Software Development / Technology

Mozilla and the ‘Planet-Incinerating Ponzi Grifters’

8 Jan 2022 6:00am, by
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Sure, it may have actually been around seven years ago now that Mozilla started accepting cryptocurrencies as donations, but with a tweet last week reminding folks of this fact, it seems that the company has stepped into a pile of public relations doo doo. Jamie Zawinski, who credits himself as “one of the founders of Netscape and Mozilla.org,” replied to the tweet and did not mince words.

For my money, I think it was the “planet-incinerating Ponzi grifters” turn of phrase that really set Twitter aflame. After all, as we learned earlier this year, nothing moves the social media needle more than moral outrage.

Peter Linss, one of the creators of the Gecko browser engine on which Mozilla Firefox is based, also stepped in to back up Zawinski, saying that he was 100% with him and that Mozilla was “meant to be better than this.”

When Mozilla first announced it would accept Bitcoin donations in 2014, it cited Khan Academy, Electronic Frontier Foundation, United Way, Greenpeace, and Wikimedia Foundation among its moral and upstanding cryptocurrency-accepting compatriots. Of that list, just Greenpeace has since stopped accepting cryptocurrency donations, telling the Financial Times earlier this year that “as the amount of energy needed to run bitcoin became clearer, this policy [of accepting cryptocurrency donations] became no longer tenable.”

Now, after Zawinski’s biting wordsmithery and the subsequent Twitter storm, it would appear that Mozilla has also decided to reconsider. Mike Shaver, another Mozilla project founder, also tweeted his support, writing that he was “glad to see this reflection happening.”

In a follow-up blog post to the ordeal, Zawinski doubled down on his condemnation of Mozilla’s cryptocurrency acceptance, writing that “cryptocurrencies are not only an apocalyptic ecological disaster, and a greater-fool pyramid scheme, but are also incredibly toxic to the open web, another ideal that Mozilla used to support” — an idea also espoused in many of the comments on the initial Twitter thread.

Meanwhile, although Mozilla says that it is pausing the ability to donate cryptocurrencies during its review, the donations page still lists BitPay among its payment methods.

As you can imagine, the replies to Mozilla’s tweets about reconsidering cryptocurrencies are also full of cryptocurrency devotees offering contrary claims — for instance, that cryptocurrencies require less energy than centralized banking, and that certain types of cryptocurrency are better than others — but for now, it seems that reconsideration, at least, is underway.

This Week in Programming

  • JavaScript’s Rising Stars of 2021: For you front-end developers out there, the 2021 JavaScript Rising Stars was released this week, which offers a glimpse of the most popular JavaScript tools and frameworks according to GitHub stars. This year’s edition is the sixth of its kind, and breaks down the winners among a dozen categories, with an unexpected command-line tool named “champion.” Among the findings, writes Rising Stars and Best.js creator Michael Rambeau, is that “it seems we have entered the era of the meta frameworks: Next.js, Nuxt, SvelteKit… and the promising newcomer Remix.” Rambeau also writes that they have seen “a shift towards languages like Rust and Go instead of JavaScript” in tooling, as a way to address “the need for speed.” Another trend noted in this year’s Rising Stars is that of JavaScript at the edge, with Deno getting a particular shoutout, alongside solutions like Vercel Edge Functions, Cloudflare Workers or Netlify Edge. “Are we going to enter the Golden Age of JavaScript full-stack applications in 2022?” Rambeau asks in conclusion.
  • Python Takes TIOBE’s Top Spot (Again): While we’re at it — it is the first week of the year after all, when we have little more to do than recap the year past or predict the year ahead — the TIOBE Index came out this week with its “Language of the Year” award, which it has awarded to Python for the second year in a row. “The award is given to the programming language that has gained the highest increase in ratings in one year,” they explain. “C# was on its way to get the title for the first time in history, but Python surpassed C# in the last month.” Head on over to read about Python’s “triumphal march” and the rest of the eternal programming language popularity horse race to find out where your favorite language stands.