What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Frequently Asked Questions about the Pale Moon browser and their answers.

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Moonchild
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What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby Moonchild » Mon, 13 Oct 2014, 20:07

What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon?

Starting version 25.0, Pale Moon no longer by default includes the "Firefox compatibility" portion in it's UserAgent identification string.
Some websites, even very large well-known ones like Google, Netflix and Flickr, no longer recognize Pale Moon as a result, and will present a limited version of the site layout, or even refuse to serve you altogether!
Other sites try to be "helpful" in telling you that your browser is "too old" or something similar, but often being very limited in detecting new, changed or updated browsers, and running into the same problems of not recognizing Pale Moon and as a result providing you with incorrect information - not to mention the resulting annoyance of additional popups or slide-ins or information bars that are really not needed. Even though the intention may be good, what a user decides to run is, in the end, their own free choice. it is not the responsibility of the website to "advise" any and every visitor of the website of not running a recommended version. They can choose not to provide support in case of issues, but simply visiting a website should be pleasant for a user, without nagging about not using the "latest" version of "supported" browsers.

If you don't know what's going on, then you may think that Pale Moon is somehow broken, but instead it is actually the website you are visiting that is in need of fixing up. So, in these cases, you need to do the following to get back to a usable or preferred/modern state of things:

  1. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: Contact the website owners and tell them about the issue you have with Pale Moon visiting their site, and ask them to support your free choice of browser to visit them. Especially in the case of sites simply refusing to serve you, this can be considered a form of software discrimination.
  2. Implement a workaround in Pale Moon while the website owners take their (often sweet) time to address this issue:
    1. In your address bar, type about:config and press enter
      This opens up the advanced preferences editor
    2. In the list you see, right-click and select "New" and then "String" to create a new preference value
    3. For the new preference name, use general.useragent.override.domain.com where the domain.com part is the domain of the website you are having trouble with.
      For example for Netflix: general.useragent.override.netflix.com
    4. As value, use a known acceptable UserAgent value for a mainstream browser. If the same site worked fine in Pale Moon 24.7 and stopped working well in Pale Moon 25, you can use, for example:

      Code: Select all

      Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:25.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/33.0 PaleMoon/25.0

      Although you can try any other mainstream browser UserAgent in its place, of course.

I cannot stress point 1 enough, since website owners need to be made aware of their limited UserAgent "sniffing" practice which is generally considered a bad idea for these very reasons (there are good, reliable ways of detecting a browser's capabilities that do not rely on knowing the identifier of every browser under the sun), and that they should address these compatibility issues and browser choice restrictions as soon as possible.



As an alternative to the workaround above, you can also make Pale Moon pretend it's Mozilla Firefox to all websites in one go by doing the following:

  1. In the address bar, type about:config and press enter
  2. In the list, find general.useragent.compatMode.firefox
  3. Double-click this entry to set it to "true"
Be warned when doing this "blanketing" change: Because of Pale Moon's lower version number, sites can (and regularly will) complain that you are using "an outdated browser" or "an old version of Firefox". This is why the per-domain workaround is strongly recommended, but I understand that people might not be comfortable with or have the time for doing this kind of advanced editing.

I will add an option in the Options dialog box in the next release to make this global "switch" more convenient to use for people short on time or not comfortable with handling advanced preferences. As of 25.0.2, this option will be checked by default due to continued issues with websites and the resulting complaints simply taking too much time to address. The above warning still applies, and will have to be kept in mind.

You will find this switch under Advanced in the Options dialog:
FF compatmode.png
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Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby gi_jimbo » Wed, 15 Oct 2014, 22:54

It would be sweet if someone developed an extension that does the individual website thing too. That way you could click a tool button or something when visiting a site that you want to view as though through FF or IE or whatever "goggles". Actually that gives me an idea for a name for it: Fox Goggles
- James

Why I love Pale Moon: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=11079#p77697

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Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby Daikun » Thu, 16 Oct 2014, 02:06

gi_jimbo wrote:It would be sweet if someone developed an extension that does the individual website thing too. That way you could click a tool button or something when visiting a site that you want to view as though through FF or IE or whatever "goggles". Actually that gives me an idea for a name for it: Fox Goggles


We already have a few add-ons that can do that. ;)

I like to use Fire IE in case a site doesn't work properly in PM.

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Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby Moonchild » Thu, 16 Oct 2014, 09:51

I agree that a specific extension to make it easier to make the individual entries for a domain is a really good idea and might be a fantastic solution for those websites that simply refuse to abandon their poor UA sniffing practices.

I wish I had the time for it, but I don't.
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Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby Sichuan » Thu, 16 Oct 2014, 11:18

I went to a website I visit once or twice a month. The website stated "You are using software that is not compatible with our website". I then did a search for ways to contact someone at this website and found their email contact, which was for customer service. I will contact them by email about the PM browser issue but whether or not my concerns will be sent to the proper department is anyone's guess. I also found a phone number for them which I will call when I return to the U.S. I'll do this with any website I encounter problems with and I'll do it in a polite and nonagressive manner. I decided to use Moonchild's first option with the useragent.override to overcome the problem with this website. It worked perfectly for me. Granted, this may or may not work with other websites as I haven't a clue about the writing of software and how website developers do what they do. Nevertheless, I am willing to attempt the user agent override for each website that blocks my usage. If I'm not successful and it's a website that has little importance to me I'll simply ignore the website. If the website is of importance to me I'll simply use IE 11 to access it and when I'm done I'll go back to Pale Moon. I'm a simple user. I'm not a power user. The only extensions I use are ABP and Menu Editor. Therefore, it's not too difficult for me to overcome the problems.

The best thing users can do that will help both users and the PM developers is to contact the developers of these non-functioning websites and extensions and, as Moonchild has stated, inform them that you prefer PM as your browser and that you feel that you should not be discriminated against and quite frankly, discrimination is what this is all about. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that many people will want to put forth the time and the effort. Perhaps we'll get lucky and someone will develop a simple piece of software that's capable of making an end run around these discriminating developers. I wish I had the knowledge and the capability to write software. I'd certainly give it a shot.

C. B.

fady005

Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby fady005 » Tue, 21 Oct 2014, 10:06

Thanks Moonchild for notifying us about this modification although I don't really understand what the removing of "Firefox compatibility" does add to PM ?

When I tried to explain to Apple that I'm using PaleMoon (with spelling) they just said that icloud.com didn't find all needed rights to open on it and that I should contact the browser developers to see with them. So I don't know if we can do something about this clear software discrimination...

Thanks Daikun for the proposition of using Fire IE, but I think that there's a much better extension to do it like User Agent Overrider for example.

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Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby Moonchild » Tue, 21 Oct 2014, 10:50

fady005 wrote:When I tried to explain to Apple that I'm using PaleMoon (with spelling) they just said that icloud.com didn't find all needed rights to open on it and that I should contact the browser developers to see with them. So I don't know if we can do something about this clear software discrimination...

Thanks Daikun for the proposition of using Fire IE, but I think that there's a much better extension to do it like User Agent Overrider for example.


If they bounce the ball right back to us, then icloud will have to be added to the list of sites that enforce browsers to lie about who they are. Bad form, Apple, really bad form.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the browser preventing the site from working, and "needed rights" are not an issue on the browser side, but rather on Apple's side (as in, not giving Pale Moon users the right to use their site).
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rainlights

Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby rainlights » Fri, 31 Oct 2014, 09:45

Ironically, when using the Firefox Compatibility mode, Gmail tells me "This version of Firefox is no longer supported" on a bright yellow banner. It however disappears when I disable the Compatibility mode, which is why I turned it off again.

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Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby Moonchild » Fri, 31 Oct 2014, 13:42

rainlights wrote:Ironically, when using the Firefox Compatibility mode, Gmail tells me "This version of Firefox is no longer supported" on a bright yellow banner. It however disappears when I disable the Compatibility mode, which is why I turned it off again.

Yes, they started doing that just the other day. So, they've gone in to change the detection script to now warn Firefox 24 users, but at the same time, while there, they didn't bother to correct their detection script to take Pale Moon into account... :roll:

On a related note, with the current development cycle I will also bump the "Firefox Compatibility version" so the "Oh, you're using Firefox because I see it mentioned anywhere in the useragent" sites complaining "too old too old too old too old!" will hopefully put a sock in it with Pale Moon 25.1
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Jackinthebox31415

Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby Jackinthebox31415 » Tue, 14 Apr 2015, 12:21

Documents on feature detection vs. user agent sniffing are easy to find and quite clear on MSDN, MDN, jquery just to name a few. Any site relying on the UA string for anything beyond ie 5 detection are thereby certifying themselves as technologically inept.

But IMHO there's an important aspect not yet mentioned here: UA strings are used my the marketing industry to circumvent user attempts to protect their privacy ("fingerprinting"). Therefore, always sending the most prevalent UA string is a good idea regardless of browser identity or capabilities. As implemented by the old Blender addon (regrettably on the WONTFIX list). I'd really welcome the original Blender functionality to be integrated into the PM core - including automatic updating of what is considered the "inconspicuous vanilla" useragent string. A relatively lightweight change I'd guess.

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Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby Supernova » Tue, 14 Apr 2015, 14:29

If other means allow to detect easily that your UA is cheated because the data is not consistent ; then the cheated UA doesn't give you any privacy advantage.
That's why cheating a current Firefox and especially Chrome UA is useless.
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Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby Yavanius » Fri, 20 May 2016, 02:27

Here's a question about doing this... how do we know what version to put?

Exactly what does 'current version' mean to these webfolks? Aye, we could put the latest version, but how long before someone decides the version from 6 months is to too old? Wouldn't we perpetually changing it until Firefox Compat catches up, if ever?

Also, it's mentioned there are better methods than UA sniffing. Such as ...? (A link we can toss at the web developers, try this instead of UA sniffing)

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Re: What to do when a website doesn't recognize Pale Moon

Unread postby 137ben » Tue, 28 Jun 2016, 04:12

Yavanius wrote:Here's a question about doing this... how do we know what version to put?

Exactly what does 'current version' mean to these webfolks? Aye, we could put the latest version, but how long before someone decides the version from 6 months is to too old? Wouldn't we perpetually changing it until Firefox Compat catches up, if ever?

Also, it's mentioned there are better methods than UA sniffing. Such as ...? (A link we can toss at the web developers, try this instead of UA sniffing)

I send web developers a link to this Mozilla page explaining why you shouldn't be using UA sniffing of browser names to decide what code to send.
Specifically,
Mozilla wrote:Are you trying to work around a specific bug in some version of a browser?
Look, or ask, in specialized forums: you're unlikely to be the first to hit this problem. Also experts, or simply people with another point of view, can give you ideas for working around the bug. If the problem seems uncommon, it's worth checking if this bug has been reported to the browser vendor via their bug tracking system (Mozilla; WebKit; Opera). Browser makers do pay attention to bug reports, and the analysis may hint about other work-arounds for the bug.
Are you trying to check for the existence of a specific feature?
Your site needs to use a specific Web feature that some browsers don't yet support, and you want to send those users to an older Web site with fewer features but that you know will work. This is the worst reason to use user agent detection, because odds are eventually all the other browsers will catch up. You should do your best to avoid using user agent sniffing in this scenario, and do feature detection instead.
Do you want to provide different HTML depending on which browser is being used?
This is usually a bad practice, but there are some cases in which this is necessary. In these cases, you should first analyze your situation to be sure it's really necessary. Can you prevent it by adding some non-semantic <div> or <span> elements? The difficulty of successfully using user agent detection is worth a few disruptions to the purity of your HTML. Also, rethink your design: can you use progressive enhancement or fluid layouts to help remove the need to do this?

Avoiding user agent detection

If you want to try to avoid using user agent detection, there are options in some cases!

Feature detection
Feature detection is where you don't try to figure out which browser is rendering your page, but instead you check to see if the specific feature you need is available. If it's not, you use a fallback. However, never use feature detection in the rare cases when you actually want browser detection, since other browsers may implement the feature in the future, but differently. Bugs caused by this can be insidiously hard to find and fix.
Progressive enhancement
This design technique involves developing your Web site in 'layers', using a bottom-up approach, starting with a simpler layer and improving the capabilities of the site in successive layers, each using more features.
Graceful degradation
This is a top-down approach in which you build the best possible site using all the features you want, then tweak it to make it work on older browsers. This can be harder to do, and less effective, than progressive enhancement, but may be useful in some cases.


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