Npm bans terminal ads and Mozilla CEO will step down at the end of the year | Front End News #16

Adrian Sandu on September 01, 2019

Hello everyone and welcome to another round of Front-End News. The main headline is about the controversy over using terminal ads to fund Open ... [Read Full]
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I agree that the terminal is not the best place for advertising. I’ve supported a few OSS projects both with money and contributions, but that’s just a drop in the ocean. The best way to get proper funding would be to find corporate sponsors, like Linux does, but that’d be impossible for a small niche project. I wonder what else will people come up with 🍿

Also thanks for mentioning Val’s books!


The main problem is visibility for essential packages that are used as dependencies and are hard to "see" from the point of view of the end-user. I don't do "heavy" JavaScript programming and whenever I am working on a larger project that runs on Node, the configuration is done by someone else.

The GitHub Sponsors program looks like a step in the right direction, but I haven't researched it enough to have an informed opinion about it.

I am curious to see what npm comes with - they are uniquely positioned to have maximum impact.


If the terminal (the Linux terminal, even) cannot remain an unmonetized sanctuary, truly all is lost. Whatever alternative monetization npm comes up with will be cynical. It is a law of economics that there is no such thing as non-cynical monetization. I don't see any potential for being both pro-FYPM and anti-DRM. Philosophically, I'm on the side of the hackers, but socioculturally, I'm with the artistes, as hacker culture unfortunately reveals itself to be more and more problematic with each passing year. Hopefully some kind of social dividend will come to the rescue and free people to do creative things without having to get their hands dirty with monetization.


I think that what Feross did is more of an outcry... a very public and impossible to ignore way to attract attention over the topic of funding for open source maintainers. And from this point of view, he succeeded.

Succeeded in setting a precedent which if not squashed will lead to a 1000s and 1000s of lines of ads in ci logs and installation logs. Trying to read through a log will be as bad as trying to read through your email inbox without a spam filter.

Npm did ban further adverts in the terminal. And I think OpenCollective messages (which are still allowed) can be disabled using a configuration setting.

Other than that it's obvious we feel differently about the subject - and there's no absolute truth to the situation - so I'm not going to take the discussion further than that!

But we could’ve created an entirely new industry of terminal ad blockers! Imagine how many jobs we could’ve provided! 🙃


Interesting. the core-js repo has an ad and I complained to npm that it was against their policy and they should reach out to the devs to get it removed. They came back and told me ads are ok and that I should set ADBLOCK=1 in my environment variables. This was yesterday, Sept 4th


I think you might be talking about the OpenCollective request for donations? According to their updated rules, that is permitted, although I did see an issue thread on GitHub where core-js was being loaded as a dependency multiple times, causing the message to be displayed just as often. Maybe they can find a way to display such a thing only once?

I am not saying it's a perfect system. Far from it. But we, the users and consumers of open source software, usually take for granted the work the maintainers who build and maintain the tools we use.

Would you be willing to do all that work without people even knowing how important your package is for the entire system?

I know I wouldn't. That's why I don't mind those messages. That's why I don't use an adblocker when browsing the web. As a creator myself, I am aware of the amount of work and effort needed to put something online for other people to use and enjoy. However, I can afford to support directly only a couple of people.

I am really looking forward to seeing what npm will come up with regarding their support distribution initiative.


I would. I have tons of open source contributions. I haven't felt the need to spam 1000s of developers and millions of logs with ads for myself.

35 years of open source and so few self promoting ads suggest most open source devs have been fine without the spam. There are plenty of other ways to try to get funding for your open source work than spamming people.

It does not take much imagination to see where it will lead. A single npm install like babel or eslint or jest or mocha that have many dependencies will spew out 10s of 1000s of lines of self promotion ads. That's untentible

In the specific case of core-js I think the author was in dire need for financial support after an accident - github.com/zloirock/core-js/issues...

Again, it seems more like a cry for help instead of a grab for money. Situations may arise when reaching out is the only option - the alternative would be to abandon maintaining the project completely. And very few developers are also marketing-savvy enough to find alternate sources of income that will allow them to continue their work.


I have updated the article above with the video variant.

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