A little over four years ago I created my first Firefox add-on. Things were different back then: there were only around 2,000 extensions (we didn’t call them add-ons), addons.mozilla.org was update.mozilla.org, and add-on developers always seemed to respect their users’ privacy and choices without the need for Mozilla to get involved in telling developers what they can and can’t do.
Times have changed, and last April, the add-ons team came up with a policy statement about respecting the choices a user has made, not changing defaults unless the user would expect that change, and not interfering with other add-ons. We hadn’t named the policy, so when it came time to blog about it, I read through it trying to think of a name that summarized our position. The result was the oft-cited “No Surprises” policy, now officially adopted after some slight modifications.
Frankly, I am still surprised on a weekly basis by the behavior of some add-ons and companies targeting add-ons. This recent flurry of issues we’re dealing with has left me wondering, “what’s so different between add-ons just a few years ago and now?” Money, of course.