Why we made this site.
We are a group of four friends and full-time political activists. For the past two and a half years we've been working on internet-based projects to give independent voices more clout in our culture and our media system. When you work on issues like this, free / open source software has enormous political significance.
Firefox is one of the most important software applications in the world because it can play a big part in determining the future of the web. It is crucial that an open-source, standards-based web browser becomes the most popular browser, and Firefox has a shot at being that. It's the best product, and its popularity is climbing, thanks to amazing efforts by the Mozilla Foundation, the SpreadFirefox.org juggernaut, and many others. But if we want to avoid giving Microsoft the power to define the future of the internet, Firefox needs to keep on growing and growing and growing.
About 8 months ago, we spent some time talking about an aggressive strategy to get people to switch to Firefox. Remember those splash pages on websites that say 'You must be using Internet Explorer to view this page'. What if it was the opposite? What if websites said: 'You cannot view this page with Internet Explorer. Please download Firefox to continue.'
It's a tough strategy. On the one hand, we knew it would convert way more people than classy-but-tiny "get firefox" buttons. But would bloggers and site administrators really put a splash page between 90% of their readers and their own content? Firefox fervor had reached a point where we thought that some people might actually do it, web-designers who do constant battle with IE6's lack of standards support. But we knew a lot of sites wouldn't. And we were really busy. So we tossed the idea onto the ol' idea pile and kept on trucking.
Then a few days ago, Google announced that they would pay $1 for each referral to Firefox with Google Toolbar. The idea popped back out of the idea pile. Google has just set the stage for Firefox to literally "take back the web" and go from 11% of browsers to over 50%. If people can now spread Firefox, stick it to Microsoft, and make money for each user switched, an aggressive strategy just got more appealing.
So here's the plan. Today we launched two websites: explorerdestroyer.com and killbillsbrowser.com. The first site has some free scripts that you can put on your website to encourage users to switch. The scripts will detect whether a visitor is running Internet Explorer, and if they are, it will either show a splash page telling them to switch or it will put a big switch banner at the top of the page (depending on how serious you want to get). If you sign up for Google's referral program, you can make $1 for each person that switches. Plus you'll be saving the world.
The second site we launch is called killbillsbrowser.com. It's a parody site with jokes about Internet Explorer, but it's also meant as a serious way to convince people to switch. And when people switch on our sites, we'll make referrer money, which is nice too.
We've personally spent countless hours struggling to make our standards-compliant websites display correctly on standards-bashing Internet Explorer. We've spent days fixing computers of our family members that have been hobbled by spyware that Internet Explorer allowed in. These annoyances alone more than justify a aggressive campaign to switch people to Firefox. But what really matters is putting the internet back in the hands of the public and ensuring that the technology that will remake so much of our world in the next 30 years is a public resource not a corporate one.
There's a big chance right now to switch people to Firefox and it might not last very long-- Microsoft has a new version of Internet Exlporer on the way and lord knows what they'll be doing in Vista to force people to use it. Firefox has to get a big foothold right now.
If you have a blog or website and are pissed off having to deal with IE6 users or if you just care about open-source and the public interest, now is the time to really take the internet back.
Mozilla built us a wonderful tool. Google gave us a carrot. Now take the stick and beat IE's ass.