Stylish add-on makes a return

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 17, 2018

Stylish, a web browser extension to load so-called userstyles in supported browsers that modify looks and layout of webpages, has returned to the official Mozilla Add-ons Store for Firefox after its removal by Mozilla over privacy concerns.

Stylish, which was removed by Google from the company's Chrome Web Store as well at the time, was found to send a user's complete browsing history to servers operated by the company and linked the data to a unique ID.

Stylish and the accompanying site were transferred to a new owner back in 2016 by its original creator. The new owner, apparently, sold the extension and domain then to analytics company SimilarWeb in 2017.

A new version of Stylish is now again available on Mozilla's Addons website. The new version comes without release notes which makes it difficult to find out what changed.

If you compare the current description of Stylish on Mozilla's website with the description of Stylish before it was pulled, you will notice that a note about privacy and data collecting has been added to the description:

We care about your privacy and thus it is important to us that you understand our data practices:

Stylish provides you with services that include the suggestion of and access to relevant styles for web pages you visit, as well as the install count for each style. In order to enable this service, we collect browsing data, as detailed in our privacy policy:

The browsing usage data collected includes: visited URLs, your Internet Protocol address, your operating system and the browser you are using, and the date and time stamp.

The data collected is not collected nor used to allow the identification of any individual user, and you may always opt-out from this automatic data collection in the add-on option page.

The description reveals to users that Stylish does collect information to provide some of the functionality of the service.

Did anything else change? You may notice that all but the latest version of the extension are removed from the versions listing. Did Mozilla remove these when it banned Stylish, or did the developers of Stylish remove those? I don't know and there is no information on the page that provides that answer.

stylish new privacy

If you are brave enough to install Stylish in Firefox, you will notice that the extension has a new welcome screen that pops up automatically after installation.

It displays three options, all opt-in, on the page:

  • Share usage analytics -- sends analytics data to Stylish.
  • Styles on-the-go -- Powers the style recommendation feature, submits URLs to the server if enabled.
  • Access styles through search results -- Same as Styles on-the-go, but for search results pages.

It is not necessary to enable any of those to use Stylish. If you don't opt-in to the second and third option you won't get recommendations automatically.

Note that Stylish has yet to make a return in the Chrome Web Store. It seems likely that the extension will resurface on Chrome's official Web Store as well in the near future.

Closing Words

We don't know if Mozilla reviewed the new Stylish version or not. The organization does not indicate human reviewed extensions in any way on the site. If Stylish has not been reviewed by a human, it is possible that the extension may get pulled again when that happens; we don't know.

Stylish is a popular extension and the changes made are welcome changes. It remains to be seen if the company can regain the trust of users or if Stylish users stick to alternatives such as Stylus instead.

Now You: What is your take on the development?

Stylish add-on makes a return
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Stylish add-on makes a return
Stylish, a web extension that was pulled over privacy concerns from official extension repositories, is once again available on Mozilla AMO for Firefox.
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  1. Anonymous said on November 23, 2018 at 1:40 am

    I knowingly kept using stylish on Chrome despite the ban, I love the tool and couldn’t find a better alternative. It’s back on chrome, and the version I’ve been using is no longer marked as unapproved.

  2. Dwight Stegall said on August 18, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    Stylus works just as good. I’ll stick with it.

  3. Anonymous said on August 17, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    Stylus is of absolutely no use if you want to style the Firefox UI. The function is NOT equivalent.

    1. Fuzzi said on August 28, 2018 at 6:13 pm

      This has nothing to do with Stylus, it is a restriction of the WebExtensions format and Stylish or any other extension also can’t style Firefox UI now.

  4. Anonymous said on August 17, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    I’m visually impaired, it was so hard to get around the internet without Stylish and the alternatives weren’t very helpful, I’m glad it’s back! Sure, there’s a few glitches here and there and the data collecting is a turn off–not like Google ain’t doing the same though–but, I need this to see, to be able to work on a daily basis. Everyone tells me Microsoft comes with a magnifier, a magnifier will invert everything and I just need the text background inverted, not the images. That’s why I’m so thankful for Stylish and I’m glad it’s back!

    1. Anonymous said on August 26, 2018 at 3:11 am

      I just wonder how the alternatives aren’t very helpful. You have Stylus (and many more alternatives could be found on their GitHub wiki), which is so much more than what the current Stylish will ever be. Unless you’re using an ancient version of Firefox, that is, since WebExtensions and modern JavaScript might not work properly, but even then Firefox 52+ (including Waterfox and PaleMoon) should be working great.

      The few __glitches__ you’re talking about, I couldn’t help it but to laugh at it. Stylish was PAIN to work with; their built-in editor, linter and other features are broken for the longest time, and they have no interest in fixing the extension beyond the point of being functional __just enough__ so that they can collect that sweet data from the people. Now that is what became of once great extension; and that comes from a person that is actively contributing their own userstyles.

      Talking about privacy always leads me to this quote. Feel free to do whatever you want with your data, it’s your right by the end of the day.

      “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” –Edward Snowden

  5. Radical Dreamer said on August 17, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Fool me once, shame one you.
    Fool me twice, shame on me.

  6. owl said on August 17, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Stylish was sold in October 2016 and the new owner, Justin Hindman, agreed to provide collected information to SimilarWeb (Israel). SimilarWeb is famous for the digital market intelligence platform, its company’s main business is analytical products. The relationship with Israeli foreign intelligence agency “Mosad” is also doubted.

    I recommend Stylus (author: Stylus Team, Jeremy Schomery).
    It is an “open source project” that forked Stylish 1.5.2. Therefore, There is no doubt, and the function is equivalent.

  7. Anonymous said on August 17, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Soon featured on AMO, who wants to bet?

  8. Tom Hawack said on August 17, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    I’m totally satisfied with Stylus Firefox extension which is a reason in itself to not switch to Stylish.
    Would I return to Stylish (it had been my styles’ manager for years before it was sold) if there were no valid alternative? I guess I’d try it at least, with all three opt-in/phone home options left disabled, check out the extension’s behavior and decide accordingly. It would have to be irreproachable. I admit a very strong suspicion regarding the Stylish developer company but I’d wish not to blind myself with the dogma that who has failed will fail again : some people, some companies do change, or at least change their behaviors/policies should it be for the sole reason of remaining in the race.

    1. Anonymous said on August 17, 2018 at 1:37 pm

      Giving malware distributors a second chance means it is a lower risk for developers to include malware because if they get caught and have to remove it, users will forgive them.

      I would push this logic further and boycott rotten products even after they have been sold to clean people that can actually be trusted, for the following reason. As is well known, some time ago sourceforge started adding badware in the software they host. Then after getting caught they sold the company to “nice” people who didn’t include badware any more. So people said ok, we can use sourceforge again. But if people had continued boycotting sourceforge even after it was sold to people who can be trusted, then the previous guys who put the malware in would have made much less money when selling sourceforge, because it would have been worth nothing for the clean buyer. Thus, less incentive to put the badware in.

      1. John Fenderson said on August 17, 2018 at 8:07 pm


        I agree. Ignoring whether or not Stylish rose to the level of “malware” (I have no opinion on that question), once a piece of software (or service, or company) has engaged in nefarious behavior, that cannot be forgotten and I stop using it forever. Well, if I can. I don’t have a choice for certain things (such as using Windows at work).

  9. Ban me said on August 17, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Both total crapware, introducing failed skin autors who don’t update in time. The same goes with the “dark skin” for Ghacks made by “whoever”, breaks everything, especially on ghack deals but it’s championed as must have.

  10. Anonymous said on August 17, 2018 at 11:20 am

    I’m still surprised that it was removed from the Chrome store, I thought this was already full of various malware with the blessing of Google.

    1. Anonymous said on August 18, 2018 at 3:32 pm

      It got media attention. That’s how you get Google to care. It also wasn’t particularly inconvenient for Google to do something about it.

      It’s a lot more entertaining when it is inconvenient for Google. For example, this simple phishing attack has been left unfixed in Chrome for years:
      Because it would require changing autofill to be less automatic.

      As a result, every two years or so, someone realizes that this is possible, writes an article about it, other news sources pick up on it, but it’s too technical to really make it into mainstream media, so Google just waits out the shitstorm and doesn’t change anything about it.

    2. owl said on August 17, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      Google’s conflicting ‘double standard’ is similar to US President Trump.
      Despite pretending to be a “moral principle’s”, you will not be able to hide the nature of the “egoist”.
      Mozilla should aim for “of the users, by the users, for the users” and should be so-called Lincoln.

  11. Anonymous said on August 17, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Now Stylish will BASE64-encode my browsing history 3 times instead of 2?

  12. Daniel said on August 17, 2018 at 10:24 am

    “The browsing usage data collected includes: visited URLs” … that’s exactly the same thing Stylish had been collecting before it was removed from stores.

    I haven’t looked at the extension code to see if anything was changed (like at least removal of the get variables), but I have no great desire to use it again anyway. In my opinion transmission of anything more than the full domain visited is overkill for the required functionality.

  13. Yuliya said on August 17, 2018 at 10:22 am

    There is no such thing as a second chance. Especially when replacements exist.

  14. Anonymous said on August 17, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Not a question to be “brave enough” but a question to not be idiot.

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