Turn off JavaScript

Yes, there are advantages

Added 2004-07-01

After my recent advice to Turn off ActiveX, and based on information in various discussion forums and mailing lists, I decided to turn JavaScript off as well.

Those of you using modern browsers like FireFox should be able to turn JavaScript on and off on your own. Meanwhile, whether you are using Internet Explorer by choice—and it is perforce a conscious choice, now that I have brought to your attention an excellent alternative—or by unfortunate circumstance (e.g. at work on a locked-down corporate computer where you cannot do anything outrageous like installing a much more secure browser on your own initiative), you can turn JavaScript off in Internet Explorer with the following keystrokes:

  1. alt-t (tools)
  2. o (internet options)
  3. shift-tab (move focus up to General tab)
  4. right arrow (move focus to Security tab)
  5. alt-c (custom level)
  6. down arrow (to ensure focus within the widget)
  7. end (to focus on the last item)
  8. page up twice (to make Scripting options visible)
  9. down arrow a few times to highlight Disable or Enable under Active Scripting
  10. space (to select)
  11. enter
  12. y (to confirm)
  13. enter
  14. ctrl-r (to refresh the page)

Note: the above instructions were written for IE6 and will also work in IE7.

Advantages

Are there any advantages to having JavaScript turned off? Yes, several, and you are invited to discover some of them on your own. Let me share just one with you.

Have you ever been to a site where they ask you to register and log in before seeing any of their content?

Well, guess what. With JavaScript turned off, they might not ask you at all. You might just cruise right on in with no hassles, almost as if—wait for it—you were a search engine bot.

Here’s why they might allow that. First, any site with extensive content that wishes to “sign you up” obviously has an ulterior motive for doing so. They attract you with the content, and then they would like to track you as a visitor, for the purpose of serving ads to you, which is one of the ways they make money. The more visitors, the more they can charge for ads. Plus, the easier their content is to find, the more visitors they will get. Ergo, they need their content to show up in search engines.

If you were a site owner and did not actually want to require authentication before showing a page—which would keep the search engine bots out, and we can’t have that, can we—but did want to “catch” most people, what’s the easiest way to accomplish this? When the content page loads, use a JavaScript redirect to the signup page.

Bots don’t read JavaScript, so they get to see (and index) the content. Most people, however, have JavaScript turned on. Logged-in members are recognized by the script and not redirected. Casual droppers-in are redirected, unless they have Javascript turned off.