eBay restricting Webslices to MSIE users, trashing Firefox users

When eBay started implementing Webslices, they did in a special search page ie8.ebay.com. They removed that page a few months ago because they moved the feature to the normal eBay pages. But this has a bad, and I hope involuntary, side effect : Webslices work now only with MSIE and not with Firefox+Webchunks any more. There is something, on the server- or client-side that does client-sniffing probably based on the MSIE extensions to window.external, and eBay result pages are different between MSIE and other browsers.

In MSIE8, all result entries in eBay have a hslice class and a related ID to be detected as a webslice by MSIE8.

eBay in MSIE8 Developer Tools
eBay in MSIE8 Developer Tools

In Firefox, the very same page does not have the hslice class. The ID, required by the Webslices spec, is dropped to.

same page in Firefox Document Inspector
same page in Firefox Document Inspector

Again, I have no idea if this is made on purpose or not. If it is, it's a true scandal. If it's not, and given the fact the Webchunks extension to Firefox is freely available, it's a shame. Please note that the embedded JavaScript shows no error or related warning... Please also note that if you use a UAString-switcher in Firefox, the result remains the same; that's why I think the client-sniffing is client-side and based on window.external.* MSIE extensions. I hope that eBay is going to fix this as soon as possible, because banning Firefox users seems to me a stupid and counter-productive idea...


1. On Tuesday 28 April 2009, 15:11 by Mardeg

When is Webchunks 0.3.0 going to be uploaded to addons.mozilla.org?

2. On Tuesday 28 April 2009, 18:42 by Michael Kaply

I had the same problem with Accelerators on the ieaddons.com site.

I ended up adding code in Firefox to fudge the buttons so they would work in Firefox. Obviously you can't do that with web slices...

3. On Tuesday 28 April 2009, 18:49 by Daniel Glazman

@Mardeg: working on it....

4. On Tuesday 28 April 2009, 20:14 by Cornelius

Nice to see IE8 affiliate-advertised on Glazman's site. :-)

5. On Wednesday 29 April 2009, 01:32 by Ken Saunders

I'd be very surprised to learn that this is intentional especially considering the good mutual relationship between Mozilla and eBay. eBay is a default search provider in Firefox, there's the eBay Sidebar (or companion) for Firefox developed by eBay, and eBay is fully aware that there are more than 200 million Firefox users (customers) worldwide and how many of them visit and use their site and services.

Why eBay's developers have not noticed or addressed this issue makes me wonder if any of them use Firefox or at the very least test their pages in Firefox.

Someone from Mozilla should definitely give someone at eBay a call. No matter what amount of revenue that Mozilla gets from eBay for it being a default search provider, it would never be enough for it to justify eBay making their site and services inaccessible to Firefox users nor would it make any sense at all.

6. On Wednesday 29 April 2009, 01:42 by Ken Saunders

Um, ya, the IE8 ad is just ridiculous. Could you sleep at night knowing that someone who visited your site clicked on that ad, downloaded and installed IE8 and dumped Firefox?

Microsoft and even more so Google have corned the market on keywords such as Firefox and browser.

I'd choose (and do) not to have any ads at all rather than to generate a few bucks from an ad that gets people to use inferior products and those from companies that I spend every day competing with.
Don't worry though, you're not alone. This is happening all over Firefox related sites and sites with Firefox content that displays ads.

7. On Wednesday 29 April 2009, 08:27 by A321

in Finding_common.js, there is this snippit:
var _10 = ((typeof(window.external) != "undefined") && (typeof(window.external.AddToFavoritesBar) != "undefined"));
if (_f == null || !_10) {

I guess you should just "implement" that function in your extension to not return undefined..

8. On Wednesday 29 April 2009, 08:32 by Daniel Glazman

@A321: thanks for the hint !!! The problem is that adding that to window.external is not obvious. The only possibility from an extension seems to be an override of window.external itself... An ugly hack in other terms.