure of the internet, using search engines other then Google, with no guarantee they won’t follow you either.

    It all started with the arrival of Google “Don’t be evil” imo. Then the flooding of tracking and data mining started. Companies like Facebook of course just exist because of these practises. Not to name all the rogue websites which infect you. It is not exactly fun anymore.

  5. Chris said on March 13, 2018 at 7:47 am

    What about sites like Groupon that put up a big circular pop-up when you go them, if you’re not logged in?

  6. hahaha said on March 13, 2018 at 3:20 am

    Simply get rid from those sites forever. Blocking them via the hosts file is not a bad idea.

  7. Rick A. said on March 13, 2018 at 3:02 am

    Been using “Behind The Overlay Revival” for Firefox for the longest –

    i also use Element Zapper Mode for uBlock Origin as well.

    i thought about using the In-Page Pop-up Reporter extension mentioned in this article to help the cause, but i don’t think i want another extension running.

    i might use the Google Docs page to report them, using another browser, iE or Edge, lol.

    1. Klaas Vaak said on March 13, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      How do you access uBO’s “Element Zapper mode”?

      1. Rick A. said on March 14, 2018 at 5:49 pm

        @Klaas Vaak – The “Element Zapper Mode” is that “Lightning Symbol”. The “Element Picker Mode” is the “Eye Dropper Symbol”.

        Here’s the official links if your interested:

      2. Klaas Vaak said on March 15, 2018 at 9:04 am

        Rick, thanks for your answer, that clears it up for me.

      3. BM said on March 13, 2018 at 3:00 pm

        Klass, click on the eyedropper tool.

        If you are unfamiliar with what that looks like, check this out:

      4. Klaas Vaak said on March 15, 2018 at 9:07 am

        BM, I want to offer you my sincere apologies for my rather rude answer. The uBO icon was hidden in my browser, so I looked on the settings page for the eye dropper tool. Since I could not find it, I took you answer to mean “you have shit in in your eyes, wash them out”. Hence my reaction.
        Rick’s answer below cleared it up for me, and also showed me I was wrong with my reply to you. All I can say is: Sorry.

      5. Klaas Vaak said on March 14, 2018 at 1:45 pm

        Thanks for your sarcasm, you’re obviously another one of those jerks with too much time on his hands to troll the sites. Funny what makes people feel good.

  8. justakiwi said on March 13, 2018 at 2:34 am

    i just go into reader format when those damn pop-ups appear

  9. PurpAndAlpo said on March 12, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    It’s a good initiative from Mozilla, and I certainly hope they get somewhere, but I’m just curious as to why someone would bother spending the time and money uploading an extension that will only benefit Firefox users to the Chrome Web Store. The only people I can imagine installing it from there are Firefox superfans forced to use Chrome at work or something…

  10. Vic Sanders said on March 12, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    No pop-up blocker, not even Firefox’s, and no pop-up (or practically none) with uBlock Origin.
    Just visited the johnchow site given as example in the article and if a pop-up did appear on the screen it vanished immediately. Of course not everyone uses Firefox’s uBlock Origin extension and for them it must be a nightmare : one should be able to travel on the Web without extensions to block pains, so many pains … pop-ups, ads, trackers, infections.

    Louis Armstrong sings it, but I wouldn’t even whistle it when it comes to the Web : what a wonderful world….

    1. Jessica said on March 13, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      Firefox doesn’t expose an option to block all types of pop-ups on the UI (the one it provides is for dom.disable_open_during_load) but it can be set in about:config by clearing the strings from dom.popup_allowed_events.

    2. Klaas Vaak said on March 13, 2018 at 2:05 pm

      I use Waterfox with uBlock Origin and uBO Extra, and a visit to the site did not produce a pop-up, like you say. Nevertheles, …… I still come across sites regularly that are able to bypass uBO. Is there a setting in uBO that is more aggressive?

  11. Yuliya said on March 12, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    The cruel reality is, until we won’t see the browser which has the most influence online (Chrome) do something about this, these websites won’t stop with this obnoxious behaviour. And I hope Google will do something about this situation, like they did with the ads.

    Speaking of obnoxious behaviours, Chromium lkcr seems to block every single autoplaying video, even on YouTube, by default. I hope this makes it to stable. It’s going to be a real kick in the teeth to websites like c*et.

    1. foolishgrunt said on March 12, 2018 at 11:13 pm

      But in an ideal world, if enough users see (through Firefox) blocking this type of content is possible, they’ll generate enough pressure that Google will address it in Chrome.

      1. ay said on March 13, 2018 at 1:43 am

        thats a pipe dream tbh, mozilla doesn’t have the pull anymore to do anything innovative.

    1. BM said on March 13, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      Thanks for the links.

      Many of these popups are highly annoying.

      I do appreciate the ones who wait until your mouse moves off the screen – I can still close the tab or navigate to another tab without being interrupted in my progress.

      I’ve also encountered popups from the side (whatever they are called) that don’t intrude on the full page. These are a “nicer” behaving approach.

      In the end, like junk mail that floods our snail mail post boxes, these continue only because they are largely effective for the ones employing them.

      If people would stop responding, that would be the biggest means of getting rid of them.

      1. John Fenderson said on March 13, 2018 at 10:36 pm

        @BM: “If people would stop responding, that would be the biggest means of getting rid of them”

        I haven’t seen one in years, so I’m doing my part!

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on March 12, 2018 at 10:16 pm

      Thank you, forgot to add the links to the extensions.

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