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Old July 27 2008, 03:16 PM   #20
Allyn Gibson
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Re: IDW Trek comics plans for '08-'09

Christopher wrote: View Post
^^How do you mask Opera as Firefox?
That one's easy.

Go to a website, like Newsarama, for instance.

Right click. On the context menu, go down to "Edit Site Preferences."

In the window that opens, select the Network tab. You'll see a dropdown with the label "Browser Identification."

You have five options. Identify as Opera, IE, or Firefox, plus Mask as IE or Firefox. (The difference between the two is that "Identify" still leaves "Opera" in the User Agent your browser sends out. "Mask" takes it out." The thing is, some websites still pick out the "Opera," even though the User Agent looks like it's not Opera when you identify as something else. "Mask" is generally safer.)

And you can do this on a site-by-site basis.

And why would websites deliberately deny content to certain browsers?
That's a very good question.

In some cases, it's laziness on the part of web developers; it's easier to make sure your site works with the Big Two -- IE and Firefox -- than with browsers with a much smaller market share, like Safari and Opera. Hell, there's one feature in WordPress (the blogging software I use) that the WordPress software used to do a browser sniff for, and then wouldn't render on screen for Opera users. Fortunately, I never needed that function (it was the "Press It!" bookmarklet), so it never bothered me.

In the specific case of Opera, there were websites that treated Opera differently because it was, until a few years ago, ad-supported shareware. (You could use a free version, but it came with ad banners. If you paid, the ad banners went away. Shareware.) Given the rise in ads on websites over the past few years, there were webmasters who didn't like that their websites had to compete with the browser, and thus there were websites that reacted poorly to Opera. Now, Opera isn't ad-supported, but it has a robust ad blocking feature, and there seem to be websites that react badly to that. Can't win for trying, I suppose.

As for Newsarama browsing sniffing and then serving different pages, it looks like a case of poor coding more than anything. (Newsarama's poor performance with Opera made Newsarama's Wikipedia page recently. Of all the things to add to a Wiki page, that seems like small potatoes, which is probably why it was removed.)
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