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Firefox’s new ping attribute

Hmmm, not sure what I make of this to addition to Firefox…

I’ve been meaning to blog about a new web platform feature that we’ve added to trunk builds of Firefox. It is now possible to define a ping attribute on anchor and area tags. When a user follows a link via one of these tags, the browser will send notification pings to the specified URLs after following the link.

(More from FriedFish Blog)

The deal, as I understand it, is that it removes the need for link tracking redirects. Content owners will often provide links to pages that actually point to some kind of link recording script that then redirect to the intended page. Eg:

With this Firefox update, a separate ‘ping’ can be delivered to the link tracking script whilst the Anchor tag points to the intended content.

Of course, there will be an option for the browser not to send these pings. Sure, that ticks the privacy boxes, but it also undermines the whole purpose – and the net result (as I see it) is that content owners won’t trust the mechanism to work and will simply ignore it. After all, if most privacy concerned Firefox users turn it off, then you’re stat tracking is undermined.

Which leaves me with the feeling – “Why did you bother, Firefox?”.

UPDATE: Dennis Howlett asks me to ‘explain in plain Englsh’ – heh! I was about to do this when I noticed the ever eloquent FactoryJoe has done a better job than I ever could

Published in News Thoughts and Rants


  1. Ben – explain in plain English so us mortals can understand the business value please?

  2. You think Factoryjoe’s explanation is in plain English?!

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