If you are a Firefox user and have installed an extension with which to enhance the browser’s functionalities, surely the two main categories in which Mozilla distributes them are familiar to you: the recommended ones, those that have been manually analyzed by the company and the rest, in which a message advises you that “Mozilla does not actively monitor the security of this add-on. Make sure you trust it before installing it.
What does it depend on Mozilla to catalog them one way or another? Perhaps the popularity of these extensions and the number of users who have them installed? Well, no. It depends on the criteria of Mozilla itself, which is not at all clear. Thus, there are extensions that carry the Mozilla seal of recommendation even though they are only used by a few thousand users, and there are those that include the message that “use it at your own risk,” even though they may have millions of users.
A few months ago Mozilla launched the pilot of a new program “to help developers promote their extensions” in the Firefox add-on store, whose main objective was to “increase the number of add-ons that our staff can review and verify as compatible with Mozilla policies. ” That is at least the official thesis, as they recall in an article published in the Mozilla blog which comes only to certify the end of such claim.
In other words, the program has not passed its pilot phase and stopped working on January 21. For what reason? They don’t explain it either, but there are several considerations that justify that it was the best decision Mozilla could have made. In fact, this occurrence should never have taken place, but the company is still desperate to increase its income and this was one more invention in the same line, only it was not a service aimed at users, but at developers.
Indeed, the “recommended extensions program” had the intention to charge developers so that Mozilla would carry out a manual check of its extensions, and if it was positive, give them visibility in the store and recommend them as safe and, it is understood, useful. A program that, however, had quite serious design holes. Hence, he maintains that its premature closure is the best that could happen, with the exception of never having started it.
The reasons are several: first, the vast majority of independent developers earn nothing from their creations, beyond the occasional donation. Ergo, they are not going to invest in promoting something that already consumes their time. On the contrary, those who do have the possibility to promote their banknote-based extensions are the companies and, if the initiative had been carried out, the picture would have turned quickly.
It should also be borne in mind that there are large companies that they don’t need Mozilla endorsing their extensions, because their users will install them yes or yes. An example: Evernote is not going to pay Mozilla to approve your extension because it doesn’t need it. So they weren’t going to get anything from there. And although Mozilla could have put leonine conditions not to promote mediocre extensions, if you hinder those who are willing to pay, in the end no one pays.
There are also technical considerations, and it is not the same to analyze a simple extension with a few dozen lines of code than a more complex one, based on several libraries and with hundreds or thousands of lines of code. Would there be different rates depending on the complexity of each extension? Better not go into it, because it sounds very strange.
Thus, everything remains as it was, which is not bad: users will have to assess what is installed and how they verify the legitimacy of each add-on. In this sense, the tips to avoid fraudulent extensions are the same for Firefox as for Chrome and the contribution that Mozilla can make does not matter much. Another issue is the company’s criteria not to recommend extensions, but to at least analyze them, obviously incomprehensible.
Otherwise, Mozilla continues to try to recover from what has been the worst year in its history, with a constant loss of market share for Firefox, massive layoffs and reactions that nobody expected. In this regard, their VPN service recently reached Windows and Mac, although the competition in the sector does not seem that it will bring them great benefits.